There are a lot of things about quitting drinking that remind me of when I quit smoking. That was a long time ago now, but I still vividly remember The Roller Coaster. It looks like this: “Dammit. I need a cigarette.” (Smokes cigarettes.) Wakes up in the morning. Guilt, remorse, and frustration. “Dammit. I need to quit!” (Stomps around mired in self-loathing, resolved to make that change.) Several hours pass. “Dammit. I need a cigarette.”
Repeat. Again, and again, and again. Up to the top, down to the bottom. And you get exhausted and you want to barf, but you just don’t get off the fucking ride.
When I did finally manage to quit smoking, I remember that the most powerful tool I had in my tool-belt was really acutely calling to mind the awfulness that is the roller coaster. When I craved a cigarette, I would ask myself: “Do you really want to get back on that ride? Because that is where this goes. Not maybe. Definitely.” And I had umpteen past attempts to quit as evidence that even a drag from a cigarette was like handing my ticket to this guy:
The quitting drinking thing is really very similar. I have these fairly regular thoughts: “Maybe I could have just one.” And the worst part is that you get some sober time under your feet and you start getting all cocky about it. “Yeah. I totally got this.”
Only you don’t got it. One drink isn’t one drink. It’s one drink this time. And then a couple of drinks in a couple of days. And then just on weekends. And then….
Yep. I know how this works. Roller coaster. Every. Damn. Time.