Being an alcoholic frickin’ sucks. Not only are you really, really bad at drinking, but come to find out, your body literally cannot process alcohol. On top of that, depending on how long your drinking career has been, you’re probably dealing with a giant heap of really obnoxious personal consequences. Maybe you’ve raked up a couple of DUIs, maybe your family hates your guts, or maybe you can’t hold down a job for longer than an hour and a half. Whatever the case may be, you’re a victim of your circumstances, and you flat out cannot drink. Not even a sip. You come to terms with that sad fact eventually and reach out for professional help. It’s a major step – and an absolutely terrifying one – but at some point, you know it’s a decision you have to make. At a certain point, that decision becomes a matter of life or death.
For alcoholics who are new to sobriety, this pill might be a little too hard to swallow. Never drink again? I mean, sure, alcohol wreaked nothing but havoc, completely destroying every single quality of your life up until you found yourself in a psych ward, in jail or in rehab. But never again? I mean, come on. That blows. Surely, there must be a time somewhere down the line when you’ll be able to enjoy just one beer or a single margarita. A time when you will be deemed “all clear,” and you’ll finally be able to drink in moderation. So… Do you really have to stop forever? What’s the point of Alcoholics Anonymous if the program can’t teach you how to successfully control and enjoy your drinking?
Drinking in Moderation
For all intents and purposes, “moderate drinking” is considered between one and two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is either one 1.5 oz. shot of liquor, one 5 oz. glass of wine or one 12 oz. pint of beer (or one cocktail, if you feel like getting fancy). In most cases, men and women who struggle with a diagnosable alcohol abuse disorder will never be able to return to moderate drinking. Why? Most heavy drinkers eventually admit that they are powerless over alcohol – that they suffer from a physical allergy to the stuff, and even one sip will set them down a path of self-destruction. The idea of total abstinence can be difficult, which is why many alcoholics repeatedly attempt to control their intake. This stressful and fruitless process of rationalization, justification and bargaining generally occurs before an alcoholic commits to seeking professional addiction treatment, or before he or she becomes an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I remember that things started to get noticeably bad for me sometime in college. My friends were fed up with my antics, I was on academic probation, I wasn’t getting along with my roommates and I was really starting to loathe the person I had become. Let’s just say – I wasn’t treating myself with any level of respect. I was drinking on a daily basis, and I was drinking a lot. I knew that I needed to stop. I tried to stop on my own accord. After half a day of sobriety, I realized I didn’t have it in me to quit entirely – not like that, anyways, not cold turkey. So, I bargained with myself. I said, “You can have one glass of wine at dinner.” After a few hours, this changed to, “You can have one glass of wine with lunch and dinner – not breakfast, obviously, you crazy lush.” Then, “Well, if breakfast is at 11am it really doesn’t matter all that much. Maybe champagne rather than wine. Something a little lighter.” Then, “Well, if one glass of wine is good, two is even better.” You get the picture. Soon, I was right back to square one. If this story sounds familiar, there is a good chance that moderation is never going to be an option. I learned this lesson the hard way.
I found myself in a three-month long rehab program, and then transferred immediately into a sober living home, where I stayed for 6 months. Eventually, I had racked up a solid year of sobriety. It was amazing. I had landed my dream job, I had an amazing and supportive group of authentic friends, my parents were actually proud of me and I had become financially independent. Life was so good. Looking back, nothing was missing. I was genuinely happy for the first time in years and years.
Still, I got to wondering, “What would happen if I had just one drink?” I was 23-years old after all – still a youngin. Even though I had it all, my alcoholic brain was not yet healed, and I continued to fantasize about sipping a martini in a fancy restaurant with a hot date. Or something. So, I tried. Guess what happened? I wound up right back where I started – and THAT truly sucked. Sobriety was a blessing. Drinking was a curse, and it always had been.
Why Do You Need to Drink in Moderation?
If you have any length of sobriety under your belt, or if you are still on the fence about getting sober because you fear giving up booze forever – ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to drink in moderation? What does alcohol really do for me?” You might be struggling with the idea of actually being an alcoholic. This is a pretty intense term – once you admit that all hope of moderation goes down the toilet, right? The truth is, there is really no shame in being an alcoholic. In fact, entering into a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous – a program of continuous self-betterment – allows you to become the very best version of yourself and go on to live a life that is truly beyond your wildest dreams. If you are still wondering whether or not you are actually an alcoholic (or just someone that likes getting drunk on occasion) there are several things to consider. Ask yourself the following questions, and if you answer “yes” to one or more, it might be a good idea to reach out for help (or at least for more information).
- Do I try to control my drinking, but find myself unable to do so?
- Have I subbed out hard liquor for beer, thinking that will help?
- Do I find that I lose control of the amount I drink regularly?
- Have people commented on my drinking habits, maybe even expressing concern?
- Do I black out regularly, forgetting parts of what happened while I was intoxicated?
- Do I find myself thinking about drinking when alcohol isn’t readily available?
- Am I avoiding seeking help because the idea of total abstinence is terrifying?
- Do I feel a life without alcohol will be unfulfilling?
- Do I justify the reasons why I drink and how often I drink?
- Have I experienced consequences as a direct result of my drinking patterns?
Begin Your Journey of Alcohol Addiction Recovery
For more information on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, reach out to Chapel Hill Detox today. Our comprehensive program of alcohol detox provides men and women of all ages with the first step on every effective recovery program – a safe alcohol withdrawal.