The Reason Your Approach To Staying Sober Isn’t Working

Kay Allison
4 min readFeb 28, 2022

Hint: Willpower won’t work.

Are you barely hanging on?

Do you relate to my story?

I had lots of rules about drinking. Only drink wine. Never have wine in the house. Follow each glass of wine with a glass of water. Drink more juice. Avoid brown liquor. Drink on a full stomach. Only have 3.

What do all these rules have in common?

They didn’t work.

Here’s why.

My body reacts differently to alcohol than most people’s bodies do.

When I have the first sip (actually, when I hear the bottle open), all I want is more. There is no off-switch. I fly over the land of the pleasantly buzzed so fast I don’t have time to wave.

Also, weirdly, even though I tell myself “Never again,” never again turns into yet again in some mysterious process that I can’t untangle.

It was shocking to me to find out that most people don’t experience this.

There were times that I could make myself stop after 2 or 3. And I used those rare experiences as “proof” I didn’t have a problem.

If your body reacts like mine does, rules aren’t going to help. And moderation is an illusion.

If you resonate with my experiences, I suggest holding that information the same way you relate to the fact that your eyes are their color and your feet are a specific size. It’s simply a fact of your experience.

You are not a bad person.

You aren’t flawed.

You are not at fault.

You do get to choose how you respond, though.

And willpower is a weakling when it comes to breaking the spiral of shame that drinking sets in motion.

If willpower and biology were arm wrestling, biology would win. Every. Single. Time.

It might take biology a little while, but ultimately, it rules.