First of all, apologies to anyone who has followed or read my earlier posts on my experiences of ‘re-learning to drink’. So here’s a quick one to say how its been going…
First of all, things have been fine although I remain incredibly busy which is why its been too long here. But drink-wise, I’m not drinking problematically despite my past alcohol dependency. Presently I typically drink a few times per week on average, and on most occasions within the guidelines (3-4 units). If more, it’s never more than double them, which is the government’s rather technical definition of ‘binge drinking’. Of course this is a long way off the 20 or 30 units I would regularly drink in my early twenties.
As previously explained, my concern then with returning to drink after many years of abstinence was the possibility of slipping back towards dependency. Before starting this experiment of sorts, I knew that wouldn’t happen overnight, but perhaps in 3, 6 or 12 months I would have a good inclination of the chances. In researching controlled drinking as fact or fiction, the main criticism that resonated was that it may be possible for a while, but the controlled drinker always ends up dependent again. Most of the studies don’t seem long-term enough to decisively disprove this. But at nearly 12 months in, that doesn’t feel a real risk for me right now.
Nonetheless, in times of stress I have felt an urge to drink, and a social occasion without alcohol is not so appealing as one with it. Having said that, once drinking it doesn’t feel all that special, though certainly pleasant. So, whilst I do look forward to drinking, surely that’s as much because I look forward to weekends and socialising as much as the mild effect of alcohol itself. Or so I believe. If I’m busy or need to drive somewhere on what might otherwise be a drinking occasion, that’s not a big issue. In the past I sought drunkenness whenever possible; now I seek ‘responsible drinking’ as part of an available social occasion or weekend.
Nonetheless, I’ve by no means decided that I am proof of “controlled drinking being possible”. It’s far more complex than that, and my position at present is that for some, whose lives are stable and have addressed the reasons they became dependent in the first place, drinking again may be possible. But, for most formerly dependent drinkers, certainly those who have had more severely developed dependency, abstinence is undoubtedly the best and safest option. From my research, experience and many conversations, it seems to me a general premise that the greater the level of dependency, the less likely successful controlled drinking will be possible. As previously explained, I felt that because I stopped ‘early’, had a long period of abstinence, and significantly changed my life circumstances, I had a good chance of drinking without destruction.
So our life circumstances are key. Without good health, good use of time, general happiness or other important wellness factors, anyone’s chances of problem free, non-addicted behaviours are reduced. For now, touch wood, this often cruel thing called life isn’t treating me too bad. If that changes, I’d be worried about continuing to drink.