“Some of this will stick”: overcoming alcohol addiction

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By Lukas Gilbert
Hinz&Kunzt vendor Golem and social studies teacher Jenny Guttmann share a love of punk. What separates them is this: Jenny has been sober for several years; Golem is an alcoholic. They met at the Hinz&Kunzt building for a conversation about life with and without alcohol.
Hinz&Kunzt: What role does alcohol play in your lives?
Golem: Alcohol has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father was a “quarterly” drinker. Every time we had a holiday, he would get smashed. My mother was drunk all the time as well. I would say that I came into the world drunk.
Jenny: For me, it started in adolescence. We used to meet in the afternoons and drink. Then we’d meet up in the evenings to drink, to party, to go to gigs. I never questioned it because that’s what we did, everyone drank, and at 15 or 16, my female friends had their first birthday parties with some sparkling wine or beer. Later, I hung out on the punk scene. There was a lot more drinking…
When did you begin to question your relationships with alcohol?
Jenny: That happened quite early on. As a rule, I’d drink until I passed out – even the first few times at 16 or 17. But the next day, as I lay there with a terrible hangover, I used to think: that was shit; I’m not doing that again. Until the next time, of course.
Golem: I remember that as well. In the morning, you say, never again. And in the evening, off you go again.
Jenny: But nobody noticed me because everyone around me was drinking as well. It was a laugh; it was quite normal. Yes, I thought sometimes that it was too much, but I didn’t really think that it was that bad or that much of a problem.
When did that change?
Jenny: When I was doing social studies at university, we looked at the topic of addictions and how they develop. I realised that if I took seriously the theories around the way that addictions develop, then I had an alcohol problem.
How did you deal with that?
Jenny: I approached one of the professors about it and said to her that according to the criteria we were applying, half of Germany had an alcohol problem. She replied that that may be true, but that didn’t mean that everyone had to go to rehab! So, I thought to myself, fair enough, I can carry on then. Looking back, it’s hard. If this society had a different attitude towards alcohol, I would have stopped sooner.

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