This post was originally published on August 29, 2014.
Like many in recovery, it took me a while to recognize that I had drinking problem. But I did observe that some people around me seemed to have a very strange relationship with alcohol—namely, one completely devoid of obsession and compulsion. These people operated in a way that seemed utterly foreign to me and posed a stark contrast to my own relationship with booze. Here are a few concepts these moderate drinkers introduced to me that I still can’t get my addicted little head around.
1. Beer on tap at the office.
Long before I got sober, my boyfriend worked in an office where beer was as readily available as coffee. And it was decent beer, too, good enough for the hipsters at his tech startup. As a non-office worker (and an addict), this absolutely baffled me. Our one conversation about it went something like this:
EL: There’s free beer? How are you all not drunk every day at work?
BF: Well, we have to work.
EL: You can still work and be a little bit drunk.
BF: Not this kind of work.
EL: Then why is there beer?
BF: [shrugs]Sometimes you just want a beer.
Which segues conveniently into the next thing that I don’t understand:
2. Just one beer.
Perhaps a master of persuasion could make a convincing case for a single martini or one very stiff scotch at the end of the day. But just one beer? What is that going to even do? It’s basically drinking bread. It’s not that I don’t appreciate how complex and satisfying beer can be—great beer does taste wonderful—but so does great bread. And if you’re not drinking enough beer to get a significant buzz, sorry, but you’re drinking bread. The only time I would ever drink just one beer is if I simply didn’t have time to order at least one more—like if I had five minutes left to live.
3. Expensive booze.
Okay, if I were a billionaire I would totally understand the value of top-shelf liquor. It tastes worlds better. But the key here is the word “taste.” Savoring drinks (or anything) was never really my forte. I used to lament to my whiskey snob friends that I couldn’t afford good scotch. But what I really meant was that I couldn’t afford to go through a bottle of good scotch every seven to 10 days, which is exactly what had been happening to my not-actually-remotely-good scotch. Yes, if someone gifted me a $200 Macallan in a fancy box I’d probably have rationed it out a bit more gingerly, saving it for special occasions like Mondays. Oddly enough, no one ever did.
4. Not feeling like drinking.
When pre-sober me went out to dinner with friends whom I would later recognize as normies but back then just considered square, I noticed they sometimes wouldn’t order any drinks. Immediately I began to speculate: were they pregnant? On a diet? On new antidepressants? The idea that they simply didn’t feel like drinking that day, in the same way that I might not feel like Chinese food, was unfathomable. The only time I didn’t feel like drinking was when I was in the throes of an epic hangover; I had a refractory period of about 12 hours between when I felt like puking was a real possibility and like drinking again was a thing I should do.
If all these problems sound like sort of The Same Problem, congratulations! You’ve figured it out much faster than I did.
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