“Facing it — always facing it — that’s the way to get through. Face it!” – Joseph Conrad
There has been quite a bit of press in the addiction world about the need for the treatment protocol of total abstinence. Recently an article in the LA Times idicated, “You can cut back on alcohol”. Citing: Research has shown that there are different degrees of drinking disorders, and many people can change habits on their own. — NIAAA http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-alcohol16-2009nov16,0,474959.story By Shari Roan November 16, 2009.
People go through times when they drink too much! In fact I have friends that I partied with as a teenager that drank as much as I did, smoked as much pot and did used as much illicit drugs as I. Yet, they went on to become police officers, or fireman or executives and never had the need to address addiction in their lives as an issue. They simply went through a period of time that they partied heavy.
Probably the greatest challenge that we face as addiction professionals is the “Contradictions” of the disease concept. For instance, if any of my friends were evaluated by an addictions professional during that time frame they would have met the criteria for an “alcohol use disorder”. Recently it has been noted that 30% of all Americans at some point in their lives meet the criteria. So what do we do? Simply ignore it?
Face it! The truth of the matter is quite simple. In order to know that abstinence is the best route for your recovery you must do two things. First take an exhaustive inventory of your alcohol use, notice I identify alcohol and not illicit drugs, I will explore that in a separate article. Look at your patterns, can you stop drinking when you intend to? Or do you wake up a day later and say, “what did I do?”.
Secondly, take the Ben Franklin challenge and weigh it out! Look at the information that you have gathered and make an informed decision. If you can point to situations that you have lost control but more often can regain or keep control, decide if the reward outweighs the risk. For instance, lets say you believe a night out with your partner for dinner in which you share a bottle of wine is a rewarding and romantic experience for you. You have done it in the past and it turns out to be a great event for you as a couple. But lets now look at the flip side.
You get in your car and drive home a 3 mile route. Then it happens, another driver gets distracted and misses a stop sign or red light. Boom you T-bone the other car and a fatality occurs. You had 4 glasses of wine. The police officer asks you if you were drinking! They do a sobriety test and you are asked to submit to a breathalizer test. You register a .08 and then the jewelry is presented to you! A bracelet that you never dreamed possible!
Probable? No… Possible, a huge YES! Is it worth it? If you think you have a problem you probably do. If you have a problem is abstinence the only answer? No! Is it the best solution? Absolutely YES! Folks Life Is Goooooood! Why take the risk and screw it all up?
Go, Go, Go…