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Why Controlled Drinking Doesn’t Work

With this short life that is given to us, we are provided with so many different options. You could walk down this bushy wooded pathway into this dark mysterious forest, but at the fork up ahead you can make the choice to take a left or to take a right. You could drag yourself through the hot desert without food or fluids for days, but as you come across two random unopened cans lodged in the sand, scream out in frustration and uncertainty as you difficultly make your choice between Pepsi or Coca Cola. Or you could find yourself speeding down the highway, getting into a car accident out of complete negligence on your part, and then afterward get upset and make the choice to never buy a Chevy again. The point is it all reduces down to the fact that there is a choice. You know where there’s not a choice? Controlled drinking for alcoholics.

Human beings have the power of choice and can create and deter so many aspects of their destiny. Yet, for addicts and alcoholics, we have limitations- or handicaps if you will. The disease that labels us is something to not be toyed with. It is a mental disorder of obsession that can’t be sliced out of you or medicated to prevent from occurring. Even crazier is that it never goes away for those who fall into the category. We are a type of people who allow alcoholic thinking to take over the controls upstairs and start smashing random buttons and turning various gears too quickly. We have to keep this thinking in check to avoid the conjured pipe dreams of controlled drinking that we so desperately relish to be reality sometimes.  

Is This Real Life?

There are so many reasons why controlled drinking doesn’t work that it’s a bit thorny thinking of where to commence. Let’s talk tolerance and just our general way of imbibing, to begin with. As addicts and alcoholics, part of our mentality is that we can never have enough. There are clichés, there’s statistics, and then there’s truth. When we start drinking or getting high, we always want a little more. We love this feeling of numbness or distraction from reality so much that we want to indulge into its deepest and darkest crevices without fear of retaliation or kickback for our immoral and questionable acts. Before one can bat an eye, tolerances rise and we find ourselves in a caucus race to stay ahead of this fun “habit” as we like to envision. This habit will always become unmanageable for us if we poke it with a stick. There’s unfortunately just no way around it but the sober route.

At some point or another, we will try to justify our demented actions or thoughts of controlled drinking- depending on where you are on the spectrum. The list of rationalizations will roll in and we check each and every one off as if it doesn’t apply to us because we’re special; “It’s all for the greater cause”, we think. “I’ll worry about it later.” “It’s not a big deal if it’s just this time.” “What’s the harm in it?” “I’ve got this.” “I just won’t get drunk on days X, Y, and Z.” You get the general picture. The gist is that with our alcoholic thinking we create any excuse we can to get ourselves and other’s to condone our controlled drinking and justified relapses.

woman staring at glass of wine

Attempting controlled drinking opens up the floodgates for more possibilities and misery down the road. Addiction and alcoholism try to convince us that we have the disease beaten but this, of course, is when relapse is beginning. It always starts in the mind and as “what ifs” or other possible reservations and they slowly transform this controlled drinking over time into the image of somebody going on a heavy run. The thing that we have to come to grips with is acceptance of this disease and the capabilities it holds. If we are not taking care of self physically, spiritually, and emotionally- the disease will engulf and win. There’s a reason we don’t hear of any alcoholics or addicts providing a solution for organized and manageable using- because there isn’t one. It’s all smoke and mirrors in that we want to avoid our real selves and see as many false images in front of us that we can produce. Just like said reflection trick, the idea of controlled drinking might seem fun at first, but it’ll wear you out and have you lost and confused quicker than you realize. Find your exit back to the carnival grounds we call life. Look for the area titled “Recovery.” Stay there. The rides are free and your chances of losing are so much slimmer.

The idea of controlled drinking kind of makes me giggle. It’s the same idea as an elephant flying, but you take the Dumbo fantasies out of the equation. When you put the elements of controlled drinking together with the makeup of alcoholic thinking, one of them is going to win. I can assure you that if you are a true alcoholic truer than true, alcoholic thinking will always prevail in that scenario. What it really boils down to is how much you want that peace of clarity that doesn’t have to do with fooling yourself. We addicts/alcoholics try to convince ourselves that we are still enjoying the drinking lifestyle, but deep down we know how empty and exhausting it feels. Sometimes it really just takes standing strong and knowing your right from wrong. We know in our hearts that there is a happier way of life without the burden of needing to glug something for placebo-induced happiness.


This ferocious disease will take anybody it can get. Some are able to live the party lifestyle or do some controlled drinking and still maintain their sanity. For the rest of us, this isn’t even close to the case. There is hope though with this controlled or uncontrolled drinking out of the way. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need a solution, please call 1-800-481-8457 or visit oarcstaging.wpengine.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.

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