Is it possible to change from a 'destructive' to a 'social' drinker

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I've a long standing issue with my alcohol consumption when I go out drinking and it has been the cause of most of the major problems I've experienced in my adult life (I am 30).

At the moment I am not drinking and I haven't in 30 days. Before that it was 90 days and I also did a 90 day stint earlier in the year. So basically in 2015 I have been officially ‘off the drink’ for 7 months.

The reason for this is that I have promised my wife and mother of my kids that I will not drink again. It's a promise I've made many times. I really struggle to accept I can no longer drink but at the same time my family is the most important thing in my life and are more important than drinking. I am living a constant struggle with this conundrum. Am I right to just give up drink altogether and hope the struggle will get easier? Do I go on as I have the last 5 years in that I try to stop, which I do successfully for a while but slowly but surely I weasel my way back onto it until eventually I have a major blow out on it? Or is there another way and maybe I could actually become a social drinker for the first time in my life?

Without drink I am rather shy in big groups and I go into myself a lot. So at social events when not drinking I become very paronoid and get down on myself that I am not in the clique. So I’d love to be able to social drink but it has never been that simple for me.

I read a post about potential medical support to manage alcohol consumption and I’d love to hear more about that if anyone has details

Here’s my story:

The basic summary is I am not a day to day drinker. I am a busy man with work and family life so I usually just drank beers on weekends and even this is fine when I am drinking at home or at a party. The big issue is if I go out on a night out with my mates or with my wife. If I got out on my own without my wife, it’s possible I won’t come home until really late because I am off drinking somewhere, when I come home it leads to arguments. Or worse I have also often gotten into trouble with people and even with the police for being too drunk and fighting. If I go out with my wife we often come home having massive arguments and I can be mentally abusive. She summarizes that she can count on two hands the amount of good nights we’ve had out together when I am drinking in the last 6 years. She’s probably right too!

Here’s the rest of my story for anyone interested:

As said I am 30.  I’ve been drinking regularly for about 16 years. At no stage was I ever completely dependent on alcohol in the sense that I went to school and then into the workforce where I work Monday – Friday without needing a drink. There was about a 24 month period when a 5 year relationship with my ex-partner came to end and then meeting my wife and the birth of our first child when my drinking was an even bigger problem and it was rolling into the Monday as well and affecting my work. But after my child was born I curbed it back a bit (so that was about 5 years ago now). Cocaine was also part of my weekends at this point which didn’t help with my drinking issues but that was always just an add on and I haven’t taking drugs in years and have no desire to.

Since then I have generally just been a sit at home drinker. This drinking is not really a problem or too excessive. I’d have 5-10 beers at home on a Friday and Saturday night and be fine for doing things the next day and work the following week.

But the issue is really when I go out on the town drinking. If I go to the pub to watch a football match and it’s just ‘a few pints’ then I am usually fine to do this. But when it’s a proper night out on the town, especially when my guard is down and I feel comfortable drinking again because I haven’t gotten into trouble in recent times then that is when there is a massive potential that I go overboard, blackout and cause some level of destruction, for example, the big two this year:

In march I was in the city with friends and I attacked someone which resulted in myself

A) Being arrested and charged with assault (where I had to pay a fine to avoid conviction) and

B) During the struggle with police I fractured my shoulder which is still not fully healed.

In September this year I was out with my wife and we got into a big argument because I was lashing back drink and dancing with a female work colleague and then when we got home I smashed up her smartphone and jumped down the stairs.

The two examples above I don’t remember in any detail as I had blacked out so I am only going on what I have pieced back together.

So as you can see I am a destructive drinker. I don’t really remember me ever being a social drinker. I mentioned above that drinking at home is usually fine but its fine because I am able to control myself a lot better and ‘drink with the brakes on’. I could just as easily say ‘feck it’ and drink myself into oblivion, there is a voice inside me that would love nothing more than to do that every day it seems.

From reading this you might say “just stay off the drink” and this is what I am trying to do but it’s really difficult. I tried AA and went about twice a week after the September incident, but I struggle with the higher power end of things and it didn’t do me much help in the end because I went out at the end of november with work colleagues and had 6 pints the same day I went to a meeting. Nothing bad happened that night and it was a really good night and it would be ideal to be able to drink like this all the time, but I really put the brakes on that night because I had told my wife I wouldn’t drink at all so I was very conscious of my drinking and had the breaks on and did things like skip rounds and alternative with soft drinks. I have never found the discipline to drink with the brakes on all the time, there is always the potential after I get comfortable with my drinking again that I will go overboard eventually and there is no two ways about it will happen again if I start the same cycle again.  

In addition, I think the timeframe between me going back on the drink to having a big blow out is getting shorter. So either the ‘illness is progressing’ or maybe because I have deprived myself for long periods of time that when I am giving the pass to drink again I abuse this pass quicker and quicker each time.

I actually don’t mind that my drinking has been cut way back this year. I’ve lost about 6kg without doing any working out or change in eating habbits so there are health benefits! But I’d love to have the option of being able to have a few drinks from time to time, for example, at social events.

I read a post about potential medical support, would anyone know by the sounds of my story if I would be a candidate for it?

 

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  • Posted

    I believe that the medical solution you are talking about, Cowandog, is The Sinclair Method. This has been widely discussed on this forum so you can find plenty of information here and by Googling 'The Sinclair Method.' You wil, also find information about the drugs used, Nalmefene and Naltrexone.

    patient.info approved an article about this treatment last week and you will find it at https://patient.info/health/sinclair-method-for-alcohol-use-disorder

    You will also see a person posting here called JoannaC3. She runs the C3 Europe website which raises awareness of this very effective treatment method.

    I am an alcohol treatment practitioner, myself, and we have seen fantastic results with The Sinclair Method. It has a published success rate of 78% compared with less than 10% success rate for any other method.

    From what you say, you sound like an ideal candidate for this treatment.

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  • Posted

    Sounds to me like you are stuck in what is called the Alcohol Deprevation Effect.  You can google a lot of studies on ADE, but basically it is the situation when the longer a problem drinker tries to stay away from drinking, the stronger the cravings become until eventually relapse occurs and the cycle begins again.

    The Sinclair Method may be something that can help you.  Once you have used the method to successful extinguish your cravings (which can take months for some people) then you are free to drink again ON THE CONDITION that you ALWAYS continue to observe the method of one tablet a couple of hours prior to drinking.  This method will reset the brain back to it's pre-addicted state but in you must always remain vigilant to always take a tablet a couple of hours prior to drinking, otherwise you will re-learn the compulsive behaviour again.

    People using this method will often make the decision to go abstinent for various reasons, the main probably being that when alcohol no longer holds the pull over them that it once did, it becomes a meaningless activitiy and other things (such as family etc) really do provide all the enjoyment they need.

    It is a lifelong commitment for as long as you drink, but if you drink socially for say once a month, you will only use 12 tablets a year at a cost of less than £100 a year.  Far, far less damaging to the wallet and your health than continued drinking without protection!

    There is more information on this page of this website. https://patient.info/health/sinclair-method-for-alcohol-use-disorder

    This method does mean continued drinking whilst on the medication in the first instance, in order to remove the compulsion to drink.  If this is something you think may be of benefit to you, it is also worth googling One Little Pill which is an hour long documentary that explains the method and the science and why it works.  This is pretty much essential watching for your family to watch so they can understand and support you, as the entire method is very counterintuative to what we all know about treating alcohol issues.

    Also, search The Sinclair Method and nalmefene on this forum.  There are many people using it so you can read of their experiences and make an informative decision to see it if might be for you.

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    • Posted

      Yes, I have.

      I began TSM in October 2013.  Since then, I have trained as an alcohol counsellor and successfully taken over 250 people through the method.

      I operate and run C3 Europe, which is a not for profit organisation to help those wishing to know more about the method.

      And lastly, I also answered a question from YOU about TSM 2 months ago in your thread called Stopping Selincro.

       

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  • Posted

    I find myself wondering if this is a real post or something faked. 

    I say this as it seems VERY obvious to anyone reading this that alcohol and you are not a great mix.  I'm not sure what you need to happen to see that maybe it's not working for you? 

    Having worked in Chemical dependency for over 10 yrs I can say without question that you have an issue.  Not only is it alcohol and how it affects you but low self esteem is right up there competing with the 'dependency'.  They usually go hand in hand.

    Now it is not for me or anyone else to say what you 'should' do - it's not my life - it's yours.   You have decisions to make as in what your priorities are.  With your story I find it hard to fathom you'd be able to have a few drinks from time to time...but anything is possible.

    Enough of the negative! smile

    Why not look at your situation as a choice to get 'healthy'?  That can mean many things and not everyone gives up alcohol...and yet many do. Friends come and go - I know when I 'got healthier' in my mind/body thinking (which included no more drinking, just because)...some of my old friends were not on the same page as I was...and we drifted apart.  Oh well!  I made new friends who support where I am now.  Such is the cycle of life.

    I'd try to look at the next phase in your life as a positive one...stop making cases for all the things that are wrong, or could go wrong and instead start looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.  Get some counseling in addition to AA meetings...as having a sounding board is great too and can help you feel better about yourself and not care if you go to social events and not drink or worry about what anyone is thinking if you are chatting alot or not!    I'd also look into all things 'healthy' or what that means to you ie...yoga, meditation, working out, healthy eating, juicing, hiking, new/old hobbies,  etc.  There's a whole world out there for the taking...and looking at it from a limited view of 'life without drinking' is such a waste of time.  Instead look at it as a life you are in control of, while you get healthy, feel healthy and look healthy. 

    It can be done...as I said it's a process of decisions and some effort of course, on your part to start putting it into motion.  Regardless of the path you decide to take...Best of luck

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  • Posted

    The post is not fake. I could right about it in a lot of detail because it's been such a big part of my life and I have done a lot of thinking about my problem.

    I didn't mention in addition that I have done counselling at two points in the last 7 years and that helped to talk but both times it got to a stage where we didn't have anything to talk about anymore because everything was going good in life again. But then slowly but surely the issues came back and I'd have a big blow out on the drink.

    In addition I've tried other things like I don't drink spirits or whiskey, just beer. That helped for a time but then I started drinking more beer and I could also reach the blackouts that way.

    Then I tried not drinking pints and just sticking to bottles. That actually works but then I don't have the discipline to stay away from pints, especially after I've had a few bottles. If I stay drinking bottles for the night then I am usually fine and don't have blackouts.

    I forgot to mention as well it is like chalk and cheese when it comes to me as a sober person or even after a few drinks. The only reason I still have my current relationship is because I am a quiet, loving and we are financially secure. But at times when I drink it's like a switch goes off (when I am blacked out) and I turn into this dangerous person to myself and others who happen to fall into my company (but generally my wife). I lost my ex partner of 5 years as she eventually ran out of patience. I'm in the last chance saloon with my wife. My drinking gives her so much anxiety.

    Thanks to everyone for the advise. At the moment unless I find an alternative method I am smart enough to know I am best stay clear of drink, for example, i didn't drink over Christmas and nobody got hurt so you could say it was a success. But I also felt sad that I couldn't have a drink with my dad and brothers as is the normal tradition (although they know how bad a drunk I am and are completely supportive of my decision to stay away from drink). But inside I am struggling big time with the decision and why I appreciate all the feedback here.

    I am definitely going to read up now about the different possibilities and the documentary suggested might just be my nighttime viewing in bed with the wife tonight.

    Thanks from Ireland.

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    • Posted

      I have read your post and I find it difficult to see exactly what your problem is? You are what I would consider a 'normal drinker' i wish I had your 'problem' if it's such a big deal for you, just give it up.
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    • Posted

      Hi Michael,

      I understand people have a lot more issues with drink than I do. I seen it in AA meetings that a lot of them had literally hit rock bottom and lost everything before they got back up. Thankfully I haven't gone there, yet anyway.

      But while it is accepted where I am from that people excessively drink themselves into bad states, it's not accepted as normal that someone is getting so drunk that they are being abussive to people and getting themselves into trouble. Maybe for a young stud but I'm 30, married with two kids. Can't be going on behaving like I did when I was 18

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    • Posted

      Whilst I appreciate that your situation may be a lot different to cowandog's, saying to just 'give it up' is like saying to someone with depression 'just be happy'.

      It isn't helpful and it isn't very constructive.  If we could all do that then places like this forum wouldn't exist!

      If cowandog is looking for some useful suggestions and support then that is what he should receive from us.

      Ultimately, it's up to cowandog to decide what he wishes to do, but the best we can do is offer him some suggestions for him to consider.

      And no, I don't consider what he says indictive of a 'normal' drinker. A normal drinker would not even be needing to seek out the suggestions of others, let alone some of the events that have happened to cowandog.

       

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    • Posted

      It's not a competition to see who has the worst drinking issues.  Or, at least it shouldn't be!

      If it's bad enough that it's causing you problems, then you are doing the right thing to be considering all your options.

       

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    • Posted

      Well Joanne,

      I think that in his case, it's the best advice I can give. If I had stopped in my 30s I would be in a different place. If I only drank beer at weekends I wouldn't consider that I have a problem. Anyone who can stop for five days out of seven Doesn't have a problem.

      He is having a laugh.

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    • Posted

      BTW,Any particular reason why you should sign off with 'thanks from Ireland'? Are you going with the stereotypical Drunken Irish here?
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    • Posted

      To add to this, there are different forms of alcohol problem. The idea that a problem drinker is only one who drinks all day every day is inaccurate. There are people who don't drink daily but find themselves unable to stop once they start. This can remain like that, or it can become increasingly frequent. It is good that Cowandog is looking for a solution now. He has said that it has cost him one relationship and his current one is now at risk. Why wait to lose more before seeking a solution?
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    • Posted

      Hi Paul,

      Belated Happy Christmas and all the best for 2016!

      i have to admit that I am 'exercised' by cowandog. Having a history of forty years of alcohol abuse and having done the Sinclair method, I think that I have some credibility in this matter.

      i acknowledge that he has recognised that he has a problem with drinking. He should also be capable of making the leap that it doesn't suit him and give it up before it destroys his life and his young family's lives.

      He has a choice, before he goes on to harder alcohol, and or drugs like cocaine. 

      If a person has the strength of character to not drink Monday to Friday, then he has the strength to give it up. Especially if he has already had warning signs from a previous relationship.

      i wish him every success in 2016!

      I especially admire that you were here over Christmas giving support, Keep up the good work!

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    • Posted

      The Sinclair Method worked for you and that is great, I am very pleased for you.  You are now in a position where, if you chose to, you can take a tablet and enjoy a drink every so often.  As long as you are disciplined enough to take the tablet first, you can do that for the rest of your life and you won't slide backwards to your previous drinking issues - that is great.

      The Sinclair Method is far more than a treatment method to be used when someone is at rock bottom, as I explained in a previous post.

      Do you not see that by suggesting that cowandog is a long way from needing TSM, you are denying him the same freedom that you now have?  Why shouldn't he learn more about a method that can answer his original question?  It's up to him if he wishes to pursue TSM or not, but to argue very strongly that he doesn't need it and all he needs to do is grow up and stop, is not providing him with all the information he needs right now.

      You have credibility with your own successful experience of TSM, of course you do, but you don't have the knowledge or experience of the many different types of drinkers that can successfully use TSM, and when it can be used.

      At this stage, cowandog has more information to discuss with his family as to the best way to go for him.

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    • Posted

      The Sinclair Method worked for you and that is great, I am very pleased for you.  You are now in a position where, if you chose to, you can take a tablet and enjoy a drink every so often.  As long as you are disciplined enough to take the tablet first, you can do that for the rest of your life and you won't slide backwards to your previous drinking issues - that is great.

      The Sinclair Method is far more than a treatment method to be used when someone is at rock bottom, as I explained in a previous post.

      Do you not see that by suggesting that cowandog is a long way from needing TSM, you are denying him the same freedom that you now have?  Why shouldn't he learn more about a method that can answer his original question?  It's up to him if he wishes to pursue TSM or not, but to argue very strongly that he doesn't need it and all he needs to do is grow up and stop, is not providing him with all the information he needs right now.

      You have credibility with your own successful experience of TSM, of course you do, but you don't have the knowledge or experience of the many different types of drinkers that can successfully use TSM, and when it can be used.

      At this stage, cowandog has more information to discuss with his family as to the best way to go for him.

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    • Posted

      Dear Joanne,

      Yes, I tried TSM for six months, I gave it up because it sucks the joy out of everything you do. I would not recommend it to anyone, unless you have nothing left to live for. There is only one way to escape alcohol, STOP DRINKING!! 

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    • Posted

      If TSM helped you, or went some way to be the catalyst to stopping you drinking then it worked.  So, I am curious, it achieved what you wanted/needed it to achieve.  Why would you not recommend it?

      If you remember, in my first response on this thread I think it was, I mentioned that people often go abstinent on TSM for various differing reasons.  It is a personal decision for them to decide if they wish to continue occasionally drinking (like I do, and so I certainly don't have the joys sucked out of anything) or go abstinent.

      The medication only stops the endorphins on days that you take it and drink, so a person is free to enjoy endorphin release on days that they don't drink alcohol.  That is part of how and why it works so well.  As drinking becomes an unrewarding activity, then the brain naturally begins to crave the activities that does make someone feel good.

      Would you not say that your 6 months on TSM helped you?  And if so, would you then not make the objective decision that a short term loss of enjoyment for you was worth the long term success of it?

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    • Posted

      Hi again. Nope, I'm from Ireland. Part of the reason it's really difficult not to drink because our culture revolves a lot around it. Every celebration and social event is generally used as an excuse to get 'p*ssed'
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    • Posted

      Hi Cowandog,

      I apologise if I was over the top in my comments last night. You are wise to seek help about your situation. To recognise that you have a problem with how alcohol affects you at 30 is a good start. I was in my 50s before I admitted it. And I had gone a lot further down the road in my choice of poison!!

      Go to your GP, explain your situation to him/her. Ask for a recommended alcohol counsellor, there are many, as you say, it is well recognised that we have issues with alcohol in these islands.

      But before you do anything, give your family a big hug and tell them that you love them. They will give you all the support you need to get through this difficult time in your life.

      Best regards

      Michael

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