Hi all, been absent sorry, have buried my head in my work. I would love to say I’m day 21 and for me I still am, but last Wednesday after seeing my daughter off I did have wine. I don’t feel bad about it as I learned something from it. As my journey here is to make better choices, be in control not ‘it’ control me. I want to be able to be a social drinker, but not an out of control everyday drinker. So last Wednesday taught me, I can stop, I don’t ‘need’ it, and after a break I don’t crave it…thank god! My only concern was I would have the mind fucks again, but actually the opposite yay!!! Only time I’ve thought about it is now writing here lol I think about a cup of tea more 🤷♀️😂 So I’m not giving myself a hard time about it, I’m on track, feeling fabulous, refreshed and great!! I know I need more time away from bubbles, but I’m feeling more confident about this journey I’m on. Is it possible to drink again like a ‘normal’ person? Is there anyone here that has/is like this? Or am I kidding myself?
@Buggles….I’m only day 12 so can’t answer. I’d also love to be a social drinker to share with my friends and family the occasional glass but, me personally….I know I’d moderate for a few weeks then go right back to that out of control stuff. I just think either you moderate or you don’t. Seems to me most of us on this site don’t. Just my thought
21 – 1 is very good indeed. So call it 20? Head toward a whole month? There have been very few … no? stories here of a return to ‘normal’ drinking. I hope anyone who has succeeded would tell us. Some have done well for … a year? 2? then suddenly really blown it, frightening themselves big time. I was pretty moderate due to driving teens and a body that could not take more than 1/2 a bottle (still way over health guidelines!) but I know if I went back I would have mental battles, danger zones, obsessiveness – such a terrible waste of energy. Fortunately I love the clarity with a passion, and fear the cancer and dementia risks far too much to even try. Keep thinking and sharing; see where you get to.
Hi @Buggles You write “Is it possible to drink again like a ‘normal’ person? Is there anyone here that has/is like this? Or am I kidding myself?”
Unfortunately the answer to this is not the one we want. No, we will never be able to drink safely again. We are no more able to control our drinking after a sober spell than we were before; it feels like we have gained control, but we have not… this is an illusion.
What happens when we stop drinking for a significant period (a few weeks) is that we successively don’t drink when confronted by the cravings launched from a lot of drinking triggers. When we deny these triggers they lose their power and the cravings they induce become less insistent. It feels as though we’ve got better at manging the cravings, and that is the illusion… it is the cravings that have lessened. Yes, we’ve got better at managing how we handle cravings; we don’t fall to them as often as we did before, but fundamentally, the cravings have become smaller and we regain control. But this undoes itself very quickly if we start drinking again.
To explain what happens if we drink again takes a bit, but here goes.
The reason we can’t drink again safely is down to how the “reward system” in our brain works. The reward system is an incredibly successful evolutionary advance that motivates us to do things that are beneficial to survival and discourages us from doing harmful things. It is such a significant advantage that almost all animals living today have this mechanism; anything with a brain in two hemispheres has it. The reward system works by recognising experiences that were good and encouraging us to do them again. It does this with brain chemistry that motivates us to behave in a certain way… that is what a craving is, and cravings are launched when we meet the circumstances again that were “good” and remembered. In us the reward system latches onto alcohol as being something good for us and we establish a huge number of “drinking triggers”; circumstances that yielded alcohol in the past. When we meet one of these circumstances again then the trigger is fired and we get a craving for alcohol. It is a part of the brain that operates entirely automatically; we have no control over it whatsoever and no direct awareness of it working. Triggers get more powerful (induce stronger cravings) the more times they are successful in getting us to drink, and they become less powerful (induce less intense cravings) every time the trigger fails to deliver alcohol. It is by overcoming cravings and not drinking in response to them that the intensity of cravings is driven down.
Even though we stop drinking, all of our drinking triggers still exit. They have lost their vigour, but they are still present, and there is no way to actually remove them. The processes that locked us into addiction are still there which means we are forever exposed to the risk of relapse, and relapse is usually a sudden, dramatic and often catastrophic experience. The sudden nature of this collapse is again due to the nature of triggers.
The reward system is adaptable to changing circumstances. A trigger strengthens when we act on it and secure the objective of the trigger, and it weakens when the trigger fails to secure the objective. In the wild a scenario where this would be advantageous would be for example a fruit that was seasonal. After we have developed a trigger in response to the fruit being available we need our behaviour to change when the fruit ceases to be in season… otherwise we would simply sit under the tree waiting for more fruit and eventually starve. This is how denying cravings works… eventually we lose interest in the “fruit” and move on. But there is another step of sophistication in the reward system described in the answer to this question… “What is the most successful behaviour when the fruit comes back into season?” The answer is that when the fruit comes back into season then the trigger should resume its full strength immediately; we should not waste time gradually working the trigger back up to strength or we might miss out on good fruit; and this is precisely how our reward system behaves.
When the “fruit” in this example comes back into season then the remnants of the trigger motivate us to approach and take the fruit. This reinforces the trigger, but now it does so very strongly, and after only a few cycles of seeing and partaking of the fruit the trigger is restored to its full prior strength. Unfortunately, this is also precisely what happens to our drinking triggers if we start to drink again after a significant pause. This behaviour of triggers is disastrous for abstinent alcoholics who take just a few drinks. If we ever take a drink again then we very quickly re-invigorate the trigger we acted on. It is like our mind in response to the fruit example… “Oh! Fruit is back!” This is why if we begin to drink moderately after a period of abstinence then we very quickly lapse right back to the very worst of our drinking… because the cravings motivating us to drink return to their former full strength.
I’m sorry that was all a bit long-winded, but I hope it explains why unfortunately we will never be able to drink normally. When we drink again we will very quickly be back under the rule of a reward system that is running rampant and there’s nothing we can do to prevent this as these mental processes operate entirely automatically. We can’t choose for them to not happen.
@buggles – i don’t know about anyone else, but I cannot moderate. Also, the further I get away from alcohol, why would i want to try to moderate? I have never wanted one drink, maybe if i just drank once in a while, one drink would get me drunk, but really, that is why i drink, to get drunk. is that desire/need moderation? hmmm. not sure, not sure if i care anymore because I do not drink. Keep letting us know where you are at. Best.
I think you’re kidding yourself, and sentencing yourself to frequently thinking about it. Once you’re done with it for good, a weight is lifted. There are far more things that you can do sober, that there are things that you can do impaired.
Hi @Buggles! You said on day 2 that you felt like you’d been hit by a bus. Your bad liver was mentioned in another post. The one night of drinking will not get you directly back there but your placing yourself in that direction. It’s your very cunning booze brain talking. So very many of us have been there, tried to moderate and ended up in the same shit hole if not worse.