The consumption of alcohol is a very prevalent part of our society. Alcoholic beverages are often a major part of parties, weddings, dinners, and even business functions.
Alcohol is used as a means of celebrating, and many people enjoy moderate alcohol use and are able to keep their drinking habits within reasonable limits. Most health experts agree that one drink per night for a woman and two drinks per night for men are healthy levels of consumption, and people who are not addicted to alcohol can drink in small amounts. Why is it, then, that an alcoholic cannot drink in this way?
Alcoholics and Chemical Dependency
The main reason that alcoholics are unable to drink for recreation is that doing so requires some control over the impulses of the mind. In order to drink a reasonable amount of alcohol, a person must possess the ability to stop themselves before they have consumed too much.
When a person is addicted to alcohol or any other substance, however, they do not possess this ability. This is because their brain's reward center becomes completely fixated on drinking. The reward center becomes so accustomed to alcohol, that an alcoholic's brain chemistry actually shifts so that receiving more of the "reward" of alcohol becomes more important than anything else.
When this happens, a person's cognitive processes come second to the reward center's desire to drink more alcohol. Because of this, even when an alcoholic wishes to drink moderately, they find that they are unable to.
Can a Recovering Alcoholic Ever Return To Drinking In Moderation?
In short, a person who is addicted to alcohol must generally practice abstinence from alcohol for the rest of their life. The reason for this is that using alcohol can trigger the parts of the brain that are addicted and quickly send a recovering addict back to their addictive behavior.
Alcoholism is a disease. It is a disease that is never technically cured. This is why in the recovery community, even a person who has been sober for a very long time says that they are "recovering" and not "recovered." There are some people who abstain from drinking for a long period of time and then return to drinking in much more moderate amounts.
These people may have had a problem with alcohol consumption and binge drinking, but may not have become chemically dependent on drinking. Because of how dangerous of an addiction alcoholism is, however, most addiction counselors advise that any person who has a problem with alcoholism maintains total sobriety for their entire lifetime so that they do not put themselves at risk for the major threats to their health and safety that can be posed by even taking one drink of alcohol.
How To Incorporate a Recovering Addicts into a Recreational Drinking Situation
If you plan on hosting or attending an event that will be serving alcohol, and you know that a recovering addict will be there, you should keep in mind that many recovering addicts feel comfortable in settings where alcohol is being served, particularly after they have undergone treatment and attended twelve step meetings for some time. If you are concerned about whether a recovering alcoholic will feel comfortable at an event that serves alcohol, it is a good idea to speak to them privately, and let them know that you will understand if they are unable to attend.
You may want to keep the event stocked with some celebratory non-alcoholic beverages, which can help a recovering alcoholic feel included in a celebratory environment and can give them something to enjoy outside of water.