It’s the age old question that plagues problem drinkers and alcoholics across the world- Can I moderate yet?
If we listen to the books that have touched on these subjects such as ‘This Naked Mind’ by Annie Grace and ‘Alcohol Explained’ by William Porter we are to assume that our subconscious is such that once we have developed a drinking problem, even if we abstain for 20 years, we can be thrown back into drinking to oblivion with the sip of a drink. This resonates with me.
Alcoholics often talk about how they are missing the off switch that normal drinkers have. Normal drinkers will have a few drinks and think “I’ve had enough now”, and stop drinking. That’s the off switch. For me it was different, I had a switch, but mine didn’t read ‘off’ , my switch read ‘GAME ON’ or ‘GO’ for short. As soon as I had one alcoholic drink inside me, my switch would flip and my mission changed to ‘get smashed’. I can’t imagine this GO switch has disappeared since I stopped drinking nor will it have worn out. If you don’t use a light switch in your house for 6 months it’s not going to break from under use is it? So why on earth would I think, after 8 months of sobriety, after one drink, my GO switch would have stopped working? It’s not going to happen.
Another reason why moderation just isn’t for me is ‘ping pong brain’. Ping Pong brain is the process you go through when deciding whether you are going to have a drink or once you have had your first drink, will you have another. When I was drinking my ping pong brain game would be in full swing every day from midday until 4:00pm when I was driving home from work, that time was the decider. Did I stop at my local shop, or drive straight home. It was always a very tense play off but I think you can work out who won 95% of the time! There is no way I am welcoming that competition back into my mind. The calm and clarity I have found since giving up alcohol is one of the greatest benefits for me in being sober.
You don’t realise how much time and energy you give to alcohol until you banish it from your life. It’s not just the time spent drinking. It’s the hangover from the night before, the berating yourself through the morning for drinking as much as you did, the ping pong brain in the afternoon deciding if you will drink that evening, the buying and drinking of the alcohol and to top it all off it disturbs your sleep and doesn’t allow you to get the rest you need. That’s the majority of 24 hours being dominated by alcohol.
So for me, the question is not- Can I moderate yet? The question is- Can I be bothered to moderate? Do I want to let the noise back in my life? Do I want to lose the calm and clarity that so many people spend their lives searching for?
No thanks mate, I’m good. Tonic water for me please.