TSM Peril? Christmas Holidays 2013 – Joanna’s Journey

As the weeks roll on by, I thought now would be as good a time as any to provide a quick update on my TSM journey.

I am lucky enough (or unlucky enough depending on how you view it!) to have had the traditional holiday period fall right at a fairly crucial time in my recovery – weeks 11 and 12.  Here in England the holidays are often regarded as a two week over-indulgence period with regards to both food AND drink.  Great fun for those without drinking issues, potential sheer hell for the rest of us.

Of course, my drinking wasn’t always out of control.  At least, way back in the beginning I was like any normal drinker.  I would drink like everyone else, suffer terribly the next day before slowly resurfacing back to the land of the living.  It was fun… at the time.  In fact, I have many memories of time spent enjoying some wonderful company, and some wonderful food and some great quality alcohol.

I believe in my very early twenties, my priorities changed.  I don’t consciously remember it happening but the holiday parties slowly became a time of drinking first and foremost (didn’t care about the quality anymore), then wonderful company and great food.  And it stayed that way until 2013 when I was faced with my first holiday under the guidance of TSM.

How would I deal with family and the utter temptation of alcohol being everywhere?  Was I apprehensive?  Yes.  Absolutely, I was.  I feel no shame in confessing that.  Naltrexone had been changing the way I thought about alcohol so it stood to reason that I was apprehensive of potentially taking a dive backwards into full-blown addiction.  I was only 10 weeks removed from crippling alcohol drinking after all, the extinction was not fully there, but it was seemingly forming well behind the scenes.

So, how did I come out the other end of this two week extravaganza?

Well, the answer is surprisingly well!  Below is an updated version of my extinction graph.

On first viewing, this can appear to be very deceptive.  I can almost hear you all gasping at how my drinking increased – does this mean my previous declarations of not being able to get through more than 2 drinks in any session is no longer valid?  Does this mean you need to disregard all my previous musings on how TSM is helping me?  No, of course not.

I asked a relative, who has no drinking issues, to list down his drinking during the holiday period so I had a comparison to work against.  Below is the graph of a ‘normal’ drinker.  Thank you to him for being so kind as to compile this data for me.  I am sure it was just a little irritating for him to tally down everything every time he poured a drink, but it does prove a point that I was hoping would be true based on my naltrexone use prior to the holidays.

Of course, it would be unwise of me to say I am a typical TSM responder or that the results of my experience will be true for you.  Everyone will be different, and your experiences may well differ from mine.  The personal comparison below is provided as information only.

Take a close look – the trend is practically the same.

From this albeit brief and admittedly non-scientific data, I have concluded that not only did The Sinclair Method put a lid on my craving to drink but it kept me under control when I did drink.  At no point during the holiday period did I black out, get drunk, upset anybody or make myself sick.  I do not believe that at this stage in my journey I would like to class myself as a normal drinker, but one can’t escape the fact that TSM has allowed me to do that on this occasion.  My long term goal remains the same – to become drink-free – but I find myself thinking that on a few certain special occasions it IS alright to allow myself to enjoy a glass of celebratory wine, as long as I take my tablet an hour before.  Prior to TSM that wasn’t even an option for me as one drink led to uncontrollable binges.

After the Christmas period TSM immediately enabled me to drop back to where my drinking was prior to the holiday and it has dropped to new low levels this week.  How amazing is that? Though I drank steadily and slowly through the holiday, it didn’t rule me or control me.  Truthfully, after the first couple of days I even felt safe enough to relax. I had complete peace of mind and wasn’t afraid to join my family in a wine or two with the main meal.  Drinking and the thoughts behind it are no longer a driving obsession that I can’t shake off.

I consider myself to be very lucky to have had the holidays during my early recovery as I have learnt that for me, no matter what the occasion, The Sinclair Method can also be employed as a tool to ensure that when the occasion arises, social drinking can be just that – social.

And in my book, that is absolutely fine!