checking in

I haven’t had many thoughts about moderation, drinking, over-drinking, or anything related lately. Just busy with other things.

Since returning from vacation, I’ve slipped right back into moderate habits. Not drinking at home, mostly abstaining, but enjoying an occasional beer or glass of wine while I’m out. It feels right, for lack of a better term…comfortable, familiar, easy, and not particularly thought-consuming. Since my biggest objection to vacation drinking is the worry that it will prompt a slow slide back to old habits, this is reassuring.

Since I don’t have any big thoughts, how about a check-in? Moderation.org has this to say about what makes a moderate drinker:

When you have made the healthy decision to drink less, and you stay within moderate limits, you should not experience any health, personal, family, social, job-related, financial, or legal problems due to alcohol. The suggested guidelines below allow for a degree of individual interpretation, because moderation is a flexible principle and is not the same for everyone. The suggested limits, however, are more definite.

A Moderate Drinker:

  • considers an occasional drink to be a small, though enjoyable, part of life.
  • has hobbies, interests, and other ways to relax and enjoy life that do not involve alcohol.
  • usually has friends who are moderate drinkers or nondrinkers.
  • generally has something to eat before, during, or soon after drinking.
  • usually does not drink for longer than an hour or two on any particular occasion.
  • usually does not drink faster than one drink per half-hour.
  • usually does not exceed the .055% BAC moderate drinking limit. (see Note 1 below)
  • feels comfortable with his or her use of alcohol (never drinks secretly and does not spend a lot of time thinking about drinking or planning to drink).

Last time I checked in on this definition, I felt like I was close, but not quite there. A few months later, it all pretty much feels like a fit. An occasional drink is a small thing, which I generally enjoy. I have indeed been enjoying a wide variety of things that do not involve alcohol, and feel like I am gradually getting my life more well-rounded (it’s still an ongoing process, but I’ve caught up to the point where I feel more relaxed about it, at any rate!).

Mostly, I feel pretty comfortable with my use of alcohol. I certainly don’t drink secretly. In fact, and this is a funny thing to realize this late in the game, but I don’t think I’ve had even a single drink on my own since I started this journey in January. That’s not a rule I thought about explicitly, it’s just something that makes good sense, especially because I know perfectly well how much I tend to go overboard when treating myself to a little private drinking. I spent a lot of time alone in July, and it ended up being my lowest-drinking month thus far.

My numbers for August are going to add up a lot higher than previous months, which is due mainly to vacation drinking…a topic that may deserve a few more blog posts. But at home, in my usual routine, I find I don’t need to plan or think much about drinking, because my new habits have entered a kind of easy-to-maintain thoughtless phase. I do track and count, and plan to keep doing those things for the foreseeable future.

Does that mean I can now declare myself to be “a moderate drinker?” I don’t quite have that level of confidence yet. Though I’ve been working hard on this for more than half a year, I still have years and years ahead of me to continue to fine-tune things. But if I’m not quite ready to declare myself to be a person who drinks moderately, I do at least feel confident saying that I am a person who drinks more or less like she wants to. Which is to say: occasionally, enjoyably, but not in a way that interferes with all the things in life that are significantly more valuable. And as those things continue to take up more and more of my time & energy, drinking continues to pale in comparison…really, it’s okay once in a while, but it’s not really that interesting on its own. Who knew?!

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