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Not committed to sobriety

Old 04-19-2015, 04:29 AM
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Not committed to sobriety

I've posted a couple of times on here and read a great deal about other people's experiences. I find everyone's contributions very useful and very encouraging, and I'm sure I'm only at the beginning of my learning about my addiction. I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone, especially the regular posters. One thing I feel very different about though: I haven't actually made a commitment to lifelong sobriety.

I've got drunk pretty much every night for the last 20+ years. There hasn't really been any pressure on me to dump the booze. I don't get hangovers; I seem to sleep OK; I manage to get things done; I have a partner who accepts me as I am. I suppose I was a happy alcoholic.

About 6 months ago my doctor spelled things out for me in black and white: change my lifestyle or I had an 80% chance of being dead within 5 years. So I cut down, "just" getting drunk 2 or 3 times a week. That had a dramatic effect. I've lost 2 1/2 stone in weight (about 35 lbs for our American friends). Although I've been an uncontrolled diabetic for about 10 years, my blood sugar is now back to normal as is my blood pressure. My doctor's reaction the other day: "Wow!"

The big downside to this approach was that I absolutely hated the nights I had to be sober. I was moody, irritable, depressed, angry, you name the negative emotion, I projected it by the bucket full. Also, the number of exceptions started creeping up. I may have been a happy alcoholic, but I was a completely unliveable with "moderate" drinker. So what to do? There were really only two choices, go back to an even more unhealthy lifestyle, or cut down on booze even further. I'm having a go at the latter.

Over the past few weeks, I've been trying to see how long I can go without a drink. Some nights it's been pretty easy, others have been a nightmare. For the nightmare nights I've been so grateful for this board. One by one I'm beginning to tick off the various trigger events where I would drink. I drank when I was happy, I drank when I was sad, I drank when I was angry, I drank when I was bored. Basically, no matter what the emotional state, I drank.

Temptation is there every day. I only ever drank at home and I live in a house filled with booze. I even pour out a glass of wine every night for my partner. I can't avoid the situations where I used to drink, I have to face them. Paradoxically, I think this might be helping. I'm learning to be around alcohol without it having a hold over me. I recognise my Addiction Voice when it starts screaming at me (I call it my "Animal Voice", it doesn't reason and can't be reasoned with, it just responds to pleasure and pain, it has to learn to do what I tell it to).

Despite all this, I haven't actually made a commitment to lifelong sobriety. I've seen the way some people beat themselves up on here when they slip for just one day after months of success. That doesn't seem good to me. Pride at such a great achievement shouldn't be wiped out by guilt for just one slip up. I still think I should have a drink when I choose, not when my Animal Voice dictates, but when I choose. The question I find myself asking is, if I don't let my Animal Voice decide, if I don't drink when I'm happy or sad or angry, then why on earth would I choose to drink at all?

Sorry for such a long, confused post. Anyone else had similar thoughts?
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:20 AM
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If you can moderate your drinking, then you're not an alcoholic, but most of us have tried that multiple times and failed. I suggest that your AV is running the show when it's telling you that you can drink when 'you' want to.

You say that you're cranky and miserable on nights you don't drink. The fact is, it's much easier to stop drinking altogether than to drink the way you are.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Anna View Post
The fact is, it's much easier to stop drinking altogether than to drink the way you are.
Yes, I think I'm only just beginning to realise that.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Anna View Post
If you can moderate your drinking, then you're not an alcoholic.....
I'm not sure it's quite as black and white as that.

For many years I gave myself effective examples of 'ability to moderate'.

The belief that 'ability to moderate' meant I didn't 'have a problem' enabled me to throw away many years of my life.... Until it became bad enough that I could no longer delude myself with alleged 'moderation'.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:25 AM
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Hi Pedro

Anna hit all the points I was going to...if you're cranky when you're not drinking that's a sign of something going on...I'm not sure it's that easy to discern a difference between when your so-called animal voice wants you to drink and you want to drink either.

If drinking is a recognised health hazard for you, but you continue to drink, thats pretty illogical and contrary to self preservation...

might it not all be 'animal voice'?

D
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by FreeOwl View Post
I'm not sure it's quite as black and white as that.

For many years I gave myself effective examples of 'ability to moderate'.

The belief that 'ability to moderate' meant I didn't 'have a problem' enabled me to throw away many years of my life.... Until it became bad enough that I could no longer delude myself with alleged 'moderation'.
I think for me it really is as black and white as that.

Out of thousands of times I drank, maybe 2 dozen times I approximated the behaviour of a normal drinker.

I know I argued for years I could moderate because of those times I did not drink to oblivion...

but there really wasn't much control on my part...'twas mostly luck.

D
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Dee74 View Post
might it not all be 'animal voice'?
Yes, good point, I think you may be right. That may well be the answer to my final question of why I would choose to drink at all.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:38 AM
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Hi.

In the beginning I needed to remember that alcohol is a toxic fluid, powerful, cunning, baffling and insidious. It will try to beat us in a heartbeat and if we are alcoholic there is no such thing as long lasting moderation. Many millions are dead as a result of that misconception.
Many things we seek are very achievable with recovery but it’s long lasting work on changing the reasons we drank. I’ve seen many who I bet would never make it now as a person most would like to be like, we have to WANT to sober as a starter.

BE WELL
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by IOAA2 View Post
we have to WANT to sober as a starter.
I'm sure you're right. I'm not sure I want it enough yet.

I hope I'm not being too negative.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:47 AM
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II lived the "happy drunk" life for many years too. Or at least I thought I did. And then all of a sudden things went south in a hurry. I also tried many different forms of moderation and while a few worked temporarily, I always returned to daily drinking.

And the problem with full blown, every day alcoholic drinking is that it almost always ends in a bad way. The only real variables are how bad it wil get and how soon it will happen. For most of us, the only solution is total abstinence/sobriety. I hope you can learn more about your issue and find a solution.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:47 AM
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I'm not sure I want it enough yet.
or thats what your animal voice is trying to convince you of?

D
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:47 AM
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The reason I chose to drink regardless of all of the health and other consequences was I'm alcoholic. The obsession and compulsion overrode all logical thought
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:49 AM
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The thing is, if (like me, and many other alcoholics) the purpose of the drink is to alter your perception of the reality (either the reality of you, your emotions, or the life you lead) moderate drinking is not really much use to us, because smaller amounts of alcohol no longer DO that for us.

I agree that it's terrible that people do beat themselves up for slipping off the wagon, despite getting back on it. But I have always thought that this is because they realise how easy it would have been for them to continue drinking once they've started back on it. I know that I wouldn't want to risk allowing myself a 'night off' sobriety. Once that f**k it switch has been set off, it'd be a devil of a job to get myself back in the right head-space to get back on the wagon. Not to mention starting off again with all the horrendous behaviours and associated shame and remorse that tags along behind it for harms that I've done others.
Whether I'd have said the same at the start of my sobriety I don't know. At that stage I had no idea how good this feeling of serenity and peace would be (once I'd got used to it - at first it was tough, like a room that was too quiet - now I love the peace). With sobriety I have found so much good stuff. I have become someone who I actually like and am happy to spend time alone with. I have an ordered existence. My relationships with the people I care about have improved (and I actually DO give a s**t about other people now). So, if I did fall off and take a drink and still manage to get back sober straight away, I would def have scared myself by how close I'd come to throwing away all that, so it's likely I would feel upset by it. It's not just the days ticked off on a calender, or sobriety chips, and the wounded pride side of it. It's the fact that I feel blessed in my sobriety. My life is beautiful now. What would I want to risk f**king that up for the sake of a one off binge??
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Beccybean View Post
It's not just the days ticked off on a calender, or sobriety chips, and the wounded pride side of it. It's the fact that I feel blessed in my sobriety. My life is beautiful now. What would I want to risk f**king that up for the sake of a one off binge??
Thank you, that makes a lot of sense.
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:09 AM
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Great advice.

Just wanted to add that you don't have to commit "forever"... Commit one day, one hour, one minute... YOU came here, YOU are exploring this option. Your AV is terrified to lose its power.

Take its power!

You can do this!
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:44 AM
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I tried also to moderate and tried all the tricks... drink only on X days, pouring out the drinks and then putting the rest of the bottle in the attic so I would not drink anymore than the number of drinks I poured. Rationalizing everything... I am not a mean drunk, I am not on the streets, I am not hurting anyone but myself, blah blah blah. The amount of mental and emotional energy I put into this was staggering - no pun intended Finally I just said, f*** it, just STOP and I finally did. I am using that energy for other things now.
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ArtFriend View Post
The amount of mental and emotional energy I put into this was staggering - no pun intended Finally I just said, f*** it, just STOP and I finally did. I am using that energy for other things now.
I'm only gradually beginning to realise this. I've only been off the booze for 16 days now, but already I'm starting to look at all the hobbies I used to have and wondering which ones to take up again first.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:03 AM
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I am back to my art which I had forsaken for the bottle. I hope you get to those hobbies quickly and they fill in where the booze used to fit.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by ArtFriend View Post
I am back to my art which I had forsaken for the bottle. I hope you get to those hobbies quickly and they fill in where the booze used to fit.
You're lucky you have such a quiet hobby - mine is playing the trumpet!
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