Question: If I don’t have a shaking hand or need a drink in the mornings, does that mean I’m not an alcoholic?
Answer: What’s important is that you are asking yourself that question. It means that alcohol is challenging the control you have in your life, and almost more importantly, it means you are concerned about it.
Question: I don’t think my drinking is out of control because I stick to limits and I know when to stop. However, sometimes my behaviour lets me down, so maybe I just need to find a way of controlling my behaviour a bit better with alcohol?
Answer: If your behaviour is out of control, then surely your drinking is? Having to exercise self-control isn’t pleasurable. Your life would be so much more fun if you could just be yourself.
Question: Are dry Januaries and/or sober Octobers a good idea?
Answer: Yes, because they give your body a welcome break, but they tell you little about living your life in sobriety. Living in sobriety is joyous, liberating and empowering. Getting through a dry month is box-ticking.
Question: Will my life be boring, if I quit?
Question: How can I enjoy those occasions at which everyone wants to have a drink? Like weddings, funerals, birthdays, work-socials, Christmas?
Answer: You will learn to enjoy all occasions differently in sobriety. This will take time, as it’s very unlikely you will know very much about your inner desires – they have all been influenced by alcohol for too long. But over time, you will learn the things you like and dislike doing. And if the big celebrations aren’t on that list – don’t go to them! Or, at least, go to them for the duration that works for you. Save your energies for the stuff that gives you pleasure.
Question: How am I supposed to get a taste for fruit juice and lemon tea, when what I want to drink is vodka?
Answer: You won’t.
(That’s because, when all you want to drink is vodka, nothing else but alcohol will do. Once you have a desire for sobriety, getting a taste for anything but alcohol is easy. The harder route to sobriety lies in changing your behaviour. The easier route lies in changing your desire. But to address your unwanted desires, you have to unwant them!)
Question: Can I change my desire? I really want to be free of alcohol, and yet I really want to drink it.
Answer: Think fantasy. Try to imagine the sober version of yourself – the one that never had a drink in her/his life. Imagine what that looks like, even if it’s very sketchy or fanciful. It doesn’t matter. Just keep thinking about a sober you. This isn’t the same question as how you would cope without a drink. It’s about how your life would look like if you had never had a drink. If you can do that – keep thinking about it as often as possible. You just might get a taste for it!
Question: I just can’t get my head around the idea of losing the excitement of a night out on the lash. How could fruit juice and sobriety offer as much enjoyment?
Answer: A life with alcohol is all about enormous highs and terrible lows. In addiction, you trade the lows for the highs without even thinking about it. In sobriety you find that almost everything has the ability to give you a mini-high. Very little, other than the slings and arrows of life, really get you down. So, this means that a night out in sobriety isn’t going to give you the same kind of high as the drunken one. But you’ll get a high at the end of the night when you go home and when you get ready for bed and when you wake in the morning and all through the next day. It’ll be a slow release not a surge. Not the same thing. It’s a question of adjusting to the different delivery of happiness, minus any of the sadness. It takes a while, but it’s absolutely amazing – after all the shit that goes with roller-coaster drunkenness.
Is there a difference between psychological dependency and physical dependency?
Physical dependency is all about the body’s need for alcohol, manifesting itself in a shaking hand, sweating, and even fitting and hallucinating. Psychological dependency is how most people experience excessive drinking. It’s the need to have a drink in order to enjoy life properly, or to get through life without anxiety. Psychological dependency can lead to physical harm (life-threatening liver and heart conditions, as well as cancer risks) without having to develop into physical dependency on alcohol. Both conditions are equally serious, and both have an impact on our quality of life. Just because you don’t have a shaking hand, doesn’t mean you don’t have a serious problem, one that is potentially life-threatening.