Alcoholics Anonymous is NOT the only option when it comes to conquering your drinking problem. Here's a radical idea: You don't have to totally sober up to recover, simply stop thinking like an alcoholic. Read on to discover how easy it was for me to put down the sauce and start living (and even drinking) like a normal person. You CAN still drink responsibly if you simply change your way of thinking about drinking!
Step 1: The Come Down - They Call It 'rock Bottom'.
As I sit (well, lay) here in front of my monitor, I'm sipping a Corona with lime. I was in A.A. a week ago, but now even back to drinking I'm happy because I feel I've finally snatched the reigns back from it. It was so simple. All along I was crying out for help and attention from those around me, but no one could ever have helped me but myself. I haven't been going to A.A. I didn't black out and wake up in jail or rehab. After multiple "rock bottoms" and hundreds of hung-over, horribly ashamed mornings I just decided it was time to regain control. Of course, my [Rainbow married] husband of one year threatening to move on to another and kick me out of our house definitely spurred on my decision, but the choice to REALLY stop my career/marathon/binge/daily drinking rather than just sneak around like my last couple attempts was something I finally sincerely wanted.
I think for a long time I just wanted an intervention or something. Some over-dramatic, theatrical display of how much my family, man and friends loved me and wanted me to stop. But it just wasn't cute anymore. Four Loko's and vodka had turned me into someone I wasn't before I turned 21. Once old enough to buy alcohol, I always overindulged. Daily drinking made me sad all the time for no reason, suspicious, paranoid, anxious and ultimately angry. I would lash out at my significant other at the smallest provocation. I drank to curb my anxiety, and although it worked in the short-term it only made it so much worse when I wasn't drinking throughout the day.
I think the worst consequence of my habitual drinking was that no one wanted to come to my house because everyone knew I was an angry, anti-social, shut-in drunk. Every time Grey would bring his friends over I would barely speak to them or I would look pissed off and hide out in the back bedroom. Eventually most all of his friends just completely stopped coming over at all. He was embarrassed to even take me out because he knew I'd just get plastered and start acting like a b*tch for no reason. He and his friends couldn't leave a pack of beer lying around for too long or I'd drink all of it. Grey realized the relationship wasn't going anywhere good and started looking elsewhere, at other girls. Why wouldn't he? Cliche though it may be, I truly wasn't the girl he fell in love with. Oh, and I cheated on him when I was drunk, right after our Rainbow wedding. I don't like to mention that. It just had to stop.
Step 2: Frantic Sober Saint - Initial Phase of Saintly Martrydom.
Once I truly, really, really realized the depth of my problem, that it was no mere joke anymore, that I was clearly on the road to nothing good, it began: that frantic rush to fix everything I'd broken. My reputation, my relationships, my job, my attitude. I knew they made you take an inventory of everything you've done wrong in 12-step programs, and so it began. When the longest you've gone without drinking in a year is maybe one week, your mind stays pretty cloudy even when you're not actually drunk. I had had some supposed "moments of clarity" before, but had never before made a GENUINE attempt to really take in the gravity of what I had allowed alcohol to do to me.
--------------------------------Every aspect of my life had been affected:
I cheated on my husband while drunk and drove him to his absolute breaking point as far as trying to help me.
I had quit a previous job after months of going to work drunk and frequently bringing liquor to work for my lunch breaks. I was starting to do it again at my new job.
I had become a joke to many of my husband's friends and hadn't made much of an attempt to strike up my own friendships in a new place.
I maintained an unhealthy reliance on an ex-boyfriend, and a co-dependency on my current one.
I talked a lot about doing things but never actually ended up doing them because I was always too drunk. (For instance, it took me two or three months to finally get around to cleaning my room of the house, I rarely worked on hobbies like drawing or writing anymore and when I did it was total crap).
When drunk, I was sure I was always smarter and knew more about everything yet none of my points ever made any sense.
I was just generally not fun to be around. My husband dreaded coming home at night and would frequently stay out as late as possible because he knew I'd try to pick a drunken fight with him over nothing.
When I totally sobered up and looked deeply into the mirror, I became fired up about sobriety. It always seemed so lame to me: I mean how can you have fun at a party and NOT drink? But I realized it just wasn't worth it anymore. I vowed to quit for at least 6 months, and then I'd re-evaluate myself and see if I thought I could handle drinking moderately again. At first my main goal was to NOT have to live with my parents again and leave my husband free to hook up with a girl he admitted he'd been talking to.
I swore to him that if I ever picked up a bottle again, I'd leave with no argument. I gave long-winded, apologetic rants about how he didn't deserve to be treated the way I'd treated him, that I could be the girl he fell in love with again. When he tested my sincerity by casually asking if I wanted a beer when he ordered one at a restaurant, I dutifully told him I didn't want to drink. I was serious this time. I REALLY, really was! It seemed in the back of my mind I thought at first that quitting drinking would automatically fix all my problems. I even went to an A.A. meeting, all by myself. I agreed with what they said, that I simply was "allergic to alcohol" and that I just wasn't capable of drinking responsibly. I enjoyed being sober. I felt so much better physically and mentally. I didn't want to drink anymore. I drank other canned drinks that resembled the energy beer I'd normally drink to help with the oral fixation. I was cured!
Yeah, that didn't last long. Within maybe five days I decided A.A. and total abstinence just weren't my bag, and I was drinking again (but differently this time). Oh, and I realized that quitting drinking doesn't instantly make all the problems it created disappear.
Step 3: UNrecovery - Sometimes the Best Answer Is the Simplest One.
I had seen enough episodes of Intervention to know what I was in for with A.A. Grey had offered to go with me to a meeting before but I just never really wanted to give it a chance because they're so preachy and all about Jesus and whatnot, especially here in Alabama. But I really wanted to stop this time, and A.A. is always everyone's automatic answer. I don't much dig it. I feel it has its benefits as far as a free group therapy, but I don't see how it's healthy to be rehashing mistakes you made 10 years prior because of drinking. You blame everything on the alcohol. They do ask you to own up to mistakes made while drinking, but they allow you to blame it on a "disease". I don't believe I have a disease. Perhaps some people do, but I am not "allergic to alcohol" as they say. I was just being stupid. You know what I did? I went to one A.A. meeting, they tried to tell me I could never drink even socially again and I decided to just start being normal when it comes to alcohol.
That's right! That's the answer to alcoholism: just stop being an alchy! It's so simple. Just be normal. Once I stopped thinking of alcohol as a remedy for everything and saw that all it really did was magnify my problems tenfold, I looked at it differently. I realized that I don't have to get the cheapest beer or liquor with the most alcohol content. I realized I can just drink for the fun of it rather than making it a chore I have to do every day. I realized I can go to a party and have fun just drinking a couple beers and maybe a few mixed drinks. I realized I don't have to get plastered every single time, I can just be normal. I was over-analyzing, searching for an answer, searching for help when all I had to do was just stop being irresponsible and dumb when it came to booze.
I truly believe that making NOT drinking your main priority in life like they teach you in A.A. is probably just as mentally unhealthy as being an alcoholic.
By constantly thinking and talking about NOT doing it, you're still obsessing over it. I did indeed have a mental obsession with alcohol. But rather than whining about my problems to a group of old drunks I decided to just break the cycle myself. (No disrespect to those who benefit from A.A., like I said, it may be for you but it's just not for me).
Step 4: The Test - Am I Really Cured?
It's been about a week 1/2 since my holy conversion out of alcoholic behavior. So I went to a party (and to a bar) with Grey last night. My first big party in a long time. There was free booze everywhere: vodka (my liquor of choice), beer, hunchpunch. For once, I focused on social interaction rather than drinking at a party.Seriously, probably the first time ever that I've been to a party like that and not ended up the drunkest, most obnoxious one there. For once, I didn't embarrass myself even one time. For once, I left with a smile on my face rather than a drunken scowl. And I didn't even realize it until the next day what I'd done: I'd conquered alcohol without even trying.
The fact that I simply paid more attention to my level of intoxication rather than just letting it all hang out and drinking as much as I could get my hands on as I had become accustomed proved to me that I could be normal. A.A. literature basically tells you that resistance against your "disease" is futile unless you completely quit drinking. They tell you that your disease renders you unable to drink without making a total ass of yourself. Well, I have proved them wrong and I will continue to do so!
Step 5: The Epiphany - It Really Is All in Your Mind!
It was then that I also realized: this method of simply deciding to break your thought patterns about a harmful obsession can work with anything. I have always had a problem with food as well, just like the alcohol. If it's tasty and it's there, I'll eat it and a lot of times eat ALL of it, even if I'm not hungry. Grey got mad about my binge eating as well. But you know what? I can be normal with that too. If I conquered booze, I can conquer food's power over me as well because it's all in my mind! We choose to think the way we do and we can change it.
Step 6: When the Fire Burns Out - Dealing With Relapse.
Ok, so maybe A.A. has a record of success and I'm just some 21-year-old drunk trying to give advice to people when I can't even say that I'm totally fixed myself. I can't say that I'm not a little nervous that somewhere down the line I'll forget how bad it was when I was drinking too much and eventually find myself doing it again. I can't say that alcohol isn't the first thing that comes to mind every time I get really upset about something. I certainly won't say that I won't find myself plastered drunk again at some point in my life because I still like to party. What I can say is that I am learning to be more of a responsible adult when it comes to the sauce and less of an over-eager little kid.
We all have our reasons to relapse. For me, I think my biggest danger is that I've always made it a point to be as rebellious and against the grain as possible. In past failed attempts to quit drinking, I would end up sneaking beer. It somehow made me feel like I had outsmarted those who were trying to help by drinking on the sly. I see now that it's impossible to hide. You can stifle the smell of it on your breath, but you can't hide being an angry drunk in your personality.
No one will hold a gun to my head to keep me from ever binge drinking again. I am always free to go to the store and buy a beer. I just don't do it anymore unless it truly feels appropriate.
Step 7: Moving Onwards and Upwards...
This approach to alcoholism is unorthodox but seems to be working for me. I don't feel it's healthy to keep focusing on something I'm trying to just get past. All I can do now is continue to make amends and rebuild my reputation. I'm determined not to let it overtake me again. When I get upset about something, I allow myself to experience that emotion now rather than immediately dousing it with drinking. I'm constantly discovering more destructive patterns of behavior and thinking that I've developed partially from drinking. I wasn't allowing myself to feel anything for the longest time. Every time an emotion was too intense for me, I'd dull it right away. When I was a young kid, before I could get my hands on drink or drugs, I'd drown my sorrows in food. The drinking itself wasn't the problem but merely a SYMPTOM of a broader issue that seems to be slowly unraveling.