No moderation for me

Hi all
I am no way an expert here. I am online blogging because after many years of trying to fix myself with diets, exercise, self help books and self criticism, I came to realize booze was a big factor in my personal unhappiness. So I chose to walk down the road of recovery and here I am. I just feel like I need to comment on moderation and me. And perhaps some of you will see yourselves in my experience.

In the past while a number of sober bloggers have decided to return to drinking. That’s completely fine, and their prerogative. My personal response is to unfollow them. I say a prayer for them, that this turns out to be a good decision for them, but I can’t read about it.

I am not referring to someone who struggling to get sober and has many day 1s, that is completely different. They are still suffering in the horrible cycle of addiction that I was once caught in and I am here in any way to help them through that. If I could make a difference for even one person who wants to escape that hell, I am humbled to the core of my heart.

But bloggers who decide after a sober period that they have found sufficient mindfulness, self control or insight that they can control their drinking, that is different. Reading about this is triggering for me. It somehow makes me feel that I am doing this wrong. That moderation is a rational possibility. And I don’t think it is, for me anyway. Why would I want to give up the life of freedom and possibilities that I have rediscovered, only to drown it in booze??? No. Not for me.

A normal (if that word even means anything) drinker does not feel the need to write a sober blog. They do not wake up every Monday morning swearing next weekend will be different. They do not hide booze, hide empty bottles or lie about being busy to stay in and drink on the couch. They don’t even think about taking a 30 day alcohol free challenge, but if they do, they make it. Easily.

Perhaps having a “high bottom” leads some of us to question our true drinking abilities. I never lost a job, never had financial, legal or family problems as the result of drinking. I am a well dressed, fit, upper middle class, professional, mom. But inside I was filled with compulsion and shame that stemmed from my alcohol abuse. Abuse that mainly took place on the weekend, under the guise of weekend “relaxing”.

I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I can say pretty confidently that these predated my drinking, and that they were serious contributing factors to my dependence on alcohol. I deal with these two issues – with yoga, diet, meditation and medication. I have a good therapist who leads me down the “saner” path. I feel good. Stable. Clear headed.

Does this mean I can now drink? The underlying problems are being addressed…

For me, again, the answer is no. I have worked hard to get myself to a place where life is worth living. Where I am excited to wake up in the morning because the possibilities are endless. I will not risk this to try moderation. Plus, I never really wanted one drink. I wanted to get drunk and turn off my brain. That is the definition of non moderation.

So – if you are sober and the idea of moderating comes up, ask yourself what you might lose.

Stillness and peace


53 thoughts on “No moderation for me

  1. I agree. I’m trying to shake off the Wolf at the moment, though because he has other ideas. And now you come to mention it, putting the Black Dog in it’s place might be a good thing to try, too.

    Thanks Anne 🙂

  2. Hi Anne, I think it’s great that you can see and identify something that’s triggering to you and that you’re strong enough to unfollow. Your sobriety MUST come first. I’d advise anyone to unfollow any blog that could be triggering.

    I’ve known a couple who returned to drinking. I still follow the one I was/am closest to, but she doesn’t write about drinking and she is a beautiful writer. I think every person is different, but I’m right there with you…no moderation for me. And besides, even if I could, why would I want to? I’m much happier and healthier now and I just don’t need to drink. The risk is too great and there’s just no reward in it for me.

    Much love,

  3. Thank you for saying exactly what I have been thinking!! I had to unfollow a few blogs for the very same reasons as you, I thought it was only me that felt uncomfortable.,(typical alcoholic thinking;)
    Thank you for bringing awareness to this topic! Like you, one drink was too much and several drinks never enough….
    Take care:)

  4. Thanks for such a wonderful and honest post. This is certainly what I am wrestling with on a daily basis.

    Was just over at Heather Kopp’s Raw and read this. Thought you might like it too:

    “Earlier I was writing in my journal about the fact that my recent surprise about my life could be summed up as simply as the idea that I am falling more and more in love with life itself.I have forgiven it, past and present and future. I have accepted the nature of it. I have chosen reality without a buffer or numbness and found it to be suffering and hard, yes, but at the same time always verging on joy to the degree that I let go and surrender and accept and move back toward the home in my soul that can’t be touched by anything that happens.”

    The truth, my truth, is that I will never have peace as long as I am numbing real life. With moderation, without moderation …. I don’t think it matters for me. Maybe other people can do real life and drink because they are smarter or less anxious or more focused. But again, it doesn’t matter. I am tired of comparing myself to “other people.” I am settling into my sober, adult skin. And learning to love it.

  5. I love this. I was 3 – 3 1/2 months sober about this time last year when that dreadful “M” word started creeping around my brain. Moderation doesn’t work for me. It never will. Thanks for writing this! xx

    1. Yeah. It’s a sneaky thought.
      Over the weekend I thought about trying a glass of wine just to taste.

      Where do those thoughts come from? I’m not sure. But just writing this helped me sort out my thoughts.

  6. Thanks, though all your comments and posts, you are helping those with myriad Day 1’s. I felt like this post was directed at me and am sure others felt the same. It’s the no-nonsense stuff we need to hear – a normal drinker doesn’t feel the need to start a sober blog. That simple. I don’t get a chance to thank you enough, but know that I appreciate you and all that you write and all that you’ve accomplished.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I never knew about Dover blogs until I had already quit drinking, but if I had I know I would have had many many day 1s. Sometimes we just need reason and hope. Life can be much easier than we make it.
      Who knew??!!

  7. Anne your post is on point. Last year, I allowed myself to be wooed by the lure of moderation. I now know deep down in my soul that I can’t drink. Until I read your post, I didn’t realize it but when I do read about someone who is doing the moderation management or something of that sort, I start to head-trip and think that I’m making a big deal out of nothing, and that I should just be able to be “normal” and have a glass of wine…in other words, it messes with mind and threatens my view of living alcohol-free. These days I seem to be able to snap myself out of it pretty quickly and get back on track.
    I haven’t deleted any blogs, I am never sure when someone is just being too casual and cavalier about alcoholism when they throw the M word around…or if they are bullshitting themselves and really know deep down that they can’t moderate….you know, I have yet to read about anyone’s successful moderation on a blog. Probably because if someone’s struggles with alcohol are bad enough to drive them to write a blog, they’re likely already way past the point of moderating.
    P.S…I am up late reading the Brene Brown book. Staying up too late reading just beats the hell out of staying up drinking.

  8. Anne, this post comes at a perfect time for me. After my recent set-back, I am trying to decide what to do. I know I can’t moderate. Aaaarrrrgggghhh – I feel as though I’m going round in circles 😔 Annie x

  9. There is no doubt in my mind. I am an alcoholic. No matter how bad things may be, a drink would only make them worse. I do not have the luxury of fantasizing about moderation and that is precisely what I believe the idea of moderation is: a fantasy. Thanks for calling a thing what it is.

  10. Sometimes folks get touchy about moderation. I know of a few folks who have returned to drinking in the manner you discuss and like anything else in life, it’s none of my business. The one I know in particular (prob the one Christy alluded to) doesn’t really discuss her drinking – just pontificates about other things. But in the end, you do what you need to do to stay healthy and sober. In my early recovery I had to avoid a ton of things and places and people to protect my sobriety. I can say in many ways I still do – negative energy, bullies, etc.

    Whether someone can moderate or not is not up for me to decide. Only that person can. Perhaps some can, and perhaps they weren’t alcoholic in the first place – just a hard drinker who needed to abstain and rebalance the books so to speak. I honestly don’t know of an alcoholic in the rooms of AA who moderated successfully after. Maybe there have been.

    In the end, it’s up to us to focus on our own recovery and what makes us comfortable. And you’re doing that, which is great. The post has also helped a lot of folks, as you have seen from the responses. Fantastic!

    For me, there is no doubt about it. Drink again and I will die. Not sure if I have another recovery in me, but I am not about to test that out 😉


  11. Anne-I am one who decided to try moderation after over 100 days of being sober. At first it was okay, but eventually I was back to drinking every day. So I am on day one again. Thanks for your post.

    1. Welcome back. It is funny how triggering this can be. My inclination was to write to those bloggers to reconsider! But that is not my role in this. That is my inner urge to control the universe. Things go much easier for me when I let go.

      I’m glad you are finding you way. I wish it was easier, but it definitely is worth it.


    2. You are not the only one! There’s no shame in having multiple day 1’s – it just means we are fighters who try and try again! That’s what I tell myself, anyhow 🙂

  12. The way you’re doing what you need to do to stay sober and healthy is great. I LOVE this insight, “That is my inner urge to control the universe. Things go much easier for me when I let go.” There is such a wonderful sense of solidarity in our sober blogging community but everyone’s personal recovery is exactly that; personal. x

  13. Great, post Anne. Of course, as always I feel like I could have written this, as you have captured my thoughts (almost) exactly.

    People out here in the blogosphere deciding to moderate don’t trigger me though. Instead it makes me sad. I can watch the thought process, the justification and the ultimate decision to try drinking again and see myself over and over again. I know everyone has to find their own way, but I want to jump up and down and say “Don’t! Don’t do it! You’ve made it this far, and it is so damn hard to get back here again!”

    I don’t know anyone who is truly “alcoholic” (I hate word, but it will have to do) that can ever really go back to moderation. We will all entertain the idea, and maybe even try it many times, but we all end up back where we started. I don’t want to be there anymore. I feel sooooo much better now!

    Last night, I went onto SMART Recovery Online, where I connected with people when trying to get sober, starting in 2008, again in 2009 and several times since then. When I read my old posts, I see myself getting to 30, 60, even 90 days. Then I see that old thought process, the wheels spinning … “I’m okay now, I have it under control, nothing really bad has ever happened, I’m a fit, healthy, upper middle class, professional mom, I can moderate!”

    But I couldn’t. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the outside, what matters is the personal hell I was living on the inside. I try to be nice and supportive to people here, but the truth is I don’t think anyone with our brain chemistry can moderate.

    So that’s why it doesn’t trigger me when someone decides to moderate. I’ve been there too many times, and I know there is nothing good for me at the end of that road. But it does make me really, really sad, especially when I have connected with someone, because I know the road they are heading down too well, and it’s not pretty.

    ((Hugs)) Kim

  14. I don’t see the point of moderation–or just one. I’ve had just one on many occasions, but it seemed like a waste. If I’m not getting a good buzz, why bother? Would anyone honestly bother to drink alcohol, pay good money for it, just for the taste? I wouldn’t pay $15 plus for a bottle of excellent flavored sparkling water. Would anyone? If I’m being honest, I drink (drank) for the buzz.

    Since I can have one, maybe I’m not an alcoholic. But since drinking without getting inebriated seems a waste of time, maybe I am. It’s all so confusing. So I’m done with worrying over it. For me, moderation isn’t something I’d aspire to even if it were possible. What’s the point? So, the question is: all or nothing. I choose nothing.

    1. I have had just one. I’ve also had periods of little to no drinking, including pregnancy and breastfeeding. But I also felt compulsion. That’s what defines addiction for me.
      One is really pointless. I agree.

  15. I am not tempted to try moderation because I have no interest in drinking normally. I’m very rarely tempted by alcohol anymore, but if and when it happens, it’s always when I’m home alone. I have zero desire to drink socially. I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic, I wasn’t the person for whom all bets were off after the first sip, and in 30 years of drinking, my tolerance never really increased, I have never been able to have more than 3 drinks, and mostly, 2 was enough. But I could rarely skip days, even when I started semi-intending not to drink on certain nights of the week, etc. I was, however, always able to give up alcohol for lent, until my birthday, etc., and the fact that I could do that so easily probably worked against my getting sober. But one day I just knew I had to quit. I can’t really explain how I knew. It wasn’t any kind of “bottom.” Just a deep inner knowing. The Universe was making it louder and clearer that the price of admission to the life I wanted was abstinence. I couldn’t drown out that conviction and so, drinking ceased to be fun.

    But even though I know moderation is not for me, I do wonder if EVERYONE who worries whether they have a problem with alcohol has already crossed the line. I’ll admit that I had. It’s easy to see looking back. But there are lots of people who have to practice a kind of mindfulness around eating and they just do it. I do eat pretty intuitively now, but getting here required years of a kind of mindfulness around eating. I would liken it to gaining or losing a few pounds. That’s the time to address the matter, not when the situations’s spun out of control. Maybe some people are just tuned in enough that they can “catch” the problem early enough to be able to keep drinking (or resume drinking), but normally. I know some people who drank heavily, did drugs, etc., in college, and then cleaned up once they started working. For some the heavy drinking is a kind of rite of passage.

    Anyway, to sum up, while I seek out (in real life especially) people with strong sobriety, I’m not triggered by folks who try abstinence and then decide to give “normal drinking” a try, because as I said, normal drinking doesn’t appeal to me. I *thought* before I stopped what I’d miss was the whole drinking wine/chopping vegetables with a lover. But no, I’m happy chopping veggies and sipping kombucha. Or sparkling water. What I miss, on the rare occasions I still miss wine, is drinking alone.

    1. Perhaps some can reign themselves in and moderate. I expect many people go to groups like Aa, open their eyes, and actually find a way to make drinking work in their lives.

      I think what I find upsetting is when it’s pretty clear from a blog a person would be better off sober yet decides to drink. I so want to stop them. I have s strong bossy streak.

  16. This resonated deeply within me. Thank you for calling a spade a spade. I would love to think (fantasize) that I could be a “moderation” style drinker, but you hit the nail on the head: “A normal (if that word even means anything) drinker does not feel the need to write a sober blog.” I guess that sums me up in one sentence.

    Thank you for calling it out loud and clear. I needed this today. ❤

  17. Great post. I used to smoke and quit cold turkey. Then I deluded myself into thinking that I could smoke socially. In very short order I was right back to the same kind of obsessive thinking about when, where, and with whom I could smoke. I know myself well enough not to try the same thing with booze. As many people have commented, for me it’s easier to abstain than moderate. Take it off the table completely. I have no interest in dipping my toes in the water of attempting to moderate. The undertow will drag me under, I’m 100% sure. No thanks.

  18. Moderation was a joke for me. Not a “ha, ha, ha” kind of joke. More like, “Are you f’n kidding me?” It’s work to sit there and log your drinks into a spreadsheet or whatever. And to be in that agonizing position of wanting another after you’ve had one. Normal people just enjoy that one, they don’t sit there all itchy inside knowing that they can’t have another. If you can successfully moderate, goody for you. But I honestly think that anyone who has to go through the very frustrating steps of moderation has probably already stepped over the line. All you can do is keep your side of the street clean, right? In my case (and maybe in yours, too), it’s “keep your side of the street snow shoveled.” Lol!

  19. corking post and comments, thank you all. (btw WP unfollowed your blog for me which makes me v cross!)

    one metaphor I’ve used before about moderation is that of destruction testing. have you seen those tests performed on, for example, kitchen drawers? where a machine opens and closes a drawer a huge number of times until the runners break, the handle falls off, and the joints come apart?

    well, for me, moderation would be destruction testing. trying again and again to see if I could keep going, until the consequences got so bad that I would have to stop.

    OR we can decide to stop BEFORE we break ourselves irretrievably. I know which I prefer.

    and I’m with you on the wanting to tell other people what to do. I try not to do that, not least because there is no evidence whatsoever that it works. doesn’t stop me wanting to, though!

    1. I really like that analogy. It seems risky to play with the fire of addiction. Easier to take our focus to other things.
      My hope is to come from a place of kindness and compassion when I approach others. I really believe it is the secret to peace. But it takes practice 🙂

  20. This is a great post. I love this:

    *Reading about this is triggering for me. It somehow makes me feel that I am doing this wrong. That moderation is a rational possibility. And I don’t think it is, for me anyway. Why would I want to give up the life of freedom and possibilities that I have rediscovered, only to drown it in booze??? No. Not for me.*

    I was recently really triggered by a post from someone – it showed up in my email, and I read the whole thing before the author deleted it…lots of gory details about yet another hangover. It made me angry to the point where I felt sick. I felt guilty about being angry, because I should not want to chase anyone away who needs this community, right? The only trouble is, I had the sense this person was in a way glorifying this hangover, even through the obvious veil of shame. Anyway…I did unfollow her. I can’t read posts like that anymore.

    FWIW, I know I can’t moderate either. One drink sends my head spinning in all the wrong directions. One drink (or one anything that alters my reality) breaks my sobriety…not because I broke a “rule” – but because altering my reality destroys my peace of mind. I become obsessed around whether or not I can have another…and I’m not free to focus on the good things in my life.

  21. Wow! What a fantastic post and discussion! I was a little bit hoping for the other side to comment, but it speaks volumes to me that no one comes on to comment, “Well, I stayed sober for x amount of time, and now I moderate, and all is perfect.” And in my experience, I’ve yet to see someone say that.

    Now, to be fair, I have one friend in the blogosphere who has returned to moderate drinking (the same one as Christy and Paul), and I believe her when she says she can do so successfully. But she does not write of her adventures in moderate drinking, which I assume is in deference to those of us who are forging ahead in sobriety. Other than her I have not known one person who can return to “normal” drinking once they have identified their drinking pattern as problematic… and I do mingle with sober-minded people in real life, as well as virtually on WP!

    I appreciate your assertiveness in writing this, Anne. You have done a real service to the blogosphere, as evidenced by all these great comments!

    1. Thank you. My current experience is that I would not choose to dull my “enlightenment” with alcohol. Life is too brilliant. I must embrace every moment to it’s fullest. Especially the unexpected moment, like when my 11 year old son shares his secrets with me.

  22. I can totally identify with everything you say in the post. I am really wary of people who quit and then resume because they have “enough” recovery. That’s not how I understand addiction. I feel the same way about people who stop going to meetings, stop calling their sponsors, or think they don’t need to do the steps. None of that is consistent with my own approach and, for me, it’s not safe to be around people like that. As I said to a sponsee who went back out recently, call me when you come back. Maybe others can, but my recover is too precious for me to be involved with people in active addiction. Maybe that’s not a fair way of thinking about the moderators, but unless they weren’t addicted in the first place, I’m skeptical that the moderation will last. Thanks for your post and this blog. You’ve been commenting on my blog regularly and I somehow missed the fact that you had a blog too! And that it’s right up my alley!

  23. Great Post 🙂 I have been on here for a while now and I have followed many awesome people on their own sober journeys. I have to say that out of the one’s I intially followed there are not many still here. I realize that some could of found that blogging wasn’t for them but I have also seen many post that they have tried having a drink or are going to just start drinking on weekends. There seems to be where it ends for them. I really miss some of them but the choice is theirs and theirs alone. I don’t want to ever drink again as they place that it put me mentally while drinking and in the first few months of stopping almost killed me. I never want to go back there.

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