I’ve been there and I would hazard a guess you’ve been there too. Trying to moderate your alcohol consumption whether that’s only drinking on a weekend or cutting out ‘spirits’ on a night out. The reality is that it rarely lasts because alcohol is an addictive substance and we crave it when we are happy, sad, mad or tired. You might not consider yourself addicted to alcohol but we do all have an addictive voice which will over-power our good natured ideology of moderating our drinking.
Many people including myself have asked the question after accepting things needed to change with regards to our relationship with booze but unfortunately moderation is rare and the energy put into trying to achieve it does not give you the answers you crave. One of the main reasons why we struggle with moderation is because of the perception that alcohol can benefit us in a variety of ways. In reality this is not the case in the slightest.
I’m not saying that most of society have a drink problem (I’d define a drink problem as alcohol is interfering with your day to day life) but if I asked most of society to give up drink I’d wager that most wouldn’t be able to abstain for long. What do you think?
Here in Britain we see a figure of around 25% mentioned a lot by various sources as the success rate of people who successfully complete a year of sobriety but this figure is generally derived from the likes of Alcoholics Anonymous, the NHS, and departments within the UK Government. It’s also referring to those who have been accessing treatment or recovery programmes. What about Dave or Sue who have never had ‘problems’ with the drink but have made the decision to give it up. Are they more or less likely to maintain long term abstinence than the 25%?
In my experience, No. The demographic I can offer you probably isn’t the best as it’s based around my age group (30-36 year olds) and is made up of both men and women who I work with, friends, family and friends of friends who have acknowledged that alcohol isn’t good for them and decide ‘moderation’ is needed. When you press for more detail in what they mean by ‘moderation’ that is the common issue. There is no plan. There is no long term goal and the benefits of drinking less haven’t been rubber stamped. Let’s be honest, they don’t want to give up the boozing they just want to ditch the blackouts and the hangovers.
People will say they need to have a break or cut down after a heavy weekend on the drink, a booze filled holiday, an overindulgent Christmas (Dry January ring any bells?) or where they’ve been involved in a drunken incident such as a fight, accident or maybe cheating on a partner. They are reacting to the feelings they are enduring from consuming alcohol so naturally they will want to stop drinking at the ‘shit’ end of the cycle. The buzz and fuzz that alcohol brings has now gone and you’re hungover, skint, anxious and trying to patch up all of those blanks from the night before.
I don’t need to tell anybody reading this who is in recovery how this plays out. We’ve been there time and time again. We are now in the minority of western society who have been previous users but are now long term refusers of consuming substances which alter our rational way of thinking and provide zero benefits to our body and mind. I would be interested to understand if anybody reading this who has asked the question of themselves around moderation / giving up agree with my simplistic view of the masses who drink but want the golden ticket of moderation too.
3 thoughts on “Can I drink in moderation?”
I imagine that there are a lot of people in your wider circle who aren’t binge drinking but maybe the ones who are have a louder voice on a Monday morning?! 20% of UK adults don’t drink at all, 4% are heavy drinkers so that leaves 76% of people. I imagine, but don’t know, that most are more likely to be drinking occasionally rather then binge drinking. I am sure more than government guidelines but not to the regret level you describe.
Keep posting, I enjoy them 👍 and keep that voice in it’s place!
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It seems to be that when you say ‘drink’ you mean getting drunk. I drink, I always have…but since I was a teenager, I haven’t drunk so much that I blackout or an accident. I never have had a drunken fight or cheated on my partner.
All these things because I drink in moderation, because I enjoy it…not to get wasted. If we, the masses, haven’t got a drink problem then why should we give up, and given there’s no impact on our daily lives, why should we give up…and without a negative impact, it’s no wonder that we start drinking again. Whilst you might have an addictive voice which will over-power your good natured ideology of moderating our drinking, I don’t think that applies to the millions who enjoy a drink without ending up in a situation they don’t want to be in.
It is estimated that 4% of the population consume around 30% of all the alcohol sold in the UK and about a quarter of the profits made by the alcohol industry arise from these very heavy drinkers. Maybe your post is for these 4%. but no, I don’t agree with you. I think the masses are drinking in moderation and often have no need to moderate further and the minority are drinking to excess and have a need to plan well towards moderation or stop as you successfully have.
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Thanks for the comment Mark. Yeah, I think as I eluded to in my Blog post the demographic I have this conversation with with the most is those who binge and have the regrets of drinking. I don’t know many people (my wife excluded) who will have a few glasses of wine once per month and that is all she ever cares for. I’m not saying everybody I know gets wasted all the time but I know so many people who binge drink (even just once a week) but it then impacts their week ahead
And I hope you are right – those stats read much more favourably than I’d have imagined but like I wrote previously, I’ve only really seen daat for recovery related drinkers.