Why Can’t I Just Have One Drink? Let’s break this down…
If you’re asking this question regarding your drinking habits you’re already in over your head
For example, if the clever Narcotics Anonymous slogan, “One is too many and a thousand is never enough,” punches you square in the heart chakra, there is likely no coming back.
You ain’t turning that pickle back into a cucumber!
But just what does this mean?
To be honest, tons of theories are swirling around the topic.
Rather than dive into each one, let’s just put on our detective hat and ask some obvious questions.
Why Can’t I Just Have One Drink? The Interrogation Room…
If I approached you and begged you to tell me why I can’t just have one banana you’d likely be a bit puzzled.
Moreover, if I was boasting about going two months without a banana you would probably be equally confused. Why? Because there is nothing intrinsically addicting in bananas.
Yet, when someone bemoans the inability to just have one cigarette we are all quick to comment, “well, of course, it’s addicting.”
Alcohol is no different, it’s a seriously addicting chemical.
Does this mean everyone who smokes or drinks gets addicted? No. It does mean that people with a latent genetic or social predisposition to addiction will likely find themselves addicted to alcohol or cigarettes if they try it.
Whereas a banana is less likely to trigger that system. You peeling me?
Why Can’t I Just Have One Drink? The Assumptions…
The First Assumption: It assumes alcohol is simply like everything else, such as a banana, and thus you’re flawed in someway for your inability to have just one
The Second Assumption: It assumes you’d be satisfied with one
The “I’m Flawed” Assumption
The first assumption holds little weight.
If you’re already predisposed to addiction and you drink and get addicted, you are doing precisely as your neurological system intended by design.
You may not like that design and you can fight it, but you’re not fundamentally flawed in any way.
If you purchased concentrated apple juice from the store and dropped it into a pitcher of water, would you be upset that you didn’t get orange juice? Would you say that the product was flawed in some way? Of course not!
I’m not saying you’re a freeze-dried alcohol, but the evidence suggests something eerily similar.
This assumption is countered by practicing the virtue of acceptance.
You’re not flawed in any way, you are operating precisely how you are designed. In fact, a problem cannot be solved on the same level it was created.
Therefore, people who are alcohol dependent have to evolve to the next level in order to better cope with emotional and interpersonal difficulties.
In this manner, rather than be flawed one could say the addiction is an advantage because the addicts neurobiology is forcing them to evolve.
This leads to the second assumption and likely the most outrageous.
The “I’d Be Satisfied With One” Assumption
This is a legitimate question: what are you going to do with one drink?
Seriously, think about it.
People that overdrink do so because it helps them reach a specific goal.
The goal may be better emotional regulation, social connection, creativity enhancement, the elimination of certain inhibitions, fill in the blank.
The truth of the matter is one drink won’t pull off the trick.
It would be like a partial tumor removal or putting half a cast on a broken arm.
It won’t get the job done!
Someone who struggles with alcohol is approaching the one drink far differently than someone who doesn’t.
Let me clarify.
Social Drinking? My Friend and I Hit Up The Club!
Being a drinker of the more alcoholic variety, I found the solution to some problem in the bottle.
Like an allergy, it produced a damaging response in me.
Nonetheless, my brain found it profitable because it determined the problem that it solved as more damaging – as if there were no other ways to solve it.
I recall going with a friend of mine to a dance club to get some drinks and meet some girls.
After a few drinks, my friend mentioned that he had enough, that he thought he was ‘losing control’ and didn’t want to spoil the night.
Meanwhile, I already had more than he did before I even left the house!
Oddly enough, the more I drank the more in control I felt. Being an anxious individual who struggled with social connection, this sense of control had damn survival value.
Naturally, my brain wanted more.
So, the more I drank the more in control I felt that in turn produced a stronger craving for more of the drink.
My friend, however, was the complete opposite!
To him the drink was just a drink but to me it was an antidote to a huge living problem that I didn’t have the tools for.
I needed to find new tools for living, not the tools to handle just one drink.
In sum, I never wanted one, ever. I wanted the tools for living emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
I’d never be satisfied no matter the amount of drinks without being armed with these tools.
Stop asking the wrong questions: why can’t I just have one drink?
Start asking the right questions: how can I live emotionally, socially, and spiritually without alcohol?