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I Had An Alcohol Problem But Not Anymore. Should I Give Up Alcohol Completely?

12 step programs say you can't recover if you were ever an "alcoholic." What does this mean if you think you have?

Should I give up alcoholOur guests don't have access to alcohol while they stay with us, but that doesn't mean we think sobriety is the only option if you want to lead a successful life afterwards. If you don't believe you have an alcohol problem anymore, you have the freedom and ability to choose whether you practice moderation or stay abstinent forever. You may want to answer the following questions before making that decision.

What Changed?

Before you can plan your best possible future, you'll need to reflect on your past. Start by unpacking the phrase "not anymore". What problems or consequences inspired you to stop drinking? Why, exactly, do you think these problems are firmly in the past?

For example, did you confront social anxiety and develop helpful ways to deal with it on your own? Did you realize that you were using alcohol to numb your feelings, but now you know how rewarding it is to fully embrace your feelings? If drinking affected your life and relationships so much that you decided to devote time and effort to getting sober, you probably had good reasons. Remember each of these reasons, then identify the steps you took to address them.

Do You Want To Drink Again? Why or Why Not?

Ultimately, you know your own limits. If you don't feel comfortable with the idea of reintroducing alcohol into your life, there's no reason to test yourself or step outside your comfort zone just yet. However, if you do want to drink again, you should know exactly why that's the right choice for you.

Some people successfully learn to practice moderation, and they don't want to place unnecessary limitations on themselves in the future. Rather than making a lifelong commitment to sobriety and actively avoiding alcohol forever, they relish the opportunity to exercise control and dictate the terms of their behaviors.

Other former drinkers find that it's simply no longer appealing. They might associate the taste and smell with embarrassing behaviors or destructive relationships, or they might value their self-control too much to allow intoxicating effects back into their lives. Whether you choose sobriety or moderation, be completely honest with yourself about your reasons and risks, pros and cons.

How Long Has It Been?

At Freedom Model Retreats, we never presume to decide whether abstinence or moderation is a better option for our guests—it’s their lives and their choice. We do suggest that our guests wait between six and twelve months before deciding about drinking again so they can get used to all the transitions and changes that happen when re-entering the "real world" after going through our program.

Another big reason we ask people to wait is they are putting a lot of new plans into place that they worked on during their stay with us in many areas of their life — social, career, family, education, etc. — and adding alcohol back into the mix too early can slow down or hamper these changes.

Finally, we've found over the years, after our guests adjust back into their new lives at home, they either have a lessened importance for alcohol in their lives in so much as that they choose not to drink or drink very little when they do.

Ultimately, it is your decision and you know yourself best. What can you handle and works best for you in your life? If we can help you or a loved one with these or other substance related questions, please call today.

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