How much time & energy are you wasting trying not to get wasted?
My last attempt at moderation was at a friend's wedding in December 2018. A few days earlier, I’d had a really ‘bad’ Christmas Day that ended up in a black out, a banned Uber account (I still don’t know what happened there) and about 11 people I needed to apologise to. The following Boxing day sits near the very top of my ‘worst days of my life’ list.
The morning of the wedding, I was still feeling anxious, edgy and depressed after the Christmas day fiasco. It had only been four days since I completely embarrassed myself, poisoned my body and destroyed my soul with alcohol, once again. I was still coming down from the alcohol intoxication, puffy, low-vibe, highly insecure with mild hand shakes.
My mantra that morning as I was getting my hair and makeup done was ‘today I will moderate my drinking, today I will moderate my drinking, today I will moderate my drinking’.... The plan was that I was going to slowly SIP my champagne all night long, no mixing drinks (obviously) and follow every glass of bubbles with a large glass of water. I would remain classy and in control. I would leave the wedding at midnight, relieve the babysitter and even have a little chat with her about how amazing the wedding was. I would have a shower and take off my makeup then get into bed next to my sleeping baby in his cot. The following day I would wake up feeling amazing.
Writing this now, I find it humorous, but also shattering that at that point in my life, I genuinely had no idea what I was up against. A mantra would not be able to defeat the hulk-like wine witch. She had years of wins under her belt. There were certainly times when she was put back in her place (she wasn't always up for a fight you see) but when she was, she would never lose.
Needless to say, as soon as my lips hit that wine glass filled with Sauvignon Blanc, it was game over. Done and dusted, the wine witch had taken over; calm, considerate Lucy had left the building and taken her dignity, class and memory-making abilities with her.
The following morning was the last time I was ever hung over again. Thank Christ, I had officially hit my personal rock bottom and a few days after decided to throw in the towel, hand the belt over to the wine witch for the final time and sort myself out.
Moderation is one of these topics that is still really hard to grasp. People ask us about it quite a bit, and there are no black or white answers on this topic. In today’s culture there is so much pressure to be a ‘normal drinker’. If you say no, people feel uncomfortable or feel sorry for you. If you get too drunk, you’re seen as a failure. But actually, moderation is scientifically extremely really hard to get right if you have any level of alcohol addiction.
There have obviously been cases where people who had alcohol addictions at one point in their life, then went on to moderate for the rest of their lives. They may have had to switch their drink from wine to beer, or make some adjustments to the way they used alcohol, but to outsiders, they appeared to have control of it. What we don’t see is the inner turmoil that goes on while they sit in constant battle with their wine witch.
William Porter, the Author of ‘Alcohol Explained’ states: “Alcohol is an addictive drug. Taking it creates the need for the next dose. For this reason moderation can never be a long term, stable condition.” I love this, and to me it rings so true. Alcohol in itself creates a ‘thirst’ for more, as your blood alcohol level starts reducing, you begin to crave more. It also dehydrates you, meaning you drink more.
While some people can turn off the desire to drink more after having a couple of beers, physiologically the desire is still there, because it is an addictive drug. Whether or not the person continues to drink despite not wanting to (overstepping the marker of being a successful ‘moderator’ or normal drinker), comes down to whether or not they are addicted.
Dr Gabor Mate, renowned Canadian addiction expert and the author of ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts’ distills his definition of addiction down to “Any behaviour (substance-related or not) in which one feels compelled to persist, despite negative consequences.” Eeeek, this is not good for a lot of us.
Annie Grace believes that “Moderation means you are always making decisions about drinking. This causes “decision fatigue” and makes decision making harder so you are less likely to make good, healthy choices.”
So let me ask you this question; if you have to spend too much time thinking, researching and wondering about it, lose any self-respect, dignity and brain cells while in the process of trying to achieve it, is it really worth the battle? What if instead you just gave up, and enjoyed the freedom of being a non-drinker?
And even better what if, just like us, by choosing to not drink at all you discovered how empowering and liberating sobriety is, how wondrous life is and how unnecessary and irrelevant alcohol is?
We truly believe that anyone who chooses sobriety, and does the important and required work along the way, is in fact improving their life to a point where they can be happier than they'd ever be as a drinker.