I cannot control my drinking: Now what?

If you think you have a problem with drinking, you probably do. More here on denial, intervention, and steps towards a different life.

minute read

If you cannot control your drinking…

…adversity lies ahead.

If you’re wondering whether you might be alcoholic, you probably have made numerous attempts to control your drinking. You may have gone a week or two without a drink, thereby convincing yourself that you are in control. You may drink only beer or wine, deluding yourself that “real alcoholics” drink the hard stuff. You may conveniently forget all the people you have harmed with harsh words or even physical violence while under the influence.

Denial is the No. 1 symptom of alcoholism. People whose drinking is growing increasingly problematic will lie to themselves and others to avoid facing the facts of their behavior. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, meaning that the effects of alcohol abuse always worsen. Given time, problem drinking, left untreated, will result in mental incapacitation or death. So, what is needed? How can you turn this thing around? We review here. Then, we invite your questions or feedback in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate comments with a personal and prompt response!

When you cannot control drinking

Is controlled drinking possible?

Yes, if you ARE NOT ALCOHOLIC. In fact, there are some people who can lower drinking amounts and frequency and can manage alcohol intake using monitoring tools.  However, alcohol harm reduction techniques are not for everyone. Roughly 2/3 of those who drink too much cannot completely control their drinking. The truth of the matter is that most people who wonder if they are alcoholics… probably are. It doesn’t really occur to people who do not have a drinking problem to question their actions.

So, if you have a drinking issue and denial convinces you that you can control your drinking, your loved ones suffer in the meantime. They watch in despair as alcohol abuse creates chaos all around them. While family and friends are affected by their loved one’s alcoholism, they cannot force the problem drinker to seek help. Nor can they solve the problem by making excuses for the alcoholic, loaning money, providing living quarters, nagging or threatening. The most successful way for others to influence a problem drinker to seek help is to stage a formal intervention with the help of a professional.

Self-honesty is needed

Some people keep doing “research” to prove they can win the battle of control by continuing to drink despite physical, mental and emotional repercussions. They may have a sober period-sometimes days, sometimes months; but when they pick up the bottle again, they soon find that the symptoms of alcohol abuse quickly rise up to meet them. Abstinence vs. harm reduction for alcohol will depend on your ability to consistently lower quantity and frequency of drinking episodes. If you cannot do this, you need to take a deeper look at what is going on.

If you decide to seek help for a drinking problem, it is imperative to be honest with yourself and with your therapist, counselor, spiritual advisor or any other professional. If you stubbornly cling to the notion that you do not need help, and you continue to think that you can control your drinking on your own, you can try one of the numerous online questionnaires designed to help you do your own assessment of your drinking behavior. Some of the questions ask about excuses you may make to justify your drinking, your behavior before and after drinking, the effects of your drinking on relationships, employment and social affairs, and the role alcohol has played in your family upbringing. The self-tests are of no value, however, unless you are honest with yourself in answering the questions.

Support systems can help

An intervention does not guarantee that an alcoholic will seek help. It merely confronts the individual with the facts, leaving the decision to the alcoholic. Once in treatment, an alcoholic will have the opportunity to learn from others who have tried, and failed, to control their drinking. Those who have successfully overcome their drinking problems are the first to say that it is difficult, if not impossible, to stay sober without the support of a like-minded people.

Questions and more questions…

Faced with this reality, you and you alone will decide whether you can control your drinking, but while you’re wondering, you put yourself and others at great risk.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the section below. We want to hear from you! And we will try to respond to you personally and promptly.

About the author
Tracy Smith covers topics within the drug addiction niche being a recovering addict herself. She is thankful to have found treatment for her substance abuse that helped her become sober.


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  1. I know I’m alcoholic and it is once again ruining my life. Where can I get prescribed Antabuse around the Memphis area? I have been thru treatment many times. I know I need Antabuse

    1. Hi Kelly. I suggest that you speak with your doctor about Antabuse. Also, call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your individual needs.

  2. Few months before I was addicted from alcohol. All my family members and I also suffered from it. I had tried my times to leave alcohol, but I couldn’t get success. I wasn’t understanding how to quit this addiction, because I had lost all of my self control. And one day my friend suggested a place, where I could leave this problem. I’d recommend that going away for a while to a rehab in another place for those, who want to be free from addictions. It worked for me.

  3. I love the line where you talk about if you think you have a problem or think you drink too much you probably do. You sound like you know what you’re talking about. I’ve been in recovery 25 years, and I cringe when I read articles that talk about new newfangled ways to get around the disease. If you have the disease of alcoholism, abstinence is by far the best option. Yes, it is a disease of denial and it’s painful to watch those you love travel down a path of self destruction. Alcoholism has done so much harm to my extended family. Slowly, some are finding recovery, while others cling to their denial. Thanks for putting the truth out there.

  4. Hi Adam, I am in a similar boat. I stopped for a year in 2008 on sheer will power but it slowly crept back up. In the last year I have been working through The Sinclair method with great effect. I haven’t been drunk in two months which is a great achievement. Its a method that requires a few basic rules and some medication. Its not largely popular in the addiction industry, one can only think that it puts people out of work. No alcoholics, no jobs.

  5. Hi Adam. It is possible to drink a lot and still function in life and have a great career and be a good father. There are many reasons why people drink including to relax or feel confident. Treatment for functioning alcoholics is the same as for any other type of addict. A doctor can point you to the kind of help that will fit your needs best, whether it’s from a therapist, psychiatrist, or other addiction specialist.

  6. yes im an alcholic. im not in denial, im not angry and i live what most would consider a good life. good job and a good relationship with my girlfrend. i need help. i cant find the answer to why do i drink so much beer. im ready to listen.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?