Drinking problems

When people say that someone has a drinking problem, they are usually referring to the act of drinking. In my opinion, the problem isn't so much the drinking itself but the problems that result from it.

Boyzone star Stephen Gately choked to death on his vomit while asleep after he allegedly spent up to eight hours drinking. [Read it here]

French-Russian Chess Grandmaster Vladislav Tkachiev, showed up drunk for an international tournament and feel asleep during the game. He was eliminated for failing to complete his moves within an hour and a half. [Read it here]

Here's how he look when he's awake. Sexy!

Drinking too much can cost people their jobs and even their lives. I have a friend who is an alcoholic. To be honest, I can't tell him apart from guys if not for his beer belly. He drinks more beer in an hour than I drink water in a day - and I'm not exaggerating. He does not look flushed or drunk and continues to speak coherently after downing bottles of beer. If beer was colourless and odourless I could have sworn he was just drinking water. He knows he's an alcoholic.

I asked his permission before writing this. In fact, he told me that he wanted me to tell me about his problem so that I can write about it and perhaps it can help other people out there who have the same problem as him. I did warn him that he may not like what he reads.

According to him, he drinks within "limits", i.e. he does not drink on the job. From what he tells me, I gather he's very responsible towards his job. He works 12 hours on weekdays from 5am to 5pm and 5am to noon on Saturdays. He hardly takes days off for vacations or for medical reasons. I don't think his drinking affects his job much.

Healthwise, he claims to hardly fall sick. Perhaps his immune system and internal organs are fine - but I can't be sure. I believe that how a person looks on the outside is a reflection of how he is on the inside.

Physical appearance

Over-consumption of calories, smoking and lack of exercise and sleep make anyone look old. So I can't say his looking older than his real age is solely due to his drinking. Anyway, there are women who don't mind how their boyfriends look.

He was caught drink-driving and had his driving licence revoked. He constantly thinks and talks about his regret in doing that because he could have killed someone. He also thinks about the inconvenience he put his father through

This is where I think his drinking problem affects him adversely - drinking ruins relationships. He shared with me that someone close to him suddenly cut him off completely from her life. He suspects it was because of something he said to her while in drunken stupor. He asked his friends who where present at that time what he said or did to cause such a reaction but they told him that he didn't do anything wrong. Maybe what's seen as unoffensive to them was actually offensive to the lady.

I think this is possible. Because after he'd been drinking in my presence for a few hours, he becomes less tactful and he even hit on me! Initially I thought he was joking but when he repeated it a second time, I knew he wasn't joking. Of course he called me the next day and apologised for it. He said he didn't realised what he said at that time but when he got up in the morning he vaguely recalled that he said something offensive but he didn't know exactly what it was. I accepted his apology and he said he won't do it again and won't meet me if he's drunk. I think he really is sorry for it. I asked him what he learnt from it. Sadly, I don't think he learnt anything. Hopefully by reading this post, he would. (Or perhaps it is me who has not learnt).

He says he has inherited mental conditions from his mother who has bipolar disorder. He has suicidal thoughts, depression and is unable to sleep without pills prescribed by his psychiatrist and alcohol. He does not want to stop drinking or have a healthy lifestyle because he wants to die earlier. Considering his condition, I think he's doing pretty well already; there are many people who are not born with mental conditions like his but are in a sorry state. And for him to think of helping others in face of his problems, I am impressed.

People like me who do not face the same problem can never truly understand it. I am guessing one part of how they feel is described in the song Sober by Pink. [Listen to it here] Drinking makes them feel good. There's also a certain fear in being sober - to handle the real world, deal with the consequences without the excuse of being drunk.

It's easy to judge and say that people should not drink so much. But I think it's more important to help them feel less different from the rest of us. The more we stick labels on them, the more isolated they would feel and the more they would seek refuge in alcohol. However, I'm not saying we should accept the habit, or live with or marry a partner who has drinking problem - that's really your own choice. There are people who abuse help and friendship extended to them - such people can only be left alone till they decide for themselves that they want to change. [Staying in destructive relationships: Who's to blame?, Happiness vs Drama, The purpose of life].


David said...


You make some good points -drinking ruins relationships. The truth is all forms of substance abuse ruins relationships, lives, and much more.

Your friend my look healthy, and may for some years to come. But slowly and definetly he is ruining his health. Some where in the future, if he does not stop drinking heavily soon, he will more than likely develop liver disease, and premature loss of mental abilities that can lead to early dementia. He kills millions of brain cells every time he drinks whether drunk or not.

When people say that someone has a drinking problem, they are usually referring to the act of drinking.

Here in the States when someone has a drinking problem we mean that the individual does drink to excess, and the act of drinking is not seen as the problem. I find it interesting that the perception is different in SG.

Your friends performance of work will eventually suffer, he will likely loose a good job, and in time be reduced to working low paying, low skill jobs. The sad truth documented in the ruined lives of tens of thousands, and documented well over here, is that many alcoholics become homeless, unable ot hold any job.

The problem is not labeling the individual, which by the way they do deserve, as any substance abuse problem affects more than the individual, is that the problem is not real to the alcoholic until they accept that fact that they indeed have a problem.
Bipolar disease has no proven link to alcoholism. His suicidal thoughts, loss of tact, more aggressive sexual advances are signs early signs of alcoholism. He is unwilling to accept this. Wanting to die early is a sign of something terribly wrong in his life. He truly needs professional help. Denial will only hasten his death, and in time his decline will hasten, he will likely become more aggressive, as alcoholism destroys the parts of his brain that control higher cognitive functions such acceptable social behavior.
There is a good chance he might rape someone will in a drunken state, and he would likely have no memory of the event. He is already a danger to you and to others. Unless his friends, or family and make him face up to what he has become.

This was an unsettling post to read!


Anonymous said...

Does it mean that you are going to isolate yourself from me till I change myself?
Can I post this bolg on my FB?

If I read you correctly, you are advocating drinking and permitting drunkeness as long as you refrain yourself from doing damaging acts when you're drunk. That seems a bit odd.

Yu-Kym said...

David, my friend has been consulting medical professionals. They have diagnosed him as having mental conditions. His alcoholism is a result of it rather than the other way round. Unlike most of us who want to live longer and have good health, he hopes to die sooner. He does not want to commit suicide because it would make his parents very upset so he figures that the best way to die is to kill himself slowly with alcohol and cigarettes.

Anon, as stated in my SMS this morning, please go ahead and post it. I am not isolating myself from you.

Professor, you'll be happy to know that you have not read me correctly.

Shaun said...

Controlled drinking.
Banned drinking in 1930s did not turn out very well did it?

Anonymous said...

I too have a friend who hits the bottle every night. In fact, that is the only way he could fall asleep.
I used to accompany him in order to limit his consumption, drive him back, etc, but it was useless. If he drinks less at the pub, he will drink his stash of hard liquor at home. He smokes heavily too and I know for a fact he suffers from depression and loneliness.
As friends, there is a limit to what we can do to help. Could I stay out every night just to limit his drinking and stop him from killing/injuring someone when he drives home?
I think this addiction is partly contributed by the beer/alcohol manufacturers. They know alcohol numbs the brain from the sensations of pain, depression, etc and further drinking affects rational judgement.
I hope someone invents a pill for alcohol-dependency so that valuable lives are not ruined by this addiction.

Anonymous said...

What a dilemma!

Someone who is a "good" or special friend and yet have all these problems which one would normally associate with an arsehole, a loser, a troublemaker or a sure to get into trouble kind!

How do you tear yourself away from such a person? You cant! Coz you feel a certain thing or connection with him or her.

Any other person.. you would have dumped him or her long ago.

So you stick around and help which way you can until he kicks the bucket. A kind, good person and yet so fraught with issues and troubles. A tragedy that God too couldnt help save.

I would like to believe that I have actually saved someone quite in the same state. But the truth is the war is never won, only the battles. I will push on as long as she is willing.

silli cat