There are no "cures" for alcoholism, no sure bets as to what will work for each individual, and when it comes down to it, no real understanding about how to handle it in today's society. Do we treat it like an addiction? Like a choice? Like a mental illness? Do we continue to ignore it? We barely understand what we are dealing with when it comes to alcoholism.
"Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others. Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven't touched a drop of it in 17 years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking some now. I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.”
- Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
That's where this project comes in. One thing we can do is make an effort to better understand the role alcohol plays in our lives, whether you drink or not, and whether you are an alcoholic or not.
So here's the challenge:
Print out this image. Choose a length of time for which you will challenge yourself NOT to drink alcohol in any situation. Calculate the date and fill it in at the bottom of the box between the slashes. It should look like this:
"When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”
― Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story
Of course, it should have your exploration date at the bottom. Cut it out around the box, and tape it to the back of your license or ID. Now you have a reminder about your pledge to stay sober, so every time you pull out your ID to buy a drink...think about it. How hard is it for you not to buy that drink? Are you buying something to drink by yourself, or do you have to tell the people you're are with that you are not drinking? Will you tell them? How will they react? How badly do you want that drink? Does not drinking make a difference in how much you enjoy that night out or evening at home?
Whether you choose to abstain from alcohol for a day, a week, a month, or a year, use that time to consider how often you come into contact with alcohol - what that must be like for someone who is an alcoholic trying to stay sober. If it is hard for you to say "no" to a drink, imagine what it feels like for an alcoholic. Keep track of how often you see ads for alcohol. Notice how it makes you feel not to drink. Challenge your friends to take part, and see who sticks with it. And while you are exploring sobriety, talk about it with other people doing the same thing right here on this site.
Challenge yourself to be a part of the conversation about alcohol. Challenge yourself to understand more about what drinking means to you and to others. Challenge yourself to live life not wasted.