Is There Any Way for Me to Stop Drinking?

Is There Any Way for Me to Stop Drinking?“More often, I was having these little moments of clarity, times I knew for sure that I was an alcoholic. Times when I was looking at the bottom of my glass asking myself, Why am I doing this?” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 284)

It is the question of every addict. As we stare at the empty bottle we ask, ‘Why?’ Why do we continue to do that which destroys us? Why do we long for self-sabotage? Why can we not stick to our plans and promises? Why can we not just stop drinking?

We have tried to reason it out. Many of us have met with therapists, read libraries of self-help books, and sought spiritual experiences of all stripes in the attempt to solve the mystery of our drinking. Even from the early days we suspected that we drank differently from other people. There was a drive for it that contrasted sharply with the nonchalance of our casual-drinker friends. We didn’t simply enjoy alcohol. We needed it.

And now we stand on the brink of total destruction; still questioning, still seeking the answers. ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘Is there any way to stop?’

“We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, The Doctor’s Opinion, xxvii)

While it is an unpleasant truth at first, we must realize that the alcoholic is not like the normal drinker. When the alcoholic begins to drink, he or she immediately develops a powerful and uncontrollable craving. Good intentions are forgotten and the luxury of choice vanishes; to drink and satisfy the craving is the only option. This phenomenon has been referred to as a sort of physical allergy. The connection to alcohol is not merely psychological—the body itself craves it.

Alcoholism is then both a compulsion of the body and an obsession of the mind. Though the rational, sober mind may commit to moderation, when alcohol is ingested, the physical craving kicks in, overpowering reason. Drunkenness and then remorse are the inevitable results. This is the common experience of alcoholics.

This would seem to be a death sentence. With both the body and the mind waging war against sobriety and reason, what hope does a person have for escaping alcoholic destruction?

“We know that as long as the alcoholic keeps away from drink, he usually reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, in both the bodily and the mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm this.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 22-23)

The addict must accept this reality: when it comes to alcohol, his body and mind are not like those of normal drinkers. With as little as one sip, the body will begin to crave more and the mind will follow suit to justify it. This is unfortunate news for the one who would like to continue drinking, but in a normal fashion. For the alcoholic, that is simply impossible.

But there is hope. When alcoholics abstain from introducing alcohol into their systems, the physical craving diminishes and is often completely eliminated. The rational mind gains control and as the individual develops a spiritual life, he or she experiences such an internal sea change that often alcohol is no longer craved nor desired. While addicts can never drink again without experiencing the same sort of physical and psychological craving from the drinking days, if they remain sober, they are safe—even in situations where alcohol is present. They become immune and by God’s power, they eagerly choose sobriety.

The first step is humble and honest admission of powerlessness in the face of alcohol and a desire to stop drinking. It is possible to live again—free of alcohol; personal destruction and sabotage are not the end of your story.

“This is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding the temptation. We have not even sworn off. Instead the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid.

That is how we react—so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 84-85)