To Be(er), Or Not To Be(er)

“Please Drink Responsibly” is the phrase slapped across every product you must be twenty-one years of age to purchase in the United States. Alcohol has been, is, and always will be one of the most controversial matters in history for many reasons. Our grandfathers’ fathers made it hidden in the south eastern mountains to provide for their families in the most lucrative way they could. A tradition has been made out of its’ recipes and stories of bootlegging and prohibition. It’s the one thing that even the United States government couldn’t stop.

As with anything however, where there are pros, there are cons. As with anything, if enjoyed in excess there are many debilitating effects it can cause on your health and the health of others. Poor judgements and decisions are made which can impact many people for the rest of their lives. If you live just below the Bible belt as I do, don’t be surprised if some mega church preacher attempts to release you from the grasp of the Devils’ nectar as he lovingly embraces you while reaching for your wallet and groping every square inch of your wife with his eyes.

The point I am trying to make is that we live in a society that welcomes the use of alcohol like an old family friend. It’s as American as apple pie, baseball, McDonald’s, and this messed up obsession we all have over reality television. So if no one else seems to have a problem, and it all just is a natural part of life, do I really have as big of a problem as I think I do?

If you have followed me or my blog for any amount of time, you may have stumbled across my introduction or several works about alcohol and my battle with the bottle. Today I want to give you a little background about it, as the subject weighs heavily on my mind lately. I have been drinking since I was fourteen years old. It started out as simply as it typically would. Tall bottles of Smirnoff Ice which eventually led my curious tongue to tall cans of malt liquor. I drank A LOT of gut rot, gas station specials as an early teenager such as Steel Reserve 211 and the likes, until I finally calmed down into normal domestic beers.

At around the age of eighteen I began to indulge in liquor. Trying a little bit of anything I could get my hands on, I quickly discovered that vodka and gin were two of my least favorite liquors. As stereotypical as it will sound, I was a bourbon guy through and through just like my father. The smoky taste, the warm burn of eighty proof tingling down your throat, and that decadent smell of oak as it swirled around in my glass could make my mouth water with every sip. I had made it my mission to become a connoisseur of bottom shelf bourbon. Even when I moved out on my own, the only things I had to my name were a few pots and pans, a record player, a futon mattress, and most importantly… a bottle of rye whisky.

It wasn’t until last year in September that a panic attack made me really look at myself and question my life. Once I began my journey for better mental health, I realized I was using the alcohol to self medicate my anxieties and possibly even some of my bipolar tendencies when I look back in retrospect. I made a lot of changes to my lifestyle with help from my wife. I decided to not keep beer in the apartment we share and she agrees because she feels it’s a waste of money. We agree to only drink when we go to restaurants or concerts and I stopped buying liquor all together because if it’s in my reach, I will drink it.

It’s not uncommon for me to become my own worst enemy. I am my worst critic, my worst judge of character, and the last person I ever want to have to confront. Lately if I’m out somewhere and decide to have a beer, I look at myself in shame and feel regret over my decision. I feel as though I’m letting myself down and even you down. Even though I don’t drink for the same reason anymore, enjoying one beer throws so many questions into my mind, it almost makes me wonder if it’s worth it. On the other hand, I’m not drinking for the same reason anymore. I enjoy beer as a craft and a beverage. Taking barley and hops and creating a flavorful masterpiece is a skill I am honestly envious of. There are so many good things about beer that go far beyond alcohol content.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a situation that is different. I am not writing this to sway someone who is struggling with addiction to drink. If you are someone who is on the fence, I encourage you to please take the plunge and reach out to your local alcoholics anonymous program or outpatient rehabilitation center. What I am writing this for is to tell my story and to pose a question to my friends, the readers.

With the habits I continue to follow, I find myself wondering if I really have as big of a problem as I think I do. Am I more in control than I realize? Am I blowing this entirely out of proportion? If no one else seems to have an issue, then what is my problem? I am fine with not buying liquor, but am I wrong if I buy beer from time to time? What are your thoughts, and do you struggle this as well?

5 thoughts on “To Be(er), Or Not To Be(er)

  1. Okay so maybe I should keep my mouth shut, but you asked. Whether you enjoying a beer with a meal is a problem only you can answer. Way I see it we, you and I, have two others we should consider in this situation. Our wives and our Maker. I am taught to honor my wife and to not drink alcohol in excess. Those are the only two opinions I care about. What everybody else thinks about my drinking habits don’t concern me at all. People are going to judge you, even though they have no right to. I’ve heard “don’t judge me until you’ve walked in my shoes.” I say you can’t walk in my shoes. I can’t walk in yours. Other than a chosen few, I couldn’t care less about somebody else’s opinion of me or how I live my life. Now your wife and your Maker are the two you owe it to to listen to. If she isn’t complaining about your alcohol consumption and you aren’t letting alcohol dictate your actions then where is there a problem? Do you, and enjoy your life. There’s an old saying…Don’t sweat the small things…and they’re all small things. Now go hug that pretty lady, be true to your beliefs, stay in touch with God, and have a good cold beer if the situation calls for it. Just my two cents. Doc

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  2. I read an article at one time about a strong correlation between alcohol & drug addiction in those with bipolar disorder. I know I used drugs to self-medicate. I used meth because I couldnt stand the lows & a meth high was a lot like mania. I think my state might be considered the Bible Belt too, Iowa. I’ve heard it’s mostly Southern states but I think Ohio & Iowa are considered that way too. At least small town Iowa. The only place that I’ve been in Iowa that wasn’t almost all religious was Des Moines. There’s this guy in this town I live in, small town Iowa, that thinks he can heal people. He use to do a lot of drugs & drink a lot & got sober. I made a joke about it (I mean, c’mon, he can’t heal people) & I got treated like I was the crazy one… even by my own boss.

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    1. I have no issues with anyone’s belief system either, nor do I condone the idea of condemnation in the name of God. I also have heard about a correlation between substance and alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder to help as a coping mechanism. I just feel that now that now that I have a better understanding of what is actually going on in my head, if maybe I am going overboard. I just don’t want to be a hypocrite. I consider my readers to be my friends and on the off chance that I ever meet any of you, I hope to live up to everything that you read between the blogs.

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