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Old 06-14-2018, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Why "sober me" goes to the liquor store...


Hi everyone. I was having a conversation with my boyfriend after a relapse a bit ago, and I'm wondering if anyone can share any thoughts on this subject.

It's well-established that I am one of those people who turns into a completely different person while under the influence; e.g. saying things I don't actually think/believe, doing things I would never otherwise do, and just generally forgetting everything about what I consider makes me, me. My boyfriend had the misfortune to witness this relapse after knowing I had been a long while sober, and he just could not comprehend why a sober me would walk into a liquor store, take money out, and purchase a bottle that I know is going to lead to disaster.

I don't understand it either. It's almost like an out-of-body experience; I'm telling myself this is a bad idea, and yet it's as if once the idea enters my mind, I can't think of anything else until I get some booze. I tried to explain the concept of AV to him, and he basically dismissed it as a copout and stupid excuse. I wasn't trying to justify it, but rather offer an explanation. I still haven't nailed down what exactly my triggers are, because to be honest when I was actively drinking all the time, there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when I would do it.

So I'm wondering... what is everyone's response to this question: why and how does sober you go to the liquor store when I think we all know (since we are on this site) that drinking is a terrible idea? Any suggestions on how I can explain this to him without sounding like I'm trying to justify this action/make excuses for myself?

Thanks!!
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ambivalence.

Once I made the unequivocal decision to not drink ever again, I stopped drinking.

It has to have no loopholes. Doesn't matter about "triggers" - an alcoholic drinks. That's what we do.

The answer is to not drink.

All the rest of the questioning has to end with, "I don't drink. No matter what."

100% Acceptance.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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There is no possibility on earth that I would go to the liquor store. I'm sober. I don't drink.

You go to the liquor store because you have not yet quit.

You know AV is there, yet you negotiate with it. AV is a huge dark force that wins every time and the only way YOU win is to not play. Not engage. don't argue with it. Just stop it in its tracks when it is just a wayward thought.

AV has calculated steps to get you to drinking point. I laugh my head off at the thought of a liquor store so my AV starts quiet, small and stealthy.

You have to catch it early.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, I don't even look at liquor bottles. Ever. In my state they sell every type of liquor in every convenience store, drug store and grocery store. I just tune it out. If I don't drink, I don't need to look at it, right? Let alone touch it.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The AV can be a seemingly powerful lil' bastard, but at the end of the day, we are always the ones in control.
If you went into the liquor store and drank, it's because you chose to.
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by VigilanceNow View Post
So I'm wondering... what is everyone's response to this question: why and how does sober you go to the liquor store when I think we all know (since we are on this site) that drinking is a terrible idea? Any suggestions on how I can explain this to him without sounding like I'm trying to justify this action/make excuses for myself?
You've actually got 2 separate questions here.

Regarding the first, it's all about acceptance. There is no such thing as "auto pilot" when it comes to addiction. While it may seem like it, you still have to make the conscious choice to get money, enter the store, buy the alcohol and then drink the alcohol. Make no mistake - you could have decided to not do any of those things- and you have done so many times. Why you made the choices on that particular day I cannot answer - but my guess is because you weren't prepared for the thoughts/urges from your AV or addiction ( or whatever you'd like to call it ). As others have mentioned, you have to first unconditionally accept that drinking even one sip of alcohol is never an option - EVER. And you can always refer back to that point whenever you get a thought about it. Then you have to build a recovery plan that you follow every day to remind yourself of that fact. There are a myriad of possiblities - meeting based recovery, therapy, self paced, meditation, mindfulness, rehab, etc. The key is to make sobriety a regular part of your life - and not just "quit drinking" and expect it to never be an issue again.

Regarding the second part of your question, it's nigh impossible to explain addiction to anyone else - we barely understand it ourselves. You could certainly involve your partner so they could support you in some way. In the specific case of the liquor store incident, have you actually had a conversation that you have decided to quit drinking for good? Open communication is good - but at the end of the day it's all on you to start making the right decisions for yourself.
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Old 06-14-2018, 01:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I no longer drink so I have no reason to go to the liquor store or down the wine aisle at the grocery store. I don't even entertain the notion. I'm a non drinker.
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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For me it's like this:

1. Something happens and I remember the "good" part of alcohol, which is that I can capture a much happier mood in about 10 easy minutes.

2. Once I remember that I can capture that mood, then the idea of not capturing it awakens a really uncomfortable mix of emotions: anxiety, longing, depression, unfairness, impatience. This is what I think a craving is.

3. It feels at this point like the only thing that will make the craving end is making a decision to drink. That's the beginning of the sober self detouring into the liquor store. Note that the time between #2 and #3 can only be a few seconds long.

4. Then I remember all the down sides to drinking: the fact that the gentle happiness fades as one drink invariably turns into 10, the shame at relapsing, the self-hatred for the lack of self-control, the blackouts, the hangovers, the being out of control, the mess. The rational mind starts "playing the tape forward."

5. Now the AV is speaking up loud and clear, presenting me with all the rationalizations and enabling that it does. Anything to prevent that horrible, icky feeling of the craving.

So that's how the sober self detours into the liquor store, IMHO. The process above can be kind of pre-conscious, meaning it can happen really fast, without spending too much time thinking about it. That's why the AVRT works so well for me: it gets me to slow down, to listen to the rationalizations my AV is making, and to counter them with my resolve to not drink, knowing that drinking comes at too high a price to bear.

I'm new to recovery, but the big breakthrough for me was realizing that the craving is temporary. In just a few moments, those icky feelings go away, and then I can walk on past the store without going in. I can tell the AV to shut up, because it's wrong that the only thing that will make the feelings go away is the decision to drink. That's a lie. The feelings do go away without drinking.

That's how I see it. Others' experiences will obviously be different.
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree with the observations that you decided to go into the store because you had not accepted your sober status completely. You left a crack of a door open somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VigilanceNow View Post
So I'm wondering... what is everyone's response to this question: why and how does sober you go to the liquor store when I think we all know (since we are on this site) that drinking is a terrible idea? Any suggestions on how I can explain this to him without sounding like I'm trying to justify this action/make excuses for myself?
Sober me does not go into a bottle shop alone. I've been into a bottle shop accompanying friends / family when they were choosing wine, and I hung around the entrance. Nothing in the store had any interest for me. If I'm in the supermarket, I have as much reason to go down the booze aisle as I do the cat food aisle. I don't own a cat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VigilanceNow View Post
I still haven't nailed down what exactly my triggers are, because to be honest when I was actively drinking all the time, there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when I would do it.
I think your boyfriend has a suspicion that you did not do "enough" work to prevent a relapse. I think he's right. I'm not trying to make you feel bad, because we all know this is not easy, but the logic is inarguable - if you relapsed, then there IS something more you could do this time around. I'd start with this statement here, where you say there was no rhyme or reason to your drinking. Were there really no specific times of day, places you went, feelings you felt, where you drank more often than other times? What were you thinking on the day you went into that liquor store? Or the days leading up to it? I don't think the AV is some disembodied demon that jumps into us from nowhere on a clear day and instantly transforms us from sober thinking to wanting a drink, it preys on certain pre-existing loopholes and weaknesses in our mind.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Scott outlines the numerous steps you took to get to the drinking point.

Many of us here have talked about how ludicrous it is to even THINK about going to a liquor store.

That is the practice we have had with AV. We are 3-5 steps ahead of even the words "liquor store" entering our heads.

I was so concerned with protecting my sobriety, which I put above everything, and treasured like a rare gem: that even if I felt "slightly off" with no inkling of drinking at all in my head, I came here to post about it.

People thought I was bonkers and they kinda still do . But I am sober and I do not care what anyone thinks of me, I care first about my sobriety.

Your sobriety is like a fragile newborn child you are cradling in your arms. do not being up liquor stores or even think about them when you are protecting that new life.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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^^^Yes.

I am almost 28 mo sober and I am not afraid of going and doing and all that. But why would I EVER go to a liquor store? Truthfully. There is no good reason- and I can sure get other things for that party I will attend (for only as long as I feel like it and can pay respects) , I can sure....on and on.

Like Sassy said - my world only consists of what supports my life NOW. Not a thing that would be the wrong decision (more then) than an uneccessary one (now). I don't care if alcohol is around but why would I participate in things related to it, myself? No good reason. And I do everything poss to make only good decisions.

And, yeah, what Gottalife said- some normal people can get a lot closer to understanding us than most - but they never get the first hand bc they never FEEL the same things, THINK the same things or would DO (unless they are a non-drinking sociopath or such) the same things we did and would and could again.

Everything I do takes me further away from a drink- or would take me closer to it.
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Old 06-14-2018, 05:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Just don't drink. Then you don't have to explain your actions to anyone. Believe it or not, it's that simple.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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My experience is a little different in that I do remember autopilot - I guess you'f call it a fugue state.

I was conscious but dazed.

The fugue always broke tho when I opened the bottle.

The last time it happened I was on SR and a few months sober

Had a terrible day, but that say the fugue broke on the walk back from the liquor store. I dumped the bottle and I've never had auto pilot again.

anyway my point was, like others have said, you do have choices, even in a fugue state when you 'come to'...it maybe a hard thing not to take a drink at that point but far from impossible too

D
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hey VN.

I don't think you can expect your other half to be anything other than horrified. Understanding your AV is probably beyond his abilities. He loves you after all.

And we do have to take responsibility for our recovery, and do whatever we need to do to stop ourselves getting back to that stage where the obsession to drink returns and blinds us. Looking after ourselves (HALT) , and making boundaries and sticking to them so that we don't get run down physically or emotionally. Using our sober tools. Talking to others about how we're feeling.

It might be worth going back over your recovery plan. It can sometimes be easy in the busy scheme of life to stop doing some of the things that were working for us. Or to think we're past the stage when we need it. I'm an AAer and have heard 'It works if you work it' so many times, and I never mean to stop doing things for my recovery, but every so often I'll be feeling a bit rattley, and usually found I've stopped doing something that had been working. Once I start doing it regularly again, then things get better again. If this isn't the case it may be that it's worth adding some more stuff into your plan.

What does your plan for recovery look like?

Wishing you all the best for your sobriety and recovery.

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Old 06-14-2018, 09:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I had been sober for 4 months, and it came out of the blue one day. “I’m going to pick up a six pack after work”. I made up my mind out of no where, because I made the irrational mistake of “thinking” I could control my drinking. It led down a deeper, much darker road than previous alcohol escapades.

I’m content now. I know that I will never be able to drink again, and I have finally realized that it’s OKAY.
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Old 06-14-2018, 10:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Radix View Post
For me it's like this:

1. Something happens and I remember the "good" part of alcohol, which is that I can capture a much happier mood in about 10 easy minutes.

2. Once I remember that I can capture that mood, then the idea of not capturing it awakens a really uncomfortable mix of emotions: anxiety, longing, depression, unfairness, impatience. This is what I think a craving is.

3. It feels at this point like the only thing that will make the craving end is making a decision to drink. That's the beginning of the sober self detouring into the liquor store. Note that the time between #2 and #3 can only be a few seconds long.

4. Then I remember all the down sides to drinking: the fact that the gentle happiness fades as one drink invariably turns into 10, the shame at relapsing, the self-hatred for the lack of self-control, the blackouts, the hangovers, the being out of control, the mess. The rational mind starts "playing the tape forward."

5. Now the AV is speaking up loud and clear, presenting me with all the rationalizations and enabling that it does. Anything to prevent that horrible, icky feeling of the craving.

So that's how the sober self detours into the liquor store, IMHO. The process above can be kind of pre-conscious, meaning it can happen really fast, without spending too much time thinking about it. That's why the AVRT works so well for me: it gets me to slow down, to listen to the rationalizations my AV is making, and to counter them with my resolve to not drink, knowing that drinking comes at too high a price to bear.

I'm new to recovery, but the big breakthrough for me was realizing that the craving is temporary. In just a few moments, those icky feelings go away, and then I can walk on past the store without going in. I can tell the AV to shut up, because it's wrong that the only thing that will make the feelings go away is the decision to drink. That's a lie. The feelings do go away without drinking.

That's how I see it. Others' experiences will obviously be different.
A really good summary. I sometimes felt like my feet had of their own going to the store, yet somewhere in the back of my mind I was like "this is the worst idea ever". I sympathise x
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Old 06-14-2018, 10:35 PM   #17 (permalink)
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For me it's like this:

1. Something happens and I remember the "good" part of alcohol, which is that I can capture a much happier mood in about 10 easy minutes.

2. Once I remember that I can capture that mood, then the idea of not capturing it awakens a really uncomfortable mix of emotions: anxiety, longing, depression, unfairness, impatience. This is what I think a craving is.

3. It feels at this point like the only thing that will make the craving end is making a decision to drink. That's the beginning of the sober self detouring into the liquor store. Note that the time between #2 and #3 can only be a few seconds long.

4. Then I remember all the down sides to drinking: the fact that the gentle happiness fades as one drink invariably turns into 10, the shame at relapsing, the self-hatred for the lack of self-control, the blackouts, the hangovers, the being out of control, the mess. The rational mind starts "playing the tape forward."

5. Now the AV is speaking up loud and clear, presenting me with all the rationalizations and enabling that it does. Anything to prevent that horrible, icky feeling of the craving.

So that's how the sober self detours into the liquor store, IMHO. The process above can be kind of pre-conscious, meaning it can happen really fast, without spending too much time thinking about it. That's why the AVRT works so well for me: it gets me to slow down, to listen to the rationalizations my AV is making, and to counter them with my resolve to not drink, knowing that drinking comes at too high a price to bear.

I'm new to recovery, but the big breakthrough for me was realizing that the craving is temporary. In just a few moments, those icky feelings go away, and then I can walk on past the store without going in. I can tell the AV to shut up, because it's wrong that the only thing that will make the feelings go away is the decision to drink. That's a lie. The feelings do go away without drinking.

That's how I see it. Others' experiences will obviously be different.
A really good summary. I sometimes felt like my feet had of their own going to the store, yet somewhere in the back of my mind I was like "this is the worst idea ever". I sympathise x
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Old 06-14-2018, 10:44 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I live in the UK and you and get booze anywhere. Even at the gas station. It's really not that simple about choice, especially in early recovery. I experienced Auopilot and have had academic papers published on it. It's to do with Neurology (which isn't always choice, but conditioning)
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Old 06-15-2018, 12:47 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I've relapsed twice after long-term sobriety...once after 6+ years sober (relapse lasted for a year) and once after 7 years sober (relapse lasted for 8 years). Looking back I had abandoned any type of recovery plan and was relying on my own willpower to stay sober. I had reverted to thinking and behaving like an active alcoholic minus the alcohol well before I actually picked up a drink. That was my experience anyway. It might have seemed like everything was fine and the relapse came out of nowhere, but it was what I wasn't doing on a daily basis anymore to treat my alcoholism that led to my relapses.
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Old 06-15-2018, 05:52 AM   #20 (permalink)
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For an alcoholic of my type, "just don't drink" doesn't cut it. If you can stay sober on that sort of thinking, you are not like me. I tried it a thousand times. It was the first thing I thought of. I lacked the Power to pull it off.

What you are talking about is emphasised over and over in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

"Page 43, Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power".

As Grungehead said, in hindsight we can often see what went wrong, the chain of events, but IME, we almost never see it coming.

The cause is the obsession of the mind. The idea comes back that it is ok to drink, and all the good reasons for not drinking fade away into the background. They do not come with sufficient force to save us. In my case, they never came at all. It is that insidious insanity of the fatal first drink. It is like a state of psychosis, the reality of the situation completely escapes us.

I made decisions galore to quit. I meant it with all my being. Sometimes I would be drinking days later, sometimes only hours. Most times I don't even remember taking the first few. I remember often taking the third and then remembering I was not supposed to be drinking.

What you have been experiencing is very normal for the real alcoholic.

"page 24" The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink."

This was my experience, and the experience of hundreds of others I have met. It sounds a lot like your experience too.
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