You Don’t Have to be a Pickle

Once you become a pickle, you can never be a cucumber again.

In the course of becoming sober, a speaker gave me a great analogy for alcoholism. A cucumber becomes a pickle. Once it becomes a pickle, it can never become a cucumber again. Once you become an alcoholic, you can never go back to casual drinking. I am a pickle. For me, one is too many and any is never enough.

I can never drink again, but that doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t! If you are questioning whether you are a pickle or still a cucumber, use this as an opportunity to assess the situation. If you think alcohol might be becoming a problem in the near future, stop now, for a while, to get yourself in order. This will help ensure that you remain a cucumber. The hope is that thirties years from now you can still enjoy drinking.

I want you to drink if you don’t have a problem. Drinking is a huge party of my family’s lifestyle. Alcohol is a forgone conclusion whenever there is more than three of us in the same place. It is as a bigger part of our families then some living members. I loved alcohol, though that should have been obvious. I think alcohol is a great gift from God. The problem is that not everything works for everyone. I am the exception to the rule about drinking, I cannot handle it, period.

Seek help just to make sure. Future you will thank you no matter how it works out.

I am speaking to people who can honestly say two things and no more:

  1. Quantitatively and qualitatively, alcohol does not yet affect my daily life and relationships.
  2. I know that my drinking has increased slowly overtime and I am unsure of where the ceiling might be.

For those of you who go beyond those two things, you have a real problem, and it is not about stopping for just a while.

Alcoholism is a slow process. In most cases you will not really know it is attaching itself to you until it is too late. There is an unspecific and personal line that in theory everyone crosses when they become an addict. Your body and mind become irreversibly corrupted. They become rewired in a way that we only recently have begun to understand biologically and medically. After that point, the only realistic and ethical suggested course to sobriety is total prohibition. 100% total prohibition without exception. There is no option for returning to life and just having a few every now and then like everyone else.

My hope is that those of you who are still cucumbers but feel the brine rising in the jar around them, will take this opportunity to do what I did not. Take your instincts that something isn’t right seriously. This is hard to do. Most of us only reach this realization when all our delusions have been ripped away from us by reality. Your instincts are right, and your ego is lying to you.

This requires you are extremely honest with yourself. Do your research with a totally open mind because there are things at stake here. Do you want to be able to drink years from now or will you allow your addiction to progress to a point where you cannot return to your normal state? They call addiction progressive for a reason. It is like a cancer. It only grows and gets worse until you address it. Some people catch their cancer early and it has little long-term implications. Others get the diagnosis after the point of no return.

Positivity and a bit of healthy fear for survival

I wish that I could have returned to life able to have one or two drinks at parties or on a hot summer afternoon. That is just not in the cards for me. The likelihood I would die on a no tolerance relapse into drinking is high. It is more likely than not in my assessment. If it’s not the poisoning, it would be the frequent detox seizures that I developed over years.

I want to encourage you and not use fear tactics. It is still unavoidable to mention that the alternative to you rebuilding your drinking habits now is far worse. The best treatment is prevention on these things. Once you become an addict, the odds are against you. Sustained sobriety is a daily battle that people still lose after decades of nothing but success. Time will make things worse if you do not get off on the next exit.

If you are in the super early stages of what you know in your heart is going to be a problem down the road, take a break now. You may find that the reasons you binge drink go away. Once you break the cycle you might find therapy and the things you do instead of drinking enjoyable and you simply don’t gravitate to the drinking habits of the past. If you are developing a problem with drinking, it means there is something else deeper that is the root cause. Go to therapy, figure out this problem. Get the tools you need to fix those issues that you have.  Learn to live without alcohol for a while so you can always keep it in your life.

If you are worried about what you will find, I will leave you with another warning that the speaker left me. For our purposes we can extend it to the act of drinking itself. If you are worried about what you are going to lose if you stop drinking, don’t worry. Eventually drinking will take those things away from you anyway.

Croatian-American Businessman with professional backgrounds in American civil litigation and N.A.T.O. centric military contracting. Creator of Anno the Card Game and Managing Partner of N.R.B.M. Corp.