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A Look in the Mirror: Why Can’t I Have Just One Drink?

A bearded middle-aged man wearing a denim shirt rests his arm on a brick wall, appearing deep in thought.
It’s never a bad move to check in with yourself and evaluate how often and how much you’re drinking.


You’ve taken a good first step if you’re reading this. Because it means that you’re looking out for yourself. You’re aware of behavior that could be risky. You’re seeking to understand what’s healthy and what’s not.

You want to be in control of your life—and your drinking.

That’s why it’s so troubling when you wake up after a night that was supposed to entail a glass of wine with dinner, but actually became a bottle and a half.

What’s happened is that alcohol has jacked up the levels of dopamine in your brain, making you feel great. It’s kind of natural, in some ways, to want more of that.

The question is, when and why do people stop drinking for the night. One person might stop after one drink because she is concerned for her health. Another might stop after half a bottle because he knows he has to work the next day and wants to be at his best. We all make our own decisions when to stop drinking. If you like drinking, that decision takes will power and self-control.

But once you cross the line into the realm of addiction, your drinking is no longer a choice. It’s a chronic disease that in all likelihood will not go away on its own.

Problem Drinkers vs. Alcoholism

So here’s the question: Are you able to control your drinking? Can you set limits for yourself and usually stick to them?

If you can’t, that’s one of the signs that you’ve crossed the line into alcoholism. When that happens, you need help. Like any other disease, you’ll need help in managing it. It’s a show of strength—not weakness—to get the help you need.

It doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic if you never stop at one drink. Maybe you’re the kind of person who wants to go out to dinner twice a week and have three drinks.

But it is a bad sign if you plan on stopping for a beer after work and end up having seven—on a regular basis. It’s also a bad sign if you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink, constantly crave alcohol or need increasing amounts to achieve the same effect.

“Why can’t I stop drinking after I start?” If that’s a question you’re constantly asking yourself, it’s time to evaluate how much you are drinking—and how much you want to be drinking.

The key is to know yourself, set limits for yourself and stick to them.

Getting Help at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes addiction isn’t just a physical problem. Our master’s level trained therapists get to the root cause of addiction and, with your loved one, will develop a strategy to manage and enjoy life without alcohol. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the alcohol addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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