As anyone who read my last post would probably have guessed, I drank a couple weeks ago for the first time in quite a while. I was tired of feeling cornered, boxed in, and afraid to live my life. I knew for a fact that at least half of my alcohol dependence was due to my exposure to treatment; prior to being introduced to rehab, 12-step 'treatment' and abstinence-only models, my drinking was harmful, but not extreme. Post-rehab, however, my drinking was completely out of control. I have also always had trouble with the disease model and the chronic/progressive/irreversible ideas related to addiction. So anyways, a little over two weeks ago I chose to drink again. I had one beer, and it was good. The all-too-familiar feelings returned, and I felt warm, slightly foggy, and not as sharp as I had been used to being. I had only the one beer, and I did not really want another since I had chores and work the next day. It was so anti-climactic--the biggest thing my return to drinking showed me is that it wasn't necessarily alcohol that I wanted so badly, it was the freedom to choose it. I thought to myself, "wow what was the big deal? Alcohol really isn't that special." I had forgotten that all alcohol does is make your brain feel a little fuzzier, everything else is the same. You are in the same room with the same people doing the same things.
I drank for the second time this past Friday night. I had four drinks over the course of about three and a half hours. I never felt "drunk" or sloppy, and I woke up with no hangover. I have been adopting and implementing moderation management techniques for my drinking. No more than one drink every 30 minutes, no more than 3-4 drinks in a night, no more than two nights per week, no drinking alone, in the mornings, etc. My experience on Friday was somewhat of an eye-opener. For over a year I had been occasionally going to bars but never drinking, and I always felt left out. If only I had alcohol in my system, I thought, then I would fit in and everything about this situation would be perfect! However, as it turns out, that is not the case. I still felt slightly out of place and uncomfortable. I think I have just changed as a person, and I am not satisfied just sitting around at a bar chatting about nothing and roughly grabbing one another's shoulders and saying in a loud, drunken voice, "I care about you bro!" I did notice that after about my third drink I had a slight return of cigarette cravings. I haven't had a cigarette in about 10 months, so that was a little disconcerting. Turns out alcohol wasn't the cure-all I had imagined in my mind all of those months sober, but it feels really nice to have the freedom of choice back.
Part of me is afraid, though. Alcohol has just had such a damaging effect on my life in the past, that it's almost impossible to shake the feeling off and to unlearn the conditioning I spent tens of thousands of dollars having programmed into me. It still makes me so mad that we spend thousands upon thousands of dollars paying for rehabilitation and all we get is some therapy, an AA book, and 12-step meetings. I can obviously see why they do it, though. What treatment center would spend tons of money giving its patients expensive medication, costly evidence-based individual therapy and psychiatry sessions, and state-of-the-art technology when they could charge just as much and simply let AA members come in for free and host a meeting? The part that makes me sick is that it's almost 2016 and no one has called them out on it. It needs to change, because people are dying.
Anyways, I will keep the internet posted on my progress (or lack thereof). I see the risks of drinking. Part of me is convinced to quit again right now just because alcohol actually isn't that great. I will see how it goes, though. For now, my drinking is perfectly under control and I am showing no signs of dependence or harmful drinking. Fingers crossed. This is my experiment to the world. For better or for worse, I will get to the bottom of this alcohol business.