View Full Version : Recovering from alcoholism : what does it feel like?

Marian Perera
08-30-2008, 11:36 AM
Could anyone tell me what it feels like to want a drink but not being able to have one? For instance, does it go beyond simple thirst? Would a character salivate at the thought of alcohol, or would it involve other body parts as well - eg. sensations extending to the skin? Might such a person feel as though his senses are abnormally sharp when it comes to the alcohol, so that he can smell it more keenly than anything else and almost taste it?

08-30-2008, 07:43 PM
As a policeman, I saw some of the worst symptoms. look here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_withdrawal)for a great articla describing what an alcoholic goes through.

08-30-2008, 08:05 PM
My memory is fuzzy, because I quit drinking in 1996. Here's a few things I remember:

Dreams of alcohol. Lots of them. About drinking, about not being able to drink; one way or another, dreams where drinking and booze just featured prominently.
Anger that I couldn't drink. Irrational, sure. Since I could have started drinking again any time - it was my choice. So just this irrational, generalized anger.
If there was a drink anywhere around me, it was in sharp focus and everything else was blurred. Literally. That continued for a matter of months and I really had to stay away from situations where there was alcohol at all otherwise I was just consumed by wanting to drink. And of course many of my friends were drinking buddies and heavy partiers, so my circle of friends changed.
Craving for sugar and sweet things. Quite common in quitting alcoholics.
Yes, I recall actually salivating, thinking about a drink.
Having to remind myself constantly that while the first drink would feel amazing, the inevitableness of getting drunk to blackout had ceased to be fun. And a single drink would lead me there. No such thing as one drink.

Dunno if that's helpful, you asked for physical sensations and I gave you more emotional responses. It may depend on the type of drinker your protag was. I was a very functional alcoholic, ran a business, volunteered and went to graduate school. Not the type who greeted every morning with vodka and spent all my waking hours in a drunken blur. And if I had to, I could go days without drinking (although that was really hard.)

Marian Perera
08-30-2008, 08:48 PM
This is just what I needed, bonobo_jones. Thank you so much for answering, especially since it may not have been easy to describe all that. I'm sure I can get physical responses from RJK's link - appreciate that, will check it out once I'm home from work. :)

It may depend on the type of drinker your protag was. I was a very functional alcoholic, ran a business, volunteered and went to graduate school.

I'm aiming for a character like that too. Right now I have him setting out on a vital assignment, a mission of diplomacy that could end a war, planning everything in advance and having the best of intentions... but carrying a flask of alcohol because he craves it.

08-30-2008, 09:11 PM
You might want to read up about blackouts, if it's something that might be useful for your character. An alcoholic blackout isn't merely not remembering what you did while drunk, the theory is that what happens during that time isn't even recorded...so there is no way to remember anything. It's really unnerving and can get scary!

I used to answer the phone utterly drunk and because at some level I knew I was utterly impaired, would make copious notes transcribing the phone call. Well, sort of. Often I couldn't make head or tail of what I wrote down but at least I would know that I talked so so and so about...well, something. Ha! I got really good at covering up and making excuses so I'd pass for someone who wasn't bombed out of her skull. :D (Addicts generally are really good at deceiving people and being dishonest.)

And some practiced, non-sloppy drunks can be in a blackout and appear to most people quite sober. I was like that and knew several people who were.

Actually it sort of amuses me thinking back on my boozy old party girl self LOL.