My success was the mask that disguised the underlying demon and fed my denial. In fact, I don't recall that I learned about the disease concept of alcoholism in my counseling psychology master's degree program. I was taught about the DSM-IV TR symptoms of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse, and my denial led me to believe that I did not fit into either of those diagnoses. It wasn't until I joined a Twelve-Step Recovery Program myself that I was able to understand and admit that I am an alcoholic. Finally, my drinking behaviors and thought processes began to make sense. Society, school, and loved ones didn't teach me—a recovery program did.
As a mental health professional and a recovering alcoholic, I understand alcoholism on many levels. Throughout my drinking years, I kept a journal that has provided me with clear tangible evidence of the alcoholic battle within my mind, body, and soul. Some of these entries have saved me from having an even deeper denial of my addiction, for in the end, I could not argue with my own journal writings. I am choosing to share some of these writings and other reflective pieces to find meaning in my own struggle to recover from alcoholism and to help others realize that they are not alone.
Excerpted from Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic (Praeger, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, 2009), by Sarah Allen Benton.