Can a heavy drinker become a moderate drinker?

After completing 107 days alcohol free, I was feeling pretty confident. Then the Easter weekend happened.

Friday involved a barbecue where I had 3 small glasses of Prosecco – but I was on alert the entire time about how much I was drinking and how much others were drinking.

The following night, I had two friends over for cocktails. Although I kept switching between water and cocktails and I worked hard to make sure I didn’t get drunk, I still managed to have 4 cocktails over the course of the night – approximately 10-12 units of alcohol – which qualifies as a ‘binge’.

On Sunday we visited those same friends for a barbecue at their house. I was driving so didn’t drink but had a glass of wine when I got home and another glass of wine the following night.

Although I was moderating (quite heavily, I thought), this certainly did not qualify as moderation.

By Tuesday, I faced the fact that I needed a better plan. I don’t want to set a goal of going teetotal forever – not yet anyway. For me that’s a “should” goal – a goal I would set not because I want to but because I should. Should goals make me crazy. They send me spiralling into obsessive territory and I usually do odd things that compromise my mental health because I’m constantly fighting myself. I work much better with goals I “want to” achieve.

I want to enjoy alcohol every now and then and have it not be a big deal. I want it to be a non-issue. Going teetotal makes it an issue and I’d like to move past that.

Since my last alcohol free period lasted 107 days, I was quite pleased to find out there were exactly 107 days between my starting this post and the first day of my summer holiday. So I’ve decided to use this period as ‘moderation training’.

Over the course of the 107 days, I’m committing to 100 days alcohol free and allowing 7 days where I can have alcohol if I want to – but not without any rules. I had already set myself 3 rules for moderate drinking and those will hold:

  1. No drinking alone
  2. No drinking in front of the TV
  3. No getting drunk

My hope is that doing things this way give me more practice at enjoying social occasions when I am not drinking as well as social occasions when I am drinking – and by practicing both, I get more practice at not drinking even when the option to drink is available.

I realise it’s a strange strategy but this feels like a great way to practice a skill I don’t yet have – and one that will prove enormously helpful as I continue to strengthen my ability to make disciplined decisions about other areas of life.

If you’re someone who struggles with alcohol – or has struggled in the past, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

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