Update: This is a post from another blog. I migrated it to this blog because it’s an important part of my story. This was posted just over three years before I fully surrendered and accepted that I am an alcoholic.In September 2015, I began abstaining from alcohol and attending regular meetings.
When I started my alcohol fast, I was not sure that I’d make it a day or even a week – let alone 30 days. Those first few days were not easy. I struggled. The 5 o’clock routine of grabbing a drink was ingrained, and felt like it was etched in stone, but it wasn’t. With a great deal of self coaching, I got through it each day. Before I knew it, a week had gone by.
Over the past month, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and learning about alcohol as a drug, and alcoholism as a disease. The term alcoholism carries a great deal of stigma and it really shouldn’t – it is a disease that is caused by physiological and neurological responses to alcohol in a subset of the human population. There are a number of factors that are believed to contribute to alcoholism which include insufficient enzymes in the liver and brain chemistry, decreased numbers of dopamine receptors in the brain, and genetics. And yet, there is no single test that can determine whether a person is or is not an alcoholic.
When I began the exercise of a 30 day break from alcohol, I was concerned that I may be an alcoholic. I never declared that I was an alcoholic and I have not been to an AA meeting or to see any counselors on this topic – though I have discussed it in the past within the context of counseling. The truth is I really don’t know if my drinking was the result of habit or disease. I tend to think that it was habitual stemming from something other than physiological addiction. I base this on the fact that I did not have significant withdraw symptoms when I stopped drinking on June 24th.
I learned a lot about myself and my drinking:
- I learned that I didn’t have to be a slave to booze.
- I learned that I could find other things to do to relax and that not drinking gave me a feeling of liberty.
- I learned that I have a lot more patience for my 5-year-old son when I don’t have booze in my system.
- I learned that I sleep a shit-ton better without booze in my system.
- I learned that I communicate better when I’m not drinking.
- I learned that I can and do have a good time socializing with people (who may or may not be drinking) without drinking myself.
- I learned that I generally feel better without drinking.
So, here I am after 30 days (31 actually) and I’m thinking that soon I’ll be ready to test the waters. I never said I was planning to abstain forever – though the thought has crossed my mind on several occasions. I would like to be a social drinker – someone who can have a few drinks with friends over dinner and not end up as a total mess a the end of the night. I would like to limit my intake to be with the recommended number of drinks per day for a man (2–3), but I do not want to be a daily drinker.
Time will tell how this plays out. It may play out well, or it may become a problem again. If it becomes a problem again, it may be an instant problem or it may become a problem over time. I don’t know how my body will react to the drink at this point.
What I do know is that if it becomes a problem, abstinence will decidedly be on the table for consideration – and that wouldn’t be nearly as horrible as I once thought.
5 responses to “Reflections after 31 Days without a Drink”
Well done. I hope you feel pride! I’m proud of you!! And I don’t know how fast/slow those 30 days felt, but it seemed like just yesterday when you announced you were starting your 30 day challenge. Probably the same way I felt after having a baby and people would say “that pregnancy went fast!”…yeah, not nearly as fast as I would have liked 🙂 Keep up the good work!
At times it felt like it would never end and at other times it was no big deal. Looking back now, it seems like just yesterday that I made the announcement. Overall it’s been a good month and I do feel a sense of pride.
And you should be so proud of yourself. I read your post and I thought all the words were coming out of my head. I’m on day 4 of 30 and I feel great. Keep up the great work and God Bless, your an inspiration.
Luchianna- Thanks for the kind words. The first week was probably the toughest of the 4. Best of luck on your journey.
just found this – I am on day 31 no drinking, feel great, but do miss an IPA now and then. Curious if you drink socially now Damien? I am scared to have another drink because I ‘don’t want to be a total mess at the end of the night’, but I never thought myself as an alcoholic (or had any withdraw symptoms) and would like to know how your doing now? thanks in advance – great read.