I really miss Detox Doc. I try to imagine what he would say to me, what I would say to him. The conversation, I think, would be like this:
DD: Nice to see you. How are things?
SB: Ugggh, I'm back on the wagon. I haven't really had a drink in a month.
DD: Well, this sounds great! It sounds like you are successfully establishing your own boundaries with alcohol.
SB: Big freaking whoop.
DD: You don't sound too excited about this.
SB: It's easy to do this here because I'm in the woods with my parents. And I'm not exactly thrilled by these new boundaries. I just want to go back to my wily old ways.
DD: Well, you were back to your wily old ways, weren't you? But you stopped. Why? What was it like being back?
SB: Well, it was kind of different because here I have to drive, and driving drunk is very illegal. Other than that, things were okay. I was only drinking on the weekends, instead of every night. The nights were entertaining. And as sick as it may sound, I actually missed my hangovers. I get these great hangovers that are like being kind of tipsy all the next day, and everything seems silly. I can also then feel entitled to take naps even though I'm unemployed and live with my parents.
DD: Okay...but you stopped drinking.
SB: Partying is weird when you're unemployed and not in school or anything.
DD: (laughs) How so?
SB: Well, when you have all that pre-approved stress in your life, living it up a little is a pre-approved way to get rid of said stress. But when you're not doing anything, it's like, "What's your deal? What are you trying to avoid?"
DD: Does drinking always mean avoidance?
SB: Come on.
DD: All right. So what are you trying to avoid? People can have stress even if they're unemployed. In fact, that's even more stressful than being employed. When unemployment rates rise, so does substance abuse.
SB: I suppose so.
DD: So, you tried coping with the stress by drinking but weren't okay with it. Why?
SB: It was making me feel guilty.
SB: Like, Jesus, I'm being a complete waste of space. After the happy-hangover effect wore off, it was always replaced with feeling like a waste of space. It's kind of stupid. I didn't really change what I did in the meanwhile, I just stopped drinking to avoid that fucking feeling.
DD: Well...that's a good thing, I guess. Where do you think that feeling was coming from?
SB: I don't know. Like I said, it was a stupid feeling. If I think about it really hard, I don't have anything to be ashamed of. I just have some downtime now, that's all. But whenever I got the post-hangover hangover going, it turned me into some sort of self-loathing freak of nature that wouldn't cut me a break at all. So actually, it wasn't the drinking that was the problem, it was that feeling of completely illogical guilt.
DD: Was it completely illogical? It helped you to moderate your drinking habits.
SB: But they didn't really need to be moderated.
DD: Everyone has different reactions to alcohol. If you were just drinking occasionally but they were having negative effects, it was an appropriate decision to change your drinking habits to avoid those negative effects. This is unlike before, when you just kept drinking through those negative effects. You should be proud of that. It's difficult to change your behavior, and it looks like you are doing it.
SB: You're right; I'm a fucking genius. Thanks, Doc.
SB: It's just annoying because I'm drinking so little and it's making me crazy. I never used to get like this after the occasional drink. It's like all that sobriety has turned me into a pussy.
DD: Well, let's think back to last year. You were drinking between 50 and 60 drinks a week, and the reason why you could drink so much was because you weren't really feeling the effects. So, this new body chemistry is kind of a good thing.
SB: I should have known my genes would catch up with me. Last night I went out to dinner with my parents. My parents really don't drink at all, but my father has acquired this strange habit of carrying one of those double-shot bottles of Glenlivet that you get on the airplane, and he'll add a half-teaspoon of it to his glass of 7up. I'm not kidding. Half a fucking teaspoon. That single-serving scotch will make my father about twenty drinks. Incredulous, I asked him if he could actually taste the scotch.
He says he's very sensitive.