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My Girlfriend Might be an Alcoholic

SliderSlider Registered User regular
edited January 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I've been dating this girl for about 2 months and have already seen her completely and utterly smashed, twice. Smashed, meaning, unable to walk and communicate with any degree of efficiency.

I don't drink very often and come from a fairly conservative background, so this is a new experience for me. My dad's dad was an alcoholic, so we just never had any alcohol around the house. But, I'm fairly certain that both of her parents drank heavily and also did drugs while she was growing up.

Anyway, I just found her this morning passed out and slumped over on the couch in a odd position with the television and everything still turned on. I smelled one of the glasses nearby and it appears as if she had been drinking vodka....probably with some cranberry juice.

The night before, I met her at a bar and watched her get a little tipsy, as well. It seems like this is a regular occurence. Am I overreacting or is it possible that this individual has a problem with alcohol?

Slider on
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    An-DAn-D Enthusiast AshevilleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Twice over two months really isn't that big of a deal, in my opinion. How old is she?


    If it really bothers you to see her like that, talk to her, but at the same time...I really don't think once a month is that big of an issue. Most college students are doing it twice at week...at least.

    An-D on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Getting drunk a few times in two months does not an alcoholic make. Even getting drunk NIGHTLY does not necessarily an alcoholic make. It's a lot about things that have nothing to do with frequency. A few times in two months though? Pretty unlikely.

    ceres on
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    BourneBourne Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    There is one thing you need to remember. There are a couple of different classifications of alcoholics.

    The first is the "functioning" alcoholic: This is the person who holds down jobs, and has personal relationships on a normal basis, but feel that after work, or a stressful day they need a couple of drinks to wind down and end the day. This is also the hardest type of person to get to admit that they have a problem as they have all types of ammo (like having a job, and relationships) to retaliate with, and deny there is anything wrong.

    The second is the true alcoholic: This is the person that cannot hold down jobs, and has difficulty in personal relationships as the alcohol comes first before anyone or anything else in their life. They drink heavely through-out the day, and typically end the night with passing out or vomiting. This person is also very hard to convince they have a problem since alcohol is highly addictive, and can hold an amazingly large amount of sway over the persons daily decisions.

    If your girlfriend is either one of these than she has a problem, and could possibly need formal help to get her sober. If her getting drunk is an every other week type of situation, than nothing may be wrong with her, and your just not used to seeing people drinking more than once or twice a year. I have a few family members who are both types of alcoholics, and I can say that either one is hard to watch someone go through. Getting formal help is the best type of help as someone saying they have a problem that isn't related to them can have a "wake-up" type of moment. I hope the best for both of you, and hope the alcohol doesn't ruin your budding relationship.

    Bourne on
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    WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    If her being drunk that often is a problem for you you need to talk about it before it becomes a bigger problem, but her getting drunk a ton doesn't necessarily mean she's an alcoholic. If you're not comfortable with it, though, it's definitely a relationship issue you need to bring up.

    Willeth on
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    NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    From Dr. Drew: One of the most common definitions used in the addiction field is: a biological disorder with a genetic basis. Its hallmark is progressive use in the face of adverse consequence (effects on school or work, health, finance, legal, relationships). There is also a component of denial.

    I think the important part is the "progressive use in the face of adverse consequences"

    Currently, you don't sound like you understand the situation well enough to diagnose her, even if you were a doctor.

    NotYou on
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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Over Christmas? 2 would be on the low end, between Christmas, New Years and a whole bunch of time off. I might not get completely destroyed, but I'd be pretty far gone, especially if I'd actually gone to sleep and then someone tries to communicate with me.

    As to how often is normal, it varies. I drink on a weekly basis, but I also live in a country where a pint or drink after work is pretty normal, no matter what day it is.

    Cynic Jester on
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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    She's not an alcoholic, but she apparently has a problem with binge drinking. Wikipedia has a really classy postcard.

    It obviously bothers you at least somewhat, and it probably warrants talking to her about it. Not that she drinks, but that when she drinks she drinks so much that she apparently passes out. That leads to massive hangovers and, if she blacks out before passing out, can be physically dangerous as well.

    EggyToast on
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    NamrokNamrok Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Pointing out that its the holidays is valid. Also, she might just be at that age where she thinks binge drinking is cool. It will pass. The day after having alcohol poisoning does that.

    Also, I disagree with that "functional alcoholic" term. It makes it sound like anyone who has a beer or two on a semi-regular basis is an alcoholic. And thats just puritanical and ignores a large body of evidence that says a beer or a glass of wine a day is actually good for you.

    Namrok on
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    Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I've gotten drunk more times than that in the last week and I'm no fucking alcoholic.

    Al_wat on
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    SatsumomoSatsumomo Rated PG! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah this sounds a lot more like binge drinking.

    When the first thing someone does in the morning is serve themselves a martini, then that would be a clearer indication.

    Satsumomo on
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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Does she drink alone?
    Does she drink in response to unpleasant news/feelings?
    Does she drink even though she regrets drinking, previously?
    Does she drink at inappropriate times (morning/work/class)?
    Have her other friends ever expressed genuine concern over her drinking?
    Does she get shaky or sweat excessively after not drinking for a day or two? (if this one is a yes, she needs to see a doctor).


    Hi, I'm Crow and I'm a substance abuser (alcohol). At my worst I was getting shitfaced, alone, every night of the goddamn week. I'm a "functional" substance abuser, and have learned a lot about addiction in the last number of years.

    There are also many sorts of substance abuse. Binge Drinking is one form which isn't always indicative of an actual problem. Continued, inappropriate or habitual use tends to be the most systemic and most damaging, from my experience.

    At the least, this doesn't sound like habitual substance abuse. Binge Drinking, yes- but not substance abuse.

    The Crowing One on
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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    She doesn't sound like an alcoholic.

    She sounds like a binge drinker.

    Donovan Puppyfucker on
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    Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    This thread is a little crazy. You've seen her get really drunk twice in the last TWO MONTHS and you think shes an ALCOHOLIC?

    REALLY?

    pretty ridiculous man.

    Chop Logic on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Slider wrote: »
    Am I overreacting

    Yes.

    Quid on
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    DisrupterDisrupter Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    The only thing that sounds concerning is the fact it appears to me from your story that she was drinking alone after getting back from some social drinking.

    Then again, if she was already tipsy its easy to convince yourself getting drunk is somehow gunna be fun. So its possible its no big deal. But drinking by yourself rarely serves purpose that wouldn't support some sort of drinking problem. Then again, I had a friend who was a raging alchoholic, but only did so for attention. He can drink socially all the time now and can easily control himself. He was just super depressed and used drinking as a way to act out and cry for attention. Which, is a problem in its own right, but he has no addiction to alchohol.

    Disrupter on
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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Drinking alone is a bad sign, but two months and the incidents he described are not near enough to diagnose alcoholism.

    admanb on
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    AphostileAphostile San Francisco, CARegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I've never understood why drinking alone is a huge red flag.

    Getting drunk and passing out on your floor in your own vomit, sure, but drinking yourself to intoxicated then just heading to bed?

    Aphostile on
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    Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah I don't get "drinking alone is super bad and you're an alcoholic if you do" either.

    Al_wat on
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    Feels Good ManFeels Good Man Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    if drinking twice in two months is a sign of alcoholism, then I am an alcoholic


    however: I am not an alcoholic


    how old are you? are you new

    Feels Good Man on
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    EskimoDaveEskimoDave Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    admanb wrote: »
    Drinking alone is a bad sign.

    That's such bullshit.

    EskimoDave on
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    NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    EskimoDave wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Drinking alone is a bad sign.

    That's such bullshit.

    agreed.

    People who only drink socially, or "need" to drink socially could easily be described as a worse sign. (it's not, just saying)

    NotYou on
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    ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    if she woke up and started drinking I would say there is a problem. From what the OP is describing it seems she just likes her drink.

    Shogun on
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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    EskimoDave wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Drinking alone is a bad sign.

    That's such bullshit.

    No one piece is indicative of substance abuse. It takes a coalescence of multiple behaviors as tossed out to really be representative of a problem with alcohol. You also always have to remember that these are all symptoms of the substance abuse, and they are not the underlying condition. Even amongst substance abusers there are near infinite patterns and variables: some abuse has underlying genetic predispositions; some exists as a pattern of escape from depression or anxiety; still others are seeking new and greater heights and the rush of intoxication.

    In any case, I think the OP should have enough, here. While binge drinking can be harmful, if it doesn't appear with other "symptoms" such as frequency or solitude it is, hopefully, a behavior that is neither habitual nor chronic.

    The Crowing One on
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    SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Binge drinking makes more sense and seems like the logical answer. I still find it annoying, though. Especially when I come home, shit is messed up, and she's lying on the floor.

    Thanks for the help.

    Slider on
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    RayzeRayze Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    At least tell her how you feel. The last thing you want is resentment building up and then exploding at an inopportune time. I know it's only been two months but if you and her are going to be in it for the long term, then this could turn into an issue (even though it already is with you).

    Rayze on
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    naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Slider, the issue here seems less whether she's an alcoholic, and more if you are justified in feeling uncomfortable.

    And I would say that, yes, you are absolutely justified in feeling uncomfortable.

    Does she have a problem? It's hard to say, but like most of the thread, I'm guessing she doesn't -- outside of binge drinking. But if you are not comfortable with her level of drinking, you are completely within your rights to be uncomfortable and to bring it up. She doesn't have to be an alcoholic for the drinking to be a problem with you.

    If you are not comfortable with drinking, you aren't. She's not obligated to change for you, and you would be a bit daft to expect her to, but a comfort zone is a comfort zone.

    naporeon on
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    Katsuhiro 1139Katsuhiro 1139 Dublin, IrelandRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Is she Irish? :)

    Because Americans seem convinced that we're all alcoholics - now bear in mind that this is only partially true, and - furthermore - whiskey makes me type faster. :D

    Katsuhiro 1139 on
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    FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Bourne wrote: »
    There is one thing you need to remember. There are a couple of different classifications of alcoholics.

    The first is the "functioning" alcoholic: This is the person who holds down jobs, and has personal relationships on a normal basis, but feel that after work, or a stressful day they need a couple of drinks to wind down and end the day. This is also the hardest type of person to get to admit that they have a problem as they have all types of ammo (like having a job, and relationships) to retaliate with, and deny there is anything wrong.

    Uh, what the fuck? Just to be clear, this is not correct.

    Yes, a "functional alcoholic" appears to be functioning completely normally in society to those around them, but they still drink the same amount as a true alcoholic. Someone who has a drink or two at the end of the day is not a "functional alcoholic."

    The actual volume of alcohol consumption has to be there to begin to consider someone a functional alcoholic. The idea is that they just haven't seen the consequences yet, because they've built up a tolerance and drink more and more as the years go by in order to feel buzzed. Again, a drink or two at the end of the day does not equate to that.

    Figgy on
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    DirtmuncherDirtmuncher Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    As said before getting shitfaced 2 times in the holiday period isnt that much.
    Also falling asleep on the couch after having a vodka or two isnt something to worry about, your interpretation of the events could be different from the actual event that took place. Meaning you dont know for sure if she was shitfaced.

    What you could do is sit her down and tell your story about your parents and the environment you have grown up in. She might be very understanding and take it in to account the next time you go out.
    Also dont confront her when shitfaced or during hangovers, arguments will ensue.

    Dirtmuncher on
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    Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Aphostile wrote: »
    I've never understood why drinking alone is a huge red flag.

    Getting drunk and passing out on your floor in your own vomit, sure, but drinking yourself to intoxicated then just heading to bed?

    Agreed, my wife was working new years eve so I stayed in, watched some horror movies and drank a considerable amount of whisky. I stumbled to bed about 1am and slept it off the next day. I'm pretty sure I don't have a problem.

    And I'm going with the majority here, getting hammered once a month isn't bad. I mean, binge drinking isn't good at any time really, but it's pretty common and she'll probably grow out of it.

    ::edit:: If that definition is right then I'm a functioning alcoholic.

    Mr_Grinch on
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    Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Aphostile wrote: »
    I've never understood why drinking alone is a huge red flag.

    Getting drunk and passing out on your floor in your own vomit, sure, but drinking yourself to intoxicated then just heading to bed?
    Yeah, I agree. If you're drinking yourself into a stupor, alone, on a regular basis, that's a problem.

    But I'll fairly routinely have a few beers or scotches while gaming when my wife's gone to bed. Neither drinking alone nor drinking with other people is intrinsically better or worse. The question is what kind of drinking you're doing.

    Modern Man on
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    harry.timbershaftharry.timbershaft Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I was married to an "alcoholic" for five years, but struggled to apply the label. Basically, it came down to this: does a person's drinking habits interfere with the important things in their lives (family, job, personal relationships, etc.)? If the answer is yes, then I consider the person to have a problem with alcohol, but not necessarily be an alcoholic. I believe there to be a genetic component to being an alcoholic... which in my ex-wife's case, certainly existed.

    To the OP's post, it does sound like you are uncomfortable with that behavior, which is really the point here. Ask yourself if you're willing to be exposed too and involved with this type of behavior on a regular basis before making any further commitments to this person. At least that's how I would handle it, and did handle it, based on previous experience... which is why she is my ex-wife.

    harry.timbershaft on
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    Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Don't demonize your girlfriend's behavior just because you don't like it. You're well within your rights to disapprove of her drinking, but you sound like you are trying to make her out to be a villian.

    Dr. Frenchenstein on
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    KhavallKhavall British ColumbiaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Ok, so I've talked to, not as a client, but I've talked to, a psychologist who does a lot of work with Alcoholics.

    He gave me what he called his "revelation #23", that's as follows:

    "It's not a problem unless it creates problems"


    If her drinking is causing problems in her life, then ok, maybe she has a drinking problem. Even if she only drinks once a year and when she does she ends a relationship, loses a job, drives all over town, forgets all responsibilities, and kills a couple hobos then ok that's a problem. If she drinks every day, but it doesn't affect anything else in her life, and she doesn't have a problem stopping if she wants to? Then it's probably not a problem.

    Khavall on
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    DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2011
    naporeon wrote: »
    Slider, the issue here seems less whether she's an alcoholic, and more if you are justified in feeling uncomfortable.

    And I would say that, yes, you are absolutely justified in feeling uncomfortable.

    Does she have a problem? It's hard to say, but like most of the thread, I'm guessing she doesn't -- outside of binge drinking. But if you are not comfortable with her level of drinking, you are completely within your rights to be uncomfortable and to bring it up. She doesn't have to be an alcoholic for the drinking to be a problem with you.

    If you are not comfortable with drinking, you aren't. She's not obligated to change for you, and you would be a bit daft to expect her to, but a comfort zone is a comfort zone.

    Agreeing with nap wholeheartedly here. This isn't really about whether she's an alcoholic but whether you're comfortable being in a relationship with someone who likes to get smashed once in a while. If you're not ok with it, that's perfectly fine. But you're not likely to change her behavior, and it's not your responsibility to do so. Talk to her about it if you want to, but you may just need to decide whether you're ok with it or whether you want to move on. After all, you've only been dating a couple of months.

    If you can't accept this behavior, look at this as valuable experience in learning what you can and can't accept in a relationship for future reference.

    Druhim on
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    OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle let's keep it haimish for the peripatetic Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah, the question isn't whether or not she has a real problem, but whether you can continue in a relationship with someone who drinks in that fashion from time to time.

    Either answer is acceptable because you can date whoever you want.

    OnTheLastCastle on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Is she Irish? :)

    Because Americans seem convinced that we're all alcoholics - now bear in mind that this is only partially true, and - furthermore - whiskey makes me type faster. :D

    This stems from the fact that those of us who emigrated ARE mostly drunks.

    OP, sounds like you have a less mainstream view of alcohol use, and you're going to have to either due some self-evaluating or some talking with your lady friend.

    Darkewolfe on
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    agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2011
    Mr_Grinch wrote: »
    Aphostile wrote: »
    I've never understood why drinking alone is a huge red flag.

    Getting drunk and passing out on your floor in your own vomit, sure, but drinking yourself to intoxicated then just heading to bed?

    Agreed, my wife was working new years eve so I stayed in, watched some horror movies and drank a considerable amount of whisky. I stumbled to bed about 1am and slept it off the next day. I'm pretty sure I don't have a problem.

    And I'm going with the majority here, getting hammered once a month isn't bad. I mean, binge drinking isn't good at any time really, but it's pretty common and she'll probably grow out of it.

    ::edit:: If that definition is right then I'm a functioning alcoholic.

    It's because most people aren't alone on significant celebrations with very much frequency, ruling out celebratory drinking on top of the obvious elimination of social drinking. As such, drinking alone with any sort of frequency is an indication of drinking out of addiction or to make the pain stop.

    agentk13 on
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    SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    People new to drinking can go a bit far, it's pretty easy to step over your limit. Especially if you're going at a pretty good clip, because once you feel like 'hey it's time to slow down a bit' you've still got alcohol in your stomach to process, and the real time to slow down was like, an hour ago.

    After a while you get to know your drink count. There have certainly been times when I've lost track though. Or you know, just didn't care. Neither of which I feel is particularily indicative of alcoholism.

    Sarcastro on
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    DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Is she Irish? :)

    Because Americans seem convinced that we're all alcoholics - now bear in mind that this is only partially true, and - furthermore - whiskey makes me type faster. :D

    This stems from the fact that those of us who emigrated ARE mostly drunks.

    OP, sounds like you have a less mainstream view of alcohol use, and you're going to have to either due some self-evaluating or some talking with your lady friend.

    Self evaluate? Just because you think his view isn't mainstream? I wouldn't want to date someone that got that drunk either. Do I need to evaluate myself? It's perfectly reasonable for him to not want that in a relationship, as long as he understands that doesn't make her an alcoholic and that whether she is isn't really the issue.

    Druhim on
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