Let me see if I’ve got this. I was an occasional social drinker until I was 48, then stuff happened in 2006-2007, then I began to drink wine in an increasing amount over the course of 5-6 years, then I couldn’t stop drinking, then at 53 I stopped, and at 55 I’m still stopped.
Huh? If I couldn’t stop, how come I’m stopped?!
To the best of my ability to understand those ages and dates, I found my feelings and thoughts about the events of those years unbearable. I could not hold and carry these experiences in my arms. They heaved themselves onto my back and bent me double.
Wine at night lifted the heaviness of my heavy memories, my heavy heart, my heavy thoughts. More wine lightened the load. Why wouldn’t I seek relief from such burdens each night? And then the properties of alcohol and my physiology and my psychology did their interweaving and I couldn’t not pick up a drink.
Couldn’t not? Really?
I absolutely could not find a way to stop drinking on my own. I was seeing an individual counselor weekly at the time I was trying to stop. I was trained as a counselor myself! None of it worked.
Only in the company of others was I able to stop. I look back 20 months ago when I could not stop drinking, and look at today when I am stopped, and am flabbergasted. Why now and not then? It doesn’t make any sense. I was Anne then and I am Anne now. What’s the deal on this?!
If I were a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, I can understand that I might not need to know the answers to these questions. I might not even be interested in the answers. All I would need to do to achieve my goal (mine is abstinence but others may seek harm reduction) is to not take the first drink that, for me, inevitably leads to the next and the next.
But I am a teacher, a counselor, a writer. People in recovery hear and read my words. A scholar’s, teacher’s, counselor’s ethics require that I know what I am doing and what I am passing forward. I need to understand and know as deeply as I can what works and what doesn’t and why.
Couldn’t stop drinking? Did.
How and why? Humanity requires I attempt to answer.
. . . . .
I am profoundly interested in the social network effects of mutual support groups in recovery from addictions. Titles are abbreviated and/or excerpted, and the most recent are listed first. Thanks to Laurel Sindewald for her research assistance.
- Association between social influences and drinking outcomes... (2012)
- Determining the relative importance of the mechanisms of behavior change… (2012)
- Group cohesion… (2012)
- Mobilizing adaptive social network changes… (2011)
- The role of mutual-help groups… (2011)
- How do people recover… (2009)