How An Alcoholic Thinks About Drinking
Whenever I drank, my goal was always the same.
How Addicts and Non-Addicts Differ
One of the lessons that I’ve learned in sobriety is that alcoholics and non-addicts think about alcohol in fundamentally different ways.
Whenever I used to drink (which was daily for many years), my goal was always the same: to get as drunk as possible.
I would say that I liked the taste of beer, or that I needed to unwind, but the real point of my drinking was to get as intoxicated as I could by the end of the night. The only lines I tried not to cross were getting sick and passing out, and I even crossed those lines with embarrassing frequency.
In my mind, the drunker I was, the better. My thinking was really as simple as that.
As I’ve thought about my drinking habit, I’ve discovered reasons that I might have drunk so much: masking my depression, relieving anxiety, forgetting about bad days at work. But when I was actually in the midst of drinking, I was never thinking about the “why.” I just knew that I wanted to drink as much as I could.
It didn’t occur to me until after I got sober to start questioning why I wanted to get so drunk each time. As a heavy drinker, I wasn’t even fully aware of how abnormal it was.
I understood that many people didn’t drink as often as me, but I didn’t also realize that most people also didn’t have the desire to get so drunk.
Now that I’ve spent more time thinking and learning about drinking, I know that there are plenty of non-addicts who enjoy having just one drink. For these people, getting a small buzz is the endgame. For me, it was merely the start of a night.
I Will Never Drink in Moderation
Even after years sober, I still can’t really understand the mindset of a non-addict. When I felt the small effects of the first beer or two of a night, I could never resist the urge to keep going.
Feeling a slight buzz and not drinking anything else would have been like having an itch that I couldn’t scratch. It would have driven me absolutely crazy.
When I try to imagine drinking just a beer or two, and nothing more, it still sounds like it would be impossible. These days, I almost never get cravings for alcohol, but I can visualize exactly how instantly my first beer would turn those cravings right back on.
I don’t think that any amount of introspection, or time away from alcohol, would ever let me get in the mindset of a non-addict.
In a way, this is nice to realize, because it makes my options crystal clear. When I first quit drinking, I used to wish that I could learn to moderate my alcohol intake instead of abstaining entirely. I dreamed about being able to drink without having it overrun my life. That dream doesn’t fit with the way that I actually interact with alcohol though.
My only real choices are continuing to abstain from alcohol completely, or giving up on sobriety and ending up drinking until I get wasted every night. That middle ground of drinking just one or two is not a realistic middle ground for someone with my psychology.
When I was newer to sobriety, I might have been disappointed by this realization. These days, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve discovered how fulfilling a life with no alcohol can be, and I know that I’m not really missing out at all.