Why Is It So Hard to Quit Drinking?
How I explain the challenge to non-addicts.
One of the pleasant surprises about getting sober was how easy it was for other recovering addicts to understand what I was going through. I had spent years worrying that I was too different from everyone else and believing that my alcoholism was somehow unique. It was a relief to learn that countless others had gone through nearly the exact same challenges.
However, the flip side of this is that I’ve also learned that it can be incredibly difficult to explain these challenges to non-addicts. If someone has never personally struggled to quit an addiction, they tend to have an extremely hard time grasping why it’s so hard.
That’s not to say that these non-addicts are necessarily unempathetic. Many of them care for us, it’s just that their minds work in fundamentally different ways. As an alcoholic, I can’t truly understand how someone has just one beer and then calls it a night. As a non-alcoholic, they can’t fully understand why some of us have such a hard time quitting something that is so trivial to them.
The easy answer to this is that it’s hard to quit drinking because we’re addicts. We could just say that we’re wired differently and leave it at that. But, I don’t think that’s a very satisfying answer, so instead, I want to explain what it actually felt like when I was trying (and struggling) to quit drinking.
Of course, like all of my writing, I’m only speaking for myself, not for all alcoholics. However, my hope is that for my fellow recovered addicts, you might see some of yourself in this, and that for those who know alcoholics, it might give a little insight into why overcoming an addiction is so tough.
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