Can an alcoholic have just one drink?
I had to give up alcohol because I was drinking too much. I do not like being described as an alcoholic although the counsellors in the private addiction rehab centre I attended did tell me that I was. Can an alcoholic have just one drink? I thought an alcoholic was someone who was homeless or who drank on a park bench out of a brown paper bag. I was a middle aged successful woman who on the surface had everything. Nice home and family, friends etc. I did not like thinking of myself as an alcoholic.
Holding on to the idea of drinking
Nonetheless I got through my 28 days in rehab. And I must admit I felt better. My family were talking to me again. Physically I looked much better – my eyes were brighter, my skin looked healthier and I looked younger. Mentally I felt better too – not so defensive and in the wrong. I was sleeping more peacefully, my appetite returned and I had more energy. However, I did not like the idea of never being able to drink again. And had it in mind that one day I would be able to have a drink. Looking back, I think that once I had it in my mind that I would be able to drink again ‘one day’, it was only a matter of time before I gave in and ‘one day’ arrived.
Can an alcoholic have just one drink – the impact
For me, that day came at a dinner I had to attend for my work. 10 weeks after I had been in treatment. I had hidden my alcoholism (or so I thought) from my work colleagues. And did not want them to know that I had an issue with it. They knew I liked a drink though! So in my addled thinking I thought that if I did not have a drink they might think there was something wrong. Or that I was pregnant, but my husband had left me by this time so there was not much chance of that. So I thought I had better have just one drink to throw them off the scent. But can an alcoholic have just one drink?
And that was all I had. Just the one. I did not particularly enjoy it as I knew I should not be having it really. But I had it, had no more and drove home feeling pretty pleased that I had ‘survived’ the evening without drinking too much. And without anyone knowing that I had been advised to stop completely.
Going back to the old ways
The next day I thought back to that drink. I had manged to have just one – so maybe that proved that I COULD have the occasional drink without setting off the longing for alcohol and the associated ‘binge’ or regular drinking? This stayed in my mind and that night I decided to see if I could have two drinks and stop. So I had my 2 drinks. Once I had had them, the old need to drink kicked in and I was off. I kept some control that second night. But the demon was on me and within the week I was back drinking every day and as heavily as ever. I was back in the misery.
I had to learn the hard way. That first ‘relapse’ after my first period of treatment was repeated many times over the coming years. I used willpower to stop whenever my drinking made me extremely unhappy but I could never ‘stay stopped’ – because I did not truly accept that total abstinence was for me.
Accepting the treatment
Eventually I went into treatment again and this time I did accept it – because I finally accepted that I did not need it to be happy, relaxed and comfortable in my own skin.
That is where I am today. 12 years sober. Alcohol no longer has any attraction for me whatsoever. I have energy, health, a loving and happy family – everything I could want in life. If I had not decided that I could never have ‘just one drink’ , I could well have ended up with no life at all – literally.