Hello, Papa Bear!
I'm in my late twenties, and only started going to furry events earlier this year. Before I started hanging out with furs, my peer group was with nerdy gaming folk, and we mostly hung out to play pen and paper games and stuff like that. Lots of rules to follow and number crunching and stuff. And I always needed my wits about me, so "substances" were never even a consideration.
But now that I've been spending time around furs, I've learned to like liquor in the past few months. I've learned to like it a lot. I drink solely to get intoxicated, and once I hit that sweet spot, the feeling is almost transformative. I'm far less self-conscious, any social anxiety I have melts away, and I always seem to know what to say. I don't second guess myself, or hesitate when talking about touchy subjects, or overanalyze things. When I've got a good buzz going, and I'm in a social situation, the right words just flow out of me effortlessly. I've forged friendships and made connections that I can't imagine would have happened had I not been drinking. And with multiple (!) furry-friendly bar meetups in the area, it's easy to put myself in a situation where drinking is very much acceptable.
According to other furs, I've never been "drunk." Never slurred, never staggered, never had issues with my coordination. I respect the BAC chart, and I set timers for how long I need to wait before I can drive safely. I try to be as responsible as possible. And I've been told by furs that I should only experiment with my limits at home, in a safe setting, which sounds reasonable enough to me. If I make myself sick, I can just sleep it off—and make a note of it in my drinking journal, which is (believe it not) a thing I actually keep.
But where my responsibility falters is where drinking at home is concerned. When I've got an evening with nothing planned, I love to knock back a couple drinks, and keep feeding that buzz with more liquor when I feel the effects waver. I'm able to hop in chats with other furs, either local or global, and talk about naughty stuff that would normally make me uncomfortable. And once I start drinking, I don't stop until it's time for me to get some sleep. Even though it's what I'd consider light drinking (usually within the legal limits for driving, actually—I’m a lightweight, and my alcohol tolerance is exceptionally low,) I end up consuming a lot of alcohol over many hours in an evening. And when I empty a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka in less than a week, I'm inclined to believe there's a problem.
So, where do I go from here? I feel like I'm on the road to a substance abuse problem. I've tried cutting myself off the liquor temporarily, and though I've been successful in meeting the sobriety goals I occasionally set for myself, it doesn't stop me from getting cravings. I've got this real dangerous complex where I like myself more when I've got booze in me. But I also don't feel like I'm a heavy enough drinker where I should be looking into something so extreme as rehab, especially since I just "discovered" alcohol about 3 months ago. It feels like one of those things that most people figure out for themselves in their teens ... but because I totally missed out on that experience, I'm just now working things out, and the adult in me has a lot of concerns.
Thanks, Papa Bear. It feels weird having all these questions and concerns so late in my life, but maybe you can shed some light.
Anonymous (Riverside County, CA)
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The easiest way to figure out whether or not you have a problem with an addiction (any kind of addiction) is to answer the following honestly:
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then that is a sign you have a problem, indeed. Based on what you have written, I think you probably have said yes to a couple of these, at least. And you clearly sense you might have a problem. It doesn’t matter if it has only been a few months since you started drinking heavily. Addiction can arise very quickly.
The effects you’ve been feeling once you get that buzz going (less self-conscious, more confidence) is the result of one of alcohol’s known effects: lowering of inhibitions. This might feel really great, but it can also be dangerous and lead to poor judgment as a result of being more inclined to take risks. The “friendships” you are making with other drinkers probably aren’t the real friendships you need. It makes this bear rather sad that hanging out with furries has influenced you in this way.
Then there is the sitting at home and drinking heavily by yourself: also a very strong sign of addiction.
Furiend, you have a problem. Non-alcoholics do not exhibit the behaviors you have described to me. I’m glad that you have written to me. The first step is to recognize you have a problem. You do. Do you acknowledge that? It sounds like you do.
Next step is to stop drinking booze. Combine that with getting some support. I recommend you contact this site: http://www.addicted.org/riverside-addiction-treatment-services.html to get some phone support and to get your questions answered.
Please take care, and please contact the link above.
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