Can an alcoholic indulge in alcohol 3-4 times a year without slipping?

by Colleen

My mother had been an active alcoholic for 30+ years and 5-6 years ago got sober. She had an alcohol related accident that hospitalized her and as a result, she had a chemically assisted withdrawal.


In the past year or two, she has been insisting on a beer or glass of wine with a family dinner about every 3 - 4 months, as a special occasion. I have been fighting her on this, but she insists it's her right. She sticks to NA beer or wine otherwise. I feel that this is a slipper slope and complete abstinence is the only answer. Please advise!

Reply


Complete abstinence is the safest bet and the only way to ensure sobriety. There is, however, a difference between abstinence and recovery. Someone may be abstinent but not recovered. In other words, they may not drink but still be exactly the same mentally and emotionally as they were when they were drinking. They may have not developed any new coping skills or dealt with the issues that drove them to drinking in the first place. The abstinent but not recovered person often substitutes drinking with something else, such as overeating. This person is still very vulnerable to abusing alcohol in the future.

Likewise, someone can be recovered and not fully abstinent. This is a slippery slope and not very common. What this means is that the person has fully dealt with the issues that drove them to drink in the first place. They have developed new coping skills and no longer feel the need to abuse alcohol when using it.

There is also a line of thinking that says alcoholism is genetic. In this viewpoint, there is no room for future alcohol use of any kind.

Only your mother can truly know where she is on the road to recovery. You cannot control her. She must make her own decisions. If she wants to drink, she will do it whether she’s with you or not. The only thing you can do is share your concerns in a supportive way. Watch for signs that she is falling back into old patterns and be an objective eye that is an advocate for her health and well-being. If done in the right way, hopefully she will appreciate your desire to look after her. She is lucky to have a daughter like you!

To read more about an alcoholics effect on their family, or for support for families of alcoholics, follow these links.

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