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Old 05-07-2018, 12:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My guide to moderation


I was thinking of what the most important things to do if you are deciding whether to quit or to "moderate" your addiction to alcohol. For many years I employed the following techniques and I feel it necessary to share with those with similar experience or with those who are considering moderation.

1. Get comfortable with lying.
1a. Start with lying to your self. This is crucial, do not skip this step or moderating your intake may fail and you might just quit drinking entirely. The lies you tell yourself may be different depending on where you are in your addiction to booze. Maybe the lie is something like "I don't have a problem like Mr./Ms. X, so I'm not really an alcoholic". Perfect, start there. If for some reason you don't believe your lie and doubts creep in about your problem with alcohol, tweak the lie! Maybe say, "Sure I have gotten into trouble with my drinking, may have done somethings I'm not proud of, etc..., but life without alcohol is going to suck." Yes! That's it. Very, very important lie. You should support this lie with other lies about how great alcohol makes you feel, about how cool you are when you drink. Tell yourself it relaxes you, that you deserve it. A pro tip: get sad about not being able to drink again. This can put a lot of leverage on your ability to avoid quitting. If you focus on your sadness, avoiding the truth about what alcohol has done to you and will do to you, then you can keep the lies going.

1b. Lie to everyone you know. Yes, I know, this sounds a bit melodramatic. But it is not. That's why it's part of Rule 1. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Your kids, your significant other, parents, boss. You must get comfortable looking people you love right in their face and denying how much alcohol you drank that day. You have to get used to accurate accusations that you are wasted from people who care about you. Confront these accusations with blatant, bald-faced lies. Deny, deny, deny. If you feel guilty about betraying those closest to you, use this trick (another pro tip!) - tell yourself they are trying to take alcohol away from you! Think of the fact they want to deny you the right to get obliterated! Screw them. You want to moderate - if they can't understand, then they must be lied to. It's as simple as that.

2. Count drinks. This is a fun one because you will not be able to do so for long. But that's ok, let it go. Not all these rules are as important as the others. Have fun here - maybe skip every other drink when you feel like it. Don't worry though, you'll have enough stress trying to follow the other rules. Give yourself a break. Have another.

3. Alternate the days that your alternate drinking. This is genius! You may have thought, Oh I'll just drink every OTHER day. Or maybe, I'll do 3 on, 2 off. Or just weekends + Thursday and why not Monday! The choices are yours of course! If you feel like the days are merging into one another, have no fear. This is the magic of moderation.

4. You'll save money. Rock solid truth here. You won't be spending as much on booze because you will start buying the cheapest crap available that you are able to chug down! Might be that weird Eastern European vodka on the bottom shelf with dust on it at the store, maybe it's even Franzia. Either way, you won't have to worry about getting top shelf anymore - you are going to try and pack as much drinking into your "moderation" as possible, so the cheap booze must flow. An added savings = food! You will feel like death after a 3 day binge and not want to eat on your "sober day" (really just a hungover day) so you won't waste your hard earned money on sustenance!

5. This a corollary of Rule 1 - switch stores. Maybe you are doing this already. If so, great. The point is don't always buy your poison from the same place. You want to save face with the cashiers right? You don't want THEM thinking you have a problem. Plus, if you are slipping on your moderation (and this is guaranteed to happen), they may catch wind. So get into a rotation. Also one store may open/close at times that better suit your drinking habits. Maybe you don't like the attitude you get from the clerks because you smell like gin at 9am on a Tuesday with your kid in tow. Avoid clerks like that. They may discourage you from moderating and who wants that.

6. Hiding spots. Do I really need to tell you about this one? I didn't think so. If for some weird reason you haven't been hiding alcohol around your house or in the backs of drawers at work, well you are behind the game. You'll need those bottles when people are around who might have the audacity to judge how much you are drinking. A related issues will be empties, which leads to...

7. Get a system for empties. Again, in order to disguise our moderation from others (neighbors are ALWAYS included) we have to figure out ways to get rid of all the empty bottles that accumulate. If you haven't been shocked by the sheer number of empty bottles in your trash then you haven't started really moderating. This is always a sign that you are finally truly moderating. So - maybe you take them out at night, maybe you stuff a couple in your purse or briefcase (don't forget them there, that will be embarrassing!). However you do it you don't want people you live with or even near to see how many empty bottles it takes to moderate.

8. Avoid mirrors. This one needs to be kept simple. If you have to get yourself presentable for work (hopefully you can avoid responsibilities like work as much as possible) then try not to look yourself in the eye. I can't stress this one enough. Avoid eye contact with yourself.

9. Shame. Get used to this feeling. It's self-imposed anyhow right? So chalk up the shame you feel to all that you have to feel sorry for about yourself and your life. Instead of seeing the shame you feel for the life of moderation that you are living, subvert this feeling into self-pity. The best moderators in the business do this effortlessly. Tap into anything that might work - upbringing, physical/mental makeup, tough relationships, bad luck, genetics, who is president, your favorite sports team stinks - doesn't matter what. Since you know you are just drinking because you are an addict and that these "root causes" are not the reason you are moderating, any of them can work. Shame is tough though. You'll have to combat it often. Stay strong.

10. Do not change your drinking habits. Hang out with other drinkers and around the same places you always have drank. For some this means the bar where everyone knows your name. For others this might mean under the covers with the shades shut in their living room. Point is - whatever it was that you have always done in your drinking life, don't change it.

11. Chase every drink with 8oz of water. Ha, I'm kidding.

12. Embrace your inner night owl. You will often be up at 3am, unable to sleep, wracked with fear and anxiety. Expect this to happen. This a sacrifice you'll have to make so you can keep moderating! Find a way to justify these horrible, soulless nights where your mouth is dry and your thoughts are out of control and your body feels like you fell off a small shed. You must get through these nights and not let the pain you feel during them change your moderating. Maybe catch up on viral videos, porn often works. Give yourself a break now and then and just have a couple sips of alcohol so that you can sleep from 6am until you wake up in state of shame (see Rule 9 above).

13. Use context clues when you blackout and can't remember putting your kid to bed the night before. This can also apply to conversations with parents or arguments with your spouse. Act somewhat aloof, let the other person talk. Don't ask to many questions about what happened as this may give away that you can't remember anything after 7pm when you finished a bottle of merlot to your head that you had hidden behind the oven. Fake it till you make it. Most of the time the other person won't realize you were totally blacked out. This is because people who aren't moderating can't relate to blackouts so they won't assume you were. You can also just act like you have a bad memory in other aspect of your life to cover. There will be more and more blackouts the longer you moderate so my advice is try and withdraw from the relationships you have that matter in your life. Protecting your right to moderate is the most important thing.

14. To keep this going as long as possible, distort your values. This final piece of advice is for the hardcore moderators. If used properly this technique can keep moderation going almost indefinitely, or until drinking kills you or puts you in jail. To accomplish this, put the value you give to your addiction to alcohol above everything else in your life. It has to be number one. Alcohol will most likely take everything from you if you can moderate long enough. If you get the sense that you might lose things that other people who aren't moderating value - like family or health or the wherewithal to provide for others or the ability to raise a soup spoon to your mouth without shaking so badly the soup falls back into the bowl - you have to let these things go. You must believe in your heart of hearts that drinking is the most important thing. Again, if you value the things that truly do matter in life, these things may interfere with your drinking. I say this as a stern warning.

Warning: there may come a time when your whole being finally understands that moderating your drinking will ruin the rest of your life. You will have to choose between drinking and losing everything else or quitting. The choice will be yours. I hope this helps.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Brilliant, lessgravity!
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well said. This should be a sticky in the F&F forum.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow! This is a masterpiece and I agree, should be sticky. I related to EVERYTHING--every single one. #12 and #13 ring especially true for me. The soulless, sleepless, anxiety ridden nights, laying there dehydrated and nauseous trying to remember what you said and did in the hours before you went to bed. Wondering if it's going to be one of "those" mornings when your spouse and kids are giving you dirty looks and you have to try to connect the puzzle pieces with the blank spots of your memory while pretending you remember everything. Which always leads straight to #1 (both a and b) and again to #9. Awesome post, thank you!
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yep. So much easier just to quit for good. Took me A LOT of years to figure that one out!
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Old 05-07-2018, 06:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Ugh. Painfully true. I hope this post is shared a lot
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Perfect post!!!!
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So true in every single way. This post really speaks to me. The waking up at 3...just knowing how bad you are going to feel when the alarm goes off, and not having a clue how wonderful or terrible you were to your family before you passed out. Insanity and hell.
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The worst thing about active alcoholism is the damage we do to people who care about us. I have the right to destroy my own life but not spouses, partners and never children.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCDoglvr View Post
The worst thing about active alcoholism is the damage we do to people who care about us. I have the right to destroy my own life but not spouses, partners and never children.
Sadly enough many of us choose that right. It is the worst aspect of it all.

It can also extend to how we treat ourselves though too - if active alcoholics ruled the world nothing would get done, it'd be a dangerous place at best and a disgraceful mess at worst.
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerBeerLover View Post
Yep. So much easier just to quit for good. Took me A LOT of years to figure that one out!
He shoot's he scores!! Home Run.. LOL!

There is an easier way.. Total abstinence was my only ticket to total Freedom..
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Old 05-13-2018, 01:06 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Wow, you just described me exactly as I have been for the past 10 years.
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Old 05-13-2018, 05:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Absolutely amazing. After trying to quit twice this year, I deluded myself into thinking moderating was possible. And it worked for a while. Then last weekend I went nuts and lost my phone, wallet and pissed off a good mate. I felt so bad during the week with withdrawal that I succumbed to drinking on Friday and again last night as it gave me the "taste". I am now sitting here waiting for the WDs to kick in and praying I manage to get enough sleep tonight so I don't look like an absolute mess in work. I also did next to no work last week and no doubt lost some trust in my business partner.
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Old 05-13-2018, 07:11 AM   #14 (permalink)
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"Total abstinence is easier to maintain than perfect moderation"
I love your post, pure genus...thank you!
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Old 05-13-2018, 07:32 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Brilliant!!
I also vote for a sticky. Seriously, this is what everyone needs to hear.
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:12 AM   #16 (permalink)
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When people tell me that it is possible to moderate, I totally agree with them. In the same way as someone who is deathly afraid of heights while standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and feeling totally calm is possible. Great post!
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:14 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I’m printing this out and taping to my mirror in the bathroom so i see it every morning. Thanks for doing it, it’s great!
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Old 05-13-2018, 12:36 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Absolutely brilliant!

No 12 😞 ugh!
No 13 😢 some mornings I have had to ask my little girl (5) if we cleaned her teeth or even had a shower. I just couldn't remember. So, so awful. That will never ever be the case again.

Thanks for this.
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Old 05-13-2018, 05:00 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Wow - that hit home! Recognise every point and a good reminder at this tough moment... thank you so much for writing.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:42 AM   #20 (permalink)
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A big thank you to everyone who commented here.

It was really helpful for me personally to go through this writing experiment - I wanted to be brutally honest with myself about what it would mean to keep drinking alcohol. Moderation, full blown drunk, whatever you might call it.

It means more so much to me to know this post might have given some people on SR any value in their sobriety. This site has been essential to my finally crossing the bridge to a fully sober life and I'm deeply honored to be able to give back in any way.
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