Not drinking is not the final solution

key is to work on meLet’s say, for conversation, that we actually found the “magic key” to controlling our drinking. Its magic actually stops the craving—today. What would this actually mean for addicts?

There are at least two obvious answers and myriad more, but for conversation let’s stick to the obvious.

Scenario I:
We arrive at the party at 8:00 in the evening. We slowly sip our drink. We are pleased with the minimal effects of the alcohol. We then proceed to have a second drink around 9:00 but realize we are getting a little tipsy so we decide to put it down and switch to water. We have an incredible evening filled with laughter, stimulating conversation, and dancing. We are incredibly kind to our host and the other guests. We are helpful, thoughtful, and appropriate in our interaction. We go home and get a good night’s sleep, wake up refreshed and ready for an early morning at the gym, a healthy breakfast, and then off for a day of productivity.

Scenario II:
We arrive at the party at 8:00 in the evening. We slowly sip our drink, but we’re bored with the minimal effects of the alcohol. We don’t crave more because we have our “key” to control it. Still we are bored. The people are not really that interesting. Some of them are even getting drunk and rather sloppy and obnoxious. We don’t much feel like a second drink, but try anyway. After all, it’s a party. We slowly become irritated with party. People aren’t that fun. We aren’t that funny. The conversation is mediocre. One glass won’t ramp us up enough to be the life of the party. We stay quiet. Dancing, forget dancing, there is no way we will dance. Again, one glass won’t break the inhibition barrier. Without overindulging the party seems dull. By now, we’d prefer not to be there. We go home bothered by our inability to have a party night. We are thankful that it’s over. We decide that next week we are staying home with the television. We awaken in the morning a bit lackluster. There is really nothing to look forward to. Life seems gloomy. The simple joy of living eludes us without altering our mind.

So, which scenario do you think most addicts would fall into?

The Illusion:
If the craving and the alcohol were gone we’d be fine.

We have BIGGER issues than controlling or eliminating alcohol. Resolving these issues is the gateway to a better life. Not drinking is not the final solution. It’s the first of many solutions we will wrestle. 

We think the problem is the alcohol. No, no, no, alcohol is the effect. We consume the alcohol, at first, because we feel a sense of connection. We weren’t connected before we found the alcohol. Now when we drink we are connected. Over time, however, the alcohol becomes infinity more than a connection. It becomes our lifeline. It’s like air. We need it for survival.

By the time we recognize our addiction to alcohol, alcohol has become a huge problem. But it’s one of many issues that requires resolution in our life. And it’s the first issue we must attend to. If we don’t stop drinking little else, of quality, is possible.

This is why we are so uncomfortable sober. We don’t know how to get connected. Alcohol was our perfect companion—until it wasn’t.

So even if we have a solution to our craving, we still have the LIVING  PROBLEM.

Learning how to live takes effort and this is where many fail. We freaking hate that we have to work on who we are if we are to overcome our craving for alcohol and live.

Guess what? There is no “magical key” to stop the craving. This is courage we muster from within.

In order to remain free from alcohol or craving alcohol we continue on a path of growth. This we do for a lifetime. This too requires courage. This means we continue facing life and finding solutions. We actively seek and find solutions!

So the next time vodka calls and says:

“Hey vodka here, you know you want me. You know you need me. I make everything better. I love you. I’ve always loved you. We belong together. We can make it work this time. I promise. I swear. I promise. I swear. This time for sure we won’t make a mess of things. Come on drink me. Don’t listen to what others say. You’re in pain and I am the relief. I am the only one that has always been here for you. Trust me.”

Find some courage and get willing to find a new connection. The old one is killing you.


Beginning next week, I’m going to start a series on the 5- Key Competencies and how they can be applied to life (sober). The bi-weekly e-motivationals will also be in tandem with these competencies. If you’re willing to do some written work please join.

No Responses to “Not drinking is not the final solution

  • You are so right! I have heard that before but, in true addict style, assumed that my problems were just worse than everyone else’s. Yes I was drinking to escape but I had good reason. Because yes it is freaking difficult to face any problem head on if your first fix has always been to drink. This post has helped me realize that everyone finds life with people difficult but you have to make the effort to live it – without vodka. Thanks Lisa.

    • Isn’t it interesting how we see this more clearly once we start working on our self? I thought that too for so long. I am still looking within when I feel a disturbance. It is still shocking to remember that the problem is not outside of me. It is within. I am especially happy you are doing so well. I think of you often.

  • Katherine
    11 years ago

    I could really relate to the Vodka speaking lines… “You’re in pain and I am the relief. I am the ONLY one that has always been here for you.” Light bulb moment for me here. It’s important to me to figure out ‘why’ I turned to wine for comfort. It’s mostly easy to not drink it the last 9 months. The hard work is making new connections. Relying on friends and family for support when life gets tough. Sad to realize that I must have felt all alone while drinking. Hiding so much disappointment and pain that I was going through. Thanks Lisa for this post.

    • “A/B” journaling can help with that connection. It is a way to achieve the higher self, while still not abandoning (or ignoring) the lower self. If you do not know how to do this is is an easy tool. Send me an email and I’ll send you a PDF on how it works. It’s wonderful (to me) that you can see the lonely place you lived in while you were drinking. This is HUGE growth. This is one of the things we are in denial about. Often when we talk about denial we are referring to our drinking. When I worked on me I learned that my denial wasn’t about the drinking, it was about the things that I tried to escape, the things I ignored because I couldn’t bear to know they were there. The fact that you recognize this at any stage of recovery is remarkable. My blessings for your continued growth.

      • Katherine
        11 years ago

        Lisa I sent you an email and looking forward to doing A/B journaling! Thanks for your kind comments! I haven’t heard ‘HUGE’ and ‘remarkable’ as adjectives about me in forever!

  • Except for having the two drinks, scenario 2 pretty much describes every party I’ve been two sober. 🙂 But I’m working on it!

  • When you were describing scenario 1, I thought that sounded like sobriety (though, like one other commenter said, not necessarily at a party). So why do I need to drink to feel the way I already do?? I know drinking will instantly transport me to a different place, but it’s not better than what I have. Or it’s better in some ways, but far worse in far worse ways. Oh, I swear this stuff makes sense in my head before I start typing.

    Another great, thought-provoking post. I love how you explore these ideas and hash them out. Controlled drinking is one of those dreams that just doesn’t make sense once we wake up.

    • BBB
      For me the growth was in seeing that I was complete. I’ve always been complete. Alcohol didn’t make me better, it made me unavailable. It is incredible (at least to me) when we get that we can go anywhere and do anything because we are comfortable (or comfortable enough) in our own skin. The more we work on self (breaking barriers, limiting beliefs) the better life feels because we aren’t filtering it with our unhealthy/unhealed thinking. I love when my thinking gets scrambled when I am presented with a new IDEA. For me, it means I am opening up a new thought system/portal. My brain feels confused, because the new idea goes against my current belief/understanding of self/world/life. Because of this my subconscious mind is quick to reject/be confused. This is how my subconscious keeps me stuck. (BTW: This is a major component of continued drinking. (Despite that we want and try to quit.) Thank you for reading and sharing. Many do not have the courage to comment and it always helps when we can make the leap. That’s when we grow … well, that’s how I grew. I just kept sharing my thoughts. I wanted to heal more than I wanted to sound smart. I was done drinking.

  • “We freaking hate that we have to work on who we are if we are to overcome our craving for alcohol and live.”

    What a concept! I actually have to do some work on this? Yikes! I lived my whole life expecting things from others, expecting people to pat me on the back, expecting to be revered, expecting the world to cater to me. And I acted like it. I acted in terribly selfish and self-seeking ways, drinking or not drinking. It was in not drinking that it was worse. When I was deprived of my “medicine”, I was an ogre. I was at my worst when I didn’t have the drink. And of course, I was at my worst when I had too much of the drink. I remember getting really upset one day and pounding the floor (literally) and screaming “Why do I have to change for everyone? why can’t THEY change?” ha ha…the good ol’ days. So change takes work. Lots of it, and courage, as you said.

    I had to get down to causes and conditions and get to the root of the real problem. Alcohol wasn’t the problem – it was my piss poor solution. and it worked for a short time, but then alcohol itself became an issue. Double whammy! Your scenario II is untreated alcoholism at its finest. You see, I can feel so horrible when I don’t have the drink. I have sick ways of looking at things, and am still selfish and self-seeking. I am just not wet…I am dry. But I don’t have a solution for that unconnected feeling…yet.

    I loved this post – again, so much to mine. I could comment on this forever. You bring up so much, and it’s just enough to give a big chew on. Awesome.

    Love and Light,

    • Paul, Just so you know, I put that little “freaking” in for you. (I was shocked at your impression of me, then I reminded myself that you know only a tiny bit of me.) It is interesting because I am beginning to see a rather distinct line between people who are willing and those who are not. It is such a good reminder for me! I can become resistant in a second to doing what is suggested. While I might have the drinking thing handled (today), I certainly don’t have all the answers today and this is what I want to be open to. Doing the work for my life to sing. I want more. A more extraordinary life. It is a pleasure to journey with you.

      On another note: I get behind on the reading but I always get there. Your post with all the sober bloggers was great. Always more to love.

  • What a wonderful, funny, insightful post, Lisa! I have to admit I was laughing SO hard by the end of “Scenario 2” because I have been to that party. In fact, it’s MOST of the parties I’ve been to.

    Not drinking or using is the beginning that makes a rewarding, interesting, SOBER life possible. But if you stop at “not drinking” you end up on Ye Olde Permanent Dry Drunk, don’t you? You have to keep going.

    And as Paul says, many of us get to where we get to because we expected the Universe to shower us with all that we need and want, and then we drink/use/etc. to get back at the Universe when it don’t happen that way.

    Well, now that I’m not drinking/using/engaging in my compulsive behavior anymore, it’s time for the Universe to get back on the stick and reward me for it, right? Right??

    ah-hah-hah… doesn’t work that way. Now starts the journey to making all that stuff happen for myself, by learning healthy living habits, making new friends, working each day at the changes.

    And then one day, I woke up and realized…

    It worked. I am humble, and grateful beyond words. I still have the impulse to assign responsibility for my well-being to the Universe. (Oh, BOY, do I have that impulse, especially when those challenges appear.) But at least I know what the tools are, and how to use them. Picking them up anew each day and putting them to work is my job.

    Thanks for the laugh, and the insight.

    • Always nice to see Recovery SI over here. It still amazes me that I grow and grow … everyday. I am fortunate to have many outstanding mentors like you! Thanks for helping me stay sober today.

  • Lisa, there is so much to say here, I will ramble endlessly if I let myself. I will suffice it to say that I read this post at the exact time I needed it (certainly didn’t want it, but definitely needed it). I had an addiction-related issue today, that I championed, but really shook me. I went directly to a meeting and shared about it… score again. Went a little bit further, since I was in the mindset to, and did an amends I have been procrastinating on… I’m on a roll. Then I share all of this with my husband, and… the air goes out of the tires. That conversation did NOT meet my expectations (which, by the way, should be a four-letter word). Your wrote a comment on my post about examining why others’ reactions/words bring out the internal feelings they do, and boy do I need to do a little of that now. And the work you are speaking about, that gets me back to scenario I (where I was happily residing, just a few short hours ago)? Well, time to get on the stick.

    Thanks, as always, for giving me the message exactly when I need it!

    • Isn’t it amazing how quickly that shift can happen. One moment I am filled with the spirit and good-to-go. Then, in the blink of an eye. I feel charged. I never recognized how quickly that happened until I got sober (and stayed) sober. And even at noticing it, I did not know what to do with it. I’m so glad we both learned that going to a meeting and sharing is a tool. Not a sentence, crutch, punishment, but a tool to help me stay sober (aka happy). Your post helped me so much the day I read it. You already know how much I love you And I’ve never even heard your voice. Wow, blogger buddies rock.

  • Wow I loved this post. You put across perfectly what I hear others struggle to explain so often. A living problem summed my existence up quite neatly.

    I look forward to reading many more of your posts 🙂

    • Thank you. And I was over at your blog enjoying your posts just yesterday.Thank you for the kind reciprocation. I always enjoy finding new writers to communicate ideas. Blessings for you this day my friend. Lisa

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