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So....I relapsed about a week ago after approximately two months of sobriety. I have been seeing a Substance Abuse Counselor for almost three months now, with whom I decided to be sober for a period of time before attempting moderation management, which seemed like the best idea.

Anyways, about 3 weeks ago I began moderation management, but not with a very black & white set of rules for myself to follow. I drank twice without blacking out, feeling the need to drink significantly more, and handled myself appropriately though I was somewhat visibly intoxicated. I didn't feel that these were set-backs but rather positive examples that I could probably start trying to moderate in social settings without being as afraid of what might happen as I had been beforehand.

Well, Monday afternoon I flew with some colleagues of mine across the country for a work-sponsored conference set-up by the agency I work at, and had three drinks while waiting to board with my co-workers. They were all drinking before I arrived, so it felt natural to join them, especially since I didn't want to be on a 6-hour flight at all whatsoever. I was fine on the plane and didn't do anything that'd make me seem foolish or ignorantly intoxicated, and in fact felt much more comfortable than usual. I had a great conversation with a very kind flight attendant while we were delayed after boarding to take off, and also enjoyed a long discussion with a young woman sitting next to me.

As a result of these instances, I felt like alcohol was no longer something I had to be as "careful" about than I thought before. When I arrived at the hotel, it was very early in the morning, so I simply slept for a bit and worked through the day. At the end of the night's work, I went to dinner with a couple of people I met there for the conference who were ordering many drinks over the course of our meal, so I felt like I had to keep up at the same pace. I ended up being very intoxicated by the end of the night, and proceded to go up to my room to go to sleep. I took a 10mg Ambien tablet as I usually do to help me fall asleep, which in retrospect was very very stupid.

When I next woke up in the morning, my coworkers were at the door and I let them in. Apparently, after taking the Ambien, I went downstairs for a cigarette and ended up freaking out the concierge because I was asking about the food order for the following day's breakfast for the conference. They were uncomfortable with me because I was intoxicated, and called my superior to take me to my room.

I had no recollection of any of what occurred after taking the ambien, so I wasn't hit as hard with the reality of the situation as I should've been. I apologized to the relevant parties, and continued to work through the day. Similarly to the previous night, I went to dinner with a few others who purchased 3 bottles of wine which was shared between 4 people. Obviously, we were all very drunk, but of course I was the one who tripped on the carpet as the hotel manager came over to see if I was alright. He was upset regarding my level of intoxication, which he didn't make very clear to me at the time, but apparently he did to my boss because the next morning I was told I'd be going home early to avoid any problems for the remainder.

I understood the decision due to my behavior and the fact that I was representing the conference hosts, so therefore, even a small slip up is a large liability. I've apologized to just about every single person at my place of work, and have also had an in-depth conversation with our medical director in regards to my medication and treatment / diagnoses that played a part in the situation. She was very sympathetic because she knows how these situations can occur better than anybody else, so there was definitely a good amount of support there, and I didn't feel quite as ashamed as I did beforehand.

Of course, though, I had two drinks while waiting for my flight back, but knew I couldn't go over that due to risk factors that had been demonstrated. In some ways, I wanted to do this just to show myself that I could in reality get two drinks, be fine, stop from getting more, and continue on with my day. It was in some ways reassuring but also made me more upset for not doing this in the days preceding, so I'm in an awkward position now. I will have to work out a better set of "rules" for my moderation management if I continue to go that way, which I likely will. Currently, I'm just trying to stay positive, and haven't had the urge to drink much.

Sorry for such a long story, but I felt like I had to share.

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I had a bad problem with alcohol and pot as a teenager and ended up getting sober at a young age - 22 yrs old. When you get sober young the more time that passes the more you wonder "maybe it was just a phase?" Well for me it wasn't After ten years of sobriety I had a single beer. And it was no big deal. But over time things changed and it wasn't long before I was back to being an all day pothead and messing up a lot of things in my life due to another seven years of drug and alcohol abuse.

Some people can do moderation management. Others have a harder time. For me I guess it has to be all or nothing. Now I'm sober again coming up on two years, but with a lot more heavy baggage than the first time around.

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Perhaps you might consider this a lesson learned. Some people can do moderation in combination with their recovery. Some people cannot. It sounds like it's time to figure out which category you fall into.

Have you ever read the website www.thefix.com? There are a lot of good articles about "smart recovery" v total abstinence. You might want to check it out. There's a lot of good information and a great many personal accounts of the different recovery plans people use.

Take care of yourself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I feel like abstinence wouldn't be the best way to go at the moment, just considering that I tend to much more easily disregard "black and white" style guidelines than those with more grey area. I haven't drank since these incidents occurred and am thinking about trying naltrexone in combination with moderation management to see if it helps reduce the amount I drink when I do decide to consume alcohol. I just hope that I'll be able to go into a bar with friends, get a couple drinks without doing so to get drunk, and be able to leave it at that. We'll see how things work out

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The idea of "moderation management" is not to keep up with everyone else--it's to have a couple. Not get toasted.

If you truly want to try moderation management you have to know when to say when. I've been successful (although not right now) at stopping at one or two, if I have any. The best way I do that is if I only have, say, a 24 oz. beer to drink. No six-packs in the house.

If you find you can't stop at, say, two...then don't start. Especially if your job's on the line.

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I'm going to say that which others apparently won't -- you have a major problem. You have already proven to yourself that "moderation management" simply does not work. I think it's time to consider abstaining entirely. You've almost lost your job. What next? Family? Friends? What is your breaking point?

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  • 4 weeks later...
Have you ever read the website www.thefix.com? There are a lot of good articles about "smart recovery" v total abstinence. You might want to check it out. There's a lot of good information and a great many personal accounts of the different recovery plans people use.


MyPorcelainLife: Thanks for sharing this website.


midnightman: The book 'Breaking Addiction: a 7-Step Handbook for Ending Any Addiction' by Lance Dodes offered tools I found helpful in identifying precursors and key moments for me in the cycle. I read books and blogs and forums and websites when I want fresh perspectives on something I'm struggling with.


I found Rational Recovery's Crash Course helpful, and other information on the main site: https://rational.org/index.php?id=35


In my experience -- your mileage may vary -- trying to moderate my use of what I'm addicted to takes up too much time and energy, and turns anything enjoyable about the experience into effort and worry. I'm lazy: 'no' is a short word to try to remember to tell myself, shorthand for all the reasons I know why I don't want to do it.


Good luck,


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You made a fool out of yourself. You lost all self control...twice. Your behavior was bad enough for your work to ask you to leave early. But you still think moderation is going to work for you? Dude, this is going to be a very painful battle for you if you don't have a reality check quick. You can't even act like a mature adult when you drink in what you consider to be "moderation"

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I think his consience is eating him alive and wants so bably to break those chains. I have never been a drinker but I like pot but even I knew that I had to quit c/t in order for myself to have a better life.... It's just something your going to have to accept. That all those days you had fun drinking are behind you and it's time to buckle up and take things more serious. I'm not bashing you I just see your concerne to quit drinking.

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Well. It sounds a lot like something I would say to myself prior to entering the program. 


Here is something I can just HEAR coming from my sponsor when I dealt with situations pretty damn similar to the one you posted above - and was SURE I could drink normally .. 


Please read it all despite the first sentence. 


"Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been charaterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his liquor drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death."


When I went through what you are going through I kept drinking irregardless. I kept taking drugs too. Know what I learned. The bastards that tried to help me before were right .. <sigh>


It sounds to me like you are dealing with a great deal of denial about your ability to drink normally. Try looking at this clinically nor personally. 


Your Son / Brother / Best Friend just came to you and said "I know I have been having problems with alcohol to the point that I am in counseling BUT I am going to try to control it. Problem is my first attempt at controlling it didn't go over well. I nearly lost my job because I couldn't keep myself in check. Everything's O.K. though and I am going to try again." 


What do YOU tell THEM ?

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