How Do You Know It’s Time To Stop Drinking?
In the very beginning of my sobriety journey, I kept hush-hush about the decision. I was afraid of judgment, relapse or stigma.
Today, I’m finding myself more open but only to a certain extent. I still haven’t told my parents, other relatives or most friends in real life. Blogging has been a game changer though.
Connecting with other bloggers means revealing what your blog is about. You can’t talk about a sobriety blog without talking about being sober.
One of the questions I get when I tell people I’ve quit drinking is “how did you know it was time”?
So, I figured I’d give a direct answer here in case anyone else was wondering how I knew it was time to stop drinking.
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How It All Began
My battle with alcohol began early. From my first sip when I was 17, I had a horrible reaction.
I vaguely remember crying and having my significant other take me to my mother’s grave in the middle of the night. Ouch.
I should have stopped then. A normal person would have. The fact that I didn’t let me know that I was destined to struggle.
For the next 18 years, I would go in and out of alcohol abuse, moderation, and abstinence.
The first 10 years were okay, actually. I mean I was drinking too much and knew that, but I didn’t have much responsibility.
I graduated college eventually, never went homeless or got into significant trouble. Friends and romantic relationships were okay too. It felt like I was just a wild 20-something living carefree, and I considered it as something to tackle later when life got more serious.
By the time I hit my late twenties, my hangovers were epic and took longer to recover from. I wanted a big, important career, to get married and have a baby or two.
It was different. The time to “tackle it later” had arrived.
7 Years Of Trouble
By the time I decided I should get serious about quitting, I still wasn’t really ready. I was convinced that alcohol was fun. It made me more outgoing. Without it, I just wasn’t sexy enough. If I could just moderate I’d be okay.
So, I tried combination after combination of moderation tactics.
I failed at the more specific ones like only drinking Friday 8 pm to Sunday 2 am, a max of one per hour followed by a glass of water, and only after eating first but never alone in my own company. Once I had a bottle, I was drinking ‘til it was gone, and would usually find a way to grab another. Eventually, I gave up on that.
The method of moderation that worked for me was larger chunks of time. I was content with frequent breaks. Like, take a few weeks off, a few weeks on. That kind of thing. Because if I never got started drinking, I was okay. I didn’t have an issue if I never began. Once I began though, all bets were off.
One Glass Of Wine Changed It All
I did a decent job at this and it was going alright. I enjoyed the time off a great deal.
Even when I was “on”, I grew to control my drinking most of the time, but eventually, I’d spiral and wind up on a 5-day bender with an epic hangover that knocked me off my game for weeks.
But even doing that for years couldn’t even stop me.
What stopped me was getting tired.
I had one glass of wine, alone, while my husband and baby were away. After that glass of wine, I felt lightheaded and kinda “blah”, but what frustrated me was the mental chatter that followed. As usual, I began to obsess.
I wanted more. I didn’t think the bottle would be enough. Should I go grab another bottle? How drunk would I get if I drank it super-fast? Nobody would know if I didn’t tell. And so on.
Right then I decided it was too much. I would take a break for 100 consecutive days, change my behavior during that time, then see if I wanted to continue afterward.
How I Knew It Was Time To Stop Drinking
During that 100 days, I made sweeping changes that I never had before.
I declined social events that included alcohol, made a plan for staying sober on vacation and drafted coping mechanisms to help me relax during times of stress.
I started an amazingly fun new hobby, forced myself to meet other sober people and took up yoga at a fancy new gym.
By the end of that 100 days, I was almost a different person and I liked who I’d become!
I enjoyed how I felt. The life I’d created and experienced was one that I wanted to be present for all of the time. And I remembered that last glass of wine and all that came with it.
I remembered all those years of failed negotiations with myself. Missed opportunities, money poorly spent. Disappointing decisions and stupid arguments. All that dumb shit that I experienced none of during those 100 days of sobriety.
And I just knew. I knew it was over and haven’t looked back.
Everyone Has A Breaking Point
[bctt tweet=”I think everyone has their breaking point, and no two recovery stories will be the same. That’s why sobriety is a journey. It is a marathon, not a sprint.” username=”soberalley”]
Wherever you are in your journey, you really aren’t alone, and you need to know that.
There Is Life After Alcohol
While it may seem like everybody drinks, there are many who don’t. Statistics show that 56% of the adult US population drinks. While that’s a lot, that means 44% does not.
That’s over 100 million people who relax, have fun, connect with others, enjoy deep conversations, have sex and everything else under the sun that we’ve been conditioned to believe alcohol helps us do. And they do it without alcohol.
If they can do it, so can you.
Even if you don’t want to stop completely, cutting back is possible and is a great step toward improving your quality of life and your long-term health.
I hope my story has given you insight into how at least one person knew it was time to stop drinking. If you ask others, you’ll probably get as many unique responses as people you ask.
Over time, you’ll gain clarity as to exactly what path you want to take. I hope along the way you find resources and support for whatever you choose.