Single and Sober. Anybody who is single will acknowledge that alcohol is a key component of the first date and subsequent dates as you weed through the hundreds of potential mates.
Of all the questions I am asked from people working on controlling their drinking or getting sober is "How am I supposed to date if I don't drink?" If you are someone who is not currently single, this may sound like a silly question but in reality alcohol surrounds virtually every activity that people of all ages partake in. The Moderation Institute has been a blessing for many of my patients who discovered that they did not have to become completely sober in order to get their drinking under control. This alleviated many of the worries but especially the worry of being able to date.
Why is alcohol such an important part of dating and socializing in general? Where do I start! Clearly the number one factor is dreaded anxiety that comes with a first date or dating in general. Sadly though, anxiety as a whole has consumed modern society for a number of reasons to the point that alcohol really operates as self-medication for people's anxiety, worries and fears. Taking a step back, one does not have to think clinically to relate to "loosening up" after a couple of drinks. Who doesn't want to do that? It is very reasonable and when someone is trying complete sobriety, they lose this opportunity.
The second reason alcohol is popular for dating is that it literally creates an opportunity for discussion or interaction rather than the potential awkward silence that is often present. Going wine tasting, whiskey tasting or simply discussing your favorite wine's can be an ice-breaker.
The bottom line is that many people don't pursue getting help with their drinking due to this fear of being unable to date or even unable to participate in a relationship. I always say there is the ideal way life should be and then there is reality. I try to meet people at the reality of their situation so having the option of the Moderation Method for people was an incredible tool.
I wish there was an easy alternative to alcohol for situations like dating, social or work events, sport outings, family parties, or holiday functions. The reality is that alcohol unites people in modern culture and it is frankly difficult to partake in many of these situations without it.
Ideally, as a psychiatrist I would prefer to help people work on their self-confidence, anxiety and social skills. Sometimes, though, people are not ready for the help or simply don't want it. This is why the ability to moderate drinking rather than quit altogether has been a perfect solution for most people.
However, for the people who we help get complexly sober, don't despair, with a little bit of confidence, honesty and creativity, dating is absolutely possible and frankly can be even more fun. So, it depends on the person, their mindset, their willingness to change and their ability to change. Having options for everyone is the key in my opinion.
When I sought out to design the Moderation Method, my goal was to reach as many people as I could to provide help to more people. I accounted for all of the barriers that exist that keep people away from treatment and incorporated it into the Moderation Institute's program.
Michael Yasinski MD