Thursday, October 20, 2005

Substance Abuse: Alcohol PART ONE

Substance abuse and Bipolar go hand-in-hand. This is not only based on the reasons that I'll give below but confirmed in all the statistics BiPolar text books like to quote. Substance abuse obviously has a myriad of forms but my own experience has been limited to alcohol and dope (aka weed, ganga, doobie, marijuana, cannabis). I'll be speaking about dope in a later post.

Alcohol started at the age of about 13 for me. A bottle of brandy or sherry smuggled to our first teenage parties. It was innocent fun back then - nothing serious. By grade 10 alcohol was pretty much a standard accompaniment with every Friday and Saturday night. By the time I left school it was a compulsory ritual with every large social gathering. Not that this is exclusive BiPolar turf - take a look at any night spot and the majority of patrons (young, old, sane, insane) are all invariably imbibing some form of tipple. Has been that way since the beginning of history and probably always will be.

What makes it particularly attractive to the Bipolar, is that BiPolars, I would argue, are the least adept at social butterflying. BiPolar disorder is invariably packaged with some sort of anxiety condition and BiPolars aren't always easy to be friends with. They put a new twist on the "Fairweather Friends" proverb - "if my weather is fair - I'll be your friend, if not - don't phone (and I won't return your calls)."

Why do people drink at social occasions generally? Easy:


Hey, if normal people need the lubrication, what about us rough-edged moody types?

Certainly this was the case for me. Let me tell you at the outset that I was never an alcoholic. (and NO, I'm not in denial). If I didn't socialise for 6 weeks (eg. at exam time). I didn't have the slightest urge for a drink. Nor did I need to drink on week nights. But come a large social gathering (a night out on the town, a wedding, a large get 2gether with friends) I couldn't leave home without my pre-party 3 or 4 beers (or 3 or 4 whiskeys). SO I suppose, in this sense I was a "Social Alcoholic". I seldom got totally wasted (but then again I cold really hold my liquor) . In fact the pre-going out drinks, and the first couple of drinks at the venue where the most needed. Once I'd acclimatised to the social hullabaloo, I could even start alternating with cokes and sometimes even stop drinking altogether. For me it was total Self-medication. Like anti-anxiety pills. (Or Dutch Courage, depending on the way you look at it).

I didn't really want to drink. Shit, if I'm honest, I didn't even really like drinking. But I arrived very soon at a Y junction in the road:

EITHER: Socialise and Drink

OR: Don't Drink and don't socialise.

Being young and single (and often horny), I opted for the socialising.

..../to be continued tomorrow/....


Not sure where the Mood Gods are going to take me today. Its a strange kind of day - could go either way. So I'll settle on a "Halfway House".


  1. All this week I was totally all the way down, run out of money, couldn't buy medication or food. Found angel who gave me money til payday. Bought both last night, am now getting back to my daily state of 'halfway house'. Glad I found this website today, given me alittle window of hope, that someone else in cape town is also inside reading while bright sunny days happen outside!!! I always think it's just me. Hope you weekend works out too.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Glad this mad Capetonians mad writings helped, and have a cool weekend.


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