Have you said or heard the following?
“My drinking really isn’t a problem.”
“I can stop any time I want to.”
“I’m not addicted, I don’t have withdrawal.”
These are some of the more common phrases said by those who don’t consider their use of alcohol a problem. Although many of these people are not losing their homes or their jobs due to addiction, there can still be side effects and outcomes that are harmful to their health and relationships, whether they identify their addiction or not. Those who use alcohol in moderation are taking a major risk every time they pick up the bottle. Here are some reasons why alcoholism cannot be handled safely with moderate drinking.
1. It’s Hard To Control Addiction
When you crave alcohol, the cravings aren’t just physiological or impulsive. They are deep wants that can linger in the mind. If someone drinks, even occasionally, they are satisfying that craving. Even if such a craving is satisfied in moderation, there is no telling when the urge to indulge may become overwhelming. It is not a sign of control to continue to allow a substance into your life. It’s a constant financial burden, a “monkey on the back” that inserts itself into every plan or budget. More importantly, if addiction could be controlled, it would have never became a problem for someone in the first place. If it was possible to do in moderation, it could have been done initially, or when it first became a problem, or at the first rock bottom, or the second. Opening the door to let a substance back into your life is following the same path that lead to abuse in the first place.
2. Long-Term Consequences Not a Matter of If, But When
Alcohol plays a large role in accidents, suicide and crime. Alcohol also plays a major role in more than half of all automobile fatalities. Fewer than two drinks can impair the ability to drive, and even one drink may double the risk of injury. This is compounded with the abuse of other addictive substances as well. If you believe you’re not at risk for these kinds of situations, you aren’t alone. DUIs aren’t exactly planned events, and no one marks on their calendar the day that they plan to get caught with heroin. No matter how responsible you are while sober, picking up a bottle of pills or a glass of alcohol means that won’t come into play. No matter how smart or careful you are when you make plans to keep yourself out of trouble, you’ll be able to outsmart those plans even if you are under the influence. After all, you came up with those plans, and you’ll be able to figure out a way around them.
3. Overdose is a Very Real Risk
Those who feel they have their substance abuse problems under control may not drink as frequently as others they know, or at least as frequently as they once did. However, this means their tolerance is lower than the tolerance of those who indulge on a more regular basis. The body not being able to handle higher quantities of alcohol increases the chances of a possible alcohol poisoning, and that means judgment becomes impaired more easily. When the rational part of you fades away as the buzz gets stronger, it’s difficult to stop. Newton’s First Law of Motion says that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Your likelihood of having one more drink goes up exponentially with every sip.
4. It Isn’t a Problem of Willpower At All
There are those who believe that addiction is a matter of control, of willpower, and of discipline. There are many intelligent people who believe that continuing to use alcohol in moderation after recovery will prevent relapse, as they are satisfying their cravings and “winning” against their addiction. However, there are ways to manage the possibility of relapse besides allowing the substance back into your life, and learning to handle those triggers will eventually make you more equipped in fighting addiction. Dealing with those feelings is much easier than dealing with a return to addiction, the likely result of continuing to use alcohol after recovery in any capacity. It’s best to become accustomed to sober life, even if it takes time.
Alcohol in Moderation Is Always Temporary
It may be difficult for you or a loved one to tell when addiction is starting to take over their lives. Here are some signs you can look for:
- Tried to limit drinking and found they couldn’t
- Had withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop drinking
- Put themselves in a dangerous situation while under the influence
- Drinks alone or starts early in the day
- Continued to drink despite the fact it’s causing problems at work, home or school
If you suspect you or a loved one has crossed a line and gotten to the point where alcohol is a problem, even if there is continuing function on a daily basis, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Moderation and substance abuse do not go hand in hand.