As I said previously, alcoholic symptoms were not something I noticed when I was with my daughter. Alcoholism, drug addiction ...words that didn't even enter my mind.
If you research the definition of an alcoholic, you generally find a distinction made between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The term alcohol abuse is generally applied to the practice of continuing to drink alcohol even after drinking has caused problems in a person's life. These People drinking alcohol and abusing it may have problems involving performance at school or work or driving while drunk and getting in trouble legally. These problems may be occupational, social, physical, or psychological.
My daughter was never in trouble in high school. At least, not to my knowledge. She was a star athlete in three different sports and made good grades. We were never called in by the school to discuss any problems, any bad behavior .....nothing. I think her extreme involvement in sports also made all of us believe that she couldn't possibly be drinking too much or doing drugs. She was such an incredible athlete. How could someone that functioned that well physically and mentally be abusing alcohol? There were no alcoholic symptoms and the thought just never, ever even entered my mind.
Alcoholism, as opposed to alcohol abuse, has even more serious symptoms. Getting drunk frequently, drinking in dangerous situations, driving while drunk, blacking out, rage, violence ....we certainly didn't observe any of these signs.
Did I think my daughter never took a drink? Absolutely not. I thought that she drank socially like all the other kids did, but I thought that she, in particular, was very mature and responsible.
When she went away to college, I, of course, had even less time with her and certainly couldn't observe her daily life and ability to function. However, she went to college on an athletic scholarship, played two sports instead of one, and everything still seemed totally normal. She would tell her dad and me about the rigid training schedule that the coach required and we laughingly but truthfully would remark to each other how that would "keep her out of trouble."
Those remarks weren't made because we suspected our daughter was in trouble or would get in trouble. We said those things just because it is common knowledge most kids drink and party a lot during the college years and like any other parent, I was happy to know that many of her evenings were filled with athletic activities rather than partying.
And that's really how it went. Nothing out of the ordinary. No lack of an ability to function at a high level. A seemingly normal, happy, healthy college girl. Absolutely not alcoholic symptoms.
So how did I find out?
A phone call in the middle of the night from the police station while she was home on a break from school. She called and asked me to come get her and her boyfriend from the police station. They had been taken in for disturbing the peace and when I arrived at the station, it was obvious that they were very drunk.
After I took them home and she fell asleep, I tossed and turned the rest of the night and two things stood out in my mind. (1) Even though the police had not seen them driving while drunk, her car was parked in a location where one of them absolutely had to have been driving drunk to get it there. (2) There was a rage present that I had never seen before. She had apparently thrown her cell phone at her boyfriend and it was smashed on the ground. She also had screamed at me when I got her home, telling me how much she hated me. That had never happened before.
That night and those clues were absolutely the first even hint that my daughter had a problem with alcohol. I was terrified, but little did I know that we had barely scratched the surface of the problem.