Recently, my Internet recovery travels have been frequently arriving at discussions on the topic of Moderation vs. Abstinence. Many of these discussions involve folks in very early sobriety, or undertaking experimentation with abstinence – not sure if they will continue. I read their stories and see myself, and I will be 100% honest and admit that my alcoholic ego wants to post comments on their blogs, to “help” them, to tell them what they should do, which of course would be doing it my way. I am torn between my self centered belief that my way is the only right way, and my knowledge that in reality it is different for everybody. Wondering if I am really trying to help them or just trying to feed my own ego. I have decided to quell the internal noise with this post, by discussing what it is like for me. No suggestions, no judgements, just what it is for me. Take it as you will.
I have thought much about why I drank. My initial answer was that I was shy and serious, and used drinking to “come out” and be fun and likable, to feel comfortable, to be happy. To hide my sadness and find reprieve from my troubles. I am sure some of this is true, especially in the early days. The more I considered it though, the less of an explanation it was. I drank when I was uncomfortable, comfortable, happy, sad, shy, feeling outgoing, to mourn, to celebrate, when it tasted good, when it tasted disgusting, in good weather, in bad weather, at parties, at funerals, at adult events, at kids events, when I felt liked, when I felt disliked, with others, and by myself. Given all this, I really can now only come to one conclusion:
I drank to get drunk, because I was addicted to the feeling – period.
This conclusion leads me to the two points which define my choice between abstinence and moderation. The first being that if I drank to get drunk then that is exactly what I would do if I tried to moderate – I have no reason to believe otherwise. These are chemical reactions we are talking about, I put a chemical in my body that releases other chemicals in my brain that makes me react in a certain way that is unique to myself – how could I possibly believe that this chemical reaction would magically change – ever? That first drink would put me right back on that merry-go-round, spinning as fast or faster than it ever was. The second reason is that I really have no interest in drinking in moderation. I drank to get drunk, remember? That was the point. When The Beast is telling me I could have just a drink or two because it will taste good, or I deserve it, it is a lie. He knows that if he can only get me to the playground, he can push me right back onto that merry-go-round. I’ve been there before, and it doesn’t do anything new, same endless spinning circles as before.
So folks, that is it for me. Abstaining is my choice, I will not have a drink today.