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AIBU?

AIBU to think it’s impossible to be a moderate drinker after drinking too much for years?

20 replies

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 10:00

Without a massive amount of conscious effort to keep things under control, at least?

I’m approaching the end of the year I pledged to remain alcohol-free for. I’ve done it without any slips, and I can feel many benefits - not least the freeing up of all that brainspace I used to spend debating with myself whether or not to have a drink that evening.

I do miss it sometimes, but I think that if I decide to drink occasionally after my year is up, then occasionally will turn into regularly, regularly will turn into too much and too often, and I’ll end up drinking most days again.

Has anyone given up for a decent length of time and then been able to naturally drink occasionally or moderately (by naturally, I mean without putting lots of rules and structures around when it’s ‘allowed’ to have a drink)?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

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Ponoka7 · 02/10/2022 10:02

I don't think that you can ever go back to your definition of natural. I know people who ten years later are still having to carefully plan their usage out.

ZekeZeke · 02/10/2022 10:04

No, not If you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
I stopped for 3 years and thought I could have one or two, I ended up drinking twice as much and was so disgusted with myself that I had a total relapse.

I'm now 6 years sober and will never ever drink again.

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 10:06

Ponoka7 · 02/10/2022 10:02

I don't think that you can ever go back to your definition of natural. I know people who ten years later are still having to carefully plan their usage out.

I can’t be arsed with that - I’d rather not drink at all.

OP posts:
Igmum · 02/10/2022 10:07

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous they say, if you are wondering whether you are an alcoholic or not, that you go to a bar (or wherever), have a drink, and try to stop at one (or two). If you can't, then yes, you're an alcoholic. It's an illness. Well done on not drinking for so long but yes, approach restarting with care. It may be easier to simply give up. Good luck OP

Crunchymum · 02/10/2022 10:09

I stopped drinking in February, I struggle with moderation and I got to the end of my tether with how much headspace drinking took up.

I'll never go back. Moderation was always harder for me in some ways as it put drinking in the forefront of my mind. I was always thinking about when I would next drink / how much I could have. It was exhausting.

A year is a phenomenal achievement. You should be very proud. However have you truly reset your relationship with alcohol? There is some literature about moderation out there, ive not read any of it as I'm not interested, but it may be worth researching to see if it's a realistic goal for you.

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 10:10

ZekeZeke · 02/10/2022 10:04

No, not If you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
I stopped for 3 years and thought I could have one or two, I ended up drinking twice as much and was so disgusted with myself that I had a total relapse.

I'm now 6 years sober and will never ever drink again.

Congrats on your six years @ZekeZeke. I read variations on that story (‘one or two’ leading straight to full relapse) many times a day in many FB groups. I was wondering whether there are any exceptions to the rule, I guess. I doubt I’d be an exception, though. Grin

OP posts:
FeralWitch · 02/10/2022 10:10

I used to find myself thinking like this. It’s that bargaining stage. I came to the conclusion that people who drink ‘normally’ never have to have these inner dilemmas, so I left it well alone.

PauliesWalnuts · 02/10/2022 10:10

I suppose it depends how unhealthy a person’s relationship with alcohol was? For me there wasn’t any kind of dependency, and I wasn’t drinking anywhere near daily, but when I was out with friends I couldn’t seem to know when to stop. I had a clear year, and then put a bit of a framework around when I did drink. I now have a couple of glasses with dinner at home once a week when my boyfriend stays over. I alternate wine with lemonade when I’m out or drink spritzers. I don’t drink cocktails. I don’t drink at home on my own. I drive a lot to give me a reason not to drink.

Merryoldgoat · 02/10/2022 10:11

Well. I was a big drinker back before kids. I would be drunk most weekend nights and be out drinking 3 nights during the week.

I obviously stopped when pregnant and since then I drink much less without any effort. It’s not unusual for me to go over 2 weeks without a drink. I can easily have 1/2 without wanting more.

I think it depends on why you’re a heavy drinker - I had a busy social life with lots of activities that centred on drinking. It wasn’t the drink itself that got me going.

Life is different now so I drink less.

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 10:15

Igmum · 02/10/2022 10:07

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous they say, if you are wondering whether you are an alcoholic or not, that you go to a bar (or wherever), have a drink, and try to stop at one (or two). If you can't, then yes, you're an alcoholic. It's an illness. Well done on not drinking for so long but yes, approach restarting with care. It may be easier to simply give up. Good luck OP

I could do that, I think (stop at one or two), certainly to start with. But how long before I’m drinking more than I intended, though? Not long, I suspect.

The danger of overdoing it is inherent in a substance that affects your risk assessment and decision making capabilities.

OP posts:
OneTC · 02/10/2022 10:21

I think it's possible for your attitude to completely change after a period of abstinence but if you feel like it would likely start a slide then your attitude hasn't really changed.

I used to be a problem drinker, big problem drinker, and stopped for many years. Then I started again about 8 years ago and my relationship with and attitude towards alcohol was totally different.

ZekeZeke · 02/10/2022 11:17

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 10:10

Congrats on your six years @ZekeZeke. I read variations on that story (‘one or two’ leading straight to full relapse) many times a day in many FB groups. I was wondering whether there are any exceptions to the rule, I guess. I doubt I’d be an exception, though. Grin

Thank you.
I thought I could just have one or two but unfortunately I cannot.
I look enviously on people who can.
It's hard accepting that I can never ever drink again but the risks are too high.
I love myself my husband and children too much to ever risk it.

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 15:31

Crunchymum · 02/10/2022 10:09

I stopped drinking in February, I struggle with moderation and I got to the end of my tether with how much headspace drinking took up.

I'll never go back. Moderation was always harder for me in some ways as it put drinking in the forefront of my mind. I was always thinking about when I would next drink / how much I could have. It was exhausting.

A year is a phenomenal achievement. You should be very proud. However have you truly reset your relationship with alcohol? There is some literature about moderation out there, ive not read any of it as I'm not interested, but it may be worth researching to see if it's a realistic goal for you.

Thank you @Crunchymum, I never even managed a month off before this - I honestly didn’t think I could do it.

You’ve described how I felt, really - totally at the end of my tether with how much headspace it took up. I wasn’t drinking to get blackout drunk or anything, but the chilled white just slipped down so easily on an empty stomach, that I could easily put away three quarters of a bottle before dinner, then a glass (or two) of red… and so on. Stressful times and weekend nights… a bottle and a half or so, no problem.

Have I reset my relationship with alcohol? I don’t know, really. I notice that when I’m having a shitty day, that’s when the ‘god I wish I could have a drink’ thoughts come up, so probably not. I don’t think about alcohol most of the time, which is a refreshing change from how I was before, but my life isn’t magically amazing and I’m not a newer, shinier version of myself since I became alcohol free, so no reason to think I couldn’t/wouldn’t slip back into bad habits, especially because I live with someone whose hobby is wine!

I agree with you that I think moderation is probably more trouble than its worth, and well done on your nine months.

OP posts:
balalake · 02/10/2022 15:37

You could consider not drinking at home at all as one option. So it is only when you are going out.

Reservoirbogs · 02/10/2022 15:40

Has anyone given up for a decent length of time and then been able to naturally drink occasionally or moderately (by naturally, I mean without putting lots of rules and structures around when it’s ‘allowed’ to have a drink)?

Yes. It is possible. I stopped drinking completely for a number of years after being a binge drinker and now only have one or two on a handful of occasions per year (holidays/birthdays etc). I do however think it's largely down to being older, more than 2 drinks would make me feel ill now I'm menopausal.

Lurkingandlearning · 02/10/2022 16:20

I think if you’ve managed a year abstinence without it being a major effort while living with someone who enjoys wine frequently, you probably won’t have a problem keeping to lower levels should you start drinking again. If it’s been a struggle or hard to any degree I’d not chance it.

Having drunk too much too frequently for a long time I stopped for 18 months. Now I drink occasionally but find I stop enjoying it after a couple of small glasses- much the same as when I’ve eaten enough chocolate or ice cream. I just don’t want any more.

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 17:22

balalake · 02/10/2022 15:37

You could consider not drinking at home at all as one option. So it is only when you are going out.

I never go out (as in, out out), so that wouldn’t make much difference. Grin

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InsertSomethingMotivationalHere · 02/10/2022 17:24

It's possible and doesn't always have to be that difficult. I was a massive binge drinker in my 20's and a steady hard drinker through most of my 30's. Decided enough was enough and have restricted myself to Fri/sat night only. My tolerance has dropped so much I can't even manage a bottle of wine on those nights.

ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 17:24

Lurkingandlearning · 02/10/2022 16:20

I think if you’ve managed a year abstinence without it being a major effort while living with someone who enjoys wine frequently, you probably won’t have a problem keeping to lower levels should you start drinking again. If it’s been a struggle or hard to any degree I’d not chance it.

Having drunk too much too frequently for a long time I stopped for 18 months. Now I drink occasionally but find I stop enjoying it after a couple of small glasses- much the same as when I’ve eaten enough chocolate or ice cream. I just don’t want any more.

I’ve found it bloody hard at times. We definitely enabled each other’s drinking, and I suspect we would do again.

OP posts:
ChicoryBlue · 02/10/2022 17:26

@Lurkingandlearning and @InsertSomethingMotivationalHere interesting, thank you.

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