No rock bottom? The grey area drinker

Grey area drinking is a special kind of hell. You have an issue with alcohol but it’s not yet taking over your life. Many of your current issues might be traced back to the booze, and yet the real destruction is nowhere in sight..yet.  

We all have so many decisions to make in a day. When you are stuck in the middle between “normal drinking” and alcohol use disorder, it can be tricky to understand where, exactly, you are on that spectrum. Everyone has their own threshold for a “rock bottom”. Some people might realize they’ve had enough without ever getting a DUI or losing their kids, but others might not. A rock bottom can be as simple as having a friend walk out or as drastic as being in a car accident. It varies, and it varies a lot.

The grey zone is difficult because of the many mixed messages we get from the media, friends and society. They might tell us that our behavior is normal, when, in fact, it’s not. Our friends might not realize the issue or be in a similar grey area themselves. We might watch TV characters drink as much as we do and see it presented as fun or harmless.

We feel torn and consequently try to manage our drinking, which for most of us doesn’t work. One of the signs of a problem is trying to curtail it, to stop it, and failing to do so. The mental gymnastics of an inner truth that we might have a problem on one side and then getting sucked back the vortex of our usual life and habits on the other become complex, unsustainable, and so we drink because it’s the easier choice. It’s the habit. It’s the practice. Perhaps, it is even the addiction.

The only safe path out of the addiction grey zone is back towards sobriety. It’s also not an easy path, but there is no reason to wait for your rock bottom to hit. You know that there is a problem, that you are not making it work as it used to work before, that you need more drink to feel the same old buzz. You are seeing the red flags, and it’s no use waiting until they become to much.

For some, their rock bottom will leave a minor wound. For others, it can leave a massive scar that will never fully heal. Once you start recognizing that there is a problem, it’s time to take action and ask for help if you find that you can’t just stop it on your own.

The moment when you try to convince yourself and those around you that there is no problem is when you know there is one.

The grey area only goes two ways: sobriety or a full-blown addiction. You can’t stay in the middle zone forever, even if it’s still manageable and workable. You might bear it for a bit longer – some people spend a while in this area – but it can’t continue forever. You will notice how your drinking increases and the problems that were not quite so bad suddenly take a turn for the worse.

You know it – you know that the grey area is not the best space to be in. And if you do know it, why not take measures while it’s still easier to do so? While there is no permanent harm, no trail of destruction? Note that it means easier, but not easy. You still have to work for it. But the key is to admit to yourself where you are and what you need to do. Make the choice to stop and leave your current grey area, and that will offer you a lot of inner peace. No more struggling between the truth you know and the dissonant commitment to deny it. You can focus all your energy on getting better.

I didn’t realize until I made the decision to quit that there would be so much relief. I no longer had to fight that inner voice that told me: this is not right, and you know it. It was decided, and I was no longer drinking. I still deal with cravings and it’s not perfect but at least that decision has been made. For me, that is freedom.

Does any of the below ring a bell? Let’s chat.

  1. I wake up after a bad hangover and proclaim, I’m DONE!
  2. I’ve done dry January and sober October successfully
  3. Everyone else drinks just as much as me
  4. I don’t relate to the label “alcoholic”
  5. I think about when and where I will drink
  6. Sometimes I overdo it but I can also moderate my drinking at times

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