So, a further update to my last post almost a year ago.
I have now been sober for 34 days at the time of writing this. Why am I now totally sober, when in my previous post I spoke of how I now “drank at a healthy level”?
I realised, as time went by that, that whilst my life circumstances may have changed, alcohol hadn’t changed one bit. It was still the same greedy, narcissistic, ugly drug it had always been. It was still the same mentally tiring loop of drinking and either drinking too much and paying the penalty, or wrestling myself into moderation and mentally exhausting myself. It would still always be an option if I was feeling stressed or unhappy, which would lead to be being more stressed and unhappy. Do the same thing, expect the same results.
My pattern of alcohol misuse was always one of binges and recovery. Lots of people follow this pattern. This is why they can continue to lead “functional” lives to some degree. I could still complete my studies (not as well as I could have done if I didn’t drink), have relationships (which drinking damaged) and do other “normal” human being stuff.
A lot of drinkers take the example of the extreme alcoholic and say, “well I am not homeless and drinking at 11am, so my 30 unit weekend binges are no big deal”, not appreciating that there is a spectrum of damage being done to your own life. It is analogue, not binary. Most heavy drinkers maintain their jobs and relationships to some degree. Even if you could lead a “functional life” whilst drinking, you will still pay the price. A gym session missed here, a social engagement missed there, a work deadline missed. It also doesn’t help that there is a lot of social proof surrounding alcohol. It is the only drug you have to apologise for not taking. Societal addiction to alcohol runs deep.
My view now, which I had always thought (but couldn’t put into words) at the back of my mind, is that the only people who can psychologically drink at a “safe” level are people who NEVER enjoyed getting drunk in the first place. There are a few people I have met and know well, who straight up don’t enjoy the affects of alcohol beyond 1 or max 2 drinks. These people will naturally not drink at all, apart from occasional social situations (with social pressure/expectation) and alcohol will not take up any mental energy at all.
This isn’t and will never be me. In some relationships there is too much water under the bridge to go back. Better to start anew.
Resources that helped me solidify and clarify my views on alcohol were youtube videos, specifically from “CGKid” (he is a recovering polyaddict, but all addictions walk the same path, some are just quicker than others) and Craig Beck’s channel, “stopdrinkingexpert”. I would recommend checking both of their videos out for anyone reading this. I have only seen the free content from “stopdrinkingexpert” on youtube, so I cannot comment on his course.
I could go into more detail about the reasons to quit and why my life is changing, but in a good way, now that I don’t drink, but these are similar to many other stories you can find online, so I will save you reading them again. If anyone would like to hear more, please comment and I can go into more detail.
Do I still have periods where I just want to shut off from the world and escape? Sure! I had one 2 weeks ago. I bought a game called “The Long Dark” on Steam, where you play a survivalist in the Canadian wilderness and played it for 20hrs over 3 days. When I recovered from my funk, I was able to go to work on Monday without a hangover and without the heart palpitations and anxiety which come with withdrawl. I could recovery quicker from my funk and not be back to square one.
My next goals are to tackle the other dopamine based vices, which are negatively affecting my life in nebulous and subtle ways, these being pornography and vaping. Interestingly, I had stopped vaping for 6 months prior to stopping drinking, but I started again when I had the weekend of “escape” documented above. A step back for sure, but better than drinking again. With drinking gone, I now have the space to continue to tackle my negative feelings (and other vices) sober, in order to live my best life.
My best wishes to anyone out there who has recognised their unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Do not stop moving towards where you know you need to get to.