Is This Good Enough For Me To Stay As I Am?

Is This Good Enough For Me To Stay As I Am?

“I’m not sure if my drinking is bad enough for me to have to quit.’’
.

This is something I hear a lot, and it’s a debate I had with myself for a long time. Did I really need to stop, or was I overreacting? It didn’t help that I grew up believing there were just two types of drinkers: Raging Alcoholics and Everyone Else. I definitely wasn’t in the first category, so I was ok… right?

It took me a long time to realise that I was approaching this from the wrong angle. By focusing on whether my drinking was ‘bad enough yet’ I was concentrating on completely the wrong thing. What I should’ve asked is this:

“Is this good enough for me to stay as I am?”

If you’re mulling over the same question right now, here are some points to consider.

 


Are you happy right now?

How much time do you spend beating yourself up about your drinking, regretting how much you had the night before, or struggling through the day with a hangover? How does that impact on your quality of life?

If, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really bother you, then great – no big deal. But if you are waking up at 4am, wracked with guilt and wondering what you did the night before, now’s the time to get real about that.

What benefits are you getting from drinking and staying stuck in your current situation? Examine this closely. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives?

If you had some kind of illness that occasionally made you feel hungover and depressed, would you just accept it as ‘one of those things’, or would you be banging at your doctor’s door, demanding some kind of cure?

 

Compare your standards in other areas

Maybe you’re passionate about healthy eating, buying organic and avoiding highly processed foods. Perhaps you’re partial to the odd green smoothie, and you know your chia seeds from your goji berries. Maybe you’re a big runner or a yogi, or you obsess about getting your 10,000 daily steps in.

My question for you is: given your high standards during the day, does it make sense to take a dangerous drug like alcohol in the evening?

Alcohol is said to be a direct cause of 7 types of cancer. The NHS says there is no safe drinking level. Of course, the health risks associated with alcohol may be risks you’re willing to take. If that’s the case, that’s fine – but it’s worth making sure you know all the facts first. Wine is not just innocent, happy grape juice.

 

If this was a romantic relationship, what kind of relationship would it be?

The chances are, alcohol seemed like Mr Wonderful at first – fun, exciting and a little bit dangerous … but what’s it like now? For me, alcohol felt a bit like a doomed love affair. There were lots of great promises to begin with, lots of fun in the early days, but it dwindled into a stale, repetitive, negative relationship.

So what’s your relationship with alcohol like?

Is it a loving, enjoyable and stable one, or has it drifted into a slightly abusive relationship? Think about how that makes you feel. Are you willing to put up with that, or is it time to part ways?

 

Don’t let the fear of being labelled interfere with your decision

I don’t go around calling myself an alcoholic, because I’m not. To me, the term alcoholic implies that it is abnormal to become addicted to alcohol. And that’s really weird, because with all other mind-altering, dangerous drugs we seem to expect users to become addicted and we don’t judge them for it.

We don’t condemn smokers for becoming nicotineoholics, do we? We don’t berate them for losing control and getting addicted to an addictive substance. Booze is no different.

If alcohol isn’t working in your life, it’s really no big deal.

It’s not a sign that you’re broken, or weak or different. It’s just a sign that you’re consuming a toxic drug and you don’t like the side effects. That’s it. Don’t let the fear of being labelled hold you back from a lifestyle change that could be the beginning of a very exciting, happy new chapter for you.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Thank you Kate, your blogs are keeping me on track over the summer.

    Reply
    • Thanks Sharon, keep going! 🙂

      Reply
      • This is an amazing motivator for me. I’m 5 months booze free and the little voice in me is starting to cajole me into thinking I can moderate now. This post is an excellent reminder of the realities of my relationship with alcohol. An abusive relationship was all it ever was.

        Reply
        • Congratulations on your 5 months Andrea 🙂

          Reply
  2. I am 5 days AF now and I like it! BUT I feel hungover all the time. The worst part is headaches every day. The last 2 days they are even worse! I don’t crave the alcohol except at the witching hour and even then the craving doesn’t last too long and I’m fine the rest of the evening. I am just wondering how long I will feel this bad ? I’ve been drinking every evening for about 5-6 years. 2 martinis before and 1 wine or beer w dinner

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 5 days – that’s great! Depending on your previous level of alcohol consumption, the physical consequences of stopping abruptly can be very serious, so it’s always best to consult your doctor if you’re worried about anything. They’re the best person to advise you on this.

      Reply
  3. Thank you Kate! I really needed to read this today. I had a few drinks again recently after being sober for some time and it wasn’t even that enjoyable. I used to worry about the label but this put it in such great perspective. Love what you do!

    Reply
  4. This rang so true for me!
    After an alcohol fueled accident leaving me with facial injuries and 2 black eyes (alcohol, maxi dress and flip flops are not a good combo!)
    I have decided to begin my alcohol free life today.
    Alcoholism is in my genes. My Uncle died in the gutter, 3 brothers alcoholic – 2 dead and 1 surviving alcohol free for 26 years, however, he’s a recluse and suffers with extreme anxiety now.

    I need to find a happy balance between these 2 stages!

    I’ve tried “cutting down” only to cheat and kid myself that the wine I bought for the sauce for tonight’s supper isn’t going down my neck with the faintest splash in the food. This has become my habit!

    My Dad died in April (not alcohol related) I was at his side for 3 weeks and held his hand as he took his last breath! This escalated my drinking, wine was joined by Gin and so the pattern continued.

    After my accident I asked myself “do I really need alcohol? Does it make me feel better” The answer is NO.
    I’m naturally bright and bubbly so why do I insist on drinking to excess at every opportunity!
    Would my Dadbe proud of me? Er No! Is my drinking affecting my Daughter (19) yes it is and it accelerates her anxiety. Is my gorgeous husband totally fed up with me? Yes
    All these things stacked up makes me realise I stand to lose so much if I don’t take control today!
    I’m off to my first AA meeting tonight supported by my best friend who will help me every step of the way.
    I’m keeping the picture of my battered face to remind how bad its got!

    Here’s to a new beginning. I’m ready and willing to make this change.

    Reply
    • Well done for jumping in – here’s to a new beginning!
      Let me know how you get on at AA – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’d like some more help from me, check out my 6 week stop drinking course – it’s all done online and we have a fab, inspiring community 🙂
      Here are some more details: http://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
      • I agree with this post, and good luck Jackie, it is really worth it. The question of whether you are an alcoholic or not is irrelevant – it is whether alcohol overall is augmenting your life. I did “Go Sober for October” a year and a half ago and that started it – felt so much better, got my evenings back, and my mornings. But then went back to drinking.
        Did it again the year after, found myself looking forward to it. Then did dry January then found this blog which helped me reason why every time I stopped one of these months, I’d drink to celebrate and feel crap again.
        Just given up since wasted a day of a camping weekend with kids completely hungover 2 months ago. I promised myself until an event in August. I have stuck to this – with the phrase “I am alcohol-free at the moment” and only one friend saying, why, did you have a problem with alcohol? I didn’t know! I will see what happens this weekend. But going to be alcohol free after this until Christmas. At least I can’t blame my memory lapses and headaches on myself any more. That lack of guilt is so liberating.

        Reply
    • Hi Jackie, I’m new to this board and read your post. I’m curious, how are you doing now?

      Aleena

      Reply
  5. I am on week 3 of no drinking and I feel great! Thank you for your blog Kate. It helps to know on a Sunday (a day when I would normally drink to get over the fact I am back at work tomorrow and my weekend is truly over- sob sob!) that your blog will come out on Monday and provide some support. Jackie- hang on in there! I felt terrible for my first week (I have been drinking a bottle of red wine every night for the past 3/4 years). I slept loads and just felt heavy somehow. Got headaches too. In the second week I felt much better and my sleep is so much improved. Don’t give up- its a phase you go through.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 3 weeks!

      Reply
    • Thank you Rebecca that’s good to know. I guess I didn’t realize (or admit anyway) how excessive my drinking was and to have these withdrawals is a surprise to me I thought since I only drank in the eve and didn’t crave Any other time (in fact I could turn down a drink easily any other time of day) I was ok and in control. Deep down I have known something is wrong because I’ve been looking up the definition of an alcoholic for a long time now thinking I couldn’t be one could I? I just have a habit. Still don’t know if I am one or not. I am Hung up on that term I’m afraid. I do like this blog – so glad I found it! Thank you all

      Reply
  6. Day 50 for me tomorrow AF 🙂 feeling great..

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  7. Thanks Kate. It’s just like abusive relationships, isn’t it. It makes you feel down and worthless, saps your self esteem. I had such a great, sober couple of days. Now I am planning another sober evening and more reading and a relaxing bath. Because I deserve that SO much more than swigging down wine I don’t actually enjoy! Thanks Kate!

    Reply
  8. You raise some really good points! We need to reframe how we look at alcohol, and what it’s actually doing to us. Once we do that, ditching it becomes a lot easier!

    Reply
  9. Excellent blog, really inspiring

    Reply
  10. Great blog! So much food for thought, thank you! Your blogs really help so much to put things in such perspective!

    Reply
  11. I am back to day one again & I feel like I am on a hamster wheel & I cannot get off! I know I need to make some changes so I am coming up with daily evening activities to keep myself busy. Hoping to make it a week & go forward from their. Thanks for your blog–it helps!

    Reply
  12. Kate, thank you. Your analogy to a bad relationship is profound. I had a great month in June and used birthday celebrations in July to ignore my resolve to not drink wine. Now, into August and I am still making excuses to have wine and the guilt continues. I am thankful that I receive your inspirational Monday blogs. I want to “feel great” like the others who have been successful! It’s not too late. Everyone who posts helps!!! Thank you. Blessings, Karen

    Reply
  13. Hi Kate,

    I read all of the comments and I agree with all of them and your blogs, however I still struggle to stop myself. the other problem I have is that when I drink I sometimes can’t find my stop button. ~I am currently seeing a thereapist who works on the cbt side of things with added hypnotherapy. I do feel stronger on some days and went 5 days last week. I am going to try again tonight. Your blogs are very helpful.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Thanks Sharon. If you’d like some more help to stay on track with your sober goals, make sure you take a look at my course. (Lots of my clients take it whilst working with a therapist).
      http://thesoberschool.com/course/
      Keep going!

      Reply
  14. Hi Kate. .really find your blogs help ..just wondered when your next course starts? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah – the next course will start on October 2nd 🙂

      Reply
  15. My biggest struggle is finding something to replace this habit with. When that over-powering desire hits me my mind is so powerful. The reasoning I had the day before just doesn’t exist.

    Reply
  16. Yes to all of this, this whole site. You are always spot on. I am such a health nut in some ways – work out daily and eat healthy only to destroy this hard work by killing a bottle of wine. Goodness. I will say I finally did have an episode that really prompted me to admit this is a problem and look for help. I started examining my life and the issues I was having that I was using alcohol as a cover up for – dealing with those concurrently have helped me then also deal with the booze. I have been slowly weening off during week and have cut wayyyy back on weekends and feel so amazing and in control now that it actually makes it easy to say no during the week and weekend. Taking the time to make a list and have a minute in the morning to be mindful of how you are really feeling and what is really going on your life helped me realize it was more than just the booze, and dealing with those issues is now helping me stay sober. Goal is to stop all together. This site has helped me tremendously with that. Thank you.

    Reply
  17. I recently completed a whole year of not drinking and I was feeling so fantastic, I was determined I would stay alcohol-free forever. I even spent three weeks in Italy in June, and celebrated the one-year mark while I was there, without wanting to drink. (People were amazed I could spend time in Italy without drinking wine).

    Then, inexplicably, three weeks after coming home, in July, I decided to share a bottle of wine with a friend after work one Friday. I felt pretty rubbish the next day, but I didn’t beat myself up. I’d enjoyed the fuzziness and the company, and I decided I needn’t be harsh on myself.

    That was six weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been convincing myself that I’ve been very sensible in my drinking, only two drinks maximum, sometimes only one – but the next day has never felt great. I have started to really miss the clarity of my time alcohol-free. Not feeling guilty, or doing anything regretful, but still feeling an uneasiness about the next-day sluggishness.

    Then, on Saturday night last week, I went to an event – I was kinda bored but was in good company, so I drank some white wine… and I just got carried away. I was having fun, and just let go, and didn’t bother keeping track of how much I’d had. In the end, one of the others had to drive me home in my own car – I’d insisted I was fine to drive, but really I wasn’t. I’m so grateful that she drove me. The next day, I felt so ill. A beautiful Sunday, completely wasted.

    And in this last week, I’ve felt out of sorts, and more emotional, and less positive, and more anxious about certain things. And once again wondering if total abstinence is the only way to go, or am I just being too harsh on myself?

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s pretty clear that life was happier when I wasn’t drinking. Logic says I’d be a fool not to say goodbye to the bottle for good. I turn 40 this coming Thursday, and I love the thought of a whole new chapter, not just for a year but for life.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, Kate. I really am astounded at myself for ending up back in the ridiculous thinking of wanting to ‘fit in’ and be a ‘normal drinker’ – especially when I had a year of not only surviving but thriving as a non-drinker, and feeling great and still having fun no matter where I was or who I was with.

    Reply
  18. End of day two AF today. I have felt so positive despite challenges with family health issues. Sunday was a huge wake up call. Worked out drank 3 bottles of wine, my usual consumption for many years was a bottle and a half. Pains in my right side racked with shame and guilt. These blogs and comments in conjunction with a superb psychotherapist … I am determined to change life around.

    Reply
  19. I’m so glad I found you all …. I can relate to most if not all of this. Solidly drinking for the last fifteen years since my divorce. I was just continuing an abusive relationship… The good was good and the bad was horrific,
    I feel like I have finally woken up and seen my drinking for what it really is … Sadly comforting. It’s so true I know how the story/evening will end if I don’t changed the script ……only just at the beginning…. But I can feel a change in my relationship with Alcohol… I can now see it as the false friend I seemed to have hooked up with ……

    Reply

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