I have a confession to make: I’m a teetotaler. To be clear, I am not a recovering alcoholic. I have never been an imbiber. Sure, I’ve consumed the stuff on a number of occasions. I just could never develop a taste for it, any of it. Alcoholism runs in the family. But it has completely skipped me. It seems I am destined to be sober. Considering some of the other problems I have, I guess I’m pretty lucky.
But it does not always feel lucky. I’m also a sports fan, and have been since childhood. Having watched more football games than what should be legal, I have seen and absorbed every marketing message the beer companies could throw at me. And that happens to be quite a lot. As one who does not drink, the message beer companies have drilled in me over the years is that I am missing out.
Because I do not drink, the world wants me to believe that I am missing out on one of the good things in life. And beer companies are not the only culprits. If anything, the wine industry pounds home that message even more forcefully. By having no appreciation for wine, I am not only missing out on one of the world’s great pleasures, I am also an uncultured lout.
Do not think for a moment that I do not feel the profound impact of these messages. I do. I really do feel like I am missing out on some type of good time. And when in formal settings, I am ashamed of the fact that I take no wine when everyone else does. Yet, I do not drink even though the whole world is telling me that I should, and laughing at me because I don’t. Here is how I manage:
Fear of the Consequences
I could spend the next ten thousand words outlining the consequences of alcohol and chemical addiction. That would not even complete a proper introduction to the subject. For the sake of those ten thousand words, let’s assume that we are all reasonably familiar with those consequences.
Along with the marketing messages, I have had the consequences drilled into me since childhood, before watching my first football game. I have also had the dubious privilege of seeing those consequences first-hand, lived out in the lives of people close to me.
Almost all of the men in my extended family could have benefited from spending some quality time at a treatment facility, which caters to the unique challenges of male addictions including dual diagnosis for men. Growing up, I never saw anyone recover from addiction without the help of a treatment program. As a public service, I strongly suggest that anyone suffering from addiction to find a certified program and get professional help. If you could do it by yourself, you would have already done so.
As it happens, I just don’t like the taste of alcohol. Please don’t bother suggesting that I haven’t tried the right libation. I promise; I just don’t like it, and I can’t begin to explain why. I am one of the few males in my family line that doesn’t drink alcohol. It didn’t skip a generation. Between my two brothers and my father, I am the only one who doesn’t have the taste.
I only mention this so that you understand that a lot of addiction is genetic. Some are simply born with the propensity while others are not. You don’t have to do anything irresponsible to end up addicted and requiring treatment. I simply drew the lucky genes. The fact that I am not addicted is no feather in my cap, and your addiction is no scar on your record. Treatment can still be effective for people with genetic predispositions.
I might have a problem with authority. I don’t just jump when told to jump. I like to think for myself. Succumbing to peer pressure feels like weakness to me. The more society insists that I would be happier if I lived my life through the gentle mist of an alcoholic buzz, the more I resist and reject the idea.
Fear of consequences, genetics, and stubborn independence are all that stand between me and the nearest treatment center. The absence of those things does not constitute a failing. Hopefully, knowing that will make it easier to get help when you need it.