Friday, August 22, 2008

Please drink reponsibly

Few advertising taglines rouse emotion in me like "Please drink responsibly". This is always muttered at the end of an ad featuring vogue-magazine-urbanites sipping the latest mixed drinks. Everyone is beautiful, rich and happy. Like all advertisements, the implication is the same: if you buy our product, you will be beautiful, rich and happy too.

Booze companies are not legally required to include "please drink responsibly" in their advertising, but most do in order to try to prevent lawsuits when their consumers get a little too beautiful, rich and happy.

I very much wanted to drink responsibly, and I tried everything to master this concept. I tried:

1) Only drinking certain types of alcohol (only the liquid kind)

2) Limiting myself to one drink per hour - lots of clock watching ensued, until I learned to limit myself to 1 quart per hour.

3) Self-hypnosis CDs - yes, I'll admit it. I spent almost $100 on a series of CDs in which a very calming female voice informed me as I passed out each night that I prefer water, tea or juice. After about 4 or 5 nights of this, I had powerful urges to drink my vodka with juice instead of straight - that's all that got me.

4) The vitamin & mineral plan - there is a book still dominating the addiction/recovery category at entitled "7 Weeks To Sobriety". The idea is that alcoholics are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. I purchased an obscene amount of pills at my local Whole Foods Market (plus a case of hard cider), and over the next few weeks had the most beautiful hair, skin and nails I've had in years. I was too drunk to enjoy them though.

Only through the 12 steps and participation in the program have I gotten sober. I have already performed the BB's experiment of trying "some controlled drinking" and it didn't work. That "please drink responsibly" admonishment is targeted at people who drink like me, and the irony is, I can't drink responsibly!

While researching alcoholism, I have read about the "controlled drinking movement". These are folks who feel that they have moved from problem drinking to moderate, social drinking. Most controlled drinking websites and literature I have read are quite hostile towards A.A., disparaging the concepts that one might be powerless over alcohol and might find relief in a Higher Power's help.

No reciprocal resentment here: if you can control your drinking, I say congratulations! Members of any 12-step program should only seek to be helpful to others who might suffer as we did, not to recruit new members like some Rotary Club for drunks. When a newcomer walks in, I am not trying to sell her anything. Your way of living can be vastly different from mine, and maybe your way of drinking can be too - that's not for me to judge.