Monday, November 9, 2015

What Are My Triggers?

This past weekend was Pride Weekend in Palm Springs. Our dear friends, Don and Jeff, drove into town to share the fun, of which there was plenty to be had by all. Lots of parties, tons of good eating, live music at the street fair on Saturday night, Pride parade on Sunday, brunch after the parade at our favorite eatery. We had a ball.

Yet on Saturday night, for the second time in the last three weeks, I over indulged in drinking alcohol. As usual, I had planned to have only one glass of wine with dinner. But with all the festivities, one glass led to two. Then back at home, Don pulled out a bottle of wonderful tasting, quality gin. I had a taste. It was so good I a shot, and then two, and a third. I didn’t get sloppy drunk, but I did have trouble sleeping and I had a hangover all the next day.

I am a recovering alcoholic, and the last thing I want to do is get back into the habit of drinking regularly. These last few years I’ve been good at holding myself to social drinking, and for me that means a glass of wine at a party or dinner, and I occasionally slip and have a second glass. My problem is, if I do that too often, then I fall off the wagon like I did Saturday night, and end up paying for it.

So I’ve been thinking this morning how to get back on track for good. I’ve been wondering what triggers I have that lead me astray.

1) Spending lots of time with people who drink heavily, and try to goad me into joining them.

2) Thinking I can hold myself to one wine.

3) Thinking I need a drink, to fit in, when I’m in a crowd of drinkers.

Number one is hard to avoid in Palm Springs. Social drinking is what most people do here, at lease nearly all the people I know. Still, I find I have more success with not drinking when I limit my exposer to these friends to just a few hours at a time, a brunch or dinner, or only spending a few hours at a party. Disaster strikes when I end up spending several hours at a party where everyone is drinking heavily.

Number two is often manageable, yet after having one wine or beer, I always have a strong craving for a second. And if I indulge that craving, then the flood gates open to more craving, because two wines take away my willpower to say no to more. I do enjoy having a single glass of good wine, but it creates a dangerous slippery slope.

Number three is mental, and I need to somehow readjust my thinking. I can’t control what others do, and I know many people who can drink all night and never get drunk. I can’t do that. I know all too well I can’t do that. A few stiff drinks and I’m three sheets to the wind. I have to accept that for self preservation, I need to be the one guy in the room drinking sparkling water.

So, for the time being, I plan to avoid triggers. I’m off all alcohol, even the single glass of wine. If that means staying away from parties, so be it. My health is more important to me than being social.

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