If any alcoholic or addict who has some sobriety time under their belt tells you they no longer think about drinking or using, I’ll tell you they are full of it. We’re alcoholics and addicts for God’s sake, we’re gonna think about it no matter how long we’ve been sober. However comma….it is no longer an obsession in our minds. We may think about it from time to time and the thoughts usually disappear as fast as they come, but we DO think about it. Although I can only speak for myself, I can tell you that others like me at one time or another has tinkered with the idea of, “Well, I’ve been sober long enough, maybe I can now handle just one.” The thing is, as long as it’s just a thought and doesn’t go further into a reality, you’ll be just fine. If you seriously start to debate it in your head, you should immediately pray, call your sponsor and if you follow a 12 step program, get to a meeting. If you don’t, than you should call someone who understands and talk to them until the thought passes.
Our diseases do not go away when we get sober. We’re not cured. Once an alcoholic or addict, ALWAYS an alcoholic or addict. As a matter of fact, the longer we are sober, the stronger our addictions get. Our diseases are behind us doing push ups while patiently waiting for a moment of weakness to slide in and take over. When you deal with your disease head on, it knows it can’t come at you that way so it gets tricky. It will come at you from all sides. If you’re not strong enough to resist it, you can pretty much count on a relapse.
One way to throw up the walls of defense when you start having those thoughts is not to remember your last “drink” but to remember your last “drunk” When we think about a drink, we romanticize it. We relate a “drink” to having a good time with our friends, being social etc…..But if you think about your last “drunk” you will remember how bad it got before you gave it up and the consequences that come along with it.
Another way as I’ve already mentioned would be to pray to your higher power then call your sponsor or someone else who understands. Talk to them until it passes.
If you go to 12 step meetings, get to one. Make it a priority to do so. Share your thoughts and believe in the fellowship to help you through it.
Divert your thoughts to something else such as walking, writing, cleaning, reading etc. Something that will take your mind off the bottle.
These situations become fewer and fewer the longer you are sober, but they NEVER go away. Don’t be surprised or scared when it happens. Just use the tools you’re being given until it passes and pass it will. I’ve had those thoughts on occasion. I’ve even found myself tinkering with the thoughts rather than them being just thoughts. When that happens, I personally think about the “me” I saw on that video tape and that usually does the trick. When it doesn’t, I use the tools I’ve been given in my own program until the thoughts pass. It’s not something to be ashamed of, it happens to all of us. It’s what we choose to do with it that matters You see, when we were out there causing all kinds of wreckage, we didn’t have a choice in our alcohol consumption. Our disease was in control, not us. But in sobriety, we do have a choice. No alcoholic or addict can have “Just One” the minute that first drink or drug hits our system, we’re done for.
If you start to justify your thoughts such as, “I’ll have one (knowing you can’t) I know I can do it or I know I shouldn’t but what could one hurt after all the time that has gone by or I know what they say will happen but I’m strong now and I have will power?” If those thoughts are running through your head than deep down, you’re looking for an excuse. Sooner or later you’ll find one that works for you in your own mind and you’ll put yourself to the test. I promise you that you WILL FAIL. Is the consequences really worth testing that theory?
Think of your addiction as an allergy. What is the definition of the word allergy?
- a hypersensitivity to a substance that causes the body to have a reaction with any contact with that substance. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen.
Once we start, we control ourselves nor can we stop. Therefore our bodies do NOT react to alcohol in the same manor a “normal” drinker’s does. Our obsession takes over and we become out of control. They can have a few and put them down. That is not an option or even a possibility for us. If you know you are deathly allergic to strawberries, would you go and eat a handful just because you got a sudden yearning for them?? Same thing with alcohol and drugs. If you think of your disease as a deadly allergy it may help when those thoughts start to dance around in your head. No matter how you decide to think about it, make sure you THINK about what you’re thinking about and what’s going to happen if you do.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist