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Paradoxes and Contradictions: Alcoholism

answered 10:11 AM EST, Thu April 12, 2012
anonymous anonymous
I am ready to quit drinking. I can say that I am an alcoholic. Over the last few years I have drank about 15 or 20 or more beers every day. There has not been one day over the last years that I have not drank. I am going to lose my family unless I do what I have promised which is to stop drinking entirely. I do not have money for alcohol treatment but I there is an AA group meeting at a nearby church which I plan on attending as soon as I can get sober. The problem is I am finding it quite hard to stop drinking. I get the shakes and I know it can be dangerous to stop very suddenly. What I would like to know is how slowly I need to wean myself down off the beers before I can stop without it being dangerous. I am thinking I will have 12 beers today and 10 beers tomorrow and 8 beers the next day and so on until I get to zero. I realize that you cannot give me medical advice without examining me but in general, does my plan make any sense to you?

Dr. James Strawbridge Says...

You've decided to quite the insanity. Congratulations! Okay, this is it---”I'm want to be sober” you say. Do you go to AA and say, “Hello, I'm Sam, and I'm alcoholic”? Do you head for your family doctor or see an empathetic psychologist? Do you check into a treatment facility and put yourself in expert hands?

Anyone who has ever tried to kick an addiction knows, recovery is a lot easier when you have a good support group

Going It On Your Own

Every study shows that this is the rockiest road. Occasionally someone does decide to “just say no,” and it works. But there's more to sobriety than abstaining from alcohol or other drugs. You said you'd been drinking for years, so you need to learn new ways to cope with life, and that won't be easy on your own. From your remarks, I have concluded that you are physically addicted at this time. You may need medical attention in coming off, or withdrawing from alcohol. This is called detoxification, or detox. Going into withdrawal solo could be dangerous.


If you live in an environment that encourages drinking, you're likely to find working on sobriety on your own a lonesome business. As with dieting, most people have a better chance of succeeding in a compatible peer group.

Dry Drunk

Many who do manage to become sober on their own later find that their recovery is shaky and that being dry is not enough. The wise ones head to Alcoholics Anonymous for additional support or sign up for inpatient or outpatient treatment. The bottom line is this: Do not try to get off the alcohol alone. It can be dangerous. You need to detox first. The county in which you live probably has such programs as a public service for its citizens. Your idea of weaning yourself off alcohol by your self is a bad idea. You need help in detoxing.

Sharing the Burden

The basic therapy in AA is group “sharing.” Members share their past experiences with alcohol, their fears, and hopes for the future. It's been around since 1935 with the original members of AA, who were amazed to discover that after sharing their stories and feelings with one another, they experienced relief from previously insatiable compulsions to drink. AA members---each of whom also works through the 12 Steps at his or her pace---have been making the same discovery ever since.

Take Action

Right now, go to your telephone book, look-up AA, call the number, tell your story. Ask for help. They will.



Alcoholics Anonymous, World Services. (2001). Alcoholics Anonymous, (4th edition).  Alcoholics Anonymous, World Services. New York

Beckman, L (1980). Attributional analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous, Journal of Studies on Alcohol: 41, 714-734.

Burling, T. A.., Reilly, P. M.., Moltzen, J. O. & Ziff, D. C. (1989). Self-efficacy and relapse among inpatient drug and alcohol abusers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol: 50, 354-360

Johnson, V. E. I'll Quit Tomorrow (1990). Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, NY

Milam, J. R., M.D., Ketcham, K. Under The Influence (1983). Madrona Publishers, Inc. Seattle, WA

Mooney, A.J., M.D., Eisenberg, A., Eisenberg, H., The Recovery Book. Workman Publishing Company, Inc., New York, NY

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