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'White knuckle sobriety'?

Old 10-17-2019, 03:31 AM
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'White knuckle sobriety'?

I'm always puzzled by those who practice what is known as 'white knuckle sobriety', to effect their recovery from alcoholism.

Which as I understand it takes place where a person suffering from alcoholism, under the description that it's a two fold disease/illness consisting of a physical allergy and a mental obsession, the only respite from which is complete abstinence.

Simply stops drinking, without putting any other form of recovery in their life, and , metaphorically speaking, just clings on to their sobriety to the extent they turn their knuckles white, with the ever present risk that one day. They'll 'lose their grip' and suffer a relapse...from which they may never return...

I raise this question simply on the basis that if recovery where that simple, i.e. just stopping drinking. I know mine certainly wasn't, we'd all be doing it. And were not unless I'm missing something?

Or there's something, someone hasn't told me?
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:31 AM
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Redmayne, my experience is that the term ‘White Knuckle Sobriety’ has historically, derogatory, demeaning connotations. How can anyone judge someone else’s sobriety, whether depth, satisfaction, or quality thereof? Why attempt to stand in judgment of someone else’s sobriety by using that phrase?
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:51 AM
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Do you seriously think that someone “white-knuckling” it is taking the easy way out? Really...?
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Old 10-17-2019, 12:43 PM
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My understanding is that "dry drunk" is a derogatory term, "white knuckling" it can apply to many things and I personally don't see it as derogatory at all? But that's just me!

I also didn't take Redmayne's second point to imply that even just quitting drinking (without seeking recovery) is "easy". Certainly don't mean to speak for you Redmayne and please correct me if I'm misinterpreting here.

that if recovery where that simple, i.e. just stopping drinking. I know mine certainly wasn't, we'd all be doing it
What he said was if "recovery" were that simple - not that white knuckling it is simple (I'm sure it's hell).

ie: white knuckling and recovery are two separate things.

Anyway Redmayne, I'm not an alcoholic but I do see your point, perhaps just part of why it's so baffling.
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:11 PM
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Hi Trailmix, as someone who suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder, ‘White Knuckling Sobriety’ implies that someone’s ‘only’ stopped drinking on their own, a ‘lesser’ sobriety, because they have failed to follow AA program. It is a derogatory term to me.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:50 PM
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'Live and let live'

'Live and let live', right, thank you to all who've contributed thus far. I wasn't suggesting anything derogatory or saying that one method of recovery is better than another, but at least being anything other than 'a dry drunk' or using 'white knuckle sobriety' has a method behind it and is built on logic and reason, otherwise what's the point?


'Anything that contradicts logic and reason should be abandoned,' a Buddhist saying.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Redmayne View Post
'but at least being anything other than 'a dry drunk' or using 'white knuckle sobriety' has a method behind it and is built on logic and reason, otherwise what's the point?

'Anything that contradicts logic and reason should be abandoned,' a Buddhist saying.
Redmayne, to aid my further understanding of your thread, would you please define your understanding of both ‘dry drunk’ and ‘white knuckle sobriety’ and the distinction between both phrases, if any.
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Old 10-18-2019, 08:54 AM
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The way I see it..

The way I see it, they are one and the same, the expressions 'dry drunk' and 'white knuckle sobriety' are just figurative expressions that shouldn't be taken to literally...
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Old 10-18-2019, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Redmayne View Post
The way I see it, they are one and the same, the expressions 'dry drunk' and 'white knuckle sobriety' are just figurative expressions that shouldn't be taken to literally...
OK, you’ve reported the two phrases are ‘one and the same’., thank you, But ‘one and the same’ ‘figurative expressions’ of what? What is your definition, what do you mean by these two (same) ‘figurative expressions’? You didn’t answer my question, and that is your right. But I’d like to know what are these ‘figurative expressions’ you’ve spoken of.

You’ve purposely used these expressions, so they must have a meaning, to you, and I’d be grateful if you’d enlighten me.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:53 PM
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I don’t like “white knuckle” or “dry drunk”. Why? Because only someone else would say that about someone who has stopped drinking. The person who stopped drinking doesn’t say “I’m a dry drunk” or “I’m white knuckling it”. And, I don’t think it is anyone’s right to comment whatsoever on someone else’s sobriety since they are not in their body or brain, so they have no idea what they are talking about. Basically, I think they are both judgemental terms from people who, historically, have used it to praise their own methods of getting sober. I’m not saying that is you, Redmeyer. I’m saying other people have. I don’t believe there is “work” to be done forever. I quit smoking and once I finally rewired my brain I never thought of it again. I was a pack and half or two packs a day. Likewise, I also don’t plan on continually working on my sobriety. I just need to wait out my sober neural pathways as they build up and the alcoholic ones fill up, and I need to never drink again or the time spent sober (time, not work) was wasted. At almost six months, this gets easier and easier by the day. Sure, at moments times it is hard. For instance, a week or so ago I was at my sister’s where I have so many memories drinking. It was weird and difficult to be there and not drink. But...I’m 100% sure it’ll get easy, just as it did with smoking, and just as it has with drinking in places that I have built up sober experiences at. Lots of us (all AVRT folks) don’t believe in continued work forever. I’ve wasted enough time drinking. I don’t need to waste more working on me (at least, not more than I would be even if I’d never had a drinking problem). Everyone (alcoholic or not) is hopefully a work in progress. But I don’t believe I need special steps written by Bill whoever. I believe I need the help of the medical community to help me understand addiction so I can get over it, and I need to continue to work to be the best me. As all humans should do.
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Sohard View Post
I don’t like “white knuckle” or “dry drunk”. Why? Because only someone else would say that about someone who has stopped drinking. The person who stopped drinking doesn’t say “I’m a dry drunk” or “I’m white knuckling it”.
i was on a dry drunk and not afraid to say it. didnt like it when i was called out on it until the evening about a month later when i came dam close to pickin up a 12 pack of resentment.
i acted like a dry drunk when i was on a dry drunk,too- same behvaiors as when i was drinkin.
i was on a dry drunk because i was white knuckling it-i wasnt doing anything for recovery.

a cup is a cup.
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sohard View Post
The person who stopped drinking doesn’t say “I’m a dry drunk” or “I’m white knuckling it”.[/left]
ya may want to search the forum for both terms. i found quite a few different people here callin themselves both.
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tomsteve View Post
i was on a dry drunk and not afraid to say it. didnt like it when i was called out on it until the evening about a month later when i came dam close to pickin up a 12 pack of resentment.
i acted like a dry drunk when i was on a dry drunk,too- same behvaiors as when i was drinkin.
i was on a dry drunk because i was white knuckling it-i wasnt doing anything for recovery.

a cup is a cup.
well, I’m sorry you had that experience. I have not. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Like all AVRTers, all I’m doing for my recovery is recognizing and shooting down my AV voice. Reading here also keeps the memories of hell fresh when I read “I’m back” stories. I’m glad (sincerely) you figured out what you needed to do for your recovery. I don’t consider myself in recovery. From smoking or drinking, I’m done. And I thank god for it.
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by tomsteve View Post
i was on a dry drunk and not afraid to say it. didnt like it when i was called out on it until the evening about a month later when i came dam close to pickin up a 12 pack of resentment.
i acted like a dry drunk when i was on a dry drunk,too- same behvaiors as when i was drinkin.
i was on a dry drunk because i was white knuckling it-i wasnt doing anything for recovery.

a cup is a cup.
what do you mean you were “called out on it”? Didn’t you just write that you’d already been “a dry drunk and not afraid to say it”? So how could you be called out on what you’d already stated? That’s my point: I don’t believe you actually had called yourself a dry drunk back then. I do believe you when you say others did and “called you out on it”, as you say. And clearly you look back now and call the old you now “a dry drunk”. But, in current time, I don’t believe anyone calls themselves a dry drunk. If you are reading this and you do currently call yourself that, please tell me I am wrong.
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:29 PM
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Sohard View Post


what do you mean you were “called out on it”? Didn’t you just write that you’d already been “a dry drunk and not afraid to say it”? So how could you be called out on what you’d already stated? That’s my point: I don’t believe you actually had called yourself a dry drunk back then. I do believe you when you say others did and “called you out on it”, as you say. And clearly you look back now and call the old you now “a dry drunk”. But, in current time, I don’t believe anyone calls themselves a dry drunk. If you are reading this and you do currently call yourself that, please tell me I am wrong.
i called myself a dry drunk back then. yup- i was called out on it and didnt believe it. but once i saw it i called myself a dry drunk back then in that current time.
no i dont currently call myself that. dont know what that matters.
didja search the forum for the terms? quite a few people here alone have called themselves a dry drunk.

ya dont like the term thats ok. but to say no one calls themselves that without investigating if anyone really has called themselves a dry drunk or that theyre white knuckling it...........

thats my truth
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:41 PM
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great story. I agree with this. Perception is everything.
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by tomsteve View Post
i called myself a dry drunk back then. yup- i was called out on it and didnt believe it. but once i saw it i called myself a dry drunk back then in that current time.
no i dont currently call myself that. dont know what that matters.
didja search the forum for the terms? quite a few people here alone have called themselves a dry drunk.

ya dont like the term thats ok. but to say no one calls themselves that without investigating if anyone really has called themselves a dry drunk or that theyre white knuckling it...........

thats my truth
great. I’m happy for you. You have no idea what I’ve investigated. So let it go. I’m allowed my truth too.
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Old 10-18-2019, 05:34 PM
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Before I read thru this thread, I was going to reply that the first few months of my sobriety I was 'white-knuckling' it. Hanging on for dear life by my fingertips. Then I was advised to start practicing gratitude every day. At first it was hard, but I did it until it became a habit.

And it really changed my life for the better.

But yeah, I was white-knuckling it for a while and I wasn't feeling too wonderful about my sobriety. Now my sobriety is right up there with breathing - it's necessary for me in order to enjoy my life.
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Old 10-18-2019, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by least View Post
Before I read thru this thread, I was going to reply that the first few months of my sobriety I was 'white-knuckling' it. Hanging on for dear life by my fingertips. Then I was advised to start practicing gratitude every day. At first it was hard, but I did it until it became a habit.

And it really changed my life for the better.

But yeah, I was white-knuckling it for a while and I wasn't feeling too wonderful about my sobriety. Now my sobriety is right up there with breathing - it's necessary for me in order to enjoy my life.
You’re right, Least. I understand all this. And I guess, metaphorically, I wouldn’t have a problem saying white-knuckling. Such a drastic change (getting sober) is super hard at first. Unbelievably hard, really. Program or no program, everyone getting sober is really metaphorically white knuckling. I too was, at first, hanging on for dear life. I guess my issue is more with “dry drunk” than “white knuckling”. I find “dry drunk” offensive and don’t believe (sorry, I’m allowed my beliefs) anyone states in current time that this is what they are.
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