“do you struggle with the possibility of moderation?”

Here’s a quick email exchange between Marie (day 24) and me. 

Marie: Do you still struggle A LOT with the possibility of going back to drinking, yet just in moderation?  Or did you come to that profound realization that drinking in moderation just doesn’t work for you?  I love, love, love your blog and I think I know the answer to this but what I’m wondering is whether that torment gets easier in time.  Maybe it’s just me that feels a terrible amount of frustration and shame even with the fact that I cannot control myself as I’d like to around alcohol.  I feel like I should be able to control myself and that it’s ridiculous that I’m so in love with my red wine.

Me: About moderation, I haven’t ever settled on anything.  I think thinking too hard is part of the problem. Sometimes I think I’ll try moderation LATER, but for now I’m happy with this.  Later is later. It’s over there. It’s not today. Today I’m doing this 🙂 I originally thought I was quitting for 30 days, or 60, or 90.  Now I’m on day 319.  I haven’t made any big statements of anything.  I’m trying very hard to NOT be black and white about anything because that tends to make me feel nervous. Instead, I am just stating the truth:  I feel better now than I did when drinking.  The rest I’ll figure out later … Later is later.  It’s over there. It’s not today. Today I’m doing this.

Marie: Your thoughts on moderation and quitting really hit home with me.  I have committed to 100 days and whether or not I stay alcohol-free forever or not, I know, without a doubt at this point, that my relationship with alcohol will be different. When I quit smoking over 4 years ago, it was only for a year because I couldn’t imagine my life without a smoke every now and then.  I realized after a year that my relationship with cigarettes was really fucked up and that I didn’t want to go back to that place of longing and addiction.  At this point, even when my asshole friend makes me smell the sweet tobacco smell of a freshly unwrapped cigar (knowing full well I won’t even cheat on a small puff of a cigar because of my poor relationship with tobacco) I can still confidently say no and move on.  I may very well one day have the same relationship with a glass of Merlot.  For now, one day at a time, right?  🙂

… although I must say, i used to think that i’d try moderation (really? would i really?) at one year sober, the closer i get to it, the less likely it seems. I’d miss out on message like this one from Lily UK this morning:  “… Anyway Belle, even if I have to stay in [on Friday night] (also fabulous) and knit … I ain’t going to a pub, I ain’t going to drink. I’m never, ever, ever, going back there again. Wolf can scream, cry, kick, cajole, whisper sweet nothings in my ear, tell me all day long how boring life will be without alcohol how amazing life will be with it. Fuck off wolf Im not listening, I’m never going back. Sobriety rocks, it’s totally cool & trendy to be sober x love me, empowered lilyuk x.”

Team 100 update: 83 members. Welcome to new members: Em (7), Megan (4), Mary (4), Erika (10), Workerbeesc (4), Nancy (3), Helene (3), Elle (3), Jenna (4), Mae (3), Jackie (33), Diane (39).

Celebrations for: Amy (160), Emily (14), J (180), Sober Journalist (40), Mr. Belle (28), Katie (40), Roxanne (22), Chelsie (10).


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Love these replies and the post – so great to see we are all basically going through the same thing … I too drink to get that buzz and never have just 1 or 2. I buy my 26oz of Vodka Lime and then some coolers … in one night I’ll drink half of both and then the following night … well I have to finish it to get back to being AF but then I have the bug and it’s hard to stop or not go out to buy more (even though I’m broke most times). I was never able to fess up my true drinking amounts to most because what I consider “MOD” most consider a drunk night but with my tolerance, I was fine. I did this out of loneliness/boredom – and then sat on my ass all night watching TV and downing the drinks – how pointless and what a waste of time!!

    Thanks for the shout out for joining the challenge – completing day 3 without a hitch (although I am feeling tired – another usual trigger for me).

    • I drank out of loneliness and boredom, too! but I spent all this time inside staring at bad tv instead of out in the world. no wonder I was bored! bad tv = boring! (duh). Happy day 4 to you : )

  • I have the exact same conversation with myself sometimes. I try and remind myself that moderating was really hard work and I was rubbish at it! I’ve read about people who start drinking again, thinking they can moderate, but they quickly go back to the level they were at before.

  • My last 5 years drinking (at least!) were problem years and I knew it. Therefore, I have been attempting to moderate that whole time . That’s a lot of practice and I wasn’t any good at it. I know how to moderate, I just don’t like drinking moderately! I don’t want any if I can’t have it all. It’s that simple.

  • Drinking in moderation is way too much of a slippery slope for me at this point. Maybe one day, but not today, and not tomorrow, and not for the next 90 days, either. After that ? Who knows. Day by day.

  • I love this topic! I totally think that people can drink in moderation – the ones that don’t have a problem! I found that if I have to think about it and try to control it, then I am the opposite of in control of it. People that don’t have a problem with booze don’t have to think about whether they drink or not. I am not trying to pass judgement or convince people of anything, but this is how I feel for me.

    I have spent so much time on thinking about how I could be a normal drinker. “I will drink again someday.” But time after time I have proven to myself that I simply can’t do it. It also scares me to think about never drinking again. So what do I do? I make the decision that I won’t drink today. Later is later – it’s over there. Good point Belle! Today I am not drinking. Today that is the right choice for me!

  • I, too, WISH I could drink in moderation. After my last sober period (3.5 months) I decided to try moderating. That lasted a day. I drank one beer. The next time I drank it was a bottle of wine. The time after that it was 2 bottles. I am on day 11 and still tell myself that when I finish my 100 days I can have a drink. I HOPE when I finish this challenge I’ll feel so great I won’t want to. Something I know about myself is that I drink to get drunk. Its as simple as that. I don’t enjoy moderation. I “enjoy” bingeing. Yuck. Today I am sober. I feel like I’m finally reaping the benefits on day 11. A clear head, a positive demeanor and happiness! This opposed to the fogginess, depression, guilt, shame and general hopelessness that came with my drinking. At least 89 more sober days to look forward to. That feels really good.

    • Dear Runner Amy,
      Me too me too me too! You put it so simply, but it’s true: “I drink to get drunk.” Um yeah. Blech, me too. I certainly never wanted a glass of wine with dinner… i wanted a bottle, alone in a dark room, watching something sad on TV… so that i could feel isolated and … shitty, I guess. never really considered that. I was creating a space and a time to feel shitty … Well what a pretty picture that is. Thanks for being here. Happy day 11 to you : )

  • Awhile back I realized drinking moderately wasn’t enjoyable, and this felt very liberating. Now I see that moderation in other vices (eating, for one) is where I find the most peace. I can’t look too far down the road though, just like you say here. Great post.

  • uh- I meant some things can be healthier than others such as very long walks/runs or heavy weight training – just commenting again in case that did not make sense.

  • Love the moderation discussion. I, too, don’t think about this in any terms other than ‘it’s working for me today’. I really, really, really don’t want to go back to what I was – I like what I am today and choose to stick with it ….

    • me too. and the longer I’m sober, the more I believe that I’ll stay this way. I don’t use words like ‘always’ or ‘never’ – I just say “I’m happy with me!”

  • thanks again for this exchange as it is a dialogue going on in my head too as I am starting out- day 7 today! woo hoo. I think I have a problem with moderation period- and some things are healthier than others. Moderation can be a slippery slope anyway. If I have to think- moderate- it is probably best to skip altogether. I was at a stop sign yesterday in front of a liquor store where they were unloading boxes and boxes and I was thinking then that they were all poison- yet earlier I was on a walk thinking oh it would be nice to have a drink later- so up and down – this sobriety can be a roller coaster! But I am waking up every morning lately with a big smile on my face. :- )