So, I have struggled with alcohol dependence for quite some time now. Had my first drink when I was 12 and started drinking on a regular basis at 16. My parents were of the thought that they would let me drink as long as I was responsible and only did it at home. I finally told my husband last night that I need to figure out a way to moderate myself with alcohol or go off of it. I honestly don't think I will have a problem going off of it completely if all my loved ones and friends know that I have quit. I've tried being moderate with it on my own without telling anyone, and have had little success. I'll do well for a few weeks to a month and then have one night where I tell myself I'll just have 1 or 2 drinks, and then end up having 3-5. I've done all those online "tests" to see if I am an alcoholic, and by definition, from every test i've taken it shows that I'm low-medium risk, or that I show dependence but not to the degree of full blown alcoholism. I want to get it under control and moderate it, not eliminate it from my life, but if I have to, then I will. I just discovered a book called Vitamin Therapy for Alcoholism, which utilizes L-Glutamine, an amino acid, with a combination of other vitamins to help reduce or eliminate cravings. Some alcoholics have actually been able to enjoy a drink every now and then without feeling the need to have more using this therapy(which goes against what AA teaches about alcoholism). I am not saying it will work for me, but I'm going to give it a shot. It requires taking large doses of vitamin C, all the B vitamins and a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, along with chromium picolinate, to help stabilize bood sugar. And this vitamin regimen would be for life. While pregnant, it's effortless to stay away from alcohol, or only have a glass of wine every now and then, so that's been a good thing, but I have a feeling that when I'm done breastfeeding, I'll have very little reason to stay moderate. I'm most concerned about my health. I most often drink too much when I'm tired, stressed or upset about something. I never drink with the thought or intention that I want to get drunk. Sometimes I just don't listen to that inner voice telling me to stop, but sometimes I do. I don't want to end up with cancer, or cirrosis and not be able to care for my babies. I need to nip this in the bud now! My dad has struggled with moderation his whole life with alcohol(even though he won't admit it) and my brother does too. I know it probably runs in my family. Any past experience or advice would be helpful!
I don't have experience with alcohol dependence, but I have plenty of other significant and stubborn bad habits. I recently read the book "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, and I think it can be extremely helpful for changing behaviors and patterns. The parts that are especially relevant for individuals are extremely short, just the first part of three out of the book, and then an appendix in the back called "a reader's guide to using these ideas."
He also talks about AA and how it works in terms of habit change, though he doesn't go into depth.
I really recommend reading the book, but I'll still cover the gist of it, mainly what is addressed in the appendix.
A habit consists of three parts:
1. Cue. Whatever tells you to start the behavior. (Usually one or more of these: location, time, emotional state, other people, immediately preceding action.)
2. The behavior. This is usually pretty obvious, but we do have some habits we are unconscious of. For instance, emotional routines can be habits.
3. The craving/reward. Whatever you get out of the behavior, that you also crave if you don't get it.
When you want to change a bad habit, you have to keep the cue and the craving/reward, and just change the behavior to one that is better, but satisfies the same craving/reward. In order to do that you have to correctly identify the reward that you crave. Often a habit gives us other rewards as well, but they may not be what we're actually craving. Then you have to think of a behavior that will also meet that craving. The whole AA system is basically meant to give people the rewards they crave that they usually met through drinking--socialization, feeling better, etc.
Another thought: Could you just not keep most alcohols that you tend to drink excessively at home? If we kept the house stocked in alcohol, my partner would probably drink excessively, at least for his liver over the long term. If we don't replace alcohol, he doesn't miss it, and barely drinks. We do drink wine but that doesn't pose the same temptation.
ETA: I should add that I've been looking for other books about this subject, and I haven't found much. This book isn't perfect but it's the best I've come across, and I think it's overall pretty good.
Hi- just wanted to say hello I also have alcohol dependence issues- and was sober for 2 years before deciding to try and manage my drinking....
It has not really been successful.... You are not alone.
Well, I'm doing well! I didn't have a drink for 3 weeks about 6 weeks ago, then had a couple of drinks after 3 weeks for a charity fundraiser, then again I had a half a glass of wine on Easter. I've been taking L-Glutamine and B complex every day and I don't know if that's helping or what, but after the event a few weeks ago having a couple drinks, I was tempted to have a drink the next day, but it was much easier not to, instead. It's crazy! I actually think moderation may work for me. I told my family and some of my friends what I'm doing and everyone is being very supportive. I think the key here for me is for moderation not to be a daily thing. I can't drink anything daily. I've tried that and it doesn't work. I'm going to limit myself to special occasions only, which means I'll end up having a drink or two once or twice a month. I'm pretty excited. I'm not having another drink until May 5th, my daughter's bday. And I don't even think about it at night anymore, even when I'm stressed or tired! :)
Just wanted to update. I can't say it's going great, but it's not going awful either. I've had my slip ups. I'll drink too much and have regret the next day. If I stay away from it for a few days in a row, it's much easier, but I got to where I got back into the habit of drinking much more often than just special occasions, and even while taking the L-glutamine and B-complex, I'm beginning to think the supplements "working" were just all in my head. I'll have one drink and think, okay that's it. and then I'll have another. Most of the time I can be moderate, but every once in awhile I just say "F it" and drink more than is healthy. I think if we kept the alcohol out of the house, I'd do much better, but I don't think my DH could handle that. He likes his night cap and doesn't abuse it like I do. Maybe if he kept it in a secret spot? I don't know. I haven't even bought that book yet. I may look into the entire therapy and try it and if it doesn't work, I just may have to give it up completely which sucks. :( And DH will offer me drinks..I don't think he's doing it to be enabling.I think he just truly doesn't think I really have a "problem" and is just taking my cues..which sometimes I'll say "oh, well I'm going to take a break for awhile" and then when we're out with friends or at a social gathering, he'll say.."are you sure you don't want to just try this? Or are you sure you don't want a drink??" and somtimes that in and of itself is enough to make me say "okay, well maybe just one." I don't want to take the fun away from him, since he's moderate, but how can I be clear that I need a partner to help me?!?
It's tough. You could simply ask him to not keep it in the house and not offer you a drink and to pour his in a container so it's not so obvious.....or leave the sitch until he's through w/his nightcap. None of it's easy but you should be congratulated for all of the above. Keep up the good fight!