The Mosquito Bite


The normal drinker must wonder – “What the fuck makes alcoholics drink like they do? Why can’t they just put a cork in it and call it an event?”

Here’s an analogy that might help.

**Imagine you have an enormous mosquito bite on your left forearm. Do you remember how maddening itchy mosquito bites can be? They can itch so intensely you can’t focus on anything else. Okay, now multiply the intensity of that itch by 100. Is that not the most offensive idea you’ve read all day? Would you agree that an itch that powerful might make focusing on anything else a ridiculous challenge? Would you agree that alleviating that itch might be somewhat of a priority?

Your first, automatic response is to scratch it, right? That’s obvious. The problem with a mosquito bite is that although the initial scratch usually feels really good, the itch comes back. Scratching only exacerbates the itch. You might get creative and slap it, pinch it, put cream or ice on it, or even snap it with a rubber band, but eventually you learn that you simply have to suffer through the itch, and try to ignore it because nothing really works at alleviating it.

To add insult to injury, what if the bite never healed and couldn’t be removed? What if it was permanent? How challenging might it be to find creative ways to manage your suffering itch every time it flared up?

What if every time you scratched it it made the bite bigger, and it made you a little bit crazy? What if you had a Dr. look at your bite and the Dr. told you, “If you want to maintain your sanity, if you want to live – you must never ever scratch your itchy bite again regardless how badly it itches. You shouldn’t even look at the damn thing.”

The itch from your bite can be compared, fractionally, to the ravenous compulsion or thirst an alcoholic feels to drink. Let this information marinate for a minute.

Our addiction – born of habitual drinking over an extended period of time – is our bite. Our compulsion to drink or thirst for alcohol is the itch. The itch doesn’t rest in some small space like our forearm or big toe, it fills our entire bodies and minds. Drinking is our way of scratching. Our bite never goes away and the itch, that we aren’t supposed to scratch, can be consuming. Drinking relieves us, temporarily, of our itch. And like scratching a mosquito bite, the more we drink or scratch, the more our bite itches.

The enormous internal struggle that takes place inside the addict once the bite starts to itch is nothing short of a fucking drag.


16 thoughts on “The Mosquito Bite

  1. Vivek

    This is an awesome mental picture of what people go through.
    It certainly helps to increase my understanding.

    Your writing is very easy to read.
    Thank you.

    • neftwink

      That’s what I was shooting for with the analogy. At one point in my life – I wasn’t an alcoholic. Using the itch of a mosquito bite as a comparison to our compulsion to swallow alcohol was the only thing I coudl come up with that might help the non addict understand the challenge we go through when we want to drink/scratch – and can’t – or shouldn’t.


  2. everevie

    Hey Nef…Thanks for inviting me to read this entry. I totally get your analogy…it makes so much sense when simplified that way.

  3. Evelyn A

    boy that last sentence is an understatement.
    I have a hard time since alcohol isnt my poison, food and other stuff is.
    but my dad is killing himself slowly…and that is difficult.
    he has never attempted to ignore the itch and now, it will kill him.

    • neftwink

      Hi Evelyn. I’m really glad you’re finding my blog helpful? or encouraging –
      I love to write and am doing this as a way to find out how the general public/reader will take my memoir. The little excerpts I add every day are helping me edit my book.
      I’m sorry that you have to witness your father go through that. As a writer I still have a hard time trying to describe what the compulsion to drink does to us. It’s so so so much more than what the clinicians say.

      When we learn whowe are with alcohol and without it – I think we have a gift. Everyone has a gift of course, but not everyone is an addict. Tell your dad I say “HEY!” and invite him to read The Mosquito Bite if you think he might like it.

      Best to you.

  4. Hayley

    I emailed this to my husband & said ”This is exactly how it feels!”. Thank you so much for this, it’s given my husband a bit more of an insight into how staying sober can feel sometimes.

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