Drunk On Words: the problem isn’t the alcohol.

Part Two – Drunk On Words, identifying the problem.

My life appeared idyllic, Rockwellian, even. But as it turns out, my life was less than picture-perfect. To understand where it all went wrong, we need to start at the beginning. Not my beginning, but the beginning of mankind, as told in Genesis 2:25 (NLT), “Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”

Karen Esbenshade

Drunk On Words – Alcoholism, what’s to blame?

If the problem isn’t the alcohol, then what is to blame? Is it the alcoholic or problem drinker? It isn’t beneath me to call someone out for being the source of the problem. And clearly, what I found, was this girl and how she did not develop proper coping skills in life. The result was shame deriving from poor choices and compounding over her adult years. Using alcohol to pacify the daily struggles in her life, not seeking peace internally. At one time she was innocent, but as the years went by her problems progressed and the result, alcoholism grabbed hold.

Problem: am I an alcoholic or a problem drinker?

When my family, friends and acquaintances first found out about my unfortunate life event and I was treating myself for alcohol abuse, the majority (99.9%) said, “Karen you are not an alcoholic.” The first person my husband and I contacted for information on rehabilitation centers is an old friend who works in the addiction industry. He said, “Oh, no Karen, you don’t need inpatient help.” At the conclusion of my stay at rehabilitation one slightly younger man said, “Karen, I don’t think you are an alcoholic, but a problem drinker.” He knew me much like my family and friends, not wanting to see that side of me. When I worked with a mentor, she questioned, “Karen, do you really think you are an alcoholic?” Again, just one more person second guessing my problem.

For many it is difficult to distinguish between the two.

If the problem isn’t alcohol what else could it be? I took the time, did my due diligence and in the end came to the conclusion, “Yes, I am an alcoholic.” Still, at times, I question my diagnosis. My behavior wasn’t consistent, but I felt the addiction taking hold so for me it was safer to go all in and treat myself as an alcoholic. For starters I had to learn the terminology. Then I had to apply the terminology to my behavior. See https://alcohol.org/alcoholism/or-is-it-just-a-problem/ to determine if you or your loved one is abusing alcohol or have an addiction.


An alcoholic is someone who suffers from alcohol use disorder (AUD). An AUD is a condition in which a person has a desire or physical need to consume alcohol, even though it has a negative impact on their life. Alcoholism and alcohol addiction both are considered chronic, relapsing brain disease, where an individual has lost control of their alcohol use and will continue to drink regardless of the consequences.

Problem Drinker

A problem drinker follows a pattern of alcohol use resulting in negative consequences. The problem drinker isn’t addicted to alcohol nor has an AUD. Problem drinking can lead to addiction.

Why do I care if you are an alcoholic or problem drinker?

“While your other friends like your drunk self, I am more interested in your flawed self. It is your flawed self which will help you heal.”

Karen Esbenshade

Friend, I know you better than you know yourself. What I know is it is hard to accept our problems and to make the changes necessary to live a life free of addiction. I wasn’t strong enough to do it on my own until I forced to make a choice. One of my close friends claimed she was simply a problem drinker, not an alcoholic. Even though to me she, clearly, was a raging alcoholic it wasn’t for me to convince her. She needs to look at her alcoholic behaviors and be honest with herself. It wasn’t for others to try and convince me that I wasn’t an alcoholic, but when faced with reality I had to accept my problem. While your other friends like your drunk self, I am more interested in your flawed self. It is your flawed self which will help you heal.

The problem isn’t the alcohol but how we consume it.

I have friends who I drink with and then I had friends who I drank with. Meaning most of my friends I was (am) able to drink with and not lose sight of my sobriety, but then there are others for whatever reason I lost sight of my sobriety. I do not blame those friends, but I had to step away to reevaluate my life.

What I would like my girlfriends aware of is that there is a fine line and as we approach middle age the line can easily become blurred. And, in 2020 into 2021, I started to cross that line. Others would not know what I was experiencing. I was able to camouflage my addictive behavior. Sure, my problem drinking was apparent. I would binge with my friends and together we would get sloppy drunk. But I was the only one who felt the grip that alcohol had on me. I crossed the line, but was fortunate because I was yanked back to the healthy side. When it came to quitting the consumption of alcohol I had no problem. I do believe it was because I just crossed into the dangerous territory and was given an abrupt wake-up call.

Alcoholism and women: the problem.

If the problem isn’t the alcohol why did I allow it to wreak havoc in my life? As a woman what is it you need to know about alcoholism and why do I care? For me alcoholism is far more than the alcohol. It is about the root problems not being addressed. But if left unchecked our alcoholism and/or problem drinking can bring us down. Once I acknowledged my problem, started to identity the roots of my problems I was able to make positive changes in my life. I learned I wasn’t living life to the fullest and just how beautiful my life could truly be. Both women and men can be afflicted with alcoholism, but middle-aged women are more susceptible to the quick transition from problem drinking to alcoholism. And due to the composition of our bodies, we are at greater risk for alcohol related health problems.

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/women-and-alcohol and https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/nams/82453

Solution to my alcoholic problem.

Through my unresolved shame I was being eaten alive. I drank an overwhelming amount of alcohol to drown out my sorrows. We can look towards Adam and Eve, how they chose not deal with shame. https://charismamag.com/spriritled-living/spiritual-warfare/3-dangerous-defenses-that-block-victory-over-guilt-and-shame/ In the Garden of Eden, once Eve was tempted and chose to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, shame crept into her life. Both Adam and Eve used fig leaves in an attempt to conceal their shame. An enzyme in fig leaves can cause an allergic reaction. Much the same as alcohol, they were trying to cover and mask their shame. I needed to deal with my shame, but my pride was in the way. So I needed to Swallow My Pride, and not let my shame eat me alive.

“Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:25 NLT

As an imperfect human my growth has been spurred on by a life catastrophe, because I chose to ignore my struggles. Instead of choosing to look inward and identify the source of the problem, which was ME, I placed blame on the society around me. The end result was to numb my discomfort and quell my anxieties with that one glass of wine. By the grace of God I was able to seek forgiveness and unearth my flaws. Through sharing with others I was able to accept my flawed self and learn I did not need to suffer alone. The result peace, from a loving God, not the spirit in the bottle.

What are your struggles?

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3 responses to “Drunk On Words: the problem isn’t the alcohol.”

  1. Wonderful post and so much truth. I used to do the same thing, drown my shame in alcohol. It wasn’t until I fully submitted my life to Jesus did I realize alcohol wasn’t the problem, but how I was dealing with my issues definitely was. Once I let Him heal those areas of my life, wine has just become wine now, not some idol I worship to “fix” me.

    Thanks for publishing this!

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