As a substance abuse counselor for many years, I am well familiar with the symptoms and signs of problematic use; my issue was her assertion drinking causes mood disruption for almost a month after the drink. One drink? Depressed for a month? Sounded a bit loony to me, especially as I’d never read anything in the literature matching this assertion, with the exception of those who drank every day, then suffering withdrawal and PAWS. So I did an anecdotal, totally unscientific study and stopped drinking for 45 days, tracking my mood each day.
Through this time period, my parents invited me to visit them on vacation in Florida, I was living with roommates with whom drinking was our main activity, and I was single and working three jobs. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to say no to booze (it’s always nice to have a reminder that I really can stop if I want) and drinking club soda usually solved the problem at bars, as it looks like it could be a drink. But my mood stayed the same.
For two, I knew it was baloney. Sure, I wouldn’t been tossing shots back the day after a big night, but forever is a long time (hence the one day at a time motto in AA). But as I grow older and older, I am drinking less and less. My tolerance is down, and I don’t find myself out on Friday and Saturday nights, spending money and carousing. I have fewer hangover brunches, and my fridge keeps beer in it for weeks at a time (it helps not having roommates).
I struggle, because in the states especially, it seems drinking is associated with being young, being in college, with fun, with cutting loose. I worry I am getting too serious, that I am losing friends, that worst of all, I may be growing up and out of the party scene.
It’s this that is most difficult, because really, drinking is putting a neurotoxin in your body. It has calories, makes you do stupid crap (sometimes) and it destroys your body if you drink enough for long enough. I have friends in their forties who party like college students, and my parents definitely drink with their friends on occasion. It’s these thoughts and experiences that make you sympathetic to anyone in recovery, anyone who has chosen to make changes in their life and put the bottle down. Because even for us weekend warriors and college boozers, it’s not easy to stop.
This article states an alcoholic is anyone who’s life gets better when they stop drinking. Does yours?