Americans drink, on average, 2.3 gallons of alcohol per year in the form of beer, wine and mixed beverages, according to a new analysis of federal health statistics.
An analysis by The Associated Press found that Americans consume more alcohol per person in modern times than Americans in the 1910s did before the advent of Prohibition, a constitutional amendment that banned the sale of alcohol nationwide.
Consumption by the average American was just over 2 gallons per year at the time, according to the AP, which noted that the number of deaths per year (88,000) associated from excessive drinking actually ranks higher than the opioid crisis in terms of total deaths.
I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol for years. Based off of the statistic above I consume more alcohol in about two weeks than the average American does in a year. In just the last week I’ve brought into my house two bottles of Platinum vodka, two bottles of Bullet bourbon, and two bottles of Evan Williams bourbon. All since have been drank and thrown out. In the same week I’ve gone through two 24 packs of hard seltzers and six packs of Keystone, Budweiser, and Coors. There have been random 22’s bought and consumed as well.
That is a disgusting amount of liquor, but I’ve burned through it.
Unfortunately it’s just so “normal” at this point. I’ve got a very addictive personality and whereas the normal person would get a buzz and their brain would say “ok, time to slow down” mine just wants to go farther and farther. I’ll drink casually through the day, but at night I’m usually not satisfied until the only thing that keeps me from drinking more is my body shutting off and forcing me to fall asleep.
If a “normal” person drank in a night what I do they would be wrecked the following day. I wake up feeling fine and go on with my day as nothing happened. I don’t get headaches, I don’t throw up, and I don’t wake up in horrible moods. Never experiencing hangovers is attributed to how much I have drank on a continual basis for so long.
I do something that I think a lot of people do that drink too much. How many times have you woken up in the morning and had a serious conversation with yourself? Telling yourself things such as,
- I’m killing myself
- I need to slow down
- Last night was the last night
- I can’t keep doing this to myself
- I had already drank enough at that point yesterday, why did I keep going?
I say those things to myself and I mean them. I can’t put my finger on what it is that flips in my brain as the day goes on, but at some point throughout the day all of the very real and honest opinions are all for naught. Forgotten as if they didn’t happen and the day ends up the same as the one prior.
If you weren’t a very close friend of mine you would never assume that I consume as much alcohol as I do. I’m up daily around five or six in the morning. I’ve never called out or missed a day of work due to a hangover. I don’t miss deadlines or skip out on commitments made. And even while at home very seldomly will I spend a day sitting on the couch doing nothing, I am very productive and almost always doing something. I live a very normal and functional life.
I mentioned earlier that I’ve got an addictive personality. I started smoking pot early into my high school years. I did that throughout high school and towards my twenties. I stopped smoking and haven’t looked back, I left that in my younger days. With me picking up drinking shortly after dropping smoking, I’ve really just moved from one form of intoxication to another. I’m 27 now and probably since the age of 15 the longest I have gone being completely sober from everything was five days. This was following a call from my doctor saying that I need to stop drinking immediately and that I need to come back at the end of the week for an ultrasound on my liver. (We’ll get to that later.)
It’s sad that a lot of time I feel the strangest is when I’m completely sober. I don’t know if anyone that reads this will be able to relate to that feeling. Once it gets to seven or eight at night if I’ve had nothing to drink instead of feeling “normal” I feel tired and spacey. Or if I don’t have that White Claw in the morning I just feel like I can’t get going.
The only thing that could persuade a person to continue on this cycle is to justify lies in their heads.
- I don’t have a problem
- I could stop if I really wanted to
- I’m ok to drive
- My kids don’t recognize what I’m doing
- It doesn’t affect my work
- this isn’t the reason I’m unhealthy
A lot of people that struggle with drugs or alcohol use it as an escape. Maybe they are scared, or hurt, or hiding from reality. For me after being under some sort of influence for half of my life it’s just become, you guessed it “normal.” I’m not depressed, I’ve got a wonderful relationship with a wonderful girl. We’ve got beautiful children that we love with all of our hearts. I had a great job for years where I made great money, and since I left that job a few short months ago I’ve been focusing my time on chasing my dreams and becoming a writer. I’m thankful for everything that I have and wouldn’t trade my life for anybody else’s.
I don’t know
I often ask myself, “What am I waiting for?” I’m about 5’9 and at my heaviest weighed 224 pounds. That is not healthy… I began having chest discomfort that I could only explain as, not normal. After this continued for a few days I decided to go to the emergency room to get it checked out. Boy was I shocked when after the nurse listed to my heart beat and took my blood pressure looked at me and said “ughh, I’ll be right back.”
She came back and took me to another side of the clinic where I had to take my shirt off, lay on a table, and have about 20 wires taped to my chest. (I don’t remember what this test was called because over the next few months I had every test you could imagine evaluating my heart.) I do remember the nurse that ran this test telling me that I am labeled as “stat” so he was going to get this test done quickly and get me back to see the doctor ASAP. I asked what that meant, stat. The nurse told me that I am the top priority in the clinic right now. All I could think was, “Damn.” I was then brought back to my room where I awaited the doctor.
The doctor came in and started with the small stuff, asking me how I am feeling. He then got to real questions, how much caffeine do you consume? How much Nicotine do you consume? How much alcohol do you consume? Do you, and if so, how much cocaine do you do? I answered, I drink one cup of coffee every morning. I use nicotine in multiple forms daily. I drink everyday to excess. I was happy to at least get one question right when I was able to tell him that I don’t fuck with cocaine.
The doctor was straight up with me which I appreciated as he said, “Here’s what needs to happen from now on. Caffeine is no longer apart of your life and your drinking needs to be cut down to a few times a month.” I asked him about the nicotine to which he replied, “That’s not helping your situation either, but I don’t want to take everything away from you at once. Slow down if you can and for now focus on kicking alcohol and caffeine.” Before I left he made me an appointment to start seeing a cardiologist.
Here’s another time I ask myself the question, “What am I waiting for?”
I spent the next two or so months racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills directly related to my heart and having all sorts of x-rays, stress tests, echocardiograms, and wearing heart rate monitors. At the end the doctor determined that internally there isn’t anything wrong, but my heart couldn’t handle the lifestyle that I was living. I needed to get healthier and fast, I left with a prescription for high blood pressure that the doctor told me I would be taking for the rest of my life, and a pep talk. Basically saying if I don’t change the way I live I won’t be living a very good life for long.
I kicked caffeine, slowed down on my nicotine habit, and “kinda” slowed down on drinking… for a little bit. Still don’t do blow though! I went from weighing 224 down to 179 also incorporating exercise in my life for the first time in years. I was feeling better than I ever had, but my drinking was back full force. I didn’t think much of it though because of how good I felt. And all of the sudden that blood pressure medication that the cardiologist told me I would be taking for the rest of my life started to make me dizzy. I couldn’t focus and it made it hard for me to breathe, I hated it! I eventually made the decision myself to stop taking it and I felt great again. I scheduled a check up appointment to talk to a doctor about me making the decision myself to get off of the medication.
I get in for my check up to see the doctor. He’s impressed with my weight loss and how I’ve kicked caffeine, and dramatically cut down on my nicotine intake. He wasn’t pleased when I told him I still drink everyday, but still agreed with me that I’m in a much better place health wise and no longer need that medication. What a win that was for me! I had lost so much weight and was feeling better than I ever had. And that medication that I was supposed to take for the rest of my life, I beat and didn’t need anymore. Doc had one more request though, let’s get some blood work done and check on your liver, “Sure no problem.”
Fast forward to the following morning, my girlfriend invited a bunch of her friends over for a brunch. Just a fun time for the girls, no big deal I’ll hang out on the couch and watch Giants baseball, they were playing the A’s at this time I think. My phone rings… “Hi Zach this is (whatever her name was) from Salem Clinic, your blood work came back and your liver counts were abnormally high. The doctor has ordered an ultrasound for you that you need to come in for at the end of the week and he suggests that you stop drinking immediately.”
I was just feeling so good that after over a year my heart was in a better place and I got off of my blood pressure medication. Now, literally the following day I get a call from a doctor telling me to stop drinking immediately and that I have to get an ultrasound done on my liver, god damnit!
Here’s another time I ask myself the question, “What am I waiting for?”
Here’s that one week sober I was talking about earlier in the post. When I got that call I had already been drinking so I decided to call that day a what the hell day, but the day after until my ultrasound I didn’t drink at all. It was a struggle for the first like three days, but after that wasn’t that big of a deal. I’ll never forget the first night after not drinking all day though. Talk about worst nights sleep ever! It took me hours upon hours to fall asleep only to wake up multiple times throughout the night drenched in sweat. I had non stop dreams that just continued as I would wake up and fall back asleep, simply put, it sucked.
I sweated myself through those five days and made it to my appointment. I had my ultrasound and at the conclusion asked the nurse, “So, what’s the damage?” of course she told me that she can’t revel anything and I would hear back from the doctor soon. I was expecting her to say that, but I asked her if something was seriously wrong with me, she wouldn’t allow me to leave without seeing a doctor right? She kind of sighed and told me that I wouldn’t be dying anytime soon, not because of my liver anyway. Score for me! As far as I’m concerned I’m good to go.
After the scares with my heart, liver, and blood pressure I recognize that I just keep dodging bullets and ask myself that famous question again. What am I waiting for? I hadn’t drank in five days though and since I wasn’t going to die anytime soon because of my liver like the nurse said, I stopped at the bar on the way home to have a cold IPA. I went with a Boneyard RPM and the plan of one turned into two, I think, but really I think it was three. And from that I went right back to drinking like nothing had ever happened.
That was a few months back, and since i’m finding that I’m slowly putting myself back into a dangerous situation. I’ve gained about 15 pounds back and i’m drinking more than ever. I recently asked myself, what am I waiting for? Whatever the difference is I’m not sure, but this time I really want to know, like seriously what am I waiting for? I keep dodging bullets and eventually one is going to stick. I talked to my girlfriend, who we like to drink together and said let’s slow down. We decided together no more liquor in the house and we will stick to a two beer a day limit.
I know the easy question would be, why not just stop? Trust me that makes sense to me too, but I’m ok with two beers a day. I won’t be going to bed drunk every night drinking two beers. I won’t be consuming my daily requirement of calories in only liquor drinking two beers. And honestly, I like drinking and don’t want to stop, but I honestly want to stop drinking in the fashion that I do and break that habit. I need to get it under control for myself and my family.
This is day two of my new limited drinking plan so don’t think there’s a happy ending at the end of this story and I’m four months sober or anything. I drank my two beers yesterday around three and went to bed completely sober. It sucked, I slept like hell, and woke up exhausted, but I feel good now and intend to keep this up.
I had no premeditations on writing an article about my drinking. I was sitting at my desk looking for writing gigs and decided to make a post to Dream Chapters. I didn’t know exactly what to write about. I brainstormed a few things and landed on the drinking. I decided why not just put it all out there. The best posts are those that are honest and real right? I didn’t imagine that it would turn into a 3000 word spilling of demons. Most of my articles are between 800-1200 words, never gotten even close to 3000. Here we are though closing in on the end and it felt really good to do this. I’m not trying to save face so there’s no lies, it’s all true and about me and the situation I’ve gotten myself into over the years.
Writing this article and being as honest and raw throughout it as I was is a demonstration to myself just how much I love writing. The expression and emotion I am able to portray I just love. It would be nearly impossible for me to sit down with even a complete stranger and say everything that I just said, but to be able to sit down with only me and my truths it’s easy because I can’t lie to myself. It’s such a great display of emotion and realism and I’m thankful for it. It’s very enlightening to spill my guts on a tender topic like this and it helps to motivate me on this journey.
I’m glad to write and share this article on my blog. I hope that someone struggling is able to stumble upon this and pull strength from it. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated as the weeks and months go by. If anyone reading this ever has a question or could use some support of their own please reach out! Thanks for reading.