some people lose months (or years) between sober spells

From my inbox:

S (day 7): Question. Since i’m doing really really well (better than I expected), what are your thoughts on me having a glass of wine tomorrow night out to dinner for my birthday?

me: not a great idea. you’d have to begin again on day 1 and it’s not always easy to quit again. Wolfie gets very agitated and starts to torture you again. It might take weeks or months to get 7 continuous days again … If you’ve got something that’s working, I’d keep doing it. Hugs, me

S: I understand. I was just hoping maybe I was wrong about myself and that I can be a social only drinker. The fact I’ve gone 7 days (still sober) has surprised me – the fact that it’s been so easy has shocked the hell out of me.

me: 🙂 In my experience (and I’m not god) but from what I’ve seen, we’ve all ‘tried’ moderation before we quit. We all tried to manage our drinking in some way and it never really worked. We tried counting drinks, or only drinking on special occasions. That you’ve found it easy to quit this time is good news. Every re-start is completely different and like I said, some people lose months (or years) between sober spells… if yours is working then my advice would be to stick with it and see how it goes. You will figure out what’s best for you.

[two days later]

S: OK. You were right… I drank on my birthday. And the next night. And the next. Will start again. Not sure about counting days anymore, though.

me: you were happy with your 7 days, you just need to decide to begin again. And email me every day like before. Don’t let wolfie get in your head too long… you don’t have to ‘count days’ but I can keep track for you and tell you when to have cake!


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

  • I want to give you all a hug! We are remarkable. Thanks for this safe, comforting place Belle.

    I’m day 45! woo hoo!! Just got back in from a 3 day road trip to see a band with 2 friends and my man. No alcohol!! It really was fine… lots of questions from everyone – how does it feel? is it still fun? Are we annoying? I played it on the down low…. and said it’s more about me and how much better I feel in the morning… and how good it felt to not be drunky girl. I did all the driving and felt great!

    I tried moderation so, so, so many times… and it was torture for all the reasons you have all mentioned.

    I believe the mantra “nqtd” – never question the decision works for me. So far so good.

    Where ever you are on your path, road, journey… the fact that you are reading this blog and on this website and trying and learning… is the most important thing. It’s so empowering!! Let’s be good to ourselves!!

  • I’ve spent the majority of my 33 days sober reading sober books. I know 33 days does not make me an expert, but this has been my experience: The one thing I have seen and heard over and over again is that if there is a voice in your head telling you that your problems weren’t that bad and that you can moderate your drinking now, that voice is likely NOT you, but that sneaky little part inside that wants the drink back. Belle calls that voice Wolfie, and most of Belle’s peeps on here call that voice Wolfie too. A couple weeks ago, Wolfie was talking to me while I was scrubbing my bathroom. Devious little fellow. Best wishes to you! We are all rooting for you!

  • (day 130)” …I only feel peace, knowing I don’t have to think about drinking, because I chose not to.” A2, I like that as a refreshing break from the disease model thinking of popular recovery groups, more in line with Allen Carr’s “Easy Way…” and the interesting read ” The Power of Habit”. carry on.

  • wow, love this post… it got me thinking of another internet group I used to follow… everyday I posted I was posting “day 1”, by the afternoon or even earlier… I would always think, just 1, I”ll only have one… that was the “beast/wolfie” whispering in my ear.

    There was also the thought that each time one tried to get sober it was harder to do from a physiological standpoint… I thought that was why I couldn’t string together many days. I know, looking back on that period now with a clear head, I lost years of my life. I cannot change that (it does make me sad); I can only move forward and live the best life I can live.

    But, I also know that I find incredible peace in Belle’s and other’s words on this site. I have not experienced unrelenting “wolfie” temptations, (maybe 1 or 2 fleeting thoughts early on), for the most part I only feel peace, knowing that I don’t have to think about drinking, because I choose not to. This blog is a safe place to land and I find myself ending my day with it. It’s a good habit… day 76 complete.

    • Wow….wonderful post. I can only hope and pray that I, too, find the peace you have and can rejoice in 76 sober days. (I am on Day 5 today.)

      • Keep at it, Wren. You’re not alone, even in terms of the day count. I’m on Day 4 and I’m delighted to have successfully negotiated that first weekend, as you must be too! :o)

  • Day 59 and got the “sure, I can just have one, nice slow drink.” Then I remembered that Belle says that this is only a passing feeling. So I found chocolate and emailed Belle and started reading some blogs. It got me through the desire but what planet do I think I am on that I can drink in moderation? Planet wolfie for sure. There was a comment that Belle posted and I laughed and cried because it was really true – about moderation and drinking with others, thinking I could linger over a glass of wine, but then I was keeping track of how slowly everyone else was drinking and it was getting on my nerves (when are they going to order another bottle already kind of thing). I CANNOT do moderation. I wish I could but it will end badly every time and then likely every day. I know and love people who can do moderation. I am just not like them. Love Josh’s post. Good Luck S.

  • I would drink heavy on a Sunday. Why? Because it would be work the next day, so why the hell not, have a blow out. Terrible idea and Monday’s would be a living hell. 12 days sober and the last 2 Monday’s have been blissful and liberating!

  • Who amongst us can really, hand on heart, say they truly want to drink moderately anyway? One or two glasses of wine with dinner? Really? I don’t want that! What’s the point of it 😉 Really the voice inside is ‘one or two glasses with food, but of course *everyone* has a few more on Christmas and birthdays, and a bender once in a while is OK if I’m with people who love me, and it’s summer and I don’t have work in the morning…’ On and on it goes, and it’s right there from the very first thought of ‘moderation’: the whole sticky, shitty, slippery slope.

    • Oh my gosh. I used to say that, but only in my head…never outloud.
      I’d drink if I was only with people who loved me. Mostly my husband because if I showed my ass somehow, he’d never speak of it. Of course I’d do the same for him. I’d really be careful not to drink with neighbors, colleges, parents ect.
      How exhausing.
      Here the deal…because my husband loves me so much he really doesn’t care if I drink or not. That’s the real truth.
      Guinea pig

  • Yep, Josh puts it very well. I also tried the moderation thing lots of times and the really mean thing is: in the beginning -sometimes- it seemed to work well: just a few glasses on special occasions. Very proud of myself and not remembering the previous times the very same thing happened. And then, not surprisingly, I found more and more special occasions and instead of 2 or 3 glasses I would drink 4 or 5,.. and off I was again. Wolfie can indeed be VERY sneaky and biding his time. My sort of matra has become: no matter what. For me, this helps a lot. When Wolfie begins to whine I just tell him this over and over again: I don’t drink for 100 days no matter what. Well done for starting again!
    I like the idea of counting away from the last drink, not toward something. It does feel a bit different in a nice way 😉

  • This is a great post–certainly not because S’s challenge got derailed (don’t fret S, I think we all have more day 1’s that we’d like to count), but because it emphasizes such an important point (or two points, maybe). First, as Belle and others pointed out, Wolfie is a complete bastard and a sneaky little SOB. I think we’ve all heard that gentle coaxing to just have one glass, cajoling us to imbibe now that we’ve achieved some success and demonstrated what good little boys and girls we can be. I’ve frequently been successful in shorter term efforts to not drink only to get relaxed into thinking that my success in abstaining justified drinking again (and even when not drinking seemed painless). I believe belle is completely correct in advocating for us to stick to the pledge–no drinking for 100 days– no matter what (zombie apocalypse included).

    The second thing that resonated with me in reading all this was a reminder from Belle that it was a (continued) inability to be moderate in my consumption of alcohol that got me here, scouring the internet for a fix. The Blog’s name–Tired of Thinking About Drinking–really does sum it up perfectly: I just have gotten to the point where I am absolutely exhausted with the level of stress and anxiety that drinking brings. The bald truth is, I just don’t seem to drink in a way that ultimately I am satisfied with. I have too many other things that are important to me, too many goals and aspirations to have them be sidelined or compromised by a habit that costs me so much more than it benefits me.

    For me, one strategy that has helped me avoid Wolfie’s Siren Song is to reflect on why I decided to do the challenge in the first place. For me, If I sit down and think honestly about what specifically I don’t like about my drinking, I can come up with a rich and long list of mishaps, bad decisions, and actions that I am not proud of. Some of these episodes are spaced close together, and other times it would be almost a year between drinking regrets. The common thread amongst them all, though, was they were all followed by some unspecified commitment to tighten it up and drink moderately, just as Belle described above. At some point, I just think when is enough enough? How many times do I have to repeat my past mistakes before I learn? As the old aphorism goes, the definition of insanity truly is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, I decided now to do something different, and commit to a period of not drinking regardless of what happens–whether I feel great or terrible. I am on day 57 now, and it really has been great. I have not felt this great in years.

    So, thank you to all who make this such a marvelous community, and thank you Belle for your leadership and guidance in helping us all to be better people, one day at a time.

  • Thanks for sharing that, Belle. I’ve had a pretty lengthy stretch of sobriety before and, even though my life was going better than ever sober, I (wolfie) started having that conversation with myself about whether or not I could drink socially again. And the longer I entertained that conversation, the louder wolfie got.

    Eventually I did drink. And for me, it was damned hard to get him to shut-the-fuck-up again after that.

    It’s probably more telling that you’ve come to a point with your drinking that you are even experimenting with sobriety than how easy it was to get some sober days behind you. You can start again, S, and this experience will be another tool in your pocket that you can use when you need it next time. Hugs to you, dear.

  • Agreed agreed agreed Belle!

    I’m a walking talking testimony of how thinking “Oh! That was easy” can end in distaster. I slipped up after 7 days. Then 10 days. Then 25 days. Then 40 DAYS. One of the biggest ever disaster slips was on my birthday, as it happened.

    And there were weeks, months between attempts.

    Now I’m back on Day 5 wishing I’d just avoided that first drink weeks ago that broke my happy, jolly 40 days sober.

  • I say, keep on counting. It’s like a badge of honor and reminds us of how far away we can get from day one. Yeah that’s it…we’re not counting toward something, but rather counting away from the last drink!

  • I suspect there is more value to “keeping count” than we know. The count probably helps the conscious mind, and the idea of a finite “finish line” helps/tricks/allays the subconscious mind.

    I also suspect the subconscious arena is where this game is won, as that is where wolfie resides.

    Of course, what do I know? I am merely on day 10.

  • I like to think of being sober for, let’s say, 100 days, as a road race. I could stop at every turn, but every time I stop, it just makes it harder to get to the end. I lose momentum. And it has nothing to do with my body, it’s all in my mind. I lose that commitment in my mind, and it lets in all the other thoughts of “well, maybe just one” or “well, maybe just 3 times a week, with only 1 time where my hangover makes me have a panic attack.” I agree with Belle: why stop when it’s pretty OK for now?

    • Well done on day two! I saw your post on Kate’s blog and I just wanted to say I had a lot of years drinking behind me too, and I am very soon coming up on 18 months sober. I’ll celebrate that but I’ll celebrate your 18 days more – stick with it, I promise you its worth it beyond your wildest dreams

      • That’s extremely kind of you, sobermalarky! Thank you. (on Day 3, now, of course – Saturday night was safely negotiated without problems) :o) …. I’ve started blogging this morning…. most therapeutic!

    • KEEP GOING!!! No matter what! I wish I Wouldn’t have drank on my Birthday….
      Each time I think I can moderate… It goes back to the same result… Wanting to quit again. I’ve gone 100 days… 62 days … 12 days… without drinking… Now on 31 days and feeling SO good. Moderation isn’t an option for me and I have finally accepted it.