Q. My wife is upset by my drinking even though I control it very carefully. I usually have two or three beers every night. On weekends I drink more when out with friends. Alcohol relieves the tensions of the day and makes me feel relaxed and happy. I don’t see any harm in the drinking I do. What do you think?
A. Many people who think they are controlling their drinking are actually controlled by drinking. A life arranged around a daily ritual of drinking is not normal and can be harmful. Alcohol is a tricky drug and it is a drug. A little of it relaxes; more is stimulating, even more anesthetizes and a heavy dose can be fatal.
Beer drinkers often convince themselves that beer is harmless. However, a can of beer equals one shot of bourbon. A twelve pack of beer equals 12 ounces of hard liquor. A twelve pack is equal to almost half of a fifth of whiskey.
Alcohol is a depressant. A daily drinker often struggles against an alcohol induced depression. If the drinker has been following this pattern since he began drinking in high school he may have learned no other way to experience pleasure. His moods have always been controlled by drinking.
Daily drinking of even two ounces of whiskey or two beers can depress you, can affect your relationships and can dull your ability to feel pleasure. Can you feel good without drinking? What will you lose if you stop drinking?
Daily drinking also has an insidious affect on health. There are strong links between drinking and hypertension, liver disease and brain damage. A true social drinker doesn’t drink on an empty stomach, doesn’t drink alone, doesn’t drink to deal with inner pain or a bad day, or to put himself to sleep. A true social drinker drinks no more than three drinks at one time and no more than three times a week.
To no longer be controlled by drinking you must first recognize that you are “addicted” to your routine of having a daily “dose” of alcohol. Stop drinking for six months to a year before attempting to drink occasionally. If you’re not addicted then doing without alcohol should be a cinch. If you have trouble doing without it then you are a habit alcoholic. You are controlled by drinking. Alcoholics Anonymous can help you to stop drinking.
How to control your moods
In addition to AA do the following to learn to control your moods without drinking:
1. Begin an aerobic exercise program. This will give you a natural high from the chemicals released in your brain by exercise. If possible, exercise at the time you would normally drink.
2. Listen to music that relaxes you and lifts your mood.
3. Watch TV programs that are fun, enjoyable and relaxing. Cut out the programs that make you anxious, depressed or angry.
4. Think positively about yourself. Give yourself pats on the back even for small accomplishments. Be honest about your shortcomings but stop putting your self down.
5. Find pleasure in your relationships. Seek counseling if there are problems there.
6. Deal with inner pain from your past. Counseling may be needed to do this. AA Twelve Steps can also help.
7. Find a group that is supportive and caring. This may be an AA group, a church small group or an interest group.
8. Ask God for help you with this and with other issues in your life. He can help you a whole lot more than a few beers.
Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin you life. Instead let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” Ephesians NLT
“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NLT