Re: Not an alcoholic but
gbrad, I recognize the feelings in your post. For me, I realized about a year ago that I had developed the craving: if I had one, I was going to want to have another one. This wasn't entirely new- I would experience it in the past, after I'd already had a few drinks. But it was now different in that it only took one drink to trigger the craving, and it was there almost every single time I had a first drink.
Perhaps like you, I didn't suffer any outward negative consequences. I didn't miss work and in fact excelled in my job. No DUIs. I didn't destroy my finances over drinking. I didn't lose any relationships. My husband also drank, as well as my friends and family, and no one ever suggested that I was out of line or that something was going awry. In fact, none of them can understand why I put the drink down, and they are not shy to tell me so!
However, I knew something was different and it scared me. I changed things up- changed the alcohol type that I bought, changed the amount, made up rules and was sort of/kind of able to keep them (like no drinking during the work-week...OK may Thurs was a good start of the weekend...and then on 'special' occasions like a hard work day, or a great work day, or to commiserate or celebrate with the husband for his work day...you probably know how this goes...) I was not drinking every day, but I was drinking at least a few times each week.
I have a lot of experience being on the other side of addiction. My ex-fiance fell into opiate addiction when we were together. I've been to probably 100s of AA/NA/Naranon meetings in my life, as he went in and out of sobriety over several years. It was among the most difficult and heartbreaking experiences of my life. For me, once I realized that the craving was there, reliably, regularly, even though I could still fight against it, I knew I was approaching a line. I am not going to cross that line. I will not put my family, especially my young son, through that.
It sounds like you, too, feel that you are approaching that line.
For me, I started to read. I thought that I was a "yet", to use AA-ish terminology (as in "not an alcoholic...YET"). I wasn't quite up for AA, even though I actually do believe in the overall philosophy.
I read several books, but the one that brought it all together and made it "Click" for me was Allen Carr's "How to Control Your Drinking." I am a book person and even though it's a bit showy of a book, it made perfect sense to me. It seems unbelievable, but by adapting Carr's outlook- which I truly do believe to be accurate- I just stopped drinking, easily. Very easily. I also picked up Jason Vale's book, who worked as a counselor in Carr's clinic. Vale is more up-to-date but they have the same outlook. His was a reinforcement with a few other considerations that just cemented my decision.
It's been about 7 months now. I feel incredible. I always heard people say that life is better sober, and I always attributed that to just not having hangovers or other drinking concerns. While it is true that those issues are no longer in play, I don't think that is actually why things are so much better. For me anyway, it has been like stepping out of black-and-white Kansas into Oz-In-Color. Life actually *feels* different. Sleep is like cashmere. It is just amazing. Alcohol is actually a poison, and when you stop giving yourself small, frequent doses, your mind and body come alive. That is the feeling.
People who think about stopping drinking are often terrified. They absolutely do NOT want to give up alcohol entirely. They cannot imagine an enjoyable life without it. Some of my friends and family actually recoiled when I told them that I was not drinking any more, "OMG, why?!?!?! Can I drink you around you? You're not going to ask ME to stop, are you??" LOL! For many, alcohol is the equivalent of a grown-up "kiddie blanket". It is a potentially harmful, even lethal, Dumbo's feather. It is one huge delusion.
You will enjoy life so much more thoroughly without it. The reality is that birthdays, weddings, celebrations, etc. are joyful, period. The reality is that they are enjoyable in spite of, and not due to, alcohol consumption. Being sober is like being on a super-power vitamin or a miracle drug, everything feels better, brighter, lighter. Alcohol doesn't even come into play, except that you're not drinking it any more. That's it, it is a fleeting thought and usually that thought is: I am so incredibly happy to be done with that stuff!! I have that thought dang near every time I am around people who are drinking, which is quite often. I have wine in my house for guests. I just came back from Europe, where nearly all my friends and colleagues were drinking French wine and Belgian Beer. I have hosted parties and poured wine, made drinks for others. Staying sober is easy when you realize that you give up NOTHING and gain EVERYTHING by choosing to leave alcohol aside.
As you are reading this, you may think that I am delusional. The drug itself will 'tell' you that what I am saying is not true and is actually impossible, or that I am a sad, pathetic sort who can't enjoy the obvious benefits of alcohol; that's what I used to feel, and some of my extended family is not shy in telling me that this is how they feel now towards me and my not drinking.
I assure you, though, I am not the one using a drug. Pure logic should tell you that the person who is clear-headed is going to have a better grasp of the truth. I am not posting to you to try to bring you down a road into misery- you can already see that you are on that very path. Otherwise you wouldn't be posting. I am posting to you to assure that you are quite on the RIGHT path by questioning your alcohol use. "Sobriety" sounds like it means something harsh, stern, not-fun. It is actually quite the opposite in real-life experience though. It is clear skies, it is having the ability to handle life's challenges, it is feeling physically and emotionally great as a baseline. It is a better experience in just about every way possible.
I got there via Carr and Vale, but there are many roads. AA has worked for hundreds of thousands of people. There are other programs like SMART and rational recovery, there is a HUGE community of sober bloggers, some starting at Day One and others who have been sober for years. There are pod-casts. The amount of support available is staggering. There are many, many people who are thriving and living very happy, satisfying lives without any alcohol. Alcohol is just not necessary for a very fulfilling life, and it will actually hinder you, as you are experiencing now.
I've followed this thread and it sounds like you are on the brink. I encourage you to keep going, keep thinking about it, do your research. I don't think I am an alcoholic in the true sense of the word, I am just a person who doesn't drink alcohol. The reason is because life is *way better* without it. You don't have to be an alcoholic to experience this and you can say this if your wife asks.
Your life is challenging right now, heavily influenced by your alcohol use. You can change that. You're on the right path. Keep going!!
"Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse."- George Vallliant, long-term director of the 75-year (and continuing) Harvard Grant Study, on the primary contributor to a happy life.