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December 28, 2022

My Name is Melissa & I’m an Alcoholic.

My name is Melissa, and I’m an alcoholic.

I drink to forget.

I drink to remember.

I drink to celebrate.

I drink to mourn.

I am pissed off today. Just livid. So many things are not going right today, and I am angry.

One of the first thoughts that entered my mind was “I need a drink.” It’s 9:08 a.m. and I’m sitting at my desk in downtown Chicago. Having a drink right now is not an option. Yet, I still want one.

My birthday was a couple months ago. I spent the day with my absolute favorite person. We went out for meals and ate and drank freely. We were celebrating and I wanted to drink. I indulged myself because, well, celebrating sometimes calls for drinks.

When I’m sad, I want to drink. It helps me to feel better for a little while. It helps me forget about being sad for a few hours. Although it’s the last thing I need, I still want it. It always makes me sadder, and I usually regret it the next day, when I feel worse. So why do I do it? Because I’m an alcoholic, that’s why.

Many in my family are (or were) alcoholics. It’s no surprise that I’m one as well, since alcoholism is hereditary.

Hi, my name is Melissa, and I’m an alcoholic.

I have memories of taking little sips of my grandpa’s Old Style when I was a little girl. At family parties, it was completely normal for most everyone to be drinking, that included minors. Nobody batted an eye when I drank a wine cooler or sipped on a beer.

I started binge-drinking as a teenager. The main guest at any high school party was booze. You would look like an outcast if you weren’t drinking. Since it was the cool thing to do, I drank. And I drank a lot. Luckily for me, I mostly only ever drank at parties on the weekends, and it never affected my grades or part-time job.

As a newly single girl at 21, I went out a lot. Often multiple times a week. This was the case for many people my age. It seemed normal and acceptable, and I didn’t think twice about how many drinks I would throw back in one night, or over the whole weekend.

The first sign of a problem came shortly after I turned 21. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and put on an antidepressant. Despite my doctor’s warnings, I didn’t stop drinking or cut back. I continued with my life like nothing had changed, but unfortunately, things had changed and the medication intensified the effects of the alcohol.

I woke up in the emergency room in the middle of the night. I had no recollection of what happened after a certain point the night before, or how I got there. The nurses and doctors told me that they had to pump my stomach. Not only had I drank myself into oblivion, but I’d also swallowed a bunch of pills.

You see, after getting home from the bar, I was in a low place. In my intoxicated state of mind, I started feeling sorry for myself and believed that taking a bunch of pills would help.

I’d like to say that this wake-up call was when I turned my life around and I never drank again—but that would be a lie.

In the 20-plus years that have passed since then, there have been a few more wake-up calls. Mostly similar stories, except for the  times I was admitted to the psychiatric ward.

In my 30s, I was raising a family and had little to no time for socializing and drinking. I’m now in my 40s and I finally understand the dangers of binge-drinking. I’ve seen it destroy, and even end, families and lives.

I try hard to keep my drinking in check. I heed my doctor’s warnings about drinking too much or too often. I know that if it ever gets out of hand, I need to seek immediate help.

I also know that someday I will have to make the decision to quit drinking forever.

But today isn’t that day.

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