5 Lies We Tell Ourselves When We’re Drinking Too Much

5 Lies We Tell Ourselves When We’re Drinking Too Much

So you think you might be drinking too much. You think it might be time to stop. But just as you’re seriously considering quitting, you start doubting yourself. You begin to wonder if you’re overreacting. You start to find ways to justify your drinking and suddenly, everything seems kind of explainable. Normal. Nothing to worry about.

Nearly every non-drinker I know has been through this cycle, where moments of clarity are followed by some serious, head-in-the-sand denial. And at some point or another, most of us have told ourselves at least one of these five little lies:  

 

“I don’t drink every day, so I can’t have a problem”

Society has a fixed idea of what constitutes problem drinking, but in my experience, it’s just not that black and white. The women I know who drink too much are all very intelligent, with good jobs and nice homes and busy lives. They do not fit the stereotype of the loser drunk, the down-and-out who has lost everything. We need to stop using clumsy statements like “I don’t drink every day / I don’t drink in the morning…” There is no ‘one size fits all’ definition of problem drinking. Ultimately, it’s about how you feel. If you’re regularly drinking more than you intend to, and it’s making you miserable, then that’s all you need to know.

 

“Everyone is drinking this much”

The problem with this is that too often, we see what we want to see. We never really know how much other people drink. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Some people drink a lot in public but have nothing at home. Or it might be the other way around. Besides, I’ve found that the way people talk about alcohol doesn’t always reflect the way they drink. Often the people who talk the most about drinking consume relatively little; when they tell you they could murder a drink they mean exactly that – one drink and not the whole bottle. Another problem with comparing yourself to other people is that alcohol effects everyone differently. What is ok for one person may not be ok for you. 

 

“My drinking doesn’t affect anyone else”

It can feel as if your drinking is your own private matter. After all, you’re still doing all the things you’re meant to do: you look after the kids, hold down a stressful job and pay the bills on time. You’re keeping the show on the road and from the outside, everything looks fine. But sometimes it’s the little things that count. Things like having a conversation with your other half that you can’t remember. Being too hungover to race around with the kids. Feeling irritable and distracted and not fully present. When you’re drinking too much, alcohol starts to affect every corner of your life, whether you like it or not.

 

“I can stop anytime I want, I just don’t feel like it right now”

Maybe you can, but maybe you can’t.  Telling yourself you can quit makes you feel in control, and being in control is very reassuring. Perhaps you’ve stopped for short periods of time to prove to yourself that you can do it. The crucial question is how you felt during that time. Stopping for a week or a month, counting the days, feeling deprived and missing it all the time does not prove that you don’t have a problem.

 

“It will be different this time”

This one is the killer. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yet somehow, with alcohol, we convince ourselves that this is exactly what will happen. We want to be that person who stops after one or two and feels content about it. Confusingly, many public health messages promote the idea of moderation. And so we try again and again to consume a brain bending, mind altering substance whilst staying ‘in control’. In my experience, this rarely works. If you just love the feeling that only an entire bottle of wine can bring, then instinctively you will always feel dissatisfied with a glass of wine. It’s much easier (and loads better) to just cut out booze completely.

 

So there you have it – five lies that nearly all of us tell ourselves at some point. Let me know in the comments if you’ve had a similar experience, or if any of the above spark off an ‘ah ha’ moment for you.

Kate
x

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44 Comments

  1. This was helpful to me. I have had too many conversations with my husband that I don’t remember and I feel a lot of shame about it. It is a motivator for change for me.

    Reply
  2. I don’t need anymore quizzes or tests, I know my drinking is not “normal” if there is a normal.. so I don’t drink. Today I will not drink or tomorrow.
    Thanks for this!
    Life free from alcohol is great!

    Reply
  3. A person once said to me that her sponsor said to her, “I don’t mind that you’re lying to me, but please realize you’re lying to yourself.” This, as well as your comments, were helpful to me.

    Reply
    • That’s so true. At the end of the day, we’re only lying to ourselves. It’s madness, really.

      Reply
  4. Such a timely reminder! I can stop for a while but still feel the need for just one glass of wine- which then becomes the whole bottle! I am otherwise healthy with a great family. But I do need these constant reminders of the horrors drinking can bring and certainly has brought to me!! I shall try to stay positive and take one day at a time.

    Reply
  5. This reflects exactly how I feel about drinking. I am 28 days sober, the longest I have been sober for 25 years. I won’t lie and say I feel wonderful (yet) but I do feel like I have woken up from a long bout of mad, skewed thinking. ‘Drink in, sense out’ was never truer than in my case. Thank you for your post it resonates deeply.

    Reply
    • Ha ha, I love that phrase ‘drink in, sense out’ – it’s so true! Well done on your 28 days, brilliant stuff. K

      Reply
  6. I can’t tell you how many times I was. Going to have one glass of wine or one vodka gimlet of course it rarely worked that way. I am so grateful to not be drinking. Ladies we all rule!

    Reply
  7. I’m 52. I’m on my 10th day of sobriety. I drank every day – at least one bottle of wine, preferably more. I’ve wasted so much time. It’s becoming very clear, very quickly, that if I don’t stop for good, I’ll kill myself. This is now it. No more false starts or stupid ‘timed’ AF periods. No more – ever. It’s not easy but it will be worth it. Thanks for your blog – it helps.

    Reply
    • Hey Jay. I am right there w you. Turning 50 in a week. I want more than a bottle of wine a night. I want to be done as well. I am at day 14 sober. I miss the socialness and the routine habit of it. But I want it gone! Congrats to you and your 10 days. You can do this!

      Reply
    • Jay I’m here too/ coming fifty nine and my fifties have been my best decade ever, yes, even my teens , It is lifelong vigilance and of course there are losses tho on time you come to know they are losses you should have enforced long ago ; toxic people places behaviour habits …I feel and believe I look better than in my late thirties . Be kind to yourself cos you won’t have been for years and don’t waste another day . Normality is do unusual that it can be good not boting xx

      Reply
      • Love your post Felicity
        Did you give up early in your 50 ‘s ?
        I am 52yts and just realising how alcohol has affected me.

        Reply
  8. I’ve been sober for 83 days now. I knew my drinking wine had become a problem and a habit. I woke one morning and simply decided I didn’t want to feel like this any more, so I changed. I’ve honestly have never felt better emotionally, I’m certainly vibrating at a higher frequency and I love it. I’m not sure what my relationship with alcohol will be moving forward all I know is I won’t go back to bad limiting habits…I don’t miss, I don’t desire it and have no problem being around people that are drinking, because I’ll be the one waking fresh and guilt free ready to go for hike!!

    Reply
    • Good for you Diane. Congratulations for your commitment and hard work.

      Reply
    • I feel as you do. Day 88 for me. I’m 55, menopausal, pondering how I want the rest of my life to pan out. The wine habit had become a straitjacket. Socialising can still be a bit tough – I’m navigating that one as each occasion arises; friends don’t want me to be a non-drinker…. But I feel SO much healthier, so much lighter, more free. I feel hopeful for a happy future. I’m not going back.

      Reply
  9. This all really resonates with me! And yes, I didn’t want a nice glass of wine – I wanted ALL the wine! So much easier to just cut it out completely. Another great blog, thanks Kate 🙂

    Reply
  10. It’s so sad how many times I told myself that it would be different this time. I wouldn’t have the days-long hangover, it would just be fun with zero consequences. How many times did I have to learn that lesson? Alcohol will always take much more than what it gives. The costs always outweigh the benefits. Thanks for your post. : )

    Reply
  11. The button clicked on how you feel and yes it is making me miserable. Because of the accountability accuracy timing of when I drink and how to avoid dictation from my family. It’s all become exhausting. The worse part is I blamed my family internally for getting in the way of my drinking, why can’t they just go out for a few hours while I can slug a few down and hide the bottles. And then “look” and try to act “normal” on their return with a full glass of wine sitting on the bench. Yes I have totally been in denial but recently I FEEL different and realise I have a serious problem. It has taken me to 52yrs to come to term with this addiction. I am only starting out so thank you Kate for your beautiful feminine site and be able to talk and share with other women. PS I haven’t shared this new way of life with my husband because I am too scared of what he may say and maybe cause I may fail. He has always known and told me many times to quit the booze, it’s just I didn’t know or see the problem. And the stupid part was I thought I was hiding it well but it was becoming like a galloping horse racing to the finish.

    Reply
    • I could have written every word of this Aoife thanks for sharing.

      Reply
      • Thanks Kay I just keep telling myself it’s just a feeling I want a drink but the feeling will pass. A bit of a sore tummy with all the food I am eating at the moment but I am sober.

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  12. Yep, I am right there with all of you. Wanting to hang out with the girls after work for cocktails. One drink becomes 2,3,4 and then I have to drive home. Not a good choice. I can never drink just one. It doesn’t happen. I want that brain fog feeling I get from the bottle of wine, plus. I am your average girl next door w a professional job, married and have kids that are grown and now moved out on their own. I really appreciate everything that you are doing Kate, putting yourself out there for all of us strangers. I am sober 14 days now and feel good but finding it socially difficult. One day at a time.

    Reply
    • It does get easier Shae – the first few weeks are the hardest. You can do it 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks for the encouragement Kate.

        Reply
      • It’s taken me 8 years to actually want to stop drinking.I’ve always known I had serious issues with alcohol and in all likelihood would never “really” be able to control my drinking. For a long time that was okay with me. That’s not the case anymore. I want to stop. I want more from life. I also have reached a point in my drinking that is now damaging my liver. Today is day one.

        Reply
  13. This blog has come at a time when it feels like you are talking directly to me! After saying I wasn’t going to drink this weekend, I got absolutely smashed. I was so down yesterday, and it affected me at work today! And the part about it affecting my life, I’ve lost really good friends through my drinking – at the time I didn’t really think it was my fault, but now I realise it was! My drinking is really affecting my mental health – I need to do something about it! I’m seriously considering counselling.

    Reply
  14. I’ve been sober 616 days and for about the past week every one of these lies was going through my head. I needed this and needed it right now. I even went as far as telling myself that if I made a rule to eat before my first beer, that I would never over drink again. Ugh! Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Yep! This is me without a doubt! I’ve done the 30 day breaks, feel great, think I can moderate and end up back right back where I started and it’s harder to stop again. I can relate to arguments with my hubby due to the emotions alcohol brings out in me and as someone commented what a waste of time. It’s day 2 again for me and im glad I’ve found this wee blog! I love drinking wine so much but it hates me and I believe I’ll get progressively worse if I don’t stop forever and I don’t want to chance it xxx

    Reply
    • I think a lot people will relate to what you’ve written here. Just so you know, I used to love wine too – now I hate the smell of it. I have no desire to drink it all. Your tastes and wants really do change over time and it won’t always be this hard. Good luck!

      Reply
  16. I’m 61 days sober. Now I look forward to my Halo Top or Artic Zero low fat icecream in the evening in place of a drink. When I drank I always regretted how I acted…I wasn’t being the best version of myself. On Fridays I have more trouble and crave a drink…I need to figure out a strategy for Fridays…any suggestions?

    Reply
    • I always loved Friday nights, too. Don’t know if this will help but I find making plans for Saturday mornings has helped me. I love going to farmer’s markets, but often didn’t make it there when I was drinking. Too hungover and dragging from a raging Friday night. Now, with plans for Saturday morning, I look forward to a quiet night and getting to bed so I can get up early to go to the market. If you could find something you like to do and plan it for Saturday morning, maybe it would take the temptation out of your Friday’s.

      Reply
  17. It’s the social side of drinkin that I miss when I stop. Other than aa there doesn’t seem to be places where u can actually go. I want to stop but am scared that the social side of abstinence will suck me back into the mire as it did when I stopped before. Maybe we need to start up a new alternative to aa?? Dot

    Reply
    • Sobriety doesn’t stop you from going to your favourite places or spending time with your friends, Dot. Personally, I still love going out and spending time in nice pubs, bars, restaurants etc. Sobriety will definitely be boring and miserable (and hard to stick to) if you stay at home and isolate. There are still LOADS of great things you can do without drinking – plus you get to drive home at the end of the night!

      Reply
      • Thanks Kate I know u r right I do realise I need to change my mindset. Before when I stopped I took total notice of the ‘stay out of wet places’ brigade and it backfired. I gave those places the power whereas yes I need to confront the so called enemy, which of course only resides in the bottle not the pub in itself. Really hope I can stop soon

        Reply
    • Dot, I tried AA and it made me feel helpless and shameful. I checked into the SMART Recovery program that’s in the US. Not sure where you live but Google it. It’s more of an empowerment program. Good luck. I know how you feel

      Reply
  18. I am struggling a lot. I was sober for 9 years and was doing well, in that time I got married and had 2 children now 3 and 5. I started drinking again after the second one was born, he had colic and the stress of it got the better of me. I was positive I had “grown out” of problem drinking, and if it became a problem again I’d quit again. Well here i am 3 years later, having a bottle of wine nearly every night. It’s easy to convince myself it’s ok, cause nothing bad happens, except I feel like shit all the time, don’t sleep well, have gained weight, etc.
    Every morning I wash up determined to stop and by 5 o’clock the craving gets the better of me, “this time I’ll just have 2”. I lie to myself all the time.

    Reply
    • I’m really sorry to hear you are struggling Caryn. I’ve just written a new free guide that you might find helpful for getting through 5pm: http://thesoberschool.com/wineoclock
      Good luck x

      Reply
    • I drink like once a week and I always feel like shit afterwards. Two days later I feel really good again. I recognized that this is just an illusion. I always forget what happened the days before. I really want to get a life now. This is not me anymore. I sit in front of a glass of wine, thinking I don’t need you. And then I drink it.

      Reply
  19. I had 8 days sober and then left for a camping trip. I drank wine every night telling myself that after the vacation I would get back on track. I’ve been home 5 days and Ive had a bottle of wine each night. Last night I woke up at 2 am so sick and uncomfortable and angry with myself. These lies have to end. Today is day 1. I know I can do this.
    during my 8 days sober I felt so healthy and clean and proud. I got over confident. I thought I could Contol it this time. I was wrong. Thank goodness today is a clean slate.

    Reply
  20. This article was fantastic. I’m sober 11 (or is it 12) days and it’s just an overwhelming sense of relief that I’m finally doing it. 5 or 6 o clock is the worst time of day, so I’ve started taking a bath instead of fiddling around in the kitchen where I’d want to pour a glass. By 7pm the craving is gone and I feel proud of myself again for making it through another day. It was a big deal for me to confide in my group of friends that I want to quit and that I need their support to do it, but once I went public with it everything got easier. A few days ago I got messages from a few of them asking which resources I’m using because they want to cut back a little bit too.
    Thanks so much for this website, it’s the most helpful and non judgemental thing I’ve found.

    Reply
  21. Day 1. Scary but I am determined this Time. Reading everyone’s comments is so helpful and will be my daily inspiration .

    Reply
  22. Jenny, you are so right. 5 pm is killer but if you can just make it to 7 or 8, you are in the clear. Two hours!!! We can do this

    Reply
  23. This is so true and so helpful to me – on day 3! And seeing everyone else’s struggles makes me realise I’m not alone and there is help out there. Thanks.

    Reply
  24. Day 1. Been drinking again for 8 months now, after being sober for 3 years, and alcohol really has a powerful hold on me again. I drove on Tuesday and do not remember doing it.Thanks for all the great posts.

    Reply
  25. Hi. I am looking to reclaim my sobriety that I have lost over the last few years. I am afraid of failing. I hope to connect with others who understand.

    Thanks

    Reply

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