While studying the AA principles today, I learned about the principle of reinforcement that is gained after an alcoholic relapses. It simply stated, 'A relapse brings truth to what we hear repeatedly in meetings — “Don’t take that first drink!” It reinforces the belief in the progressive nature of the disease, and it drives home the need for, and beauty of, humility in our spiritual program.' This is a direct quote from the Daily Reflections posted on May 25, 2011. The quote really took me aback as I was forced to think about relapses. I have been very strong over the 11 days of this journey so I couldn't imagine that relapse would be a problem for me! However, I had to get real and truthful with myself and admit that I was powerless over the alcohol and in truth have been craving it's effects for days. Each time my family tells me how proud they are of me, I smile and it does strengthen my endeavors to stay sober, but it DOES NOT take away the craving! These struggles with the cravings have caused me to search within myself to see why I have these cravings for a liquid that could destroy everything I have come to love and depend on as well as possible end my very life. How could something that has such a negative impact on a person be refreshing at the same time? Refreshing from the stresses and burdens of daily life, BUT....only for a moment. Then, the thoughts of past failures all the way back to your childhood start to surface and there is no longer any refreshment from the alcohol. The alcohol becomes a tool in which to then forget. However, that doesn't work either! Thus the confusing, troublesome, and destructive circle begins and ends with the alcohol. Over my lifetime I have heard many explanations for the strong call of alcohol over a person all the way from it being a spiritual demon, a chemical imbalance in the brain, a food allergy, and even low self esteem. Rather debate about the differences or similarities in all these explanations, I choose to believe that there is partial truth in each of them. In some form or fashion, a spiritual demon initially leads to the introduction of the alcohol. If you have any sort of chemical imbalance in your brain (which most humans do) the struggle to stay away from the alcohol is increased. Then as your resistance weakens, your body developments an actual allergy to the sugar and grains that make up the alcohol thus when you drink the ill effects such as blurred vision, slurred speech, inability to think clearly, the ability to control body functions and emotions, and even the ability to stand up get worse each time you drink. When all this occurs, the self esteem of being a sexy, smart, productive, beautiful person turns into the exact opposite when you wake the next day to realize how you acted the night before. It doesn't help matters in todays technical world when your 'friends' capture your drunken state on video and pictures! So I ask myself again, WHY would I willingly pour a liquid into my body that would send me back to such a dark place? The simple truth is because like almost every other true alcoholic, I always have the deep desire to control the alcohol instead of the other way around. I want to be able to drink again like most people do. I would love to be able to sit in the pool with my husband and have a cold beer. I would really enjoy toasting our anniversary or New Year's Eve with a bottle of champagne like we used to. But...the truth I have to deal with everyday is that I have to avoid the first drink because if I don't there will always be a second, third, fourth, etc etc etc until I'm lost again in the bottom of a bottle.