I wouldn’t have swapped alcohol for anything else. Not at any point in my 36 years of drinking.
In fact, if anyone said to me “Will, if you follow me and put down the booze, I will show you a life of unimaginable joy and serenity,” my reply would have been…
“Thanks for that, but I am happy with the way things are. I admit there may be a better life out there for me – one I would enjoy more than the one I have now, possibly – but I am ok with what I have got, Thanks”.
All of my drinking career I had an unassailable desire for alcohol. The only thing that might have toppled it – it never happened by the way – would have been a fall to rock bottom. You know, if I had crashed and burned – run someone over in a drink-driving accident, or stabbed someone in a drunken argument, or had all my children taken into care (I don’t have any btw) – I might have hit rock bottom. We’re told (mainly by AA) that rock bottom is the point where we realise that alcohol has defeated us. We can no longer claim any control over it. It has complete mastery over us.
And that’s very significant, I believe. It forces us to decide what we want, knowing that if we still want alcohol, it will destroy us. So, if we decide we don’t want to be destroyed, that we want to live, then we are forced into deciding not to drink.
Having decided not to drink, we change our behaviour. Organisations like AA help with this, with their mantras like “Just for Today”. The 12-step program helps change our beliefs too, and the combination of the change in behaviour and the change in belief leads eventually (we hope) to a change of desire – towards a desire FOR sobriety.
round and round in circles…
But not everyone hits rock bottom. I didn’t. So, I believe I could have carried on drinking into old age if I had wanted to. And why would I need to change anyway? I mean, if I have control over my drinking, and I haven’t hit rock bottom and I haven’t got a physical addiction, then where is the problem?
Sure, I might occasionally feel that I do have a bit of a problem, but unless it gets as bad as an alcoholic’s drinking, then all I need do is get a bit more of a grip. I might then change my drinking behaviour a little, and if I succeeded, this shows the great control I have over my drinking – a sure sign that I don’t have a problem. My desire for alcohol therefore remained unscathed.
circumstances make the difference
It’s therefore only really circumstances (ie. rock bottom) that will force me to change anything at all. Round and round and on and on we go. Why fix something that’s fundamentally not broken. If I like my drinking life, and it’s not doing me or anyone else any harm, then why opt for a different life, even if that life promises to be better than the one I am currently enjoying.
proud to be a functional alcoholic
By the way, the term alcoholic wasn’t really a deterrent to my drinking. When I discovered the term “Functional Alcoholic” I thought it sort of exonerated my drinking by acknowledging that it was a “thing” – a thing that people did – in a functional way. I mean if you are functional, you are getting by, surely? I thought it summed me up pretty well – and I was happy with that, as long as nobody actually tried to stop me drinking, which they never did.
So, if you know you drink too much and want to explore the options open to you, you are most likely open to one thing only: controlling alcohol a bit better.
have a look at my “taking control of your drinking” page…
Some quick observations about the nature of desire…
1. You can’t entice or tempt drinkers with talk about the joys of sobriety because there’s a fundamental disconnect between the word joy and sobriety.
2. You have to want sobriety. Desire to quit isn’t enough on its own.
3. If I mistakenly drank alcohol, the mistake would be inconsequential. If I chose to have a drink, the decision would affect the rest of my life.
4. My 36 year unchallenged desire for drinking hit the buffers in a single moment that set in motion a complete reinvention of who I am.
5. For all the upheaval and change that quitting entailed, the actual moment was no more than the flick of a switch.
6. To a drinker, no amount of hot bubbly baths, mint tea or country walks will compensate for a life without vodka. That is exactly how I felt when I drank.
7. Imagining the sober version of you – the one who never had that first ever drink – is a great first step. Imagine the sober version of you in the thick of all those ups and downs of your life. That version of you is real – you just need to find it. Then you must want it. And like the film “Sliding Doors” you can merge your body into the alcohol-free body that you have caught up with.