How often have you asked yourself, ‘Do I really need to stop drinking?’
Answering that question truthfully can be hard, especially when you desperately want the answer to be ‘no’.
When it comes to defining problem drinking, most of us think in stereotypes. We picture the down-and-out, the loser who’s drunk their life away. And then we think of ourselves, with our successful careers and nice homes and expensive wine. How could we have a problem?
For me, the fact that I didn’t drink every day was a big stumbling block. I was convinced that you could only have a ‘proper’ problem with booze if you were a nightly drinker. Or you drank in the morning. As I didn’t do either of those things I was ok … right?
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that problem drinking comes in all shapes and sizes. But in the boozy world we live in, working out what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not can be tricky.
Sometimes we just need a bit of a reality check. If you’re questioning your own drinking, or wondering if you need to stop, then check out this list of 8 things that ‘normal’ drinkers DON’T do:
1. Normal drinkers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol.
There’s the time you spend wrestling with yourself about whether you’ll drink or not; the time spent thinking about what you’ll drink, where and when. Afterwards there’s the guilt, the self-analysis and the promises to yourself. If booze is taking up a lot of brain space, that is a warning sign.
2. Normal drinkers can stop after a few drinks.
Once I’d started drinking, I never wanted to stop. It was like a switch had been flipped. I was always amazed by those take-it-or-leave-it drinkers who’d stop after a couple of drinks or – gasp – leave their glass half full.
3. Normal drinkers don’t create rules around their drinking.
Only drinking after a set time, only drinking at the weekend; not keeping alcohol at home, only buying it in small bottles, buying stuff you don’t really like; forcing yourself to have water in between drinks … these are all ways of trying to control your intake (and they never work for long!)
4. Normal drinkers don’t feel annoyed if their drinking plans are interrupted.
Ok, so maybe they feel mildly irritated, but it’s not a big deal. If you find yourself feeling resentful when you’re asked to drive or do something that requires you to stay sober, then pay attention to that.
5. Normal drinkers don’t worry about putting out the recycling bin.
You know what I mean on this one…
6. Normal drinkers don’t tend to visit websites like this.
The same goes for filling out online quizzes or typing the same questions into Google night after night. You only do that if you’re worried about your drinking. And you must be worried for a reason.
7. Normal drinkers prefer to drink socially.
Most people begin their drinking careers in a social context and for many people it stays that way – something they like to do in the company of others. When you start drinking alone, to experience the intoxicating effects of alcohol by yourself, you have to ask why that is.
8. Normal drinkers don’t suffer as a result of their drinking.
This is the big one. Take-it-or-leave-it drinkers might experience the odd hangover and moment of regret, but alcohol does not cause them problems on a day to day basis. If your relationships, health or work are suffering as a result of your drinking then that should make you stop and think.
I’d love to hear from you…
If you’ve quit already, what was it that made you stop and pay attention? What signs have I missed from this list? I’d love to hear your experiences.
Have a great week!