Do I Have to Stop Drinking Forever?

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Forever feels like a long time, doesn’t it? That’s why one of the most important slogans in the program is “One Day at a Time.” If we focus on not drinking one day at a time, rather than thinking about not being able to have a champagne toast at our granddaughters wedding, it’s a lot more manageable.

That being said, if you are a true alcoholic it is highly unlikely that you will ever be able to drink safely again. As you read some of the literature of AA, you will learn the disease of alcoholism is two-fold: physical and mental. The mind may recover to a certain point where the obsession to drink has lifted entirely. The body, however, is often irreversibly changed by years of drinking in an alcoholic fashion. The truth is that, for us alcoholics, our bodies just don’t respond to alcohol like normal people do and never will. Alcohol is processed differently by our bodies.

One of the things you may hear as you start coming around to meetings is “why don’t you go out and try to do some controlled drinking.” This is the classic test for those members who think maybe they don’t want to stop drinking forever. Those people are encouraged to try and have just two and then stop. In most cases, any true alcoholic who goes out and tries to have “just two” may find themselves unable to maintain that practice for very long. Remember here, though, that while this is a suggested way to test if you are an alcoholic, it can also be a dangerous gamble. You could end up in a cycle of problem drinking for some time. You might even end up hurting yourself or others, or even worse. If you have a couple of days of sobriety under your belt and have found your way into a meeting or even to this site, odds are there are probably some patterns you could do well to look at. So, rather than doing some more research on drinking, why not give the program a shot? You really don’t have anything to lose.

Another tool that can be helpful is to reframe this question. Consider not what you’re giving up, but rather all the things that you’ll get to do now that you’ve stopped. Examples could include: no longer waking up with hangovers, not having to worry about drinking and driving, always remembering what you did the night before, being a productive member of society, focusing on your health, picking up new hobbies, making new sober friends. The list goes on and on. Making lists like these can be a great way to keep the focus on gratitude for the gifts of the program.

Many of us also found that as we started to get sober and get some recovery under our belts, time became a little more relative. As a newcomer, you are hyper-aware of time not drinking. Counting days, hours, sometimes even minutes can seem excruciating. However, this feeling will not always be the case. At some point, usually around the ninety-day mark, sober living starts to feel more like the norm and less unusual. So, forever might feel pretty daunting right now. Remember, though, that by sticking around and working a solid program it will turn more into a way of life.

So remember that by working a program “one day at a time” the word forever doesn’t seem to sound bad anymore. Just focus on what’s in front of you, doing the next right thing, and taking care of yourself. If you’ve come this far, why not give the program a shot.