The Potato Chip: Can They Ever Drink Again?

The Potato Chip: Can She Ever Drink Again?

The Big Question

‘The Potato Chip’ is a response to a question that I get from every family and addicted person. They always ask, “Can they ever drink again?”

We don’t really know if someone can return to drinking. That is a decision that will be made down the line, in early recovery. There should be a commitment to abstinence. It is safe to assume that returning to use is a bad idea. Most successful people need to be completely abstinent.

The Potato Chip

Let’s draw an analogy to something that we all have experienced. The lowly potato chip.

I can go months and months without thinking about eating a potato chip.  That is until I walk by the big back of salt and vinegar chips at Costco.  In a split second, I justify to myself why I should be the bag, ‘The kids are coming this weekend’ or ‘I will get them for BBQ hamburgers’. 

I have already told myself a lie or I made a veiled attempt to justify my purchase.

Once the bag of chips is on my kitchen counter, I begin to think about chips more and more, I start to crave them.  I know chips are bad for me, but man-o-man, I want one.

A Small Concession

“I will just have one”, is the lie that I tell myself.  The second I have one, that bag is going to be half-eaten.  I have one, and I can’t stop, I will eat as many as are on my plate, I will eat a quarter of the bag. I may try to stop after taking a nibble and stepping away for a while. However, all I can think about is potato chips. Like an animal eating a raw stack, I need more chips and it’s all I can think about.

I return to the panty, careful to open the bag without anyone else seeing me, and I eat a bowlful of chips.

Once I had the first chip, my obsession, and cravings for chips reignited.  Once I have one chip, I can’t really tell you what I will do next, I might stop at one, or I might finish an entire bag.

From Snack to Obsession

Potato chips are designed to be addictive, and the crunch, taste, fat content, and salt; millions of dollars of research have been put into chips to make them addictive.  Our minds stand no chance of overcoming the addictiveness of a chips recipe.

Having one drink of alcohol is much like attempting to have one potato chip.  Once the door opens, I have triggered a craving response in me that I can’t control. For me, it is safer to never attempt having “just one drink”.  I bet I would have one the first day, and after a few days, I would be obsessed about having more.

Can He Control his Drinking in the Future?

It is the desire of every person that has an addiction that they can “get it under control” and have an occasional drink.  I am often asked, “will he ever be able to have a drink in the future?”

Think about not eating a potato chip for 4 years, you get your potato chip addiction under control.  What would happen to you after a 4 year potato chip hiatus?  Would it taste the same?  Would your desire for more immediately come back.

Think about how miserable you would be if you forcibly allowed yourself only 1 potato chip a day?  I know that I would spend an inordinate amount of my day thinking about that one chip, almost drooling for it and looking forward to it all day long.  I would eat 1 chip, and I would want more.  In fact 1 chip sounds awful to me, I would be short tempered after my 1 chip, snapping at people in displeasure.  My cravings for more chips would be all that was on my mind.

It wouldn’t take me long to figure ways around my 1 chip rule, I would stop by 7-11 and eat a bag of chips in the car, I would sneak some out of the bag in the house, I would lie to my spouse about eating extra chips.  It wouldn’t take me long before I was eating way more than one chip a day.

Want Some Chips?

What are your thoughts right now?  Has reading this triggered a craving for potato chips in you? If you went to a grocery store right now, would you be more or less likely to buy chips?  Will you think about chips as you go to sleep tonight?


About Adam Banks

Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and the owner of Adam Banks Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail come from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long-term sobriety. His work has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach. Adam has authored four books on addiction. His recent work, Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery, educates families on the entire intervention process. He also offers a free video course for families considering an intervention for a loved one.

Adam is available for alcohol and drug intervention services in New York, Long Island, and the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.

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