Moderation mountain

Recently a couple of people I know decided to dip their foot into the drinking world again.

On my own journey the very word moderation means hell on earth. It’s that stage where you sort of know you have a problem and alcohol becomes a boa constrictor around your body. It has you in its grip and the more you try to wriggle away (put rules in place) the tighter the snake’s grip gets around you.

If people can moderate their intake of alcohol the more power to them, I just need to clarify that I don’t have an issue with drinkers. I am talking about people that have identified that they may have a problem.

I am a total believer in abstinence based recovery. I tried to moderate for years. I went to a hypnotherapist, I bought moderation management books, I kept drinking diaries, I meditated, I started running,  I did therapy…I would manage to moderate for a while  but eventually the snake tightened its grip even more. The words soul-destroying come to mind. The more I failed the more the snake was squeezing the very life out of me.

So it makes sense that I would want to spare anyone the same pain and just say, skip all that shit. Just abstain, alcohol is a liar and get to the good sober stuff. But it doesn’t work that way. I listened to the bubble hour today and Jean was talking about moderation as a  diagnostic tool. I’ve never thought of it that way. Now I understand now why most people have to go through the hell of trying to moderate and failing, to really see and know for themselves on a visceral level that they are in fact addicted. Sometimes this process can take years. In my case it took many years. I really needed to make sure, just needed to double check that a long break from alcohol doesnt re-set the clock as it were.

The point is to find a place of peace around alcohol. My place of peace is abstaining completely. One drink has never and will never be enough for me.

It reminds me of that part in the Shining where Jack Nicholson sits at the empty bar and says…I’ll sell my soul for a beer. Lloyd appears (the ghostly bartender) Jack immediately orders a bottle of bourbon, a glass and some ice. One beer doesn’t exist for an addict… it never will.

41 thoughts on “Moderation mountain

  1. I really like this post. Especially about moderation being a diagnostic tool. I think that’s exactly how I am using it. The question is whether it’s possible to control addiction, appreciate and understand the addiction or tendency to be addicted and move away from it. I’ve had other behaviors over the course of my life where I would say I was addicted at the time and yet have since backed away without needing complete abstention. It’s more a reigning in, a putting it in it’s place. On the other hand alcohol is a drug. But is the drug just a stimulant to that part of the brain that has been stimulated in other ways in the past or is it all just “the drug” and so a completely different duck? I may not be making any sense here but your post made me think for sure! I know I am different than I was a year ago, thank goodness, but I still have much work to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes there is a point where the brain is permanently changed. The more the brain is exposed to alcohol the deeper those pathways gets. And then of course the tolerance creeps up. I know my brain has changed for sure. The main trouble is that alchol is addictice (not just for addicts for most humans) Perhaps you started moderating in time…xxx


  2. I’m with you. Moderation would work for me in the short run, but it was as if I was just getting a running start to really take off. Also, the amount you drink can add up very slowly sometimes, like when you have two glasses of wine a night for a year or two, and then it’s three on big weekends, and then suddenly four go down in a hurry. You have already normalized the amount you drink, so moderation is often still drinking way too much. I used to “moderate” by limiting myself to 4-5 drinks a night. That’s a hell of a lot to be called moderate. It took decades to teach myself (by knocking my head up against the wall), that moderation would not work in the long run.

    Bless you for trying to save some other poor soul this pain. ; )

    Liked by 2 people

      • Me too! And I will plot to come up with a reason to have more. Someone hands me a drink without me asking? That’s a freebie. Someone hands me a glass as a part of a toast? Another freebie. You’re so right about the stress of trying to manage my desire for MORE.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I just love the “why don’t you just have one?” Every night there would be a reason to have 1, which meant 5. What is really the point of 1 drink, all is does is start the craving which won’t stop until I go to bed. I hate the moderation argument and it usually comes from drinkers that cannot have just one.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I have a friend that can do one or none or sometimes on a big night 2. I have asked her many times doesn’t she want another, doesn’t she get the “ahhh feels good” I want another. She said no she doesn’t like how she feels if she has more than 1 or maybe 2 as it knocks her out. I said to her “that is the point”. But for her that is not the point and she said was an unenjoyable feeling. Interesting. Everyone else I know struggles to have 1.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yea…I’ve never had a drinking problem with a glass of juice or a spritzer LOL…but with wine I would begin with a glass most nights then drink until I passed out. There was never enough to satisfy my wine-monster once I started… If I did manage to moderate it took great effort and I hated it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I desperately wanted to be a moderate drinker. I tried so hard. I bought the book, joined the forum, followed the programme. But I failed. Not once but three separate occasions. Listening to the podcast you shared a while back with Dr John Kelly helped me understand why. The Alcoholic brain never forgets. If you drank one bottle of wine a night for seven nights then quit for six months and decided to moderate then the brain would very quickly remember that one bottle of wine a night seven nights a week. It is programmed. Even the founder of the moderation movement failed in her attempt to drink moderately. She rejoined AA shortly before her death. Now I know that I am an alcoholic I know I can never drink again. Not socially, not moderately, not at all.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I also desperately wanted to be a moderate drinker hence all the strategies. I just found this article!(never knew about this)

      This is why educating the public about the true facts around alcohol is so important. People don’t know that anyone can become addicted; they think they are ‘different’ and safe. This is due in part to the legend of the alcoholic gene. I’m not refuting that genetics play some part but there is no ‘one gene’ as such, there are many more factors at play here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This quote from that article, by that founder caught me up:

        ‘Whether abusive drinking is a disease or a learned behavior does not matter. If you drink too much and this is causing problems in your life, you need to do something about it. We’re intelligent people, but sometimes we need to quit debating in our heads, and look at what’s in our hearts.

        What a tortured life she had. And a struggle that, for whatever reason, she was never able to win.

        The thought just occured as I was writing this: think of all the moments, minutes, hours in her life that were devoted to thinking about/’managing’ drinking…and then the time spent in actual consumption. It really can devour a life, can’t it?

        Liked by 3 people

      • I agree with you.
        The disease question only matters when we talk about the harm alcohol can do to anyone who drinks to excess regularly. The disease theory exempts ‘normal drinkers’ from the awful fate of the alcoholic because he/she is born with the defect. Devoured her life is the right word! It has devoured mine for longer than I care to admit. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, all of the yes! You’re bang 9n as usual. Moderation was my tool last year, it certainly answered my questions. I failed miserably. But I need to try it. In the last few days, I’ve found myself wanting to rabbit-punch people who say “but why don’t you just have one?”. As if it’s that fucking simple? Do you NOT THINK I might have tried that???. Argh! Sorry for the rant. I need to exercise, obvs 😉 Red xx

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I couldn’t agree more. I also don’t get why there is a push for moderation management. It implies that alcohol is necessary in some way. I find it kind of insulting in a way. I am an alcoholic who learned to have fun and be at peace and dance and all the rest without alcohol. I guess I just don’t get why someone who has been through the pain of active alcoholism would take the chance.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. 2 drinks a day, no more, no less- every day for one month. I heard somewhere, probably an AA meeting long ago, that if you can do this, you are not an alcoholic. I never tried because I knew I’d fail. I just tried all other sorts of fancy tricks and gimmicks – so many years.


  9. I do struggle when I read about moderation and think it sounds like they doth protest too much. I genuinely think it is because I have never met a reformed drinker who was able to moderate. I am sure there must be people but are they able to moderate forever. Sounds a little bit like having sex and as soon as you feel the orgasm coming you STOP! ha ha. God that’s not how the treat sex addicts is it?
    I remember when I started drinking about 10 years ago (I didn’t drink when I lived in America cos I was raising my daughter and it never crossed my mind to drink. Wasn’t even a conscious thought) I used to buy 3 bottles of wine for the week and I did that for a good few years. I think it all changed one Christmas when I drank a lot and that started the increase and the slow but steady decent into addiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I also yet have to meet someone that used to drink loads but now manages to keep within government guidelines. It’s just not for me, too much torture and towards the end it was like Russian roulette. I didn’t know how I was going to react after any amount of alcohol, blacking out after 3 drinks etc.


    • O my gosh yes Wendy there is that risk of something truly awful happening. Hopefully in the future people wouldn’t need to reach such lows to realise the harm booze does. I sincerely hope that one day drinking will be seen in the same light as smoking is now. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Moderation is a topic that comes up now and then and frankly, it’s one of those things which I think most people who are in recovery understand is something outside their realm of capability. I know I cannot moderate alcohol. I tried countless times and frankly, it only got worse. Alcoholism is a one way elevator going down. We just decide what floor we get out on.

    I too know one or two people who have returned to “normal” drinking and it then makes me wonder if they were truly alcoholic. Hard drinkers look a lot like us, with the only difference is that given sufficient reason, they can stop. A TON of people I know who have gone back out to try controlled drinking have been beaten into submission. I know that if I went back out, I may have a few days where I am under the illusion of being in control, but before I knew it, I would be back at it. Not fun.

    Agreed – abstaining is the key to the door of recovery.

    Great post – thanks for sharing!


    Liked by 2 people

  11. Moderation is also all-too elusive for me. Like finding the Jack-o-lope, or catching the Easter bunny.

    Great post, hurrah. You continue to blaze a trail of honesty for all here following you. Like Paul, I know a lot of people who have gone back out and went back to suffering from the lashes of alcoholism. If you have been brought to your knees, chances are you need to abstain completely.

    Great post. -Mark

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Absolutely no way would I be able to moderate my drinking. I know that. Not to mention the amount of time and energy I’d have to put into even attempting it, and for what? The longer I’m sober, the more I really question why there’s such a push for alcohol to be a part of society and our lives. Why should we feel like we have to moderate to fit in or feel normal? What do people truly, honestly get from only having 1 or 2 drinks that they wouldn’t get from having a fun non-alcoholic drink or an ice cream float or something?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh wow, this is so true! I have also taken years trying to get moderation to work, but it doesn’t and finally I am ok with that. I don’t want to moderate anymore. its too hard. I totally agree with you that for those of us who know we have a problem, complete abstinence is the only solution in the long run.


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