Was he an alcoholic? (1 Viewer)

The whole problem with alcoholism is the self diagnosis criteria. I speak from experience of being around the AA rooms myself. I often battle with my own diagnosis. I like a drink and often get drunk.

If you claim you are not an alcoholic it is very difficult to proove otherwise. Of course the reverse is true. Claiming you are an alcoholic does not mean that you are one...

However, if you are getting wasted everyday, regardless of whether you are an alcoholic or not, then the label alcoholic is just semantics...

Father Luke

Founding member
Well, there's this thread:

C L I C K - H E R E

He said he was, once I think it was that interview he did with the deep freeze
website. I can't be arsed to find the fucking link right now. But he said he was.
Sort of as a little boast, you know? 'Yeah. I'm alcoholic.'

I wouldn't have any problems believing him in that regard.

Then he's said no. He isn't.
I won't find the fucking cites for that either.
But I'd believe him again, you know? Maybe he's just a ham fisted drinker.

The point is that...
oh man...

What is the point?
Hank was outta his fakin'mind.
He mellowed towards the end, thanks to Linda.
What kinds question is this anyways?
Do you think he was full of shit or something?
What is the point?
Well, an alcoholic is in self denial. One moment they are able to admit they are alcoholics, the next not. Thats part of the disease process, if you buy into that.

Although, I don't really see that as being Hanks problem. I think his approach to booze was neatly summarised in the buk tapes when he talks about a guy getting a bottle of whisky and drinking it to dull the pain of his everyday life.

For him, in such a situation, only a true madman would NOT drink.

I have to agree.
I've read many, many of his books of prose, poetry, short stories and I can't recall any mention of him drinking or any mention of alcohol at all.

What? You are joking right? Are we talking about the same Bukowski? Is there such a book out there, where Buk doesn't even mention drinking????

Buk always said he was alcoholic, but....Didn't he stop drinking completely when he was fighting the TB-bug? I mean the antibiotics wouldn't have worked if he had been drinking... So he could stop drinking if he had to.


It is what it is
Bukowski drink?!

Oh... maybe in one of his novels (the romance, I think) where he talks of enjoying a snifter of port before retiring to the parlour with Lady Fairbottom.

Yeah, he was joking


He only drank lemon tea....


To answer your question:

He drank nearly every day for almost 60 years, with a few short breaks for medical reasons. Is that an alcoholic? I say yes, but it is all a label and I don't really see the point. He clearly liked to drink and did it on a very regular basis.

Yeah, he was joking

Oh, it was a joke! I didn't get it...stupid me, huh? :o

Well stupid says:
I think alcohol was a lifestyle for Bukowski. Alcohol is a problem for the alcoholic, but it wasn't a problem for Buk. It was what he wanted to do. I think people who are alcoholic want to stop drinking, but can't. Buk could stop drinking when he had to, but didn't want to.

But he was addicted to alcohol, he needed it...so if that is considered alcoholism, then he was.
The Answer to This Recurring Question

Was he an alcoholic?

Surprise surprise--this depends on how you define your terms.

Stipulation #1: S is an alcoholic if and only if S is a habitual drunkard.

Relative to #1, Bukowski was an alcoholic.

Stipulation #2: S is an alocholic if and only if S has a physical dependency on alcohol.

Relative to #2, it is not clear that Bukowski was an alcoholic. He may only have had an intense desire to drink, but no physical need to drink.

Notice that one can be an alcoholic relative to #1 without being one relative to #2.

Stipulation #3: S is an alcoholic if and only if S's drinking repeatedly interferes with important aspects of S's life, such as friendships, family, work, etc.

Relative to #3, it is not clear that Bukowski was an alcoholic. While drinking may have interefered with some of Bukowski's friendships or romances or both, he maintained that he could not work (i.e. write) productively without it. Therefore, alcohol helped his life in some ways and hurt it in other ways. Whether it helped him more than it hurt him is anybody's guess.

Notice that one can be an alcoholic in sense #3 without being an alcoholic in sense #2.

Like so many other Internet discussions, this turns into quibbling over word meanings.

I stick by my original ascertain that Bukowski rarely drank, if at all, and I think this holds true with the various members of this site as well.

I appear to be the only aberration to this fact.
He was definitely an alcoholic and as someone already posted, he was fine with saying it himself

from: Love is A Mad Dog From Hell

I don't know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I dont know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
"what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!"

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horney cowboys.

well, there's beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.
I stick by my original ascertain that Bukowski rarely drank, if at all, and I think this holds true with the various members of this site as well.

I appear to be the only aberration to this fact.


That's such an odd thing to say, even if you are joking?

I guess everybody who ever knew him, can tell that he drank and drank and drank...

So why do you say he didn't? Where do you base your argument?

It's a joke right?

"Bukowski was a religious man and he never drank and he never wrote, and didn't even know how to and was rased by loving parents and and and..."

What's the point?
It's a joke right?
Of course Bukowski mentions beer and alcohol and drinking but if you're aware of modern poetry where no one says what they mean it is obvious that these are all metaphors.

Thanks Adrian for printing that great poem but I believe "beer" is really a metaphor for "existential angst."

I hope this helps in your reading and understanding of Bukowski.
I think he had an enviable relationship with booze. Nowadays you hear of kids binge-drinking themselves into the emergency room and being added to the waiting list for replacement liver.
Was he an alcoholic?
I don't care. He lived his life and he enjoyed his escape from monotony through alcohol, which in turn helped him to become one of the greatest writers and poets in history.
Nothing else matters.

Now, i'm gonna crack open a bottle of scotch and become the next writing 'genius'


Art should be its own hammer.
Reaper Crew
Founding member
he seemed to lack the guilt and shame of drinking to excess that most alcoholics generally have.
the joy of getting shitfaced followed by the morning of remorse. and repeat.
I've been thinking quite a bit lately about john o'brien, another 'alcoholic' writer. he killed himself after his first novel 'leaving las vegas' became quite a success . when it was being made into the movie, he took his own life. he was consumed with guilt over his drinking and what it was doing to him, his family, friends, etc.
buk lacked this guilt, at least to this extreme.
and just to finish the thought on o'brien, his 'stripper lessons' and 'the assault on tony's' are also excellent novels.
That is an astute observation. I recently read a couple of poems where Bukowski mocked AA and alcoholics saying what they consider excess was what he considered "tapering off". Anyhow, was he an alcoholic.

Fuck yes!
I think I heard him say in an interview, an I believe, he was an alcoholic, but not a drunk. He still wrote professionally and managed to do things, and didn't just sit around all day losing brain cells.


Long ago I had an alcoholic girlfriend who ended up in AA, and I went to a few meetings with her - one of the warnings that one might be an alky is that one's life is controlled by alcohol.

I think when someone repeatedly chooses to get drunk on the job, before driving, regardless of the consequences, I'd say he's controlled by alcohol.


It is what it is
Therein lies the paradox.
If you have regular AA meetings you are still, in a sense, controlled by alcohol.
The active avoidance of.
I could never do it... listening to other peoples sob stories... then I'd really need a drink!
I'm not an alcoholic but regularly have blackouts when I get too drunk. Never used to happen in the younger days. This is not good thing and I hate being told the next day if I've done something ridiculous and can't remember even doing it

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