ARE YOU A BORN ALCOHOLIC…?
I had never touched alcohol before I joined the Navy – and – I may have remained a non-drinker (a teetotaller) – if I had not joined the Navy.
In the 1970’s – when I joined the Navy – Naval Social Life revolved around drinking alcohol.
In the Navy – Alcohol was the “social lubricant” which fostered friendship and camaraderie.
Every occasion called for a drink – and any event – or party – official, social or personal – was celebrated by drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
For a rough and tough sailor – drinking was considered “macho” – a sign of manliness.
Non-drinkers were mocked and ridiculed as effeminate weaklings.
In the Navy – as also – in the other arms of the Military:
If you were a robust drinker who could hold his liquor well – you were considered a good officer.
“Good Drinking Capacity” was a sign of good OLQ (Officer Like Qualities).
Good Officers were those who had great capacities for drinking – and – a good Naval Officer was not supposed to get drunk even after imbibing large quantities of alcohol.
There was a saying in the Navy:
“Officers never get drunk – they only feel “nice”…”.
On the other hand – a Teetotaller was considered a Sissy.
In a nutshell – the Naval Social Environment encouraged and eulogized Drinking
And – as I said earlier:
Drinking alcohol was the mainstay of Naval Social Life (maybe the same was true of Army/AirForce Social Life as well)
It was the Navy that introduced me to the delights of alcohol.
And – it is in the Navy that I acquired my drinking wisdom – or “booze wisdom” – as I call it.
So – Dear Reader – let me share some of my “booze wisdom” with you.
By the way – I quit drinking alcohol 16 years ago – in 2002 – and – at present – I am a “teetotaller”.
I am an alcoholic who does not drink alcohol
So – I guess you call me an “alcoholic teetotaller”.
Do you think I am crazy…?
ALCOHOLICS ARE BORN – NOT MADE
WHAT IS ALCOHOLISM…? (in a nutshell)
Link to my source posts in my Creative Writing Blog and Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve respectively: https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/how-to-become-an-alcoholic/ and https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/03/what-is-alcoholism.html
An Alcoholic is Born – Not Made
Sober Ramblings of an Veteran Alcoholic By Vikram Karve
Disclaimer: These are my personal views based on my own experience. They may or may not be applicable in your circumstances. This experiential “wisdom” may not have any scientific basis. You may please do your own due diligence before you pick up a drink of alcohol.
I AM AN ALCOHOLIC WHO DOES NOT DRINK ALCOHOL
ONCE AN ALCOHOLIC – ALWAYS AN ALCOHOLIC
I am an alcoholic.
I am an alcoholic who does not drink alcohol.
Yes – at present – I am a “teetotaller”.
I am an alcoholic.
And – I am also a teetotaller.
So – I guess you call me an “alcoholic teetotaller”.
Do you think I am crazy…?
Let me explain.
You must have heard the dictum:
- All those who drink alcohol do not become alcoholics
- But – all alcoholics drink alcohol
I agree with the first part of the saying.
Yes: “all those who drink alcohol do not become alcoholics…”.
But – I do not agree with the second part of the saying – which says that:
“all alcoholics drink alcohol…”.
This is not entirely true.
There are many “alcoholics” who do not drink alcohol.
For example – there is my own example.
I am an “alcoholic” who does not drink alcohol.
Of course – there was a time when I drank plenty of alcohol.
Let me tell you of the stages of my life as far as alcohol is concerned.
MY LIFE STAGES AS AN ALCOHOLIC
My life as an “alcoholic” can be divided into 3 phases:
From Birth to Adulthood (0 – 21 years) – my student days – when I did not touch alcohol.
- DRINKING DAYS
The Prime Years of my Life (21 – 46 years) – my drinking days – when I drank plenty of alcohol.
My Acme Years (46 years onwards till today) – my temperance years of teetotalism – after I quit drinking alcohol at the age of 46.
(Yes – I quit drinking alcohol 16 years ago at the age of 46 – after 25 years of “dedicated” drinking from the age of 21 to 46)
GENETIC PREDISPOSITION and ENVIRONMENTAL PROVOCATION
You may ask me:
“How can you be an alcoholic if you could quit drinking alcohol…?”
Or – in other words:
“Can you remain an alcoholic even after you have quit drinking alcohol…?”
The answer is:
You can remain an alcoholic even after you quit drinking alcohol.
Let me elucidate.
You must have heard a saying:
LEADERS ARE BORN – NOT MADE
In a similar vein – I would like to say:
ALCOHOLICS ARE BORN – NOT MADE
Yes – an alcoholic is born – not made
I was a born alcoholic.
However – I did not get a chance to drink alcohol till the age of 21.
So – I remained a “latent alcoholic”
(or you may say – I was a “potential alcoholic”).
At 21 – after I became an Officer in the Navy – I had my first drink of Alcohol.
This first drink activated the “alcoholism switch” in my brain.
I realized how much I loved drinking alcohol.
I enjoyed drinking – and so – alcohol became an important part of my life.
In the Navy – the environment was conducive to drinking Alcohol
In fact – the Naval Social Environment “provoked” you to drink Alcohol
(Maybe it is the same in the Army, Air Force and some other professions too – where drinking alcohol is a part of life – and you have to resist the temptation – if you want to remain a teetotaller)
I realized that – if you are an “alcoholic” – the Navy is probably the best place to be in.
Naval Life revolved around drinking alcohol.
In the Navy – alcohol was the “social lubricant” which fostered friendship and camaraderie.
Sitting in the Bar – drinking together – in Wardrooms on-board ships – and in Officers Messes, Institutes and Clubs ashore – strangers become friends as they drank together.
Those glorious drinking scenes of bonhomie established enduring bonds of comradeship and friendship – which have lasted even till today.
Yes – alcohol was the golden bond of fellowship.
My best friends were my Navy drinking buddies – cutting across rank, seniority and age.
In the Navy – every occasion calls for a drink.
Any event – official, social or personal – was celebrated by drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
“Make and Mend” afternoons on Wednesday/Saturday – or “Stripe Wetting” ceremonies – or a “Gin Pennant” invitation hoisted to celebrate a trophy or some success – all were celebrated by “elbow bending” PLDs (Pre Lunch Drinks) – where Beer was guzzled by the gallon.
You were not allowed to drink when sailing.
But – whenever you were in harbour – or posted in a shore billet – you drank liquor almost every evening – there were Cocktail Parties, Formal Mess Nights and Dinner Nights– or informal “booze-up” get-togethers of friends – or you just went across to the Wardroom, Officers Mess or Club for a drink – not to forget the heavy “booze-up” sessions with your sailors at Sailors Home.
The best of duty-free foreign liquor was available in Wardrooms on ships.
And ashore too – Navy Officers Mess Bars and Navy Canteens were well stocked with the best Indian brands of Booze (IMFL aka Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor).
In a nutshell – the Naval Social Environment encouraged and eulogized drinking.
If you were a robust drinker who could hold his liquor well – you were considered a good officer – and it was accepted that you had good OLQ (Officer Like Qualities).
On the other hand – a teetotaller was considered a sissy.
Drinking was considered “macho” – a sign of manliness.
And – non-drinkers were mocked and ridiculed as effeminate weaklings.
In fact – I sometimes wondered why these non-drinkers had joined the Navy – since – alcohol was the main attraction of Naval Life.
Almost every Naval Officer drank alcohol – and there were hardly any teetotallers.
Drinking was the mainstay of Naval Social Life.
As I told you earlier – PLDs, Cocktail Parties, Formal Mess Nights, Formal Social Calls and informal drinking binges were a regular feature.
At parties – I felt pity – watching the few teetotallers – as they suffered a torturous time holding a soft drink for hours – while all of us enjoyed our booze during those glorious Navy parties.
This “alcohol-conducive environment” – which enthused and provoked drinking – was ideal for a “latent alcoholic” like me – to turn into a “full blown alcoholic”.
Since I was a “born alcoholic” – I already had a “genetic predisposition” to alcoholism
(It seems that alcoholism is in my DNA).
However – till I joined the Navy – because I did not drink alcohol – I remained a “latent alcoholic”.
The various reasons due to which I did not drink alcohol as a young student can be summed up in a nutshell as:
“In my younger days – my “environment” was not conducive to drinking alcohol…”
So – I remained a “latent alcoholic”.
The moment I joined the Navy – the “environment” became very “conducive” for drinking alcohol.
And – this “environmental provocation” was the trigger – the impetus and the catalyst – which transformed my “latent alcoholism” into “full blown alcoholism”.
Thus – “Alcoholism” is a combination of “genetic predisposition” and “environmental provocation”.
ALCOHOLISM = GENETIC PREDISPOSITION + ENVIRONMENTAL PROVOCATION
“Alcoholism” is a combination of “genetic predisposition” and “environmental provocation”
We can express this as a mathematical formula:
Alcoholism = Genetic Predisposition + Environmental Provocation
I had the genetic predisposition or propensity for alcoholism.
But – in my younger student days – there was an absence of environmental provocation – so I remained a “latent alcoholic”.
The moment I joined the Navy – the conducive environmental provocation triggered my genetic predisposition.
The “alcoholism switch” was activated in my brain – and my penchant for alcohol was allowed to manifest and flourish.
Before I realized it – I was on the road to alcohol dependence and full blown alcoholism.
But – a time did come when – I did realize that I if continued drinking alcohol – I would eventually slip into the “abyss of alcoholism” – to the point of no return.
I had seen this happening to a few of my seniors – who had become alcohol dependent – and some had turned into full blown alcoholics.
I have seen this happening in the civilian world too.
Many say that alcoholism is on the rise.
In the strict sense – alcoholism always existed.
Only earlier – alcoholism was not so visible.
This was because – due to taboos – and the fact that access to alcohol was not easy – many potential alcoholics did not have the opportunity to manifest into full-blown alcoholics.
In the past too – there were always many “latent alcoholics” with “genetic predisposition” to alcoholism.
However – due to various cultural taboos and non-availability of alcohol due to prohibition policies – these “latent alcoholics” did not get a chance to become “full blown alcoholics” – due to absence of “environmental provocation”.
This aspect is particularly evident in women.
Earlier – owing to cultural taboos – women could not drink alcohol.
So – many women “latent alcoholics” who may have had a “genetic predisposition” to alcohol – they did not get an opportunity to become “full blown alcoholics” – since there was absolutely no “environmental provocation”.
Now – drinking taboos are being slowly removed – especially in modern urban society.
The urban social environment becoming more and more conducive for women to drink alcohol.
This gives an opportunity for women who are “latent alcoholics” to become “full blown alcoholics”.
WAKE UP CALL
The first “wake up call” I got was at a cocktail party around 16 years ago.
I drank 11 Large Pegs of whisky.
I had consumed almost a full bottle of whisky.
(a full bottle comprises 13 large pegs and I had consumed 11 large pegs).
However – this huge amount of alcohol had no effect on me.
Neither I – nor anyone else – nobody could discern – that I had consumed such an enormous amount of alcohol.
In fact – it was a friend who told me next morning – about the enormous amount of whisky I had consumed – and he commented that – he was surprised to see me behaving absolutely soberly without even a trace of drunkenness.
He wondered as to how I could be normal after consuming 11 large pegs of whisky – when just 6 pegs of whisky made him feel drunk.
This meant that my Alcohol Tolerance Level had increased enormously
And – this was the first danger signal of impending trouble – if I continued drinking alcohol.
I decided to stop drinking alcohol.
I had no choice.
I had a “genetic predisposition” to alcoholism.
Alcoholism was in my DNA – and – there was nothing I could do about it.
So – the only option was to tackle “environmental provocation”.
I drastically changed my lifestyle – and – I tried to be in a “non-alcoholic environment”.
Even now – more than 16 years since I quit drinking – I try to avoid “environmental provocation” to drink alcohol.
This has certainly affected my social life.
I avoid occasions and places where alcohol is served.
I do not keep alcohol at home.
And – ever since I stopped keeping booze at home – a lot of my friends have stopped visiting me.
You may feel that these may seem extreme steps – and you may laugh at me – but then – you are not a “born alcoholic”.
Whether I like it or not – I am a “born alcoholic” – and that is why I have to be careful.
ARE YOU A “BORN ALCOHOLIC”…?
How do you discover if you are a “born alcoholic”…?
If you do not drink – you will never come to know – and – that is the best thing.
But – the moment you have your first drink of alcohol – the “alcoholism switch” triggers in your brain – and you will come to know that you are a “born alcoholic” – and – you will start loving alcohol more than anything else.
Yes – if you are a “born alcoholic” – once the “alcoholism switch” triggers in your brain – you will start loving alcohol more than anything else.
And then – you know what to do…?
If you are a “born alcoholic” – then you have to control the “environmental provocation” (to drink alcohol)
Yes – you must control the “environmental provocation” – so that it does not impel you towards drinking.
Otherwise – the deadly combination of “genetic predisposition” and “environmental provocation” – it can make you “alcohol dependent” – and gradually turn you into a “full blown alcoholic”.
An Alcoholic is Born – not Made.
“Alcoholics are Born – Not Made”.
Tell me one thing:
What should you do once you discover that you are a “born alcoholic”…?
Is it wise to live in denial and ultimately become a full-blown alcoholic…?
Or – is it better to be frank like me and candidly say:
“I am an alcoholic – and – that is why I do not drink alcohol…”
Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
- These are my personal views based on my own experience. They may or may not be applicable in your circumstances. This experiential “wisdom”may not have any scientific basis. You may please do your own due diligence before you pick up a drink of alcohol.
- All stories in this blog area work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)
Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/03/what-is-alcoholism.html
This is an updated version and repost of my article : ALCOHOLICS ARE BORN NOT MADE posted on this blog on 19 Oct 2013 at url: https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/10/alcoholics-are-born-not-made.html and later revised and posted at urls: https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/02/i-am-alcoholic-who-does-not-drink.html and https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/09/booze-wisdom-are-you-born-alcoholic.html and https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/04/are-you-alcoholic-who-does-not-drink.html etc