Can Alcoholics Drink in Moderation?

The short answer is that true alcoholics cannot drink in moderation.

There are times in an alcoholic’s life when he or she can abstain from drinking. But if you look at their drinking careers at a macro level, there are two characteristics that every alcoholic has.

The first is that when an alcoholic starts drinking, eventually he or she will do way more than they intended to do. The second is that once they do in fact stop, they will drink again.

Normal Drinkers vs. Alcoholics

A normal drinker can stop drinking alcohol at any time. They might not even drink an entire glass of champagne at dinner. Or they might have two or three drinks.

But once they are finished drinking, they will not obsess over getting more like an alcoholic. The normal drinker might not drink again for a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or a couple of months.

Sometimes an alcoholic can stop for a while, but their emotions and disposition probably aren’t positive or helpful. Have you ever been around an alcoholic who has tried to stop drinking without any help? It’s not a pretty picture.

The Alcoholic and Moderation

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that the only relief an alcoholic can have is “entire abstinence.”

When someone is drinking in moderation, they are not drinking excessively. They also don’t have to fight the urge to not drink too much. They just don’t. It comes naturally.

The Big Book says that alcoholics are seldom mildly intoxicated. They are usually flying through mild intoxication.

Drinking is Different For an Alcoholic

The Big Book states that alcoholics have bodies that are wired differently. The book states that when a person drinks, they have a phenomenon of craving, which means an alcoholic cannot control the amount that they take.

Once they start they cannot stop drinking. The book states that the way an alcoholic drinks is as if they have an allergic reaction. To drink is like being allergic to bees. But instead of swelling up after a bee sting, the alcoholic’s reaction to drinking is that the body craves more alcohol.

An alcoholic will go on a spree or bender and usually will not stop until a consequence jolts them back to reality.

But What About That One Time?

Many alcoholics will try controlled drinking, something that normal drinkers don’t need to try to do.

Sometimes, an alcoholic can drink one or two. Sometimes alcoholics can stay dry for long periods of time. But if you look at the trajectory of an alcoholic’s life, it paints a different picture.

One story in the Big Book of a 30-year-old man who would go on drinking sprees. Once he started drinking he had no control. He decided that he would focus on business and he remained dry for 25 years.

“Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic has — that his long period of sobriety and self-discipline had qualified him to drink as other men.”

He could not control his drinking.

“Every attempt failed. Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly and was dead within four years.”

The bottom line is that if you are truly an alcoholic, you cannot moderate your drinking. If you need help finding a solution, call Burning Tree West’s admissions office and we will be glad to help you find a solution to your alcoholism.

Call Us Today