Is moderation even possible?

Day 469.

I joined a discussion group this week about ‘mindful drinking’; rules to join noted the group is aimed at those who want to stop drinking, or drink moderately.

Why did I join? I guess I thought there’d be a community to share ideas for staying sober – and maybe some great ideas for tasty alcohol-free drinks.

I stayed in the group about three days. It was a serious eye opener for me.

I am fairly confident no one who is a moderate drinker joins this type of group. Only people who recognize they are having problems with alcohol join. My heart went out to each and every poster. Who am I to sit judgement? My experience during my brief stay there is about ME not THEM.

There was a common theme running through every discussion. A groundhog day theme. And if I was to be brutally honest – a delusional theme too. (Oh believe me, I have those delusional thoughts too!)

It was sobering to read searingly honest posts from people detailing how they started out the evening with moderation in mind, and how it completely went off the rails. And in great detail how it went off the rails! I felt hungover reading the posts!

All dreamed of drinking — magically dialled back to moderate. So many wrote about stringing a few sober days together – with the view that would give them the power to return to moderate drinking.

It made me so very grateful for stringing together 469 consecutive days of sobriety. I do not take it for granted.

I get it, and I wish moderate drinking was possible for me too. But I’ve come to firmly believe once you’ve hit the ‘problem drinker’ stage, you’ve driven past moderation. You can’t back up and start again at moderation. Your ‘enough’ lever no longer works.

I’ve been through many Day Ones. I can’t tell you how many times leading up to this current long run I’d wake up in the morning and say, okay that’s it! I’d march my unopened bottles over to the sink and pour them out in a grand ceremonial manner. I’d feel so good and so right about my decision. And then, 3pm would creep around. The urges would start. By 5pm I’d race to the off-license, buy a couple bottles of wine, grab some salty cheesy snacks, and get back to the sanctity of my home. I’d open the first bottle and feel both relief and guilt in one merging emotion as I poured the first of many drinks.

I have to truly accept I can no longer drink in moderation. Am I there yet in accepting my ‘enough’ lever no longer works? No, I am not! I still harbor dreams of sitting out on the patio this summer with an ice cold glass of chablis in hand. I still dream that I’ll have just one perfectly formed unit (100ml) of wine for the evening. That alone makes me realize I can’t drink moderately.  Plus I would hate to end my long run of these Day Ones now strung together without interruption.

16 thoughts on “Is moderation even possible?

  1. Thoughtful, wonderful post as per usual! Do you ‘believe’ in the ability of Naltrexone (using The Sinclair Method) to ‘re-wire’ neural circuitry to ‘unwind’ addiction to alcohol? I would love to hear about your thoughts/opinion on this? Thank you for your incredible observations and musical selections (always appreciated and listened to!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much for reading, and your kind comments…. and indulging me in my often tenuous ‘ties’ to the blog post in my musical selections LOL… Music matters so much to me. / Anyway, I thought I had heard of Naltrexone, and checked just now. i ran across it in the TedX talk.. — have you seen this actress? Her story and use of the drug is pretty compelling! She makes a real case for its use. I think all tools available are good, though I think it comes down to the individual, and their situation.


  2. Brilliantly well said. I feel the same. I am glad for the mindful drinking group because it’s a place where anyone questioning their relationship with alcohol can feel safe and, I believe, free from the stigma of immediately being labelled as an alcoholic or an addict (which of course few people want to be). But ultimately, it’s an addictive drug and the minute we begin to question our relationship with it is the minute we later realize there was in fact a problem. In the meantime we try moderating enough times that we realize it doesn’t work… and then we end up here… writing blog posts or comments like these. And with any luck, stringing together day after day after day of sobriety, feeling so glad that every choice we made was made by ourselves, and not by booze acting through us.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The truth is mindfulness and drinking are opposites. Drinking numbs the mind. It makes it impossible to be fully in the moment.

    I often thought about one drink. Then I ask..why? If I could have THE EXACT SAME DRINK but alcohol free, would I still want it.
    The truth is I want the buzz. So the answer is one will never be enough.

    And on I continue on my sober way. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for bringing this up — I’m going to look for the mindful drinking group to keep on hand as a reality check 🙂 That term, “mindful drinking,” makes my stomach turn, as someone who’s had tiny glimpses of the freedom of real mindfulness. But if it’s a productive stop for some people on their way to real clear-headed glorious (sometimes) freedom, then okay!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. people who don’t have a drink problem do not talk about ‘mindful drinking’… me thinks… not so sure it’s a productive stop for all people… btw, i’m just readying a post on groups that i’ve found .. will put that up today most likely. might give you some links you’ve not seen yet.


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