Can alcoholics drink again?

A true alcoholic may want to drink again. But the reality is that a real alcoholic experiences alcohol cravings when they drink, which only leads to a dead end. More here on why alcoholics should aim to remain abstinent instead.

minute read

No. Alcoholics can’t drink “normally” again. Why? Because a true alcoholic triggers the phenomenon of craving when s/he drinks. This is why abstinence is favored over “moderate drinking” for alcoholics. More here on why alcoholics should re-consider drinking, and a section for your comments or questions at the end.

Why alcoholics can’t drink again

Alcoholics or drug users usually start drinking because they think they don’t have a drinking problem. The alcoholic may think they can handle having a couple drinks and be OK. But deep down inside they know they can’t drink again. How alcohol makes you drunk is physical.   But persistent, irrational thoughts compel old patterns of use and are often more dangerous to an alcoholic than anything else. Where does this thinking come from? And what can be done about it?  Plus, is it possible to stop drinking without Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholic stinking thinking

Alcoholics are programmed to think they can drink and go back to their old ways. The brain is a postive-reinforcing organ and tends to remembers the good times associated with drinking, even glorifying alcohol, without weighing the real-life consequences of drinking. The loss of friends, family, relationships, or even work. Among certain circles, this type of mental cue is called, “stinking thinking”. Stinking thinking means that an alcoholic can come up with a countless number of positive reasons to drink and be ok. But alcoholics who think this way are likely to not be focusing on their recovery in a proactive manor. And anyone diagnosed with an addiction who wants to remain clean and sober needs to remember frequently WHY they stopped in the first place. If you need motivation to stop drinking, be sure to account for both the good and the bad in your past drinking history…but in a real way.

How to stop thinking about drinking again

There a certain mental and behavioral triggers that you can CHANGE in order to help manage and reduce your cravings to drink. While 12 step programs have become the alcoholism treatment “norm”, other models exist such as Rational Recovery, S.O.S. Sobriety, or Women for Sobriety. You can further look into alternative programs such as SMART recovery or work with a licensed therapist to identify and move beyond such thinking. The point is that as long as you are actively exploring options to CHANGE your thinking, you are headed out of alcoholism. Should you try to drink again normally, for real alcoholics, this leads to developing a returned tolerance for alcohol and drinking the same as previously. In other words, it’s a DEAD END.

Alternative programs to A.A.

Again, I want to stress that you can address drinking issues and thinking about drinking in many ways. Alcoholics can go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to focus on their recovery. If these types of gatherings do not work for you there are alternative ways to focus on your recovery. Yes, there are many alternatives to AA. Often alcoholics and addicts think that 12 step support groups are the only way to maintain sobriety. Many people think that we have to use this model to achieve and maintain sobriety. That is simply not true and I consider it a big urban legend.

There is nothing wrong with A.A. – these are A+ support groups that have and do work for alcoholics. They never worked for me. I tried many different paths to get sober though A.A. I even went to different chapters to see if one would be a better fit. Unfortunately, these groups didn’t give me personal strength to be sober. I took valuable information from A.A. and applied it to my recovery that worked for me. I focus on my recovery by watching the show, “Intervention” on a&e. Just like any show, they have seasons with a certain amount of shows to watch. When I ran out of shows, I decided I need to connect with my inner alcoholic in another way.

Writing about addiction

I further focus on my addiction by blogging about it. I feel the need to give back to everyone affected by alcoholism, or drug use. I can reach a considerably larger target audience through the internet and give back in more ways than I ever could conventionally. Plus, it keeps me on target, as well as accountable. If public writing isn’t for you…start a journal or express yourself artistically. But drinking again isn’t an option for this alcoholic. May you stay sober, as well.

About the author
Daniel Van Helden is a full-time father of 7 year old son. He works full time in a customer service call center. Daniel Van Helden is an alcoholic that has been in recovery since 12/09/2009. His goal is to inform people of all walks of life about addiction, alcoholism, and recovery.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. i lived almost 50 years and hardly ever drank but would occasionally over indulge, feel bad the next day and not drink for long periods of time. started hanging out with a different group, and started drinking beer regularly. we got together 3-4 days a week and would drink 5-6 beers a night or more. Some nights a lot more. This eventually led to binge drinking and soon I was drinking 3-4 cases a week. Plastered all weekend. Tried to stop but couldn’t. . went to rehab, and spent the next year in counseling. My counselor said I could never drink again or I would revert back. Well that was such a bad time in my life that i never wanted to risk it. I was completely alcohol free for 5 years and 4 months and then decided i could handle it, just a couple with dinner on weekends but not at the house…. Now 15 months later, I’m back to drinking 2-3 cases of beer again each week. I have no when button. I stopped completely for a month about 6 months ago, then started again. Today Im starting to going back to being completely alcohol free. It sucks but I have no governor to control it. I want to be a social drinker. I want to decide to not drink each day or to only drink at my choosing. My counselor told me that ship sailed. I no longer can be a social drinker. I have to accept it and move on again. I could kick myself for blowing 5 +year sobriety, for basically nothing. I just don’t understand how i became an alcoholic at 50 years old and never ever got close to that before. It doesn’t make sense.

  2. Hello Theresa. Alcoholism is a progressive disease; this means that even if she didn’t drink for those 30 days in rehab, once she started again…her levels of psychological dependence and craving reverted to where she left off.

    A.A. members who are committed to the 12 step program do not drink, encourage others to drink, or teach them ow to be sneaky. Instead, they live differently: openly and honestly. However, A.A. can also attract people who are still “sick”.

    I’d suggest that you seek help from Al-Anon, see a therapist, or talk with a trusted community leader. Do you have someone to talk to yourself? You can can also call the hotline number listed on our website. There are consultants available 24-7 to talk with you about what you and your in-law need.

  3. Recently a family member got out of a 30 day AA rehab facility. One day after getting out she started drinking again. I know because I could smell it on her. She got really toasted the other day and called everyone saying how sober she is and her boyfriend is an alcoholic too! She keeps stating that she is “Clean and Sober”. Again, I know better. I do not believe her when she say’s she is going to a meeting. I noticed her eating to cover up the alcohol in her breathe. Her behavior is so obnoxious. The problem bothers me so much because I was the person who had to take her to rehab, clean up the 20 something vodka bottles empty and full that she hid in her room as well as the wine she hid behind her couch. Finding food and dishes under her bed, in the bathroom cabinets. Then I go and pick her up from rehab and bring her home so she can start up again. She thinks I am stupid. I must be because I have put so much time and effort to help her. She is my sister-n-law not even my blood, but I cared enough to help and I will help her no more. I think that in the rooms(AA), she learned from other AAer’s how to be a bit more sneaky with her drinking. So at closing, any advise would be helpful. Thank you!

  4. Hello Hanna. Thanks for sharing. We’re of the opinion that some people can continue with life and controlled drinking. It’s just different for those that want to remain abstinent. But to read more, I’d suggest that you check out the book “Controlling your Drinking” ; it can make sense of the distinctions and teaches about moderation:

  5. I feel very confused with the idea of separating heavy drinking from actually having a “disease” called alcoholism. AA people always say that if there is any contradiction to their philosophy that seems to be working for another. Heavy and constant drinking can cause big problems too. I found AA too restrictive in thinking, too religious ( of a sort) and too full of absolutes. I guess I balked. However, I still feel I have had problems with overdoing many things, and lack of self control in my life, plus I had a mood disorder. I quit drinking totally many years ago but now that I am older a year ago on a trip to Ireland I indulged in a 1/2 pint of Guinness. The world didn’t collapse. I now have a glass of wine every so often ( sometimes weeks go by) with no desire to drink more. I cannot say for certainty if some catastrophe happened in my life how I would react either but I can’t sit and dwell on that. Life is never easy even when it is! I can’t speak for others but I did know about myself that I have always had other things that interested me, that enthused me and that helped. I didn’t have to work hard to find meaning or purpose in my life and neither did I feel completely powerless.

  6. Celebrate Recovery is another alternative and it addresses the ‘stinking thinking’ and gets down to the core issues. It is for anyone who struggles with, drugs, alcohol, codependency or any other hurt, habit or hangup.

  7. The brain is a postive-reinforcing organ which tends to remember those days wherein we had so much fun with alcohol. So if we can’t control it, there might be a tendency that you get baited by the temptation, which is NO-NO situation. Be inspired and keep motivated to continue a healthy life without alcohol.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?