No One Would No

i Don’t Get It Enough

Part 1: No One Would, No

Alcoholics like to spew the truth but recovering alcoholics have found it. Ex-addicts know more about life than any guru Buddhist philosopher genius i’ve ever met.

That said, there are a couple cliches i hear regularly i don’t agree with, probably because i haven’t been in the program long enough to get yet. If any of you guys can shed some light to help me along my way, i’d sure appreciate it.

Thing #1: No One Would Know
ex. “I came across a bar while traversing Antarctica on a bobsled and I could’ve had a drink and no one would’ve known. But I didn’t do it.”

Meaning: I resisted temptation.

What i Don’t Get Enough: As an alcoholic, i’m constantly confronted by the temptation to drink. From mini champagne bottles at a press brunch, to free after-dinner liqueurs in economy class, to an open bar at a strangers’ wedding, to walking by a convenience store with refrigerated beer on a sweaty summer’s day there are millions of opportunities every day for me to drink in secret.

i’m not being sober for anyone but me. If i take a drink, the most important person in my sobriety would know, because he’s the one who just lost it.


Just a reminder that i’m on vacation in a place that has very limited internet access and so i won’t be able to respond to comments with my usual ruthless efficiency. Please don’t think i’m not reading them (i most definitely am), and please continue to leave them (they make my day).


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on August 7, 2012, in Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Hmmm, i’m not quite sure i’m getting what you’re saying.

    I’ve never heard the bobsled thingy, for one thing, and i don’t think i’ve ever felt that way about bulimia slips!

    Cuz, as you said, if you “drink”, “fix”, “b/p”, whatever … (a) if you keep it to yourself, your head will explode and the truth will come out anyway, TRUST ME, i had an OA slip, and i blurted it out REALLY quickly … it’s too painful to “hide”. And, (b) what’s the point? I mean, you’d be suffering alone … guilt, self throttling, not to mention perhaps hungover …AND you’d KNOW, deep down, that you’re going to have to march yourself back to program to gather your shit together all over again! I think you’re far enough along to KNOW that Program is a helluva lot better than taking a drink — or a sneak-drink.

    Secrets are killers. It just doesn’t work in Program. Just doesn’t. I’m guessing you know that!

    • Secrets are killers indeed! Well said, my friend. Plus, bonus points to you for your honesty. Honesty is super critical in recovery and you’ve got it in spades. 🙂

      Keep coming back, Mel,

      Al K Hall

      PS The bobsled thing was just a hyperbolic example to draw a quick smile. Remember not to think too much when you come to my blog!

  2. The quotation “This above all: to thine own self be true”. came to mind when I read your post.


  3. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this trigger because you’re truly quitting for yourself, as opposed to quitting because of social pressure from family, friends, or society. The trigger is when you’re in a situation where you perceive yourself as being able to drink “without consequences.” There’s no worry of having to drive drink, being caught by someone who ‘polices’ your sobriety, or any other danger (with the exception of mental and physical health…which is a big exception in my book.) So why not have a drink? Who would know?

    Maybe you’re home alone for the weekend. Or maybe you’re on a business trip in a far away place where you don’t know anyone in a fancy hotel room and no meetings to go to the next day. Or maybe your car broke down, and there’s a bar across the street and you have to take a taxi back to an empty house. In early stages of sobriety, this can be a huge trigger.

    But I don’t think it applies to you. You’re quitting because you want to quit. And you would know that you lapsed and it would drive you insane. But think about someone like the guy who writes, who controls his drinking mostly because of family and work pressures. He’d be living it up in those situations and promise himself that he’ll get back to moderation when the opportunity has passed. See his posts about business trips to Vegas, for example. (This is not to knock the guy — he tempers it much better than I ever could. But he has been known to make hay while the sun shines.)

    • inthesameboatla

      Ooops. I mean I don’t read the blogspot one.

      Anyway, it should be clear that there are a wide variety of triggers out there and only some of them trigger you. I remember confessing at a SMART meeting that airports were a huge trigger for me and some woman laughed and said she could get on a plane without a second thought. Sensing my annoyance at her condescension, she defused it by confessing she’s triggered when on the rag and joking that I don’t have that problem. Football games are not a trigger for me because I don’t care about football but some exuberant sport fans experience a drop in testosterone when their team loses, and they head straight to the bar. Or how about asking a woman out and getting rejected? You don’t have that problem, cause you’re married…but can you imagine how experiencing that when newly sober could be the a-bomb that triggers the h-bomb?

      Back to the trigger at hand, I remember feeling that “I can get away with this and not have to worry about driving” trigger very distinctly. It was strong and irrational. I had to stop and say “Yeah, but how is that any different than any other day? I live by myself so I could just pick up a 12 pack on the way home on any given night.” But for someone who is quitting largely because his wife is nagging him? Jesus…that would be a toughie.

      • inthesameboatla

        Sorry for cluttering up your comments but your post got me thinking about how I’d gone down that flawed line of reasoning before.

        In my late teens and early 20s, I smoked cigarettes. Then around the age of 23 or so, I quit with the aid of a work-sponsored smoking cessation program, and a compassionate boss. Soon, thereafter I became a marathon runner, and for 8 years I never touched a cigarette. Then, as healthy as I could be, running farther and faster than I ever dreamed I could, I found myself in China for a math conference. And I met some girl, we hit it off, but she smoked. And I reasoned to myself “well, I’m in China. I can smoke with her for a while, and when I get back to the states, I’ll just go on like it never happened. ” Except it didn’t work out like that. I was hooked again, and falling deeper into my alcohol problem. So I had to fight the dual addictions of nicotine and alcohol, as my life spiraled downwards. (It probably didn’t help that W was president…) It took me 7 years of on-again-off-again smoking to finally tame the demon of nicotine, by quitting drinking first (and Obama’s election). And I have to confess it still pops up again, at airports and moments of stress, even though I still run marathons, and am sober. And I can help but think to myself every time I take a drag, “If I had never smoked on that China trip, maybe this never would have happened…”

        So you see, even though you may think “No one would know. Or I’m on vacation far away from anyone who knows me, so what the hell? I’ll quit when I get back”, addictions don’t work like that. They can take hold, and they do, they’re hard to shake.

        So there is the flaw in “I can get away with it without anyone knowing.” Maybe you can…that one time. But if you do that, and allow the stuff you were so adversely addicted to back into your life, then you run the risk of becoming addicted again.

        You can’t have a problem with a substance if you never use it. That’s what I like about sobriety, the certainty. With moderation, you’re always in a grey area. And with the stakes so high, i.e., my life, I can’t afford nuance.

        • i quit smoking for 4 years one time and started again because i was drunk and this hot 18-year-old was rolling cigarettes at the bar (in Yeaman, the drinking age is 18) and asked if i wanted one. i remember thinking “How could i not have a cigarette rolled off that tongue?” and that single cigarette started me down that road again for another 9 or so years.

          (It probably didn’t help that W was president…)


          Keep coming back, man,

          Al K Hall

      • A trigger of mine is an unfinished beer / glass! It’s the same problem with food. i have a hard time seeing a plate with food left on it, too. There could be a 12-pack in the fridge and i wouldn’t notice it, but a half-empty Coors Lite on the counter and i find myelf reaching for it before i can think about what i’m doing!

        Thanks for your thoughts, man. And keep coming back,

        Al K Hall

  4. “i’m not being sober for anyone but me. If i take a drink, the most important person in my sobriety would know, because he’s the one who just lost it.”

    Sounds like you found a good enough reason, and like Mel writes, “Secrets are killers.” Even if just trying to keep one from yourself!

    I suppose that some deal with this issue “No One Would Know” perhaps because they were secret drinkers in the first place, and were really good at hiding it. Your drinking was pretty blatant, and really “out there” – you did not hide nor try to keep it from anyone! It was “loud and proud” (lol). Also, I think if you drank it would clearly not be something you could contain or control — it would be just as “out there” and obvious that everybody *would* know. Does that make sense? I think you know that about yourself. There could be no “secret drinking” with you.

    That’s one theory I have in regards to your question. The other one is that perhaps the triggers have just not gotten strong enough yet — that you have not been in a position where you have truly felt tempted to the point of flirting with disaster (which is what I see the “No One Would Know” rationalization as being).

    ITSB has the right idea, I think. It seems like this rationalization has to do with where people are at in their mind with regard to the triggers and staying on top of them as well as their motivation for quitting. You have an excellent motivation in regards to sobriety, so this may not ever present as an issue for you. Your bottom was so spectacular, it goes a long way in keeping you so far away from even the notion of flirting with the idea of drinking, not that there is not opportunity.

    It’s like me at this point — I don’t even want to consider eating something with wheat in it. I am surrounded by food everywhere that has wheat in it, and here I am three+ years after not eating it and I am really not even tempted anymore. There are other things to eat. Sure, I can sometimes get equivalents without wheat, but I mean, I am no longer tempted to eat Taco Bell, for example, or “just have one” of those donuts on the grocery store shelf. I know how horrible I would feel if I did eat it, I know how sick it could make me. There is even a risk, now that I have been away from it as long as I have, that I could have an anaphylactic reaction to it and possibly die from a swollen airway. That’s happened to some people! So I don’t even feel the temptation to risk it, because *I* would know and my body would be sure to tell me all about it, lol.

    This post just brings up the excellent point that a person can only ever do something for himself or herself for it to be effective. Meaning, a person can never really find sobriety unless it is for himself/herself. A person can never lose weight unless it is only for him or herself. Get an education. Find the strength to fight a disease. Be successful at a project. Etc. I think the only one we can ever really make changes for is for ourselves. Other people might inspire us or remind us about why it is a good idea (like the post you wrote about your parents benefiting from your sobriety, even though you are not sober for them), but we have to do it for us, not for anyone else.

    But hey, whatever works.

    Love you. Thank you for being sober. 🙂

    • Wow, what great feedback! It’s true that my drinking pattern is different from other people’s and this probably is more appropriate for someone of that type. We both agree that the only really reason to find sobriety is for one’s self.

      Keep coming back, babe,

      Al K Hall

  5. Oh that one drives me nuts too. I always felt I was missing something, but figured maybe because I was a secretive drinker, this would be the natural course for me. A thought like that might mean I’m done for. But yes, like you, I stopped drinking for myself. Others might be upset if I drank again, but I would be most devastated. Great post.

  6. Hmmmm…. great post and great comments! I never really thought about this one. I did most of my drinking when “no one knew” so maybe I’m too close to the subject. I think though that those who say this are maybe just looking for validation, for pats on the back, or they are saying to themselves (and others) that hey, I jumped that hurdle, and I didn’t drink. So that maybe the next time they are in a situation where they could drink and “no one would know” they remember a past time where they were in the same situation and did not drink and that helps get them through the day without drinking. Maybe they are just not at that point that, “I WOULD KNOW if I drank.”
    “To thine own self be true,” as Ronnie shared above. I think that sums it up wonderfully.

    • I think though that those who say this are maybe just looking for validation, for pats on the back, or they are saying to themselves (and others) that hey, I jumped that hurdle, and I didn’t drink. So that maybe the next time they are in a situation where they could drink and “no one would know” they remember a past time where they were in the same situation and did not drink and that helps get them through the day without drinking.

      i really think you hit the nail on the head with this! Thanks so much for the perspective! 🙂

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

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