Alcohol, I don’t want to drink you anymore.

Alcohol! I feel like so many of my friends are currently struggling with cutting down their consumption of alcohol, either by drinking less, or by drinking none at all. This is something I’ve struggled with for years, and I want to talk about it. I want all of us to talk about it.

I was thirteen the first time I got drunk, and then I didn’t drink again until I was nineteen (except for once at a party when I was eighteen – I remember my sister making me rye & cokes. Thanks, sis!). I didn’t drink excessively the moment I turned nineteen (um, except for on my birthday), and in fact, I had intentionally stayed away from alcohol because I had started taking new psych meds and didn’t wanna fuck them up. I also grew up with frequent warnings from my mom: “Don’t turn into your dad!” (My dad is an alcoholic and not a very pleasant person in general.) But then I discovered whiskey, the best cure thus far for my shyness & awkwardness, and I went for it. Long story short, alcohol was not really my best friend even though it seemed like it a lot of the time, I tried to quit about ten times in the course of five years, and today I am 159 days clean & sober, the longest time I’ve gone without drinking since I was nineteen.

There is no one way to quit drinking, and quitting once does not guarantee you’re gonna quit forever. What I’ve discovered in my recovery is that I need to quit 100% (as opposed to, say, setting a three-drink-limit for myself, which never worked out, or drinking only on certain days, or drinking only with certain people, etc., etc…), and that sometimes, I just plain can’t be near booze. Drunk people are almost never amusing when I am sober, and bars aren’t really a lot of fun unless my favourite band is playing or something – and if I’m going to a bar, or anywhere that serves alcohol, I reeeally appreciate having a sober friend to hang out with.

Unfortunately, a lot of awesome events are held in bars. If I end up in bar, or anywhere where alcohol is being consumed, I either get a tall glass of water with a slice of lemon (it’s free!), or I treat myself to a root beer or a cream soda or something. I don’t drink pop too often, so even something that simple can make the occasion feel special. It goes without saying that I appreciate sober spaces, and that when I organize stuff (or at least when I imagine organizing stuff – usually I have a bunch of ideas for events I wanna plan, but I don’t see them through), alcohol is not welcome.

Going to meetings has also been helpful for me. It’s hard, though. Meetings are filled with a lot of people I can’t relate to on any level except for the fact that we are both recovering, and that is just not a solid enough basis for friendship for me. So although I go to meetings frequently, and although “working the steps” has been useful for me, those are still spaces where I do not truly connect with others around me. Quitting alcohol is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it can also be an alienating experience when so many others around you rely on booze for fun.

I’ve written more about my experiences with alcoholism in issue 5 of Little Acorns and issue 23 of Telegram Ma’am, which you can get here.

What I’m looking for here is for you to share stories about your own struggles with alcohol, strategies for quitting, how you deal with situations where alcohol is present, and so on. I think we all need to support one another in our recoveries, and share share share. Let’s think about questions like:

- What do you do instead of drinking?
– What do you do when everyone around you is drinking?
– Why do you drink?
– What helps you stay away from alcohol?
– How can our friends support us in our decisions & recoveries?
– How can we embrace sobriety without judging others who choose to drink?
– & ask more questions!

Soberly Yours,

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13 Responses to Alcohol, I don’t want to drink you anymore.

  1. Melissa says:

    I have to admit, i don’t really have a problem with friends looking at me strange because I don’t drink. I find now, I only drink at weddings, and even then, I only have maybe 2 glasses of wine, or ginger and rye. I’ve experienced alcoholism with a few family members (one in and out of jail for drunken brawls when I was little). My grandma used to start drinking around 11 am every day and kept a glow all day long. I just simply feel better when I don’t drink-I hate wasting a day being hungover. I admit, I used to go to raves to escape reality and create a false community of happiness. Eventually I came to realize that it wasn’t sustainable, I saw through the ‘happiness’ and I wanted to be real. I only ever drank so I could become loose and lose inhibitions. I have friends who have never even touched alcohol, and then I have friends who have issues with drinking too much. Everyone has always been supportive though. People should not bug people to drink-personally, I don’t even like being asked why I don’t want a drink. I hate that everyone assumes that at holidays and dinner parties that everyone automatically wants a drink. I stay at home a lot-and only go to bars to see bands now. Instead of boozing, I play my ukulele, read, walk my dogs, watch movies, do yoga … I go to bed early and wake up refreshed. I’ve been getting up by 8 am on weekends for years now. I admit though-sometimes I want to be reckless-smoke and drink and bond with others with this hedonism. But the craving goes away pretty fast.

  2. Miss Sol says:

    I’ve found that as Iget older, I want to drink less. I don’t feel that I’ve ever really had much issue with alcohol, but of course I have(like everyone) drank too much and before I knew what happened I was puking my guts out and feeling horrible for the next day or two. I got over that pretty quickly, deciding that I don’t like feeling far too drunk or spinny or like I did something stupid. So nowadays, while I still drink occasionally, I don’t drink to get drunk like I did in my youth. I will stop when I feel I’ve had enough, and I wake up without a hangover. Instead of drinking (which is the better part of my life) I do everything else. I like having tea and conversation parties with friends, listening to good music and dancing around, writing, researching things of interest, and getting my art on! I fully support my friends who wish to stop drinking. It’s best for all of us involved that when someone has a problem, they find a way to quit.

  3. Dave Cave says:

    - What do you do instead of drinking?

    sleep, have morning parties, exercise (I always spell that word wrong) and EAT EAT EAT

    – What do you do when everyone around you is drinking?

    leave the party before they become weepy, emotional drunks. bring food to eat.

    – Why do you drink?

    because I eat. Haha, just kidding. I don’t drink now. but when I did, honestly, because it was so much fun, and yes, because all my friends were doing it.

    – What helps you stay away from alcohol?

    being a 75 year old trapped in a 23 year old body. also…. the price of alcohol, the fact it’s lost it’s shine, and having no friends. Annnnd, being more open about how I just hate drinking. I’ve stopped pretending it’s fun.

    – How can our friends support us in our decisions & recoveries?

    Be open! Don’t expect people to read your mind.

    – How can we embrace sobriety without judging others who choose to drink?

    Again, be open and clear to people around you. For my friends who are recreational drinkers (whatever that means) and without addiction problems, I support their decision 100%. I’ve just made it clear I can’t stand drunks.

    – & ask more questions!

    Sustainable Energy!

  4. Jacqueline says:

    I stopped drinking heavily/frequently midway through my second year of university, after I made a lot of bad decisions and embarrassed myself a lot/hurt people/damaged a relationship. I was tired of that scary feeling of waking up the morning after and having to figure out if I had done anything awful or made any bad choices the night before. I also really want romantic interactions/relationships that I can trust rather than ones that come about only because everyone’s so drunk and uninhibited.

    However, I still like having a few drinks with friends on a regular basis, largely because of what you mentioned about booze being the best/easiest cure for anxiety and shyness. I am usually able to keep a handle on it and stay really aware of my own limits, but I’m kind of scared of the fact that I would be afraid to entirely give up drinking forever. It also makes me really nervous to see friends of mine who are probably functional alcoholics get overlooked because hey, we’re in university, everyone drinks all the time!

  5. neelybat says:

    sometimes i drink a lot. i can do the 12 hour all day drinking binge and i can also just not drink. i do like to think about my habits though, and i have a lot of respect for people knowing or finding their limits with anything. drinking, hard drugs, and other sometimes or somewhat harmful things. most years i give up drinking for lent, it’s about seven weeks, and the only time i really feel like i want to drink badly is after working, a drink or two to relax.
    – What do you do instead of drinking?
    i will drink soda water with bitters, yes, bitters alcohol in it, but it’s really like three drops in a huge glass, less than the supplements i take for wrist pain. or i’ll drink soda pop.
    – What do you do when everyone around you is drinking?
    if i’m hanging out with friends that are getting too drunk to be around i just leave, or i hang out and help them get home, or make sure they are drinking water, etc. most of the time it’s really easy for me to hang out. my friends are (mostly) all heavy drinkers and they know what to do when they get wasted. no drunk driving, no yelling and freaking or anything like that.
    – Why do you drink?
    it makes me feel good. i even like working a long day at work though the fuzz of a terrible hangover. i love the sound of ice in a glass, and the feel of a tall can of cheap beer in my hand.
    – What helps you stay away from alcohol?
    when i don’t want to drink, but i’m craving it, i buy my self a treat of some kind or take a long bath.
    – How can our friends support us in our decisions & recoveries?
    sometimes my friends are taking a break and when ever that happens i will be a sober buddy for the night, or a few days, what ever makes sense. i’ll have them over for a sober night of movie watching or crafting.
    – How can we embrace sobriety without judging others who choose to drink?
    really it’s all about loving your friends, and holding back judgement. xo

  6. - What do you do instead of drinking?
    Drink tea, write, watch a movie, take a walk.
    – What do you do when everyone around you is drinking?
    Luckily I don’t often tend to be in this situation, usually just drink cola, as no-one will comment as to whether there’s the “rum and” about it.
    – Why do you drink?
    Every so often, just because I like the taste of the cider I drink.
    – What helps you stay away from alcohol?
    Usually the price. Also the fact that it’s never been a necessity I guess. I’ve never had a need to drink, so have never had a need not to. I just, don’t do it that often because I never have.
    – How can our friends support us in our decisions & recoveries?
    By respecting the fact we don’t drink.
    – How can we embrace sobriety without judging others who choose to drink?
    By respecting the fact they do drink. I think both of these last 2 questions are quite interlinked. Much like it’s my choice not to drink (beside birthday and christmas), it’s my friends decision to drink. She drinks responsibly, and just as it’s not her place to judge me for not drinking, it’s certainly not up to me to judge her for drinking either.

  7. Betterlife says:

    For the last 2 yrs. Ive been drinking alcohol 4/5 days a wk. This yr 20l2 i want t0 st0p. Did 12steps grps in 2008 for coke and have n0 desire for coke in 2yrs. Im n0t seeking t0 label myself alocholic n0r g0t0 aa forever ive had a crime committed against me in 0ct. 2007 and i have ptsd. I attended about 8 mtgs last yr and say hi i did n0t drink t0day. Well m0st aaers dont talk t0 me because i dont call myself alcoholic but i am going t0 start aa again and g0t0 meditation grps and wkly therapy just want t0 st0p for awhile t0 get my b0ok published and if i drink again it will be on rare occasion. Any comments are welcome! Blessings t0 u all!

  8. matt says:

    I am a recovering alcoholic who would like to answer some of those questions u listed at the bottom (nice article btw). I drank at first to relieve social anxiety..but as an alcoholic I couldn’t stop at one and to add fuel to the fire I didn’t just wake up with a hangover the next day but with guilt and a burning desire for more alcohol (scary huh) anyway after a year of this my anxiety levels increased and got to the point where I was borderline agorophobic, had delusional thoughts and paranoia that everyone was talking about me being an alcoholic (in actual fact no one really knew). After I quit drinking I realised that all this was caused by the alcohol and within a week I felt the most confident, happy and free version of myself that I’ve ever felt in my life! It was like alcoholism was spiritual bootcamp and at the otherside I would be completely reinvented for the best (provided I stayed quit). A few people have mentioned peer pressure etc but why would I let such a beautiful feeling go for the sake of bowing to peer pressure and having a measly glass of champagne. I don’t drink cos it wouldve killed me if I carried on within a decade or even less. My friends don’t bat an eyelid anymore, I still go to clubs, hook up with girls and have a great time. I am 296 days in recovery,loving life, fit as a fiddle. And I’m only 19 ;)

  9. Chris says:

    I enjoyed reading this post and could relate to a lot of it. I’m 30 and havnt had a drink for over 3 months now but I still have cravings from time to time which is frustrating. My wife hates it when I drink, not because I’m violent or anything, but because it changes my character, I become more cocky and argumentative. I never got into any serious bother over alcohol but i knew the fact i thought about it regularly was bad and also the fact i wud get wasted if i had the chance. II honestly feel I was on a downward spiral until my wife put her foot down! I think my love for her and our son gives me the strength not to drink. If I was on my own i think I would be a full blown alcoholic and I’m not sure whether to feel guilty about that or not. I would love to be able to reach a place were I didn’t think about or long for alcohol anymore.

  10. JEEN says:

    Since having my 2nd child, who’s now 6 months, I’ve had really strong urges to drink- to the point where I’m lying, topping up spirits because I don’t want people to notice. To buying alcohol in the shop and drinking it in the toilet or car before I get home.
    The thing is, until I’ve that 1st drink I’m not that fussed, but the taste gets me and it’s as though I need it.
    I’m getting sick of myself now as I have no will power and I hate the lies. I just feel that maybe I’m doing this because being a mother is an all consuming 24/7 tiring (yet rewarding) job and I like having something that’s all mine…. Selfish I know. :-(

  11. paulgv8 says:

    I am now 55 had an terrible childhood! I AM COMPLETLEY at my wits end! My house is paid for, I have money in the bank so I should not have any worries! back in 1993 I lost my mom & two years latter my dad who I had not seen since being 18! following which I had a nervous breakdown due to stress running my own business. since then have been drinking to kill the pain & knock me out! My worst worry now is its beginning to affect my health, can not look at any one in the eyes ,very nervous can not carry out simple tasks i.e wash dishes etc all I can do is scrape through the day before becoming numb again.


  12. brilan says:

    Great article. You have put a lot of thought and effort into what you want for yourself and also what you don’t want. Being a young girl and having that level of maturity is a gift. You may not realize this or maybe you do but believe me, at your age I was off to the races with alcohol thinking I found the magic potion to light up my life so to speak. I abused alcohol until my early forties (I am 49 now) and then decided to quit with the help of a friend/ co worker who was sober in AA for two years. I was active in AA for 2 years but like you found it hard to relate to everyone.
    I recommend AA to anyone that is looking for help in living sober but like you said, there is no one way to quit. I guess I decided that I wanted to live my life not always focusing on not drinking but on living period. As a result of my choice in this matter, I have a happy marriage with a beautiful family that I am truly grateful for. A career that pays the bills and my health. A huge part of sobriety has been and ability to connect on a spiritual level with shall I say a higher power.
    All gifts that I don’t think would necessarily be mine today if I kept drinking.
    So, keep following your own path and while peer pressure may be a difficult thing for you at your age is does get easier as you get older. Life is constantly changing and evolving and you sound like your acquiring life skills at an early age. This will benefit you tremendously as you get older. All the best to you.

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