You’re a middle class professional and a parent of young children. After another long day at the office, you’re home, and so now it is teatime, bath-time, book-before-bedtime, bedtime, “get back to bed!” time, and then the moment you’ve been looking forward to all day: glass of wine time. “At last!”
But what if this becomes a couple of glasses, or a whole bottle (“I might as well polish it off”). Or even a second bottle (“I deserve it; and don’t you dare tell me I’m a bad parent”). You might have also enjoyed a glass or two while cooking dinner.
It’s all starting to become a worry, though, isn’t it?
It must be, or you wouldn’t be reading this. What’s more, in your hurry to “get to the Chardonnay” you’re becoming increasingly irritable. The little ones have started to notice; they won’t speak to you in the mornings; the deafeningly silent school run invariably ends with the slamming of car doors.
And the impact on your family (of your drinking) is unlikely to end there.
Your kids might even feel that they created the problem
Common symptoms many children of alcoholics experience include:1
Loneliness and a fear of abandonment
Guilt (that’s right; your kids may blame themselves for your drinking: “It must have been because of something I’ve done – it must be because of me”)
Feelings of helplessness
Frequent nightmares, bedwetting, and uncontrollable crying could also become commonplace (and that’s just the Latvian Au Pair!).
Older children of alcoholics may show such depressive symptoms as:2
Staying by themselves, and / or
Being excessively self-conscious
And what about the financial cost?
OK, you – like thousands upon thousands of other functioning alcoholics in Britain (financially secure and well educated professionals) – may not even need to worry too much about the cost, in monetary terms, of your weekly alcohol consumption. But, like other parents, have you started to spend on your evening alcohol the money you’d set aside for the BIG treats: that promised trip to Disneyland Florida, e.g.?
Amazing how a lump sum can dwindle, isn’t it – bottle after bottle, bit by bit…
And soon it might not be ‘only’ your temper that you’re losing (in your rush to pack the kids off to bed before raiding the wine rack). If your alcohol consumption rises, so will your tolerance for alcohol, which means you’ll drink even more (and more and more). And that’s how every year across the UK a frightening number of functioning alcoholics eventually lose absolutely EVERYTHING.
So where do you turn?
Ringing or texting your mates to see if they’re feeling the same way might feel like a no-no: “They may think I’m judging them. It might make them feel guilty. Forcing them to confront their own behaviour could even result in me being ostracised, and who wants that?”
And you can’t really turn to your partner. Why? Because they either drink as much as you, or all attempts by them to gently broach the subject of your “worrying drinking levels, Darling” inevitably result in an Alamo-like stand off.
So what do you do?
Seek professional help, that’s what
But before you do that, give yourself a pat on the back. Why? Because you’ve recognised that you have a problem with alcohol, and (as tough as it is to accept) you’ve become a dedicated member of the UK Hidden Drinkers Club – to which so many of Britain’s functioning alcoholics all dutifully pay their subs (not just once a week, but most nights of the week).