Intervention prevention

Sometimes I wonder if I’m an alcoholic. Because I like to drink. A lot. And by that, I mean I like it a lot, and I also often like having a lot to drink. You know what I mean…

I’m drinking right now, in fact. Anchor Steam: yum. But I like wine, too, and bourbon and scotch and martinis (dirty or otherwise) and bloody marys and fruity drinks and not-so-fruity drinks. I like cheap drinks and expensive ones, as well.

I also like being intoxicated. (And while I don’t particularly like hangovers, I do like sleeping and eating greasy diner food, two things I get to do whenever I have a hangover, which I have often, of course, because of all the drinking.)

At any rate, that brings me back to this: am I an alcoholic? And, if so, is that gonna be, like, a big problem for me? (I’ve heard alcoholism can cause problems.) Wondering, I took this questionairre, which asked me many intrusive questions, such as the following:

How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?

  • 1-2
  • 3-4
  • 5-6
  • 7-8
  • 9-10
  • 11-12
  • 13-24
  • 24-48
  • >48

How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?

  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily

My answers: 1.) 5-6 (who the hell drinks >48 drinks in a day? what kind of party is that, if you drink all the booze?) and 2.) less than monthly (not bad, right?). There were more questions in that vein, about 20 in all, and thinking I had totally aced the thing, I finally received this response:

It is likely that your current drinking patterns are hazardous or harmful to your health and well being. Your responses to the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) are in a range believed to be consistent with problems related to drinking.

So apparently my “drinking patterns” are problematic. But I’ve got a solution, in case things get out of hand. Courtesy of Modern Drunkard:

How to Ace an Intervention:

  1. Remain calm: Not such an easy thing to do. An intervention is a sneak attack, a very personal Pearl Harbor. You think your life is careening happily along like a brilliantly out-of-control speed boat and suddenly Japanese zeros (piloted by your friends, no less) are shrieking out of the sky to drop thousand-pound guilt bombs on your happy little ship. Surprised people tend to react emotionally and attacked people tend to react defensively, and you must fight down both urges.
  2. Revel in the truth: Admit that you are, in fact, an alcoholic. Wholeheartedly. Embrace the title and steal its power. Admit to it in the same matter-of-fact, yet modest tone you would confess to being the undisputed world pickle-eating champion. No big deal, it’s just something you’re rather good at.
  3. Get God and science on your side: Next they are likely to say: “Don’t you realize the harm the booze is doing to you?” This ploy was quite effective when everyone thought alcohol was an evil, unhealthy thing, but has lost a great deal of its power in the face of the tidal wave of medical reports attesting to how alcohol is actually very good for you. Most anti-alcohol organizations still define alcoholism as having two drinks a day which, ironically, is the minimum number even the FDA confesses will cut your risk of heart disease by 30% and extend your life by 3 to 10 years. After you mention these facts, say this: “Truly, what is your interest in sending me to an early grave?”
  4. Shine a favorable light on your questionable behavior: At some point they are likely to roll out a verbal highlight reel of some of your, shall we say, less than gentlemanly antics while under the influence. Whatever you do, resist the urge to insist: “You can’t blame me for that! I was blacked out at the time!” Instead, mold the hideous clay of your bad behavior into cute little bunny rabbits: “Frank, I watched you drink a whole bottle of cheap vodka!” “It was all I could afford. Surely you don’t want me blowing my paycheck on some imported brand.” “You vomited on the bar!” “I was feeling ill. What do you do when you feel ill?” “You started a fight with the bouncer when he tried to throw you out!” “He was insulting your manhood. You might not think your manhood is worth defending, but I do.”
  5. Make them respect your individual pursuit of happiness: The interventionists’ strongest, most difficult-to-repel attack is expressed in a single question: “Do you realize how your drinking is affecting those around you?” Now, if your drinking actually is stealing food from the mouths of your many weeping children, or lends you the uncontrollable urge to wrap your car around the nearest available tree, you’re in trouble… However, if they are talking about how you are adversely affecting the lives of fully-grown, independent adults that you do not keep locked in your basement, and you know better than driving drunk, you can tell them all to go to hell.

24 responses to “Intervention prevention”

  1. Dave says:

    Welcome to the blog, Mr. Hitchens.

  2. Now now; you can be an alcoholic without being a neo-conservative. (I hope! There are way more alcoholics than neo-cons.)

    I’m pretty prone to substance dependency myself — I really enjoy being drunk, high, whatev. (– at least the limited range of whatev’s w/which I’ve experimented.) About 3 years ago I decided (after a couple of years of mostly-abstaining) this meant that I ought to get whatev, but also that I need to keep fairly strict controls on how and how often I do it — so I can keep the experience one of strong pleasure rather than self-loathing. Always a risk.

  3. Marleyfan says:

    Were you drinking when you wrote this?

  4. Jane says:

    “You might not think your manhood is worth defending, but I do.”


  5. Stella says:

    I love this.

    What really sucks for women, is that our alcohol tolerance dives as we age. Those two drinks a day needed to prolong life and sustain happiness can sometimes create mild hangover symptoms. So deeply unfair.

  6. Thanks LHD, nice post. Drinking and intoxication are fun, but hangovers suck. During the hangover the drinking never seems worth it. Luckily different kinds of alcohol are more and less prone to cause hangovers. So I need to continue experimenting to figure out what works best for me. All in the name of SCIENCE!

    5. Unfair?? Maybe if you are drinking for health reasons. But IMO you are ‘getting there’ on the cheap.

  7. Dave says:

    What really sucks for women, is that our alcohol tolerance dives as we age.

    Someone put this to me as “Every year older a woman gets [past 30 or something], she loses a different drink from her repertoire. One year, no more Martinis. Next year, no more rum & Cokes.”

    IME, this happens to men to some degree as well.

  8. Dave says:

    Hmm, that test seems a little too sensitive (he said not at all defensively).

  9. (There was a funny Overheard in NY the other day, something like
    Girl1: I really like martinis.
    Girl2: Oh, are you into gin?
    Girl1: No, I just like being drunk.)

  10. Rachel says:

    Stella is so right. Did you know it’s possible to get a hangover without ever actually getting drunk, or even getting a good buzz on?! It is if you’re over 35.

    p.s. maybe my irony meter needs to be recalibrated, but I honestly couldn’t tell whether this was supposed to be funny, or a cry for help, or both.

  11. Stella says:

    #6 – the pleasure is not getting drunk, but rather the actual process of drinking. I hate stopping at two.

  12. LHD says:

    10: for the record, not a cry for help. and i do not actually consider myself anything close to an alcoholic. so, yeah, sorta tongue in cheek… (although the internet says i might have a problem, and the internet knows everything!)

  13. LP says:

    BTW, this post is not a continuation of LP week, though it could have been.

  14. LT says:

    Plus, LHD, you forgot to mention that drinking gives you more opportunities/courage to talk to cute girls/guys in line for the bathroom.

  15. LP says:

    But not 5-6 drinks usually, though. I would have a permanent hangover if that were the case.

  16. swells says:

    Oh, LHD, you’re such a cute drunk. Don’t stop.

  17. LHD says:

    I don’t have a problem. I can stop at any time.

    (But I won’t…)

  18. Ginny Tonick says:

    Can we continue this discussion at the bar? I’m uncomfortable talking about personal things unless I’m a little buzzed.

  19. C. Lub Soda says:

    Darling, you’re embarrassing me. Can’t you have a conversation without drinking? My god, your liver is going to pickle.

  20. Dill P. Ickle says:

    Hey, now. Don’t go blaming me.

  21. Curious says:

    What does the questionnaire say about creating conversations with imaginary cocktail bar items? Is that a sign of alcoholism?

  22. Natasha says:

    Delirium Tremens or a very bored person.

  23. Mark says:

    You know how you sometimes drink so much of something that you can never drink it again, and even hearing the name of it makes you kind of ill (Jagermseister) ?

    That’s how I’m going to stop drinking, just work on doing that one by one until I’ve gone through them all.

  24. Cannon says:

    I find it rather difficult to trust or get along with a person that does not drink, unless they have a hyper-legitimate reason (ie. “When I drink I get an uncontrollable urge to listen to and sing along with the music of U2, thus causing all within earshot to commit harakiri.”)