Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Alcoholism

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) had I not joined the navy.

In the 1970 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 – and non-drinkers were mocked and ridiculed as effeminate weaklings.

In the Navy  and 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  and 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 was the mainstay of Naval Social Life (and I am sure the same was true of Army/Military 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.

Cheers !!!

BOOZE WISDOM 

ALCOHOLICS ARE BORN  NOT MADE
An Alcoholic is Born  Not Made
Incoherent 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”.

You think I am crazy?

Let me explain.

You must have heard the dictum:

1. All those who drink alcohol do not become alcoholics. 

2. 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 me.

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 can be divided into 3 phases:

1. ABSTINENCE 

From Birth to Adulthood (0 – 21 years) – my student days when I did not touch alcohol.

2. DRINKING DAYS

The Prime Years of my Life (21 – 46 years) – my drinking days when I drank plenty of alcohol.

3. TEMPERANCE

My Acme Years (46 years onwards till today) – my temperance years of teetotalism after I quit drinking alcohol at the age of 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 answers is YES.

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 had joined 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  alcohol became an important part of my life.


ENVIRONMENTAL PROVOCATION

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 and some other professions too which “motivate” you to drink alcohol  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 wardroom/officers mess bar drinking together  on-board ships  and 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” days or “stripe wetting” ceremonies were celebrated by “elbow bending” PLDs (Pre Lunch Drinks) where beer was guzzled by the gallon.

Though you did not drink when sailing  whenever you were in harbour  or posted in a shore billet  you drank liquor almost every evening – there were cocktail parties, mess nights, or informal booze-up get-togethers of friends  or you just went across to the wardroom, officers mess or club for a drink.

The best of duty-free foreign liquor was available on ships  and  ashore too  the bars and 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 to be 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 Naval Social Events and 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 (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 is was not so visible  as – 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 did not drink alcohol  so many women “latent alcoholics” who may have had a genetic predisposition to alcohol did not get a chance 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 15 years ago.

I drank 11 large pegs of whisky (almost a full bottle).

However  there was no effect on me.

Neither I  nor anyone else  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 drunk  and – he commented that he was surprised to see me behaving absolutely soberly.

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 15 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 whether you are a “born alcoholic”...?

If you never 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.

And then  you know what to do.

If you are a “born alcoholic”  then you have to control the “environmental provocation” so that it does not impel you towards drinking.

Otherwise  the deadly combination of “genetic predisposition” and “environmental provocation” can make you “alcohol dependent” and gradually turn you into a “full blown alcoholic”.

Remember: 

An Alcoholic is Born  not Made.

Yes: 

“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...”

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. 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.
2. All stories in this blog are a 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.

Copyright Notice:
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)