What do you do when one drink is not enough?

We have all the heard the invitation – “Come on have just one drink!”  And I must say, when it comes to having fun with friends, it sounds like fun to just have one drink!  Or when you reach the end of a long day, it is very enticing to just have one drink.  Believe me I do understand that it is great to just have one drink, but what happens when just one drink is not enough?

How is it for you – is one drink enough?

No!  Just one drink is not enough for me!  If I am honest enough to admit it, one drink was never enough, and I wanted a lot more than just one drink!  Especially over the last few years, I noticed my drinking levels were steadily increasing.  Not only that, but I noticed those special occasions (good excuse to over indulge) became more frequent also.  My drinking was increasing directly in proportion with my increasing stress.  No matter how hard I tried to cut back, it just caused more stress.  I tried to cut back, but it always seemed to escalate, especially after having that first drink.  I always told myself that it was never a problem, and that I did not have a problem with alcohol.  But if that was truly the case, then why could I never stop after just one drink?

Why couldn’t I stop drinking after just one drink?

This was becoming a bad habit and I was in a downward spiral.  Every day I started with good intentions, to either have a day off drinking, or at least to cut back on alcohol.  But by 5 o’clock every day, my nerves were screaming, my anxiety would peak, and it was easier to just have one drink.  And then another and then another…  The only problem was that the anxiety and nerves would be there waiting for me in the morning.  Reminding me that I had failed again to meet my resolve and just have one drink.

Enough is never enough

one drink is not enough

It was impossible, whenever I started drinking, I could not stop and just kept on drinking.  Instead of just one drink, it was always one too many drinks.  In reality it was way too may drinks, and my conscience would not let me forget about every day.  And the headaches, and the nausea and the hangovers.  This was becoming a problem and a downward spiral!

What to do about the problem with drinking?

Well, there was no way I was going to front up to Alcoholics Anonymous.  That would require admitting that I had a problem with drinking, and I wasn’t going to do that.  And I couldn’t even think about undertaking rehab, because I didn’t have the time or money for that.  But I did have time and money to buy more drinks, and spend every evening fighting to have just one drink.  And failing every day.  Talk about deflating.  There is enough pressure trying to be a high achiever at work every day, and raise a family, and be there for my spouse, and pay the mortgage and all the other busy things in life.  So now I was creating more pressure on myself, trying to control my drinking habit.

So I’ll just have one drink…

It seemed like the only way out of all this stress was just to drink more alcohol.  It is terrifying to think about the fact that alcohol was causing considerable stress, and yet it seemed to be the only way out.  My only solution to the vicious cycle caused by alcohol was to drink more alcohol.  Drinking was okay to relax with when I was younger, and I probably only had one drink or two drinks.  But that was no longer the case.  I was drinking more and more in a vain attempt to forget about my drinking problem.  Talk about a downward spiral to trouble.  Just one drink was never enough.  I had to have many drinks for the same effect.

So what is the problem with just one drink?

I sometimes asked myself the question, “what is the problem?”  If I was still successful, and still functioning, then what was the problem with just one drink.  Okay lots of drinks.  The problem was that one drink was never enough.  And when I think about it, enough was never enough.  No matter how many drinks I had, I always wanted just one more drink.  For me, the problem with having just one drink is as simple as continuing to want just one more drink.

How can I have fun without drinking?

The problem with not drinking was trying to imagine what my life would look like with no drinking.  It seemed as though no drinking would mean not having fun.  Do you think that getting together with friends and family would be boring without drinking?  Sometimes it can feel difficult to be happy without drinking.

Does this mean I can never drink again?

So now we were beginning to get to the basic fundamentals of my belief about drinking.  I was afraid that I could not have fun without drinking.  I was afraid I could never be happy without drinking.  And I was afraid that I could never drink again.  Strange isn’t it that the things I was afraid of were actually the exact same problems that I was already battling with.  I was not having fun when I was stressed out about drinking too much all the time.  Drinking alcohol was already making me unhappy.  It is terrifying that alcohol can cause us to twist the truth in our own minds so that we fail to see the facts right in front of us.  Like a deer in the spotlights, we fail to sense the danger until it is too late.

Just having one drink can lead to a crash

It doesn’t seem real that “just have one drink” can lead to a train crash, but it can.  And there are only two options.  Ride the train and see where the journey takes you.  Or get off the train.  Even when you get off the train, you are still at risk.  Alcohol is an addictive substance, and the habit that we form in association with drinking can be very powerful.  If we hang around the station, there is always a risk of getting back on the train.  But look out for that train crash.

“Come on it is okay to just have one drink”

Beware the power that alcohol has on our subconscious mind.  There is a huge amount of peer group pressure associated with drinking.  Many people do not realize the anguish that they can cause those who choose to stop drinking and get off the speeding train.  Our society seems to celebrate the over indulgence with alcohol as a rite of passage.  Our cultural belief is that we need alcohol to have fun, without considering the problems caused by drinking.

When just one drink is too much

When you learn to recognize that one drink always leads to too many drinks, you can learn to protect yourself.  You may have already hit rock bottom, or you can see the impending crash.  Either way, if you recognize the warning signs after having just one drink, it is time to do something about it.

I reached a point when drinking too much that I didn’t believe there was any other alternative.  But fortunately I found a way to stop the downward spiral.  I have never been happier.

And there is no looking back…

Also published on Medium.