A slippery slope is defined as “a tricky precarious situation, especially one that leads gradually but inexorably to disaster.”

The slippery slope is the fear of every alcoholic. The slippery slope is for some people that first drink. For others it is a pain-killer or cough medicine. For someone I know, a mouthful of Scope is the slippery slope.

My friend Joe, during his hard-core drinking days (“the good ol’ days,” as he refers to them), drank to excess. He smoked pot from the moment he got out of bed. He did as much cocaine as he could afford. When times were rough, he would drink straight Scope. Or even Scope and soda. Nyquil and 7-Up was a favorite.

Because of his unusual alcoholic tendencies, these otherwise normal products are out of bounds for him today. Rinsing his mouth with Scope is a no-no. He chooses Listerine because it contains no alcohol. A mouthful of Scope and he might swallow it, looking for a buzz.

I do not consider my slope to be quite so slippery. If needed, I will take a painkiller. In fact, I just took half a Vicodin because of a failed root canal I went through yesterday. I plan on taking the other half tonight. I don’t fear that I will be back on the Budweiser anytime soon because of this. However, I know that there are plenty of recovering alcoholics who disagree with me on this one. Any mind-altering drug is dangerous and leads back to alcoholism or drug abuse. For some people, that may be true. Everyone needs to draw the line somewhere, but for me I have drawn the line very simply. I do not drink alcohol – the only exception is cough medicine. If I’m sick, I’ll take it. If I’m not sick, I don’t. Do I enjoy the buzz and sleepiness I get from a shot of codeine-infused cough medicine? Hell yeah! But, I don’t take it recreationally, and I think that’s the point.

Everyone needs to draw the line between sobriety and off the wagon. I know where my line. Where is yours?