Conflicting motivations & the loop I'm in

Old 05-12-2020, 05:10 AM
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Conflicting motivations & the loop I'm in

A big part of what motivates my drinking is not so much the pleasure that I get out of it, but how MISERABLE I've been during those times I've forced myself not to drink and white-knuckled it.
A lot of people argue that drinking or not is a 'choice', as if it's a matter of willpower (ergo, if you don't you're weak-willed). If the result of exercising that choice makes you miserable.
Our motivation is shaped by two base desires; experience pleasure, avoid pain, carrot and stick. There's carrot and stick to and to not, raelly four;Carrot to drink (e.g. pleasure etc.)Stick to drink (escape pain, comfort, relieving anxiety)Stick to not drink (e.g. avoid a hangover, health costs, tiredness)Carrot to not drink (e.g. desire to look better & lose weight)

The loop I'm in
How many people have had this experience; having a hangover, never wanting a drink again, then days later, crawling up the wall for one, buckling?
What's happening on the hangover day or the day after? There's the big stick factor. Days later that becomes a distant memory & you lost that leverage.

What happens if you resist & white-knuckle? What if that experience is DRAWN-OUT TORTURE and miserable. It makes you want to drink even more.
The loop goes something like this;
>hangover>initially don't want to drink>the stick of the hangover loses it's leverage, desire to drink emerges again>a) drink again b) resist>experience utter misery and feelings of deprivation>even stronger desire to drink (the 'stick' of that white-knuckling session)>Binge and hangover, the loop goes round ad-infinitum

The more times I try to resist, the more I want it. The longer I go without or the more times I white-knuckle it, the more I drink.
How many times have you heard about people 'yo-yo dieting'; depriving themselves of the thing they want the most, feeling miserable, then when they do give in they end up gorging themselves and putting the weight back on? This is exactly what's happening with me regarding drinking.

If you white-knuckle through enough times with shear willpower.
The 'willpower method' is akin to damming a stream, the water builds up behind the dam, using willpower is like piling more bricks on the damn. The water pressure builds up at the bottom. It doesn't matter how strong you are or how high you build the dam, without a safe way to divert the water, it WILL collapse and burst. The higher the water level, the more force and pressure it will burst out with. I hope that's a good analogy.

Thoughts about people who're successfully soberThey probably have more 'carrots' to not drink & fewer 'sticks' to drink. Alcohol probably is no longer such a central part of their lives. Either that or they must have the mental strength of a hydraulic ram with a power station driving the pump.
What I want to do here is to look into those bits that make those times when I resist so miserable and for ways to make them more bearable. To be honest, a HUGE part of what motivates me to start drinking & also what makes it hard to stop is memories of times I've felt MISERABLE without. I have a gut feeling that I'm onto something. I have a gut feeling that I'm looking in the right direction and might soon discover the key.
Thanks for reading.
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Old 05-12-2020, 05:29 AM
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You just described alcoholism.
Alcohol was my solution until it stopped working, now I need a New solution!
Those are found in the many programs of recovery that are available.
I wish you well on your sober journey!
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by vulcan30 View Post

What happens if you resist & white-knuckle? What if that experience is DRAWN-OUT TORTURE and miserable. It makes you want to drink even more.
Every one who has attained lasting sobriety has gone through the same drawn out obsession to drink and gotten through it. So can you.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:44 AM
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Those 12 steps changed me and my perspective on life. Complete 180!
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:26 AM
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Hi Vulcan, that very much described my cycle too. I can say from my experience that the obsessive desire to drink again DID get better. I'm almost 11 months sober and the desire is mostly gone - even if I do have a "nostalgic twinge" for booze, it tends to be fleeting and is easily overcome by rational thought.
Short term pain for long term gain. As cliche as that sounds.
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Old 05-12-2020, 01:25 PM
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It is very hard at first but over time it gets easier and eventually even pleasurable. Staying sober, what you call white knuckling, and recovery are very different things.
Recovery is remaking yourself. We are not special, and if we can do it so can you.
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Old 05-12-2020, 06:31 PM
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Oh I totally agree with all that you said. My big issue is that the carrots keep getting smaller and the stick much larger.

I dont know how long I can last but I figure its best to jump off the merry go round with everything I have.

Theres two things people say around here that drive me nuts. The first one is that I need to want to be sober more than I want to drink. The other is that because I am here there is a part of me that truly does want sobriety. Annoying but I am starting to believe that they are right.
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Old 05-13-2020, 03:53 AM
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Hi Vulcan,
It's a real humdinger isn't it - the conflicting messages you get internally .
Speaking from my own viewpoint, I can totally relate to the 'carrot & stick' analogy, I suffered with that big time in my quest to conquer alcohol. Just to give you some background, my history is littered with loads of failed attempts, stretching over decades.I would get that very same 'drawn out torture' feeling - unhappiness, fear of missing out, knowing I should totally avoid drink, will I ever be happy again without it, but I need it etc.
When drinking, I would sit there in a pile of empty bottles, with half eaten food strewn around, intense feelings of doom, knowing I was in trouble. A couple of days would pass, and then sublime thoughts of "aah it wasn't so bad last time" would kick in ... hey presto... go through it all again.
Again, just my opinion - coming to terms with the issue first is the key. I knew I just couldn't keep doing it.It was more, "Ok, I give in" so now I'm going to get angry with it. I looked on it as an abusive relationship (when you turn on the abuser). I then could get outside help with it. Further down the line, you can then become ambivalent to it. That's when your strength really starts to grow !!!
So, I've managed to have around 2 years (can't remember the exact date ... see what I did there ?) of a real decent way of living, not miserably. I'm excited about stuff again. I don't miss alcohol any more.If any fleeting thoughts cross my mind, I just straight away think of the room with the empty bottles and half eaten food.
Hopefully this helps Vulcan & you can do it !All the very best,Johnnie.
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Old 05-15-2020, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by vulcan30 View Post
The more times I try to resist, the more I want it. The longer I go without or the more times I white-knuckle it, the more I drink.
I think that you've identified an important obstacle to sobriety in what's clearly become a pattern for you. It's a remarkable thing when we use our insanity to make ourselves feel even crazier. I most definitely needed a way to do something different than that, to stop attacking myself, to believing the content of my often distorted thinking.

I'm with what other people have posted here.

Living for years, sometimes decades, with alcohol-induced impaired thinking can be a nightmare. No one knows how long it will take for them to experience improvement.

People have gotten sober on their own, without a program or any other treatment. Most of us sought help. Besides, why miss out on helping someone to be happy by allowing them to support us in our recovery?

I got sober with the help of AA, substance abuse treatment, and therapy. Inpatient detox following a very destructive relapse. I needed all the help I could get. I know myself well enough to know that it would not have stopped drinking without it.

Maybe you need something else?
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Old 05-16-2020, 12:46 AM
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An other way to understand : wanting is wanting. Wanting is a habit. If the habit is to respond to things is to want. 'I don't want this, I want that. When that is here I want it to stay, I want it to not go away. When it (as things always do) goes away I want it to come back and I want that which has come instead to go away, and on and on endlessly wanting, wanting, wanting'. Is it surprising that the tendency to want is continually affirmed and arises stronger and stronger.?

If so, what if one simply accepts the situation (constantly changing) without any clinging, just accepting it.? 'at the moment the craving is arisen within me, let me simply see how long it lasts' meanwhile going about doing the wholesome things that every life needs. Sweeping, caring, and so on...

In this way we starve the tendency to want. Surely it will initially fight for attention. 'I want you to want me....' it screams. In time it will naturally evaporate because we don't feed it.

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Old 05-16-2020, 08:46 AM
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It took me about 20 tries to get real distance from smoking. Probably more little swear offs in between. Same with drinking for me I suppose. Everyone abhors cigarette addiction. Understands it. On the other hand, society endorses drinking, fawns over it as a sign of high status and vitality. What is it?

It helps me to really par it down and to remind myself that I got addicted to alcohol early on, much as they say people are hooked on meth after the first puff. It was a peak experience of a substance that I have had to acknowledge and walk away from as well as walk away from a layer of collective belief and behavior. With some subtle nuances I suppose Alcohol=meth=crack=sugar=addiction. It takes some tries to get separation on.

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