When stopping drinking makes it worse - you may be alcoholic

Help for alcohol abuse addiction alcoholics who want to stay sober
Site Admin
Posts: 4814
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

When stopping drinking makes it worse - you may be alcoholic

Postby Dallas » Fri May 02, 2008 12:51 am

When stopping drinking makes it worse... you may be alcoholic.

"Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from
a highly strained, abnormal condition."
Page 122, Alcoholics Anonymous

"....We were having trouble with personal relationships,
we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were
a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a
living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of
fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real
help to other people."
Page 52, Alcoholics Anonymous

When people used to suggest to me that I might want to stop or control my drinking -- my thoughts were "You don't understand. When you stop drinking, things might get better. But, when I stop drinking -- everything gets worse!" Naturally, those who didn't drink like I drank -- didn't understand. How could they understand? Some things that work well for non-alcoholics will have the opposite effect with an alcoholic of my type.

You see, when I drank -- it seemed to me like I had everything in control and I was able to manage reasonably well.

When I would get totally sober -- I couldn't control my thinking, my thoughts seemed to run wild -- I couldn't manage my feelings and even my physical behavior seemed odd and clumsy. My body felt out of place, clumsy and abnormal. Occasionally, my hand would start shaking for no apparent reason. And, the more that I would try to hold it still -- the more it would shake. It seemed as though I would bump into things.... or, things just bumped into me! Sometimes, when I would try to talk I would start stuttering, mispronounce words, and not finish my sentences.

Sober, it was difficult to earn a living -- because earning a living, for me, involved a lot of communication. And, when a guy earns his living through communication -- and has trouble communicating when he's sober, how can he earn a good living?

Sober, it seemed as though I was always having relationship problems. It didn't matter if they were personal, business or social relationships. Sober, something always seemed to happen that would cause them to explode on me. My problem was sobriety. My solution was alcohol. Sober, my problems just seem to pile up on me and I would reach the jumping off place -- where I needed a drink or my head would explode!

When I finally landed in A.A., it seemed as though all I heard was people talking about their drinking problem. At the beginning of the meetings they would remind everyone to talk about their problems with alcohol. So, naturally I felt out of place. I felt unique and different. Yes. I had experienced some of the same problems while drinking -- as those in the A.A. meetings.

I would often hear some goof in the meeting stand up and say something like "Alcohol took away everything good from my life. It drove me to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. And, since I've stopped drinking, my life has become wonderful! My wife came back. And, financially... I'm rolling in the dough! Just don't drink and you can have what I have!"

"Well, that's great Mr. A.A.!!! But, when I don't drink -- that's when I experience pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization! I feel guilt and remorse. I worry a lot. I become afraid. I lose all self-confidence. When I don't drink I become a maniac! I get restless. Irritable. Discontented. When I don't drink I become depressed and miserable and I drive away wives and friends and neighbors and business clients! And, financially, I end up with a ton of law suits from creditors because I can't maintain enough focus and control to earn a living to pay them! When I don't drink I end up fighting everything and everyone! My problem -- is sobriety! I have an abnormal, allergic reaction to sobriety! Can you tell me where a guy can go to get help with his sobriety problem? Maybe, I need to find Sobriety Anonymous! Not drinking doesn't solve my problems -- it adds to my problems!"

I left A.A., to find a solution for my sobriety problem. And, that's when I discovered that I was a real alcoholic. I tried controlling my drinking and that seemed to help for a while. It was only during the times that I wasn't able to control my drinking, or times that I needed to be totally sober -- that became the problem.

My drinking started to interfere with my efforts to find a solution to my sobriety problem... So, I decided that I would just go back to A.A. and stop drinking and be sober for the rest of my life. Then, I would be able to continue my search for a solution for my sobriety problem!

That was when I discovered that I had developed a problem greater than myself. I couldn't stop drinking. The more I would try to stop -- the more I would drink.

Whenever I would head out for an A.A. meeting, I knew what they were going to ask me before I got there! They were going to ask "When was your last drink?"

Since I never kept tabs on my last drink -- I would have a drink on the way to the A.A. meeting, so that I would be able to answer with an honest answer! But, somewhere -- during the time that I would leave my apartment to head out to the A.A. meeting, having my last drink on the way... I must have lost track of when or how much I drank, because by the time I would get to the meeting I would be drunk again!

Later on, after I was able to sit in an A.A. meeting sober -- I had a talk with my sponsor about my sobriety problem, and I explained that as long as I was trying to fix my drinking problem -- the more I drank. And, he said something like "That's right, kid. Alcoholics don't have a drinking problem. They have a drinking solution. They have to find a solution to solve their sobriety problem or they will always return to drinking. A.A. is about treating your alcoholism. It's about treating your problem with living life sober. Problem drinkers can quit drinking and their lives automatically improve and things get better for them. But, for alcoholics of our type, sobriety becomes unbearable. They hang in there white-knuckling it as long as they can, but eventually they are unable to deal with the conflicts in life -- sober -- so they start drinking again. As long as they are thinking that their problem is a drinking problem, rather than a sobriety problem, they will continue trying to fix the drinking problem until their alcoholism finally kills them. They are powerless over sobriety. They are unable to manage to stay sober. If they use A.A.'s tools to deal with their sobriety problem -- they will never have to drink again. The paradox is that once we become alcoholic we can't drink. And, as alcoholics, we can't not drink -- because we have a sobriety problem. We have a small window of opportunity -- a grace period -- in which to treat our sobriety problem while we are sober -- or we will automatically return to drinking."

Dallas B.

Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:29 pm

Postby Jackie » Sat May 03, 2008 9:07 am

Only 3 months spber and already restless, dicontented and really wondering what the hell I can do to change my lifestyle to eliminate these feelings!
Talk about wanting "it" right bloody now!
Sometimes I feel like I'm about ready to blow my lid at the talk in a meeting over someone saying they are sooo happy and sooo content, they are in tune with their higher power!
Well I feel "what in hell am I doing wrong" that I dont feel all serene and stuff like these other people?
But after some soul searching I discover that I am
1. ungrateful
2. impatient
3. lazy
4. petulant
The list is probably a lot longer so I will stop there. One Day At A Time
is all I can do.
I have come a little way, my workouts at the gym have become something I miss if I don't have my hour of stress relief and I've actually
got some muscle tone now! This requires disipline on my part to try to make it a daily routine and to step up my program when it becomes too easy.
I attend 3 or 4 meetings a week and have chaired one meeting. This was
not a part of my comfort zone. I'm still not ready to put myself out there so to speak. I don't feel comfortable at all being in front of all those people
trying hard not to look like a total village idiot. Give me a chair in the back of the room where I can hide and pass if the topic is something I don't really have a clue about. I envy people that can quote chapter and verse from the BB. Obviously alchohol has stolen some of my memory retention cause I've read it but it doesn't compute the way they percieve it.

Alot of rambling that makes me feel as tho I'm making some headway
and being able to put it in writing helps. Thanks for being there and I'll try not to feel sorry for myself for at least twenty minutes today.lol

Have a nice weekend! I'm Jackie and I'm still an alcoholic

Site Admin
Posts: 4814
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Sat May 03, 2008 2:12 pm

Hi Jackie!!!

It sure is good to hear from you!

Thanks for your sharing. Reading what you wrote about your experience was a nice experience for me. It took my thoughts totally away from being on myself, as I thought about you... and, then it helped me remember when I was feeling the way that you described, and what I eventually did to change it. It made me wish that I was in the meeting room with you so that I could hear you and share with you! :wink:

I can promise and guarantee... that it does get better! Sometimes, it gets better faster.... sometimes it's painfully slow.... But, it does get better if we continue to work for it... and we know how bad it gets if we go the opposite way towards the bottle!

One of the nice things about 'the longer we stay sober' is that we get the opportunity to learn the tools and how to use the tools so that we can use the tools to change our experience and our perception of our experience.

One example... is the tools of what you used above. You logged in, shared from your heart... started writing about it and sharing it with us.

For me, when I do that... I always end up feeling a bit better. It breaks down my perceptual wall that says 'Dallas, you're all alone! And, you're different! Nobody goes through what you do! What's the use?' :lol:

And, of course, the 'use is' that "we're going to get through whatever it is that we're going through... it will pass... and we're going to continue on our path, because it really does get better!" :wink:

Hang in there Jackie! You're helping me when you're helping you -- and that makes life better for me. I hope I can do the same for you!


garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Mon May 05, 2008 1:03 pm

Hi Jackie,

I understand how you feel. I felt that way at first - when I "realized" that I am an alcoholic. It felt like I just got a "life sentence" - a form of punishment. I knew and "conceded" to my innermost self that I could not drink like other normal people, and if I started again, I could not stop. But I also thought that all of you folks in the rooms were "bloody well" full of crap with all this "happy, joyous, and free" business. You had to be lying through your teeth.

In between those restless thoughts you talked about, I got myself a sponsor and started working the steps. Sure enough over time, that restlestness faded away, and I began to be able to look into the mirror and feel "normal". Not a pink cloud optimist, like I am today, but life was becoming more manageable because I started using the steps.

See the problem for me was life while not drinking. Drinking was my solution - it was the thing that "shut down the band" - those voices inside my head that told me life had gone to hell in a very big handbasket. Once I stopped drinking, "the band started playing" but now it was at full blast. So I had to look to others in the fellowship and ask them what the heck am I supposed to do now that my life is REALLY unmanageable. And I know in my innermost soul that drinking won't work anymore - my solution got worn out. I was a mess and understand how you feel.

But that was only "Part One" of the story.

After about 4-5 years, I got pretty contented with feeling "normal" - I learned how to "manage" life without liquor and I began to think that I was pretty much OK for the rest of my life without drinking. But I was only doing things "half-heartedly". I didn't put all I had into working a program. I just went to meetings, talked to the sponsor every once in a while, and I got on with "my life". You know, the other things that sort of fill in the empty spaces like work, fixing cars, hobbies, and the like. I eventually got further away from the fellowship and cut my meetings down to 1-3 a month. So far so good? Not for very long I tell you what.

Maybe 3 months went by of me living on the "outskirts" of sobriety with very few meetings. I began to isolate myself and the old attitude of hating people and myself came back very quickly. One Saturday night I was out "cruising" around like I did when I was young, and it seemed like my car almost turned itself into a bar parking lot. I mean the colorful neon sign was there in the window - it was made out to be like a palm tree. And the beer signs were all lit up and really to my mind, it looked like Christmas. The thought about how much pain and sufferring of withdrawal faded just like the book says - the compulsion to drink came back.

That Saturday night, I caught myself and I found a meeting. I told them what happened and it was a close call. They were glad to see me of course and told me to come back again next week. But I didn't.

The compulsion grew stronger, and I started fighting but I was licked already. It was just that stubborn determination that I can beat this on my own. I isolated more, and I got back to that point right where you spoke about: ungrateful, impatient, lazy, petulant, and probably a couple dozen other not so good feelings about myself. It reached the point where I knew I was going to drink again - I knew that I was powerless and I could not stop what I knew was going to happen. Mind you, this was after 5 years sober going into my 6th year.

I was still in the middle of that struggle when I got the brilliant idea to "prove" something to myself. That all you people in AA were still full of crap and I could go crazy by going to meetings every day instead of drinking. I set out to punish myself by finding the "hardest core" AA meetings to prove that even the best of your longtimers were full of crap and this wouldn't work for me anymore. I'd show all of you, by god!

Well a funny thing happened. It didn't take but 2-3 meetings, and I became humble because you weren't full of crap. It was me that was full of myself, including self-pity, and I was inches from picking up again. I realized that and almost as quick, God seemed to bubble up from within me and showed me that there are others who are far worse than me, and maybe I should look at some of these folks now in the rooms and pray for them. It really got me out of me.

And nothing since then has been the same again. I just decided that maybe you folks were onto something, so I will do everything that you suggest, and I meant everything. Before I didn't do everything, but now I knew I was safe from drinking, and I didn't have anything to lose by doing everything you suggested. WIthin two weeks the compulsion was gone, and I was at meetings every night. What came from within me was a willingness I never had before - probablly because I knew I was going to drink again and that meant death - and I knew it deep within. So I put everything I have into this journey from then until now. Let me tell you Jackie, that's how I found out about a true "comfort zone".

Not only did I begin feeling and "acting" normal again, but I started having fun and learning that it was normal to feel "vulnerable", but looking beyond that just on faith, and build intimate friendships (not sexual). It took Honesty, Open-mindednes, and Willingness (H.O.W.) and ACTIONS to get started, but doing these things have launched me into that "4th dimesion" of life I never dreamed could have existed. If you would have asked me back then, I would have sold my sobriety short. Today there are not enough words in the English language that I can use to describe this journey. But "happy, joyous, and free" is probably the simplest and easiest way to describe my life today.

But I do understand where you are and how you feel today. All I can say is you are worth every minute you invest in your sobriety. It just might take a little while before you start seeing and "feeling" the "returns". If I can help in any other way, please let me know, and I'll ask you to not give up 5 minutes before the miricle happens.

God bless always.

PS - Every now and again, I still go to meetings every night - especially when I start feeling like I don't need to be around others.

Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:29 pm

Postby Jackie » Mon May 05, 2008 10:11 pm

Dallas and Garden Variety thank you!

I didnt mean tto give the impression I was giving up on the program, these last few months have been a real roller coaster for me and I
suppose I tend to over-react to just about everything.
You have no idea how much this forum has helped me in the last few
months, and since I signed up I have found the courage to put some of
my thoughts into writing. You people are my sounding board and my meter readers, thru you I can acess if I'm heading in the right direction
or if I have to back up a little and reacess what I'm understanding or not
understanding. If you get my drift?
This town is pretty small and apparently endowed with super ladies who
recover very quickly from their addiction. At least they're not around very
long! So my dilema of a sponsor is pretty dicey at best,but I haven't
given up hope.
There are a few people I've been thinking of approaching. I really think
I need someone who won"t let me B.S. myself out of a tight corner so to
speak. I've become pretty adept at sidestepping the issues over the years, and this is where its going to stop I hope.
So for now I attend as many meetings as I can and try to absorb what I
can and every nite I come to the forum to read and sometimes to share
so I can take something away with me that helps me.
For me life is pretty good and with practicing the principles every day
life is getting bearable. Not to say I don't have my share of days that are
pretty dark, but when they hit an hour in a meeting always puts me back
on track and I can try for another day.
I look at it this way my disease is not fatal (if I don't take that first drink)
and my disease isn't painful unless I choose to let it be that way. So I
smile and try to be positive even if I don"t much feel like it and if you
keep in that mode long enough you actually start to feel better.
What I'm trying to say is Thank You for your support and with your
support and Gods Guidance it will be okay but sure is nice to have some
one to communicate with once in a while.

Thanks Jackie and I'm an alcoholic!

Site Admin
Posts: 4814
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Mon May 05, 2008 11:27 pm

Hi Jackie,

You didn't give me the impression you were even thinking about giving up. :wink:

I really enjoy it when you post your messages. I like reading what you share. I think you're doing very well -- especially well -- considering your circumstances and situations. If I had to do it over again and get sober in the small town that I live in now -- I don't see anyway that I could do it. Luckily for me, I still have my sponsor from where I used to live -- and I keep in touch with the AA's where I got sober.

BTW: I come here to read every day, also. And, since you're coming here every day to read something... I better get busier!!! :wink:

Lately, I haven't posted much because... I've been walking through some of my own situations and circumstances that I've allowed to keep me too busy. :lol: We had a big storm here that left me without electricity for four days, and the storm tore up my house and my cars and I had a whole bunch of other stuff to deal with. I start to feel guilty when I don't post every day. And, it's good that I feel the guilt -- because I should feel guilty when I don't post every day. :lol:

Posting in the forum is good for me. This forum has a lot to do with my own personal recovery, and my own practicing the Steps as my Design for Living, and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be sober and to be able to post!

If it wasn't for people like you, Jackie... and all the others here on the forum... my life wouldn't be as good as it is. Each one of you contributes something to my sobriety and recovery and my life. So, thank you.... I hope you all will keep coming back! I need all of you! :wink:


Posts: 91
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:00 am

Postby tj » Tue May 06, 2008 6:17 pm

Hi, Jackie,

I'm Manette and I'm an alcoholic. I, like Dallas, have not posted for a while. I am glad that you found the forum. Some of the things that you have posted remind me of myself at 3 months sobriety. Exercise has been a big part of my recovery, as well. I think that it is great that you have chaired a meeting. I chair meetings now, but at 3 months, I would have been scared to death. I didn't start going to meetings until I was about 3 months sober. You see, I wasn't an alcoholic!! :D I started going to meetings because it became apparent to me that I could not stay sober for the long haul without doing something different. It is a miracle that I got to a meeting, came back and became teachable. I am very lucky to have a great sponsor and a group of ladies that really keep me on track. Keep praying about finding a sponsor. I utilize my sponsor and her sponsor, if I need to. I am very grateful to have so much good AA at my fingertips. Keep us posted on your journey. I will keep your search for a sponsor in my prayers. Keep coming back--


garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Wed May 07, 2008 8:00 am

Hi Jackie,

I didn't think you were giving up either. I was sharing what I experienced at times in the fellowship. I understand about the "roller coaster" ride - even today I have some roller coaster moments. I get all emotional or irritated at something silly or really small. Today, its because I take a couple medications for physical things, and when the doc changes them, sometimes it sends me on a roller coaster ride. That just happened over the past couple weeks and I went back to him and whined. He said that is a common side effect - in other words "suck it up" and deal with the bigger things.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Hey! It still works today! :wink:

Posts: 365
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:55 pm

Postby GeoffS » Wed May 07, 2008 7:45 pm

Hi Jackie,

you sound just like many of us.

When i came into AA I wanted what they had. I wanted it now!

I had not learned the word patience.

Thankfully I got a sponsor very quickly. In did not wait around for the ideal guy to appear, I asked someone at a meeting what sponsorship is all about and how you get one. He suggested I call him next morning and talk. I did. He's been my sponsor ever since. I still intend calling him next morning. Again luckily he did not give me time to balk on any of the steps. Once he was happy I understood and accepted each one, he told me what to read to prepare for the next one.

I have learned that in general if we give us alcoholics an excuse we'll take it. We like the easier softer option. As soon as we get comfortable and 'manageable' we are happy to sit there until we find ourselves in pain, then we might think about changing. You dont have to change, survival is not mandatory.

Yes, there is a lot of wisdom in suggesting that new people take time and patiently wait for the right sponsor or the right way in to the program. However this is an action program. I dont believe (I may be wrong) that anyone got and stayed sober by sitting round and relaxing into it. Bill W certainly never suggested a program of observation. He suggested a program of action.

If we take the actions we get the changes. If we dont, we get what we always got...drunk.

Thats where the idea of a temporary sponsor can be very useful. just someone who has done the steps and has some time, and seems to have all the things you look for. To me when I was a few months sober that was anyone with more time than me. I needed an action plan not a guru.

If someone has been happily sober for any length of time, they have something worth having. If you get a temporary sponsor to help you get through the early months, you can always ask them to guide you in choosing a new sponsor later when you've got to know people more, and have got a little bit of sobriety for yourself.

The longest journeys start with the smallest steps. No journey ever started by sitting round hoping it would happen.

Actions speak louder than words. Especially to us stubborn alcoholics.

Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:29 pm

Postby Jackie » Wed May 07, 2008 9:43 pm

Hello Everyone! Thank you for all the suggestions.
Well I started work on my fourth Step. It would be helpful to discover why I drank in the first place and I guess this is how you go about it.
There are million excuses for where I am today, none that even come close to being the real root of the problem. Besides being lazy, gutless and an outright liar, there had to be a starting point somewhere so here comes the scavenger hunt.
I dont really think I can blame anyone or anything for my dire straits,so looky-looky who's that in the mirror I see!
I would like to understand why I had to escape being me, and that is what I'm looking for in my past. I consider myself a pretty ordinary person in most respects . But give me some booze and you open up a whole can of worms you don't want around.
Like most alcoholics I was trying to be something I wasn't, but why?
I guess if I dig hard enough I will . To me if I can come to grips with what I was trying to escape from in the beginning I can start to heal and
begin again on a new path.
I cannot change the things I did but if I don't come to terms with the "Reason" I can't move on.
I can remember some one asking me why I had to drink, and my answer
was "I don't know". They thought I was lying or trying to be evasive to
escape being yelled at, but I wasn't lying. I did not know what made decide to drink that day.
Now I know that it"s my disease, but before my disease there was a reason or a link to a reason why. Thats what I have to find in me .
Wish me luck cause I have a feeling it ain't going to a purty trip back
along memory lane but it I WILL get thru it and I WILL be a better person in the end.

Another 24 to all!

Return to “Help for alcoholics who want to stay sober”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest