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Why Doesn’t Controlled Drinking Work?

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Why Doesn’t Controlled Drinking Work for Alcoholics?

Women and Alcohol | Just Believe Recovery PA

A wise woman once said, “You may not be able to control every situation and it’s outcome, but you can control your attitude and how you deal with it”. Bold words that seem rarely understood. The thing is we are the creators of our own destiny. We manifest the majority of our problems and we are the same stopping force that promotes a solution into them. Life is only but a small slice of what happens to you- and the bigger piece of that pie is how we react.


When it comes to huge life decisions, choice is the only thing that separates positivity and negativity. You can put in headphones and choose to ignore the tauntings of your spouse starting a fight, or you can engage in a verbal onslaught that endures sleepless and senseless hours into the night. You can buy the cherry flavored baked delicatessen at the local supermarket when you really wanted blueberry, or you can write an angry letter to the manager of the store and have it notarized in spite. The same goes for the boozing: You can pick up the bottle of alcoholic nectar and guzzle it down your throat, or you can walk away and choose joy over drunken misery. For some, controlled drinking of any sort isn’t an option.


Human beings have the power of choice and can defer or deter so many aspects of their destiny. Yet, for addicts and alcoholics, we have limitations- or handicaps if you will. The disease that labels us is something to not be toyed with since every choice matters in regards to. Alcoholism will send the happiest of souls into the pits of despair just from a few poor selections. Eventually it becomes a real existential conundrum as the option between life and death must be settled upon. You’d think that the choice would be easier to make- but this highlights the reality behind alcoholism. This type of thinking has to be kept in check to avoid the conjured pipe dreams of controlled drinking that we so savor.


Determined Illusions

There is a slew of reasons why controlled drinking doesn’t work for alcoholics. Just starting with tolerance and our general way of imbibing is enough to close down that conversation. Addicts and alcoholics can never have enough- plain and simple. When we’re ready to drink we can create a list longer than time of why it’s okay to have just a couple sips. On the contrary though, it’s nearly impossible for us to find a reason not to unless we’ve chosen sobriety. There really is no in between with alcoholics. There’s no controlled drinking, no cocktail hour, and no drinking like a gentleman. It’s all sloshed and sloppy once we kick back some of grandpa’s old cough medicine.


There is an alternative to being piss drunk all the time, and that’s being stone cold sober. This is a set of words that has the ability to make an active alcoholic hiss in terror. Who in their right mind would want to be entirely clean from all substances and chemicals? Hogwash. As soon as words like “sober” and “clean” are uttered into the air, the list of rationalizations roll in justifying why we can do some controlled drinking. “Last time wasn’t that bad”, we tell ourselves. “I’ll worry about it later.” “It’s not a big deal if it’s just this time.” “What’s the harm in it?” “I’ve got this.” Most of which are the empty bellowings we use to comfort the scared little boy whistling in the dark that we all are inside. Justification and fear can be great friends if we allow them.  


Trying is Dying

Attempting controlled drinking always opens up the floodgates for more possibilities and misery down the road. Alcoholism will try to convince us that we have the disease beaten, but in all actuality we know that it cannot be cured. This of course is when relapse is beginning to take place. It always starts in the mind as a reservation and slowly morphs the so-called controlled drinking ot controlled thinking into a heavy relapse. Relapse always starts in the mind after all. Despite disencouragement, many will make an effort. Here are just a few of the methods they will try:

  • Drinking beer only
  • Limiting the number of drinks
  • Never drinking alone
  • Never drinking in the morning
  • Drinking only at home
  • Never having it in the house
  • Never drinking during business hours
  • Drinking only at parties
  • Switching from scotch to brandy
  • Drinking only natural wines
  • Agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job
  • Taking a trip
  • Not taking a trip
  • Swearing off forever(with and without solemn oath)
  • Taking more physical exercise
  • Reading inspirational books
  • Going to health farms and sanitariums
  • Accepting voluntary commitment to asylums


Apparently this list can go on at infinitum. The thing that we have to come to grips with is acceptance of this disease and the capabilities is holds. If we are not taking care of self physically, spiritually, and emotionally- the disease will engulf and win always. There’s a reason why some beings have been able to put together incredible lengths of sobriety time like 20, 30, or 40+ years in the rooms of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous: because they realized LONG ago that controlled drinking doesn’t work for men/women of their breed.  


When you put the elements of controlled drinking together with the makeup of alcoholic thinking, one of them is going to win. We addicts/alcoholics try to convince ourselves that we are still enjoying the drinking lifestyle, but deep down we know how exhausting it is trying to beat ourselves in this backwards ass game. We know in our hearts that there is a happier way of life without the burden of needing to glug something for placebo induced happiness. We just have to choose.


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