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    Rosemary's story:

    I think that one of the things that helped me with controlling my drinking was the honest realization that it's not more fun to drink more. As a matter of fact, it is less fun. I did the "experiment" from Responsible Drinking ... one night at home I had a drink, wrote down how I was feeling about it; had another, wrote down how I was feeling about it; then had another and did the same thing. I think I stopped at three, but you could go on with it.
    Anyway, I could see in just my writing (not even the content) that I was losing it, also it was true that the third was less satisfying than the first two were.
    So, it was that, along with the self hatred and disgust that I experience with most hangovers that has helped me to curb the bingeing. I really don't want to go through those experiences again. In over a year of trying moderation, I have binged twice. That is a huge improvement for me. My last binge incident was about seven months ago. I've overdrank a few times (meaning four drinks - I don't have much tolerance, I've found), but not the horrible not wanting to stop business since that seven month ago incident. Of course, I can't say that it won't happen again, but I certainly hope that it will not.
    Best of luck to you!!


      Welcome, gemdropper!


        JJ's story:
        RD = Responsible Drinking (book)
        CFG = Change for Good (Prochaska's book)
        CBT = Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

        A friend asked me to resend a post I sent over 2 years ago. Many of you have seen it but I decided to send it again in the hope that it offers encouragement to newbies. My update 2 years and 3 months later is that I am doing even better than I was then, and MM and this list is the most important thing in my life next to my husband and daughter. Without it I would not be where I am with my drinking and frankly I don't know where I'd be in life. Although my drinking hadn't caused relationship problems I'm sure it was affecting my health and would have continued to do so. It affected my self esteem immeasurably, and I know I had a reputation as a heavy drinker. I had "accidents" ~ falling down our stairs; dropping 16 ounce glasses filled with gin & tonic on the carpet, on the furniture, on the floor; not hearing the phone because I was passed out when my daughter called for a ride home from an evening school activity and another mother had to bring her home ~ not to mention drinking and driving. Sometimes literally.

        My success here followed a pretty straight line because I knew deep down that if I couldn't "get" this, I'd have to abstain totally. I was scared. I leaned on the list, on friends I made here, read books that were recommended (RD, CFG, CBT for Dummies), and used the list as a lifeline. It was worth every minute I spent on it.

        I have also made some very dear friends on the list and I 'speak' with them far more often than most of my real life friends. One friend supported me through a difficult surgical recovery (Bee); one friend treated me to an incredible evening in Paris (Pierre); one friend came to my house to visit (Lexie); and others have helped me celebrate or commiserate, whichever the case happened to call for, and have always been there to help when I need it.

        Well, I wrote more than I had planned. Take what you want and leave the rest (giggle ~ just kidding!). The moral of my story is, Don't Leave The List, you are only hurting yourself if you do. Oh, I almost forgot about my original post ~ it follows below.

        hugs and MM love, jj


          Heidi's story
          WTF = what the eff
          IMHO = in my humble opinion

          When I joined MM, I didn't think my drinking was that bad overall. The WTF incidents were, however, because I was still having them. I had weened myself off of antidepressants 6 months before joining MM, and holy crap did the reduction in alcohol create some seriously nasty effects in my body, some that dissipated within a week or two and some that took longer. I was a daily drinker, 2 glasses of red wine a night, rarely absed unless I was sick or hungover, and averaged 1 HO per month, which in your 40s (or any age) is one too many in my book.

          So what did I go through? Survey says:

          * Insomnia at least 3 weeks of soul sucking insomnia where I was lucky if I could fall asleep within 3 hours of my head hitting the pillow.
          * Negative Self Talk that teamed up with Insomnia and played nasty movies in my head of all my WTFs and not so sassy moments. Lasted a little bit longer, maybe a month, and was better with humor, which I found in myself and others in posting to the list, and with swearing, as in "Shut the F Up!" directives I would actually say out loud when the movie started playing.
          * Sugar cravings I'm going to throw Coca-Cola in here although caffeine cravings ramped up with the insomnia and created a toilet bowl of up-down-up-down without end. I had them. Alternated sugar with salt. I let myself do it and didn¹t fight the cravings because I was cutting out alcohol, which was the worst of the evils. This mellowed out with me over time, and I¹ve learned to savor the Cheetos (so to speak) like I¹ve learned to savor a good margarita. Don¹t slam it down to chase the buzz. Taste it. Enjoy it. Then put it down. There's a saying that you should treat every sip/bite as your first. I think that¹s good advice.
          * Anger impatience, uber-bitchiness, and self-flagellation, all in varying amounts and towards varying targets (myself included). While it was really bad intermittently for the first few weeks, it was better in many ways because it wasn't alcohol fueled. I could look at it and unpack it and try new things. I might have felt remorseful, but not guilty in that disempowering way you can feel after a WTF or alcohol-fueled fight. It¹s much better now, but I still feel guilty when I drink alcohol, even By the Book or on a train or trike. It¹s a small, but not yet enjoyable part of my life because it¹s too much like there¹s a piranha in my glass ready to bite the crap out of my face if I drink. Now, 9 months later, I¹m exponentially less angry, although I wrestle constantly with impatience. I¹m going to try the Headspace app that Enrique recommended and see if meditation can¹t help with that.

          But I also began to feel:
          * The need for a healthier outlet for my anger and energy and 'stuff'. So, I found and fell in love with Thai kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu. Still in love with both and am proud of any and all bruises and muscle soreness. Totally keeps me sane and has rearranged my 40-something year old body so I feel and look just fine in a bathing suit.
          * Pride. This journey has been and continues to be something out of The Amazing Race with dead ends and double backs, but I¹m proud of myself for doing it, for being honest, for every squiggle when the night was hard, for every zero, for every time I flinched and still posted a red number, for my gold dots. I¹m proud of everyone on here and proud that I¹m part of this community.
          * Mercy. I am extremely good at showing mercy and grace and gentleness to others and I SUCK at doing this for myself. Loads of reasons that would fill a psych textbook and bore you to tears, but I¹ve found that staying close to the list and even feeling the mercy I feel for people, when I respond to posts or just lurk and read, has gotten me used to experiencing mercy every day and flexing that muscle. And it has helped me be kinder to myself. I also save all the posts where people were kind to me and have them in a special folder for times when the piranha is hanging off my lip.
          * Strength. You¹ll develop it in expected and unexpected ways and places. It¹s a really good thing IMHO. And it shows up in other areas of your life, at least it¹s done in mine.
          I hope this helped a bit. Everyone¹s experience really does vary. I¹ll throw out my favorite quote again because it applies well to withdrawal or change issues: If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. I¹ve thought back through my life and found it to be true.

          I¹m really proud of you for starting, for posting, for trying. It¹s gotten better for me, and I thought I was beyond all hope, so I don¹t feel like I¹m going out on a limb by saying it will get better for you, too.



            ccrow's story
            btb = by the book
            lol = laugh out loud
            DH = dear husband
            YMMV = your moderation may vary

            Last month I went off the rosters I've been on, thinking that after being here since mid-January 2010, it's about time I see if I can mod without the public accountability. I guess it didn't go too badly- 3 red numbers, 47 drinks for the month which averages out to about 1.5/day. But still, that's not where I want to be. I am content to be mostly, rather than strictly, btb, but in the past my average has been a lot closer to 1/day. And in June I was definitely having too many drinking days in a row(a whole week!); as a former daily drinker, I know that is a very slippery slope for me. Looking at my row for June, I did ok for the first week, then I let Lizard Brain sweet-talk me for awhile... then 6/17-6/20 we had house guests, so that was my excuse to go into the red again. Since then I've been good(as in 'doing well' rather than 'virtuous', lol), and I plan to work on continuing that trend. Don't get me wrong, I have found being on rosters to be extremely helpful, but I think it's like the quotes about doing the right thing when nobody's looking- I want to do this because I want it, not because of what anyone else sees or knows about my drinking habits. Not even DH:-) And if I find I need to, I will hop back on a roster or two, but not yet.

            An aside about 'mostly btb': the way I look at it, that amazing creature, the natural moderator, may occasionally have a little more than they should, or drink every day for a bit; the difference is that they don't then say 'screw it, I might as well get s**t-faced now' the way you or I might do. I'm not a natural moderator or I wouldn't be here, but I aspire to learn how to pass for one in polite society. Or maybe to say "I'm not a natural moderator, but I play one on TV", lol! Mind you, I am not advising this approach for anyone- I know that not everyone believes in the planned exception, but I don't seem to have any trouble getting back to the btb rules afterwards, so it works for me. And I suppose it pacifies the inner brat who does not like too many rules. (She has never allowed me to be on the f'abs roster, although she is ok with the trike. Sometimes I do a f'abs anyway, I just don't preplan it and I don't tell her!) This is definitely a case of YMMV.

            Ok, my train of thought seems to have pulled onto a siding now, so thanks for reading this far and have a wonderful day:-)



              Alisha's story
              CBT = cognitive behavioral therapy
              Trains are a kind of roster on MMlist that limit drinking frequency/quantity
              BTB = by the book moderation (e.g., 9/week women; 14/week men)

              Hi all,

              I've been reading but not posted in a while. I did an abs in January and
              have been trying my hand at mod'ing for about 6 months now. Safe to say I
              am much more conscious about when/how much I drink. But it will always be
              a struggle to stay within reasonable limits. I haven't been doing Trains
              or CBT because I think the month long commitment gets in my head, and I
              usually will allow myself one or two nights a month where I get a red
              number, but over several hours and NO DRIVING. That in itself is a huge
              change. Used to drink 6-8 a few times a week and then get behind the

              I am sticking to my "golden" rules...No booze in the house, No drinking
              alone, and start every Sunday AM with the intent to stay BTB. I stay
              pretty close, usually am 1-2 drinks over or sometimes will have 1-2 three
              days in a row.

              Overall I'm in a much better place with booze then I was last Xmas. But
              am cognizant that I can't let my guard down. We all slip from time to time
              and I don't want to edge towards losing control again.

              Just wanted to update & let all know I'm doing pretty out here
              paying attention even if I don't post much. Proud to be part of this



                Gloria's Story

                I am sorry I don't post much these days or reply to the list. I am getting busier by the day at work, and I have many freelance projects going on too right now. I just want to welcome all the new people I haven't been able to welcome. I am glad you are here, this is for you:

                It's an exciting moment to get started with this group. It's scary, I know. I remember being afraid. You look down, the water seems dark, you can't see the bottom, you don't know if it's cold or hot, comfortable or agonizing; all that you know is that you have to jump into it, because the monster that chased you to that cliff is right at your heels, and
                it's do or die.

                That is what I felt like the day I joined MM 7 months ago. The fear of the unknown petrified me, but staying in my habit scared me more, so I had to jump into change.

                Change is hard. Some moments were painful. My first abstinence day during the witching hour of 5 o'clock without a drink, I thought would literally drive me insane. I forgot how to cook without a drink in my hand. I burnt diner, I jumped up and down, literally, in the living room because it was a mess and I couldn't deal with it sober. I picked
                fights with my husband, I had panic attacks, painful memories came back to me. I cried more than usual.

                In those moments, I learned to reach out to others for help. I learned what it's like to cry for help and have someone throw out a life preserve. I learned that it's okay to be weak sometimes, and need support. The kindness, understanding and applicable advice I got from this group saved me from drowning.

                Many abstinence days after were like trending water, waiting the cravings out, accepting them, embracing them, surfing them. All along I grew stronger.

                I knew I couldn't keep freaking out over the messes in my life or turning to alcohol, so it was time to learn to manage things. It started with breathing, just learning to breathe when things got bad. Staying in the moment.

                Really embracing the moment gives freedom; feeling every sensation, acknowledging every thought, seeing every reflection in the room, smelling every aroma, hearing every sound. That was new to me and enriching. It was opposite to how I had handled my life in the past, running away from the moment didn't bring relief, facing it did.

                Months of practicing mindfulness, mediation, gratitude, love for myself, love for others; love for the first time in my life; all this and every moment is a miraculous gift, opening over and over again like layers of wrapping paper. Every moment when it is truly absorbed is a gift.

                We are amazing creatures, capable of adjusting to what challenges are before us. Never underestimate your ability to endure and adapt; to grown and overcome. You are a miracle, and if you are just starting this journey, you are about to find out just how amazing you are!

                I now get to discover who I am, who I really am. I have never attempted this before. What do I like? I don't know yet but its fun exploring and finding out. I had spent too long hiding in substance, being who everyone else wanted me to be, being whatever nonsense society said I needed to be to be successful.

                Now all things seem new and intriguing. I get to explore my true self without the burden of substance abuse and lies. Raw and broken; strengthened through that brokenness to be a better version of myself than I ever was before. I am now confident that I can swim, or even fly.


                  NYRob's Story: Starting off with a 30 experience

                  When I started with Moderation Management 2 and 1/2 years ago I decided to start off with a 30 day abstinence. I immediately obtained the book Responsible Drinking from and read it cover to cover, twice. This book is highly recommended here on MM and the program is laid out clearly and succinctly to get one off to a great start. The first few days were difficult because of my old habits. I found myself going to the fridge for a glass of wine almost on automatic. So when I came home from work, instead of walking to the fridge I started to walk straight into the shower. I noticed that a hot shower was more relaxing for me, more than any drink every gave me. After about a week I was sleeping great and feeling great. I've always had some level of anxiousness bubbling under the surface for most of my life but I noticed I was becoming more calmer than ever. I realized that the alcohol's cumulative effect was making me more anxious with daily drinking and while drinking would relieve those symptoms for a few hours it was also causing them most of the other 18 hours a day.

                  Then a sense of euphoria came in at about day 10. A sense of self-power, wellbeing and perhaps some overconfidence. I was told by the good people on this list that this was called the "pink cloud". Many had experienced this also when getting into a 30. If I had a hypothesis for this I would say that it is some of the brains endorphins that were being suppressed and now were rushing to the forefront in the absence of alcohol's daily effect. But after a week this subsided as nature's equilibrium settled it down. I stayed closed to the listserve and used the sticky lists there everyday to get through my 30. After that initial 10 days I didn't feel like I was just getting through something anymore. It became easier because drinking was not an option for me. I had made a personal commitment not to drink. It was off the table for me. I learned a lot about myself during that 30 and the effects alcohol was having on me. I learned that I was calmer without the daily brain marination of ethanol. My skin was better. I shed 5 lbs. My running improved and I absolutley felt healthier. It was a great exercise in self-education and made positive lasting change in me.

                  We all have it within our power to do this. With determination and commitment all things are possible and lasting change can become real for you also. Today can be Day 1 of 30! Just make it happen.


                    Max's Story

                    Yep, this whole no-alcohol thing is for the birds! I give up - enough already!

                    Today is my 47th Birthday - a great holiday to tie one on. I like the idea
                    of going out this afternoon, gathering my favorite brew, some of my really
                    missed Beefeater Gin and club soda and maybe some wine to have with
                    Dinner. A good expensive bottle of Cabernet Sauvingon would be really
                    nice, and I am sure my DW would enjoy it with me.

                    I've been saving so much money since I first started absing - already over
                    a year ago. Today seems like as good a day as ever to jump back into a
                    drinking routine. Screw moderation! I am letting it all loose tonight...
                    I gotta get back to the old me. He is much more fun and my family enjoys
                    his company so much more.

                    I know you all will think I am just a shallow and hypocritical dude...
                    after all, I have been pontificating about my journey making it sound like
                    I was serious about this life without alcohol. You must have thought I had
                    it all together pretty good. Yeah, that Max - he's getting it all
                    together and making good progress. Many have told me how inspirational I
                    have been and how great it is for me to be benefiting from abstaining.

                    Sure, I lost some weight. Sure, my blood counts, cholesterol and diabetes
                    measures have come down significantly - just last month, my labs came back
                    even better than last year this time. I figure the exercise is what's doing
                    it. My anxiety is down too, so I figure if I keep that part of my life, I
                    should be fine.

                    I wonder if my wife knows about all the hiding places I had back when I was
                    the good ol' me... I gotta find a way to keep my love and desire for
                    alcohol away from her. My almost 20-year old daughter will be able to
                    sneak a few drinks here and there when she is home from college. I can let
                    her know where the best hiding spots are... maybe she will teach her
                    younger sisters what it takes to drink responsibly. Oh, I wish I could go
                    back to college - those were the best parties!

                    It will be so great to travel again and join my hotel road warrior friends
                    in a bit of celebration every night. The bar keeps telling me the stash of
                    my liquor is too slow to empty - they need me to drink to keep inventory
                    under control. I love to trick them by asking for Gin with club soda -
                    they bring me a mix with tonic and that just has too many calories for me.
                    So, I get rid of that one quick, then ask for a replacement with soda as I
                    requested the first time. First drink is on the house - I get to drink
                    more on the same expense report! It is such a glamorous cool way to live!

                    Yeah, I get to celebrate my birthday tonight in style - I've done my time
                    ... "absed" as you all say around here. After a year and almost 3 months,
                    I think I've got this figured out. I should be good for at least a little
                    while - gotta get my head straight again. That first cocktail ought to be
                    great... then there is now stopping me from getting back to being happy!

                    Happy Birthday to me... Happy Birthday to me...

                    PSYCHE! I wrote a version of this last year - less than 90 days into my
                    abs. Now, almost 15 months sober, I can say how ridiculous my behavior
                    must have been before January 1, 2014. While what you read here may sound
                    totally fabricated - it was closer to the truth than I want to admit.
                    Thankfully, that is all behind me now.

                    Today is reminder of my new life and new hope and new blessings.

                    They abound,


                      Kurt's Story

                      I Signed Up- Now What's Next?
                      I have some basic suggestions for "what next?"; but first, I digress:
                      We use the metaphor of "steps", because it is an easy tie into the
                      recovery community. But we tell people that they "don't have to be done
                      in order". This is true. The steps don't cover everything, but they hit
                      a bunch of highlights. (I repeat our 9 Steps below.)
                      I think the "Steps" are also a trick- A trick to get people to do the
                      most important thing I can suggest. That suggestion is to give yourself
                      time. Consider your time in Moderation Management as a therapeutic
                      experience, and be prepared to use this experience to accumulate the
                      time you need to change.
                      Change does not happen overnight; it is more than just accepting an idea
                      or making a vow. Change involves the complex work of rehearsed removal
                      of habit; of altering perception, and personal growth. It is not a
                      simple process. It can be difficult, uncomfortable, and may not fit your
                      current life goals. But it will represent a move towards wisdom and
                      When I first came to MM, I had serious long-term drinking issues. I
                      could not even conceive of myself as a "social drinker". It took me
                      almost a year to accept that the guidelines were even possible. My first
                      30 (I have experienced several) ended after 45 days, as I tried to come
                      to terms with ideas of good/bad with resuming an active relationship
                      with alcohol. My experience was rich, complex, and took a lot of
                      patience on my part and that of my loved ones. Discovering my habits,
                      even those I did not realize were there, and putting them behind me has
                      been (and I confess remains) a significant part of my new awareness.
                      There are rewards. Mine were immediate- I was able to put my previous
                      drinking habits behind me, marry the woman I loved, and build a family
                      together. If I had not come to terms with my drinking this would not
                      have been possible. I remain a moderate drinker- Not perfect, and I
                      still must plan ahead when I expect alcohol to be involved. But I am no
                      longer the social monster I let myself become, and for this I am
                      eternally grateful to Moderation Management for giving me the time and
                      encouragement to work through this process.
                      In the end I had to accept, with wisdom, that I will need to make
                      reasonable decisions for myself going forward and should never again try
                      to be a "casual" drinker. This is the result of my journey; everyone has
                      a unique experience and chooses their own goals. Coming to the point
                      where I could accept this as a role for myself was a leap of
                      consciousness that took time to develop. You will also need this time to
                      build awareness, acceptance, and peace with your social self. Be
                      prepared to give yourself this time. You deserve it.
                      Kurt S.

                      The Nine Steps:

                      1. Attend meetings or on-line groups and learn about the program of
                      Moderation Management.
                      2. Abstain from alcoholic beverages for 30 days and complete steps three
                      through six during this time.
                      3. Examine how drinking has affected your life.
                      4. Write down your life priorities.
                      5. Take a look at how much, how often, and under what circumstances you
                      had been drinking.
                      6. Learn the MM guidelines and limits for moderate drinking.
                      7. Set moderate drinking limits and start weekly "small steps" toward
                      balance and moderation in other areas of your life.
                      8. Review your progress and update your goals.
                      9. Continue to make positive lifestyle changes and attend meetings
                      whenever you need ongoing support or would like to help newcomers.

                      Another, "Companion" reference to the "9 Steps"- This is a "summary" of
                      Responsible Drinking, the workbook for Moderation Management. It was
                      written by the late Rudy Hoeltzel, one of our strongest lay members:
                      MM Steps of Change
                      ( This 11 pages
                      PDF document is available free of charge and is essentially a condensed
                      version of the 200+ page Responsible Drinking book.


                        Eeyore's story:

                        My three year anniversary to MM came at the end of April - and I annually look at my numbers. There was also an unfortunate argument I had with DW that was made much worse by the 7 glasses of wine I'd had which made me question my seriousness about addressing my drinking problem. The numbers were humbling.

                        In my own little somewhat delusional world I classified blue days (4 or under) yellow days 5-6 and red days as 7 or above. Here are the results of my three years here.

                        YEAR ONE
                        Drinking days: 142
                        Abs Days: 223
                        Drinks: 482
                        Avg. drink per drinking day: 3.4
                        Yellow days: 12
                        Red days: 7

                        YEAR TWO
                        Drinking days: 176
                        Abs Days: 189
                        Drinks: 671
                        Avg. drink per drinking day: 3.8
                        Yellow days: 35
                        Red days: 6

                        YEAR THREE
                        Drinking days: 182
                        Abs Days: 183
                        Drinks: 815
                        Avg. drink per drinking day: 4.5
                        Yellow days: 71
                        Red days: 16

                        You don't need to plot this on a chart to see that this is bad trend and it is not moderation by any stretch.

                        So I re-read RD, thought about Mary Kay's comment, "How Many Day Ones are Enough?" And thought about why I came here in the first place. The reasons haven't changed, just I lacked motivation. It took a serious threat from my wife to wake me up. I don't want to lose my family or my health.

                        So - when I came here I talked about how I would hold myself accountable and grade myself. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So time to change things up and admit a some things.

                        1. I am not currently a successful moderator
                        2. I have the most trouble with red wine.
                        3. I'd still like to be able to drink moderately.

                        I know I can abs fine - I've done long streaks before and after I joined MM. So my original plan of 100 day abs was shortened to 30 - which ended up being 37.

                        Here's the plan for year four.
                        1. No Red wine - I've lost that right for now - that's my problem drink - so it's going away for at least one year. If after one year I'm moderate - we MIGHT consider bringing it back in - with very strict limits.

                        2. BTB moderation - but looking for numbers which are much lower. 2 should be enough, and three on occasions. Avoid posting 4s (because they often turn into 7s or 10s)

                        3. If this doesn't work - cut out all but beer, and if that doesn't work, then go indefinite abs.

                        That's the plan for now folks. May went fine - it was a mostly abs month for me - and now I'm trying become a person who had an occasional drink or two (just no wine). I'll keep you informed on how it goes.


                          Cameron's Story

                          Hello MM community. Been a minute since I checked in, so I thought I would share how things are going. I have been keeping up with the discussions, and I have learned much from the group and observations. I have been marginal with staying BTB. I have not been very good at taking days off, and while during the week I have at times been comfortable with 2 drinks, I tend to have at least 4 and sometimes more on the weekends, and that would put me over the top by a couple or more drinks. So, not out of control, but not really properly working it so that I am meeting BTB guidelines. Probably averaging about 16-20 drinks per week.

                          I think I finally discovered the difference between me and others on this site who are successfully moderating. It came to me this week, and it is so clear and obvious, that I almost feel a bit bone-headed that I did not discover this sooner. The self-discovery that I made was that somewhere along the line, I developed the erroneous belief that I should sail through life without experiencing uncomfortable moments. As a result, when I feel uncomfortable in any way, I change how I feel by taking a drink of alcohol. I somehow came to believe that I was entitled to feeling comfortable 100% of the time. As a result of holding this belief, I really had no shot at true moderation because I would feel the need to fix how I felt.

                          Now I have recently acquired a different belief, that I fully expect will allow me to be successful in my moderation goals. That is, that discomfort is part of the process. That I should expect to feel uncomfortable with establishing these habits, and in fact, should embrace these feelings of discomfort. The shift is not that I acknowledge the reality that I would have uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings making these changes. I had no illusions that I would not. The shift is in moving from feeling that these feelings mean that something is wrong, to actually expecting, accepting, and being OK with the fact that in making the appropriate changes in my drinking, I will be uncomfortable a lot of the time, especially in the beginning. So, again, pretty obvious, but I think that fully accepting that truth will really help me get to an appropriate level of moderation (along with a decent plan of course). Hopefully some of this made some sense.




                            Alex's Story

                            I occasionally get asked about my time in MM and what it's been like. Today, I got a message from Maria asking about how I got where I am and how I stay moderate. I was going to do some kind of post soon anyway (I'm pushing 2000 days BTB, holy cow!), so I figure I should just reply to everyone.

                            Where to start? Just so you know, I'm a 51 year old male with a wonderful wife and two great sons. My family means the world to me; being a good husband and father is a big motivating factor for me. Thinking about it, I suppose maybe the biggest; and the story of me and alcohol inevitably gets tied into family matters.

                            As soon as I started drinking alcohol (sometime in high school, I guess), I had trouble with it; mostly I just liked it way more than was good for me. To make things worse, I never had a good role model for moderation at home. My dad barely drank at all, while my mom drank way too much. So a lot of my adult life was spent trying to find some middle ground between the two, and trying to convince myself I didn't have my mom's drinking problem.

                            I spent a lot of college, then grad school afterwards not drinking much during the week, but often drinking too much on the weekend. Mostly I wasn't too bad, no blackouts, though I had plenty of hangovers and nights in bars and at parties when I would really overdo it, get sick, and pass out. I got a reputation as the guy who would often drink too much.

                            Things stayed in this pattern for many years, but after getting married and getting my first real job (I'm an academic), things took a turn for the worse. I had more money, more opportunities to drink, and my new in-laws were also heavy drinkers, which only encouraged me to drink more. I gradually started drinking more and more days a week, and my binging, which used to be confined to weekends, started to get worse and happen more and more often on weeknights. My health, and worse my marriage and family life, started to suffer.

                            Finally, after a particularly bad binge, I was starting to scare myself, and was really concerned I could screw up my marriage. I finally admitted to myself that I needed to do something, make some real change in my life. I never thought AA was for me, and I didn't want to quit drinking (the thought scared me silly!). But after looking around online, I found MM. I liked what I saw, and dove in.

                            Unlike many, I never did a 30. I had stopped drinking for months at a time for health reasons earlier, and I knew I could abstain. The question was whether I could learn to drink moderately, without losing control. So I dove straight into moderation, starting w/ Trikes, then F'Abs, and then signing up for my first 30 days of BTB.

                            Leaning to be moderate was no easy thing. I spent most of that first summer really getting to the bottom of the issues that made me want to drink, and that had for a long time made me refuse to admit I had a problem. I learned to sip, I learned to count, I learned to eyeball a drink and figure out roughly how much alcohol was in it. I learned to say "no" a lot.

                            Now all that stuff is more or less second nature to me, and most of the time moderation is a habit. I usually have only 4-5 drinks per week, and drink at most three nights. BTB is a firm, never-to-be-broken rule for me. I was on the other side of all that for 30+ years, and I really don't want to go back.

                            I've learned many lessons from MM, but probably the most important is this: I'm a problem drinker, just like my mother was! I've learned how to deal with it, but the problem is still there... Even now, after being BTB for so very long, I've had a couple of nights when I struggled to remain moderate. And the circumstances when I struggled were exactly the kind that used to give me the most trouble: parties or nights on the town when I was under peer pressure to drink. I'm not really different, after all!

                            But what is different now is knowledge. I know how to handle situations like that, how to keep myself under control; and I have the self-knowledge needed to to recognize the consequences of losing control. That path just isn't my path anymore.

                            Is the BTB path a hard one? At first, yes; but after a while, not really. And the benefits are tremendous! To me, it's worth any amount of effort.

                            Hope that helps! 71 days BTB proves that you can be moderate. Recognize and accept those voices as being part of your old self. They will never leave for good, but they don't need to rule you. You're on your way to something better now.
                            Last edited by gemdropper; 11-10-2015, 02:22 AM.


                              Astrid's story:

                              Yes, drinking has been a problem for me to one extent or the other since I was an early teen. Its been a very long, windy road to this point and I'm not ready to shout "Victory!" Just yet as I am in very early moderation. And my plan long term is to be at BTB levels, not quite as limited as I am right now during what I call re-entry.

                              Like many of us, I started drinking before I entered high school and simply loved to party in my youth. Recreational drugs were part of that scene too. Early on I'd lost jobs over too many sick days, had blackouts, relationship problems, etc. and in my mid twenties decided it was a problem that I was quite unhappy with and incapable of controlling. So I went to s counselor who asked me all the basic alcoholic questions and he agreed that I needed to do something. At that time (late 80s) the 'something' was quitting. I told him I didn't want to quit and he said 'I hope you're not still saying that 10 year's from now' and that really hit me and was a wakeup call.

                              So I joined AA for 2 years and quit drinking (although I was still drugging a bit). Once I relocated to a different state I was able to quit the recreational drugs for good. But I realized I was never quite comfortable with AA and one day I thought I'd just try drinking again. I was able to manage much better than previously, but still had issues with it.
                              I functioned quite well through 2 college degrees, marriage, career, and raising a son. But I was still drinking well above healthy limits, a daily habitual drinker, and going overboard at times. Not really to blackout, just to that excruciating physical pain in the morning, the self-loathing, the days wasted nursing a hangover, etc.

                              I found MM 4-5 years ago and used abstar and eventually did a 30. But like so many of us, I just ended up back in my old routine again at some point. A made some mistakes that contributed to that return...I didn't stay connected here and never really even gave the whole process a fair shake. I had bits and pieces, I did take away from that first try counting drinks and occasional abs days, and even periods of a week or so.

                              That brings us to this year, At the end of June I found myself drinking more to cope with a family problem. I wad pretty drunk after drinking something like 5 high alcohol beers the night before my July 30. That doesn't sound that bad to a lot of people, but being a somewhat small female in my's a lot for me.

                              So here I am, giving this moderation a fair shake this time. I can't guarantee I'll stay successful forever and I try not to think that far in advance. But so far I'm happy with the way it's going.


                                Snapshots from one of Bruce's past years:

                                *June 25, 8:30 PM*. I'm sitting on the couch. I've had a hit of pot and drank 1 beer and two generous shots of vodka (read "three or four") with seltzer and lime, settling in for another two hours of drinking and watching Neflix. Getting intoxicated is becoming my one and only passion in life. I am literally pissing my dreams away every night around 4 AM as I empty my bladder nursing a mild headache and sandpaper mouth.

                                *Two hours later*, my wife has informed me that she wants a separation; there has been disbelief followed by pleas followed by tears. She has gone back upstairs, and I am on the couch having promised to myself that I WILL rediscover my passions in life, that alcohol and pot will no longer get in the way. And then I decide f##k it, and finish the remaining 2 beers and 1/3 bottle of vodka, and have two more hits of pot.

                                *June 26*, sometime in the late morning. Somewhat numb, I remember an NPR piece on this support group called Moderation something or other, a quick Google and some clicks later, and I'm making my first "I need help" post to this forum. This was a group that would give non-judgmental support, even if I slipped. A group that did not demand total lifelong abstinence, but simply moderation according to evidence-based health guidelines, and within the boundaries of which many people find both "normal" and acceptable.

                                *August 1 6:30 AM*. I wake up feeling refreshed after a solid 7 hours' sleep with dreams. I sit up in bed and continue reading my latest can't-put-it-down summer book obsession (The Cartel by Don Winslow) for a half hour, then get up and post to the MM forum which has become like an extended family to me. I've been abstinent since June 26: that's 36 days without a drink. In 5 weeks I've gone from someone with a problem who could not even imagine a week of abstinence to someone who has been abstinent for over 5 weeks. And this group made that possible by giving me the support to trust in my own power and fortitude.

                                What I learned during my month of being abstinent is that I DO have the ability NOT to drink when I set my mind to it. Ironically, the only reason I have been able to remain abstinent for such a long time was because I knew it was MY CHOICE, and that I could drink if I wanted to and not get shunned by this village. The fact that I didn't have to pledge lifelong abstinence up front, could simply get my toes wet and see what happened from there made all the difference for me.

                                I've spent a month not drinking, and it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd imagined it would be. It's like so many other things in life: learning to ride a bike, getting ready to go to the dentist for a filling, a colonoscopy appointment, standing in line at Space Mountain. The more you think ahead and imagine the experience, the more stressful it becomes. I don't know how I'll possibly do this. I don't think I can. And then you go for the ride (can we call a dental filling or colonoscopy a ride?), and it wasn't so bad after all. You can't imagine why you got so worked up. That's what abstinence has been like for me: I can't imagine why I was making such a big deal about it. Sure, there were moments of difficulties, cravings, little voices saying "just a little sip" - and I may well have caved in to those cravings if I didn't know I'd be reporting out to all of you - my community - here on the MM forum. I know you wouldn't judge me if I had a slip. But the act of admitting to a slip would have made me judge myself. And that's good, because it kept me honest with myself in order to be honest with you. Bottom line: I was abstinent for 5 weeks, and it was no big deal. As a bonus, I had time to think clearly, process and plan, get back in touch with the ME that has been lurking under the surface, the me that wants to feel alive again, to feel passions, to feel. And to deal with my family crisis knowing that I was at my best decision-making potential. My family is still in turmoil. My wife is still living outside of our house, and our son is confused. But I know I'm working on it to the best of my abilities.