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Day 25 – Into the Home Stretch

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. ”
– Viktor Frankl

Congratulations! You are headed into your final week of Dryuary. And even if you slipped here or there, the fact that you are still reading this means you are paying attention. This alone is a very important factor. For some of you, this has been a breeze so far. For others, it has been more challenging. Many of you are wondering how it will be when you start drinking again. Maybe you’re worried about losing some of the benefits (e.g., increased productivity, fewer health issues) you’ve enjoyed this month. We’ll talk more about those on 1/30. Meanwhile, it may not hurt to read “MM Steps of Change” — specifically the section Skills for Moderate Drinking.  It contains several tips for pacing your drinks, which is key to keeping your blood alcohol below .055%. Above that point, it becomes way too easy to rationalize more drinks.

People have found various combinations of rules like these helpful:

  • keep alcohol out of the house when abstaining
  • no drinking at home
  • no drinking alone
  • no drinking on weekdays
  • no drinking to relieve stress
  • no shopping after noon
  • buy expensive wine/whiskey/whatever (e.g., trade in box-o-wine for the good stuff, and savor it)
  • alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • keep adding ice chips to wine to stretch it out
  • touch the wine to your tongue – barely sip

Finding the combination of rules that works for you takes trial and error.

Above all, pay attention to your drinks, as Paul Staley describes in his Mindful Drinking post:

“It could be argued that to a certain extent all our problems with drinking stem from lack of attentiveness. This seems pretty intuitive when it comes to binging, since that is the habit of mindlessly forging ahead with your drinking until you are well past the point where consequences outweigh benefits. But I have times suspected that for some binge drinkers their problem is not just a conditioned response to a particular setting, but a basic lack of awareness as to how alcohol affects them. I’m thinking in particular of the people who say that they, for example, never drink during the week and that they never drink alone, and yet when they go out, WHAMO! Well, if you only drink in these boisterous, amped-up environments there is no way for you really to know and recognize how two or three drinks affect you. The process of re-learning how to drink could simply begin with sitting down in a quiet place, having a few drinks and seeing how you feel. Find your happy zone and learn how to stay there, but you have to be paying attention to find it in the first place.”

Some of you may mess up and have too much on one or more occasion, once you resume drinking. Pono does a post-mortem in her Drinking No Longer Means Party post:

“Did I eat first? Yes
Did I drink the first one slowly, slower than those around me? Yes
Did I wait awhile before getting another? Yes
Did I make sure I had water by me at all times and drink it between drinks when my coworkers ordered another? No
(booya-that was it)”

Often, emotions trigger overdrinking, as jonathan langley writes:

“On the tough weeks, when I’m having a hard time and notice that I’m drinking more, I remind myself that this is part of the bigger goal of handling my emotions better. That one takes the most time, I find”

Many of us have learned, through experience, that we’re better off abstaining during emotionally trying times. Just Plain Phil also writes:

“It underscores what I know to be true about me. When I’m upset the last thing I want is to drink. That leads down a path I no longer wish to go”

For those of you who could benefit from peer support, consider reaching out at one of the chats, face-to-face meetings, MM Forum, or MMlist listserv. You’ll find others who are going through similar issues, as Kary May writes:

“It is impossible to put into words all that my own community, Moderation Management, has helped me accomplish, as a matter of fact, I’m sure there are far-reaching effects that I will never know. But I do know that I would never have found my way to where I am without my fellow villagers there, the ones that went before me, raising a torch and showing me the way, and those that fought alongside of me, held me up and kept me from surrendering, and, now, the new members who encourage me to keep fighting for them.”

Post Submitted By: Donna, who cites excerpts of Public Hub posts from Paul Staley, Pono, jonathan langley, Just Plain Phil, and Kary May.