When I drank, I always drank to get drunk. I thought this was normal, a lot of my friends in high school, or in my freshman year at college said the same thing. What was the point of the extra calories, or the money spent, if you weren’t going to get drunk?
By my junior year in college, my friends were not drinking as often, or as much, as I still was. Instead of admitting to myself that maybe something was wrong, I told myself that I was simply “more fun” than them. I started going out more with my younger friends, who still went out 3-4 times a week, even if I knew I didn’t quite fit in.
It wasn’t until I was 21 that I started to try and just have one drink.
I went to Las Vegas for vacation twice after turning 21. Prior to both trips, I made the conscious decision to not let myself get even close to drunk. I knew it was too risky – being in an unknown place, the free alcohol, and being with friends that would not be too happy if they had to take care of me.
So I would limit myself to 2 drinks, but it took every ounce of willpower I had. Then sure enough, on the last day or last night, I would let myself drink. I had nothing to lose, knowing I could suffer through the hangover. Both times I drank drank myself into a state where I was physically miserable.
Once I crossed that two-drink line I just couldn’t stop.
I catch myself thinking, well I don’t have to quit drinking, I’ll just limit myself to 1-2 drinks. But then I am honest with myself. I have been trying to “control” my drinking for the past three years. The result? I have put myself in at least 4 situations where I could have died since my 20th birthday. Every time, I told myself it was the last.
Sometimes I think that I’ll miss drinking for the taste. I think about missing a glass of wine at dinner, a beer on the beach. Then, I remind myself that’s the addiction talking. Whenever I went out drinking, I would drink half of a beer or cocktail and immediately want something stronger.
I hated having just one drink. I either felt frustrated that I couldn’t have more, or afraid that I would lose control.
I have to remember that non-alcoholics can enjoy just one glass of wine at dinner, or even get drunk sometimes, and it won’t ruin their life.
For me, ‘just one drink’ is too risky. Sure, maybe I just have one drink when I’m out for dinner a few times. Then next it’s my friend’s birthday party at her house and I think, well I’ll be fine, I can let myself have two, I’ve been so good! Then before I know it, I’m having a third and there is no stopping me.
‘Once in remission, it is highly likely that an individual recovering from alcoholism will lose control after their first drink and severe problems will develop again’ – American Psychiatric Association
One of favourite points my Dad brings up is that alcoholism is not a result of low willpower. What takes more willpower than being addicted to alcohol and not having a single drink for the rest of your life?
Having one drink was the exception, not the norm.