Before quitting alcohol, people often say they’ll drink “just one last time,” but this thinking often sets you up to continue drinking.

When people are considering entering treatment for alcohol addiction, they often tell themselves they will have “one last night of drinking” before they commit to sobriety. While they may have the best intentions, the reality is that “one last time” is rarely the last. In fact, allowing yourself a last hurrah is likely to continue the cycle of addiction.

How “One Last Hurrah” Becomes Another 

If you’re thinking about giving up drinking, you might be tempted to allow yourself “one last hurrah” before you give up alcohol and enter treatment. After all, in theory, you won’t be drinking again, so you think you deserve one last night out. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is actually quite destructive. Allowing yourself one last time of drinking really just justifies more alcohol consumption and enables you to continue with your addiction. In most cases, you just keep drinking and forget all about treatment.

How Addiction Changes Your Brain

That “one last hurrah” is rarely the last time because of how addiction changes the brain. When someone develops an alcohol use disorder, the clinical term for alcohol addiction, brain changes from alcohol misuse make it difficult to control or limit drinking. Brain changes lead to compulsive drinking, meaning a person will have difficulty stopping. 

One sign of an alcohol use disorder is that a person cannot cut back on drinking and consume larger quantities than intended. If you tell yourself you will drink one last time, rather than deciding right then and there never to drink again, you’re giving in to the addicted brain that wants you to seek out more alcohol compulsively. 

Sobriety Isn’t a Sacrifice — It’s an Opportunity

If you’re caught up in the idea that you need one last drink before committing to sobriety, you probably view recovery as a sacrifice. Instead, reframing your thinking and considering sobriety as an opportunity is helpful. This is an opportunity to live a healthier, fulfilling life not centered around alcohol. Take advantage of this opportunity, and decide to stop right this moment. Book an appointment, and arrange for a medical detox to help you through the initial withdrawal stage. 

Preparing for Rehab

Once you decide to enter recovery, it’s time to begin abstaining from alcohol. If you have one last night of drinking, you might forget your initial appointment with the rehab center. Or, you may end up overdosing and requiring hospitalization, which delays your entry into treatment. Instead of looking for another opportunity to drink, prepare for living at the facility if you’re going to inpatient rehab:

“I know I am on the right path! I have more energy, positivity, focus, and love for myself. I am embracing the process, being gentle with myself, continuing to do the work, and loving sobriety. It feels like I’m meeting myself and I like who she is.”
— Katie Brennan, The Recovery Village Palmer Lake Alumni & Recovery Ambassador

It’s Time To Get Your Life Back

Entering addiction treatment can help you get your life back on track. In rehab at The Recovery Village, you’ll learn healthy coping techniques and skills for relapse prevention. You’ll attend group therapy to learn from those facing the same challenges as you and individual therapy with an expert therapist. You’ll be able to process underlying issues, such as depression, anxiety or trauma, contributing to your addiction. 

Call our Recovery Advocates today to start your recovery journey. Same-day admission is available at many of our treatment centers.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.