When I was drinking, my goal every night was to get a little bit more than buzzed, a little bit less than drunk, and stay there. There was a sweet spot that, in my mind, had all the good things about drinking — relaxation, a certain contentment that bordered on euphoria, loving everyone, not minding anything — and none of the bad. No memory loss, no slurred speech, no outward signs of being affected.
The thing was, as time went on this state was devilishly tricky to find, let alone maintain. Somehow I started sweeping right by buzzed and going straight to drunk. I would have one drink and not feel a bit different. I’d have two and it would be closer, but not quite there. Then I’d have the third and I’d know I had gone too far before I even finished it. But I couldn’t think of anything to do about that except to maybe have a little more.
Many years ago I read Johnny Cash’s autobiography, and something he said stuck with me. He said that every addict, whenever he gets drunk or high, is trying to reproduce the experience of the very first time. Obviously physical addiction plays a part, but for those of us who were never physically addicted, I think this is the major motivator. It explains how we can continue our self-destructive behavior, night after night, even when most of the time we’re not having fun anymore. The hope that, maybe this time, the magic will come back.