This past weekend some of my family members and myself celebrated my Mother’s 75th birthday at a very formal and expensive Hartford, Connecticut area restaurant. It was the first time I ate at this longtime high-end eatery and it was a real pleasure to honor my Mother in such an elegant setting.
Because it is an important factor in the situation being recounted here I should mention that I am a longtime member of Alcoholics Anonymous with 13 years sober.
While I don’t really mind if someone I’m out with has a drink or two, I feel that I should always be on-guard against any accidental ingestion of alcohol that might be an ingredient in food or beverages.
My awareness of the fact that alcohol can accidentally be ingested quite easily while dining out became heightened three years ago when my now ex-girlfriend and I were catching a live show at a Hartford, Connecticut blues bar.
The bar was very loud and packed with customers when my then-girlfriend went up to the bar to order a drink for herself and a diet soda for me. There were several people standing and dancing behind her when the beverages were served and she passed to me what she thought was my diet soda. As soon as I took a sip I knew that something was horribly wrong.
Inadvertently, my girlfriend had passed her rum and coke to me instead of my Diet Coke. At the time, I hadn’t consumed a drop of alcohol in 10 years yet the second the liquid touched my tongue I knew it was booze. Immediately, I spit whatever was in my mouth into a napkin then made a beeline for the men’s room, where I stuck my head under the faucet and rinsed my mouth out repeatedly.
My sobriety is very important to me and I was afraid that by accidentally ingesting even the slightest bit of alcohol it could act like a trigger which could send me careening into active alcoholism again. In reality I only consumed possibly a drop or two of her drink and with the grace of God I did not feel any effects from it, but I certainly did get a case of the heebie-jeebies.
For a few minutes I wondered if this scenario would qualify as “going out” or starting to drink again but after listening to my higher power I realized that it was purely accidental. At the same time I realized that I need to keep my guard up at all times against the accidental ingestion of alcohol while in recovery.
Fast forward to my Mother’s birthday party last weekend. After eating our delicious entrees, it was decided that we would all share some desserts. My brother in law noticed that Baked Alaska was on the dessert menu and everybody thought it would be a good item to share.
When the desserts were served I didn’t notice that the Baked Alaska was served a ‘la flambe which means the outside of the dessert contains alcohol which is set aflame. When my brother in law asked me if I wanted to try a piece of the Baked Alaska I replied in the affirmative and proceeded to taste the baked ice cream treat.
The instant I tasted the dessert I realized it was booze that I was tasting and immediately discarded the spoonful into my napkin. As it turns out the dessert was doused with rum then set ablaze. While I don’t think I actually ingested any of the liquor and much of it was burned-off it still was a very scary situation.
Accidentally ingesting alcohol while in recovery is something that can happen very easily, especially when you are consuming foods and beverages at restaurants or social events. As long as you know that it truly was accidental you don’t need to feel guilty, but it is important to remember the experience and try to become more aware.
Another very important thing to do is to call your sponsor and share what happened with him or her. Tomorrow I want to call my sponsor and get his feedback on the incident.
Personal experience with accidentally ingesting alcohol while in recovery