Kate's Blog

“Why Can’t I Be A Normal Drinker Like Everyone Else?”

Before I quit drinking, I spent a lot of time wishing I was a normal drinker.

I was annoyed that I didn’t seem to have more willpower or self discipline. 
(If beating yourself up was a sport, I’d have been in the Olympics.)
If you can relate, this video is for you.
It’s all about ‘normal’ drinking and seeing things from a more useful perspective…

Key points

What exactly is a normal drinker?

Is it someone who stops after one or two drinks? What about celebrations – a hangover is meant to be a sign of a good night, right? Is a normal drinker someone who doesn’t drink every day, or doesn’t drink alone? Who made up these rules?!

Consider this

Perhaps there’s never been anything ‘normal’ about using an addictive drug that causes your brain function to slow down. Alcohol can lead to nausea, vomiting, lethargy, headaches, tremors, heart palpitations, seizures and even death

Appearances can be deceiving

Here’s what I’ve noticed about many of the women who join my stop drinking course, Getting Unstuck: their lives tend to look great on the outside. They can often just have one or two drinks in public. Their friends may have no idea what goes on once they’re back home.

Be kind to yourself

It is intensely painful to think of yourself as weak, broken and abnormal. You can’t shame yourself into quitting – in fact, it’s very hard to make change happen from that negative place. Getting addicted to an addictive drug like alcohol is not a personal failing.

Shift your focus

Let go of the normal drinker obsession and start thinking about your relationship with alcohol as a puzzle. It’s just a pattern of behaviour that served you at one point and now it doesn’t. That’s it. You’re figuring out how to solve this – and that’s something to celebrate.
If you’d like some help and support to quit drinking – and create an alcohol-free life you love – click here for details of my online course.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


71 Responses

  1. This really resonated with me!! I was always looking at other people and asking why I couldn’t ‘do it’??. What was wrong with me??.Why could other people only drink once a week or’share’!!?? a bottle of wine. I had to realise alcohol was my drug of choice.It was my go to for everything..happy sad lonely excited heartbroken nervous etc..I’m now realising I’m not drinking for any enjoyment or that I even like the taste that much!!. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and I have no idea how far I will get or what will happen but I know I am the only one who can do it and I’m worth the effort to try (yes that took a long time to come out of my mouth!!) good luck everyone xxxx

      1. Every week I start with “I’m not going to drink Sunday to Thursday “, unless we have visitors, go out for a meal etc., so that’s not working , then it’s one wine one water, until the second glass of wine and my wine brain takes over. It is taking me longer to recover from drinking , which means I am wasting a whole day feeling unmotivated, tired and asking myself when will I ever learn ?
        Girls weekend this weekend …. hoping the one wine one water will work

    1. I am on day one and finding it the most scary thing I’ve ever had to do because only I can do this and it is all my own idea to do it the only thing is my husband has said he will do it with me and I don’t want him too this is my thing not his and also if he fails then I am scared that I will follow. It’s just like the time I joined the gym and he said he would join with me and he came with me every time I went it really spoilt it for me I gave up going in the end then of course so did he. So I want this to be just mine and he really is ok with drinking he is not like me sweating when I get near to the bottom of the bottle xxxx

  2. Thanks Kate for an insightful video. I agree there is no such thing as ‘normal’ imbibing of poison. We all crave ‘escapism’ to some extent and drinking is one gateway.
    Oh dear! Existential angst!

      1. Thank you for an insightful wat to think about normal!
        I also appreciate the puzzle approach!
        I hope to use this to make better choices to cope!
        Today is a new day

    1. Normal drinking to me used to mean not binge drinking, not drinking daily or if I decide to drink-limiting myself to only 2-3 drinks, or not having a “day cap”. I haven’t had a drink in over 6 months, due to the fact that I had a really bad 1 car accident in February due to drunk driving. Lucky for me and I thank God that I was alone and I drove my car into basically a brick wall, which resulted in me being hospitalized then moved to a rehab facility for 4.5 months. I was discharged and able to come home June 15. I’m sober at the moment due to all the medications that I am currently taking. Even after all of the trauma that I’ve been through, I’m still wondering if I can become a normal drinker. I’m glad I found this website and I hope I will one day graduate and become a normal drinker.

      1. It sounds like you had a lucky escape there Janice. What a great time to change your relationship with alcohol for good – you’ll be so much better off without this poison in your life.

  3. I’ve appreciated so much each of your videos. They helped me get to a place where I wanted to stop drinking because I wanted to take care of myself, not because I had failed or was a bad person. Now, I am celebrating my first year sober. It is not easy, but so worth it. Thank you for inspiring me to love myself enough to quit.

  4. I read a quote once, “I might as well wish I was a zebra. I have the same chance of that as of being a normal drinker”. Really resounded with me.

  5. I’ve expressed this thought out loud to my doctor as well as close friends. It doesn’t seem fair!! That being said, I’m 13 months sober and starting to accept my new “normal” and enjoy life without the constant worry of whether I have enough wine to make it through the evening.

    1. I hope today’s video has helped you realise that asking that question is a waste of time. And you have absolutely nothing to miss out on! Congratulations on your sobriety 🙂

  6. I love your comment that “It is intensely painful to think of yourself as weak, broken and abnormal”. I’ve experienced this over and over while drinking and yet I didn’t stop. I appreciate you reminding me that I was doing the best I could with the tools I had. I’m now doing the work to uncover my triggers and develop new coping skills so that I can leave behind the old weak, broken, and abnormal vision of myself.

    1. I’m glad that resonated with you. We do the best we can with what we know. And then when we know better, or know differently, we can make different choices. Keep going Kathy!

  7. I know I’m not a “normal “ drinker. If I have one I know it will lead to more. I have to fight the “want”, “need” and “ more”. I’m trying to get out of triggers or habits where I drank. I’m very happy not drinking. Everything us better in my life, but it is a daily decision.

  8. Hi Kate, your message today certainly resonated with me as I am certainly not a “normal” drinker. I just can’t seem to stop at one glass/bottle then consider more and its not normal and being day 2 again AF after a slip-up, I’m trying to get past that wine time of the evening so I will keep myself busy tonight and I know i will feel great in the morning! Thank you so much for your support. Debbie

    1. Hi Deborah, it sounds like you’re looking for some help and support? I know how tricky it is to try and stay on track when you’re doing this alone. If you want to work with me on this, please check out my online course. Here are some details about the next class: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      1. I always wondered why I couldn’t drink ‘normally’ & would always be really envious of my friends who could stop after 2 glasses of wine…it took me a long time to realise that alcohol was the problem, not the solution & that I didn’t need alcohol to be happy, to be accepted & that being ‘normal’ is overrated anyway!!! Lol

  9. I am thinking about what to do. It’s hard because I enjoy drinking wine but do go too far. Can I learn to moderate? Not sure! That’s ideally what I’d like to do but I can’t just buy one bottle it has always got to be two. I am often stressed so see this as a way of temporary escapism. As sad as it sounds I can’t imagine what life would be like not drinking.
    I do know though at 46 and years of doing this I’m worried about health implications and the fact it changes my attitude around family that has caused many a row. What a mess! Help!

  10. Great video, really made sense. Thank you for that moment of clarity. I am looking at how to solve this puzzle and know i have a bit of a journey, but despite being a little bit scared of what I’ll find as the reasons why I drink too much I’m also a bit excited that my future is looking a little less glum and a lot less drunken x

  11. Every morning I wake up and swear no wine at all. But today at 5pm I poured myself a glass and then had a second glass while I went through photos I had taken today. WHY? I am a full time carer – so I need to be alert, I need to be able to drive for goodness sake – I know I need to break the cycle – I know I will feel better for not drinking AT ALL! If we are out for a meal with friends I do only have one glass of wine! Plus I know I am pre-diabetic! For goodness sake I am 70 I should be able to handle this!

    1. Hi Sue, it sounds as if you’re trapped in a bit of a pattern at the moment and you need some help breaking out of it? I know you can do it! If you’re looking for support to change, I wanted to make sure you knew about my online course? Here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

  12. KateTwo years Ago I took your course. This month I will celebrate 2 years alcohol free.!!! Thank you so much for your course. It was the course that change my life. I will forever be grateful to you. Cate

  13. This was eye opening, showing there is no “normal” to compare ones habit too.
    It also has me wondering why i think mot drinking is not “normal”.
    I enjoy your thought provoking blogs and look forward to your course.

    1. I’m glad this struck a chord with you Terri. There’s not much that’s ‘normal’ about using alcohol, once you really think about it!

  14. This resonates with me. I don’t think I have ever had a ‘normal’ relationship with alcohol. Happy, sad, celebrating, commiserating, Sunday lunch, dog walk that ends in the pub, every evening – any excuse. I am a habitual drinker of wine. Until 7 days ago I had had an alcoholic drink every day of 2020 – and a lot more than one over lockdown. Today is day 7 AF. Shooting for 90 days and beyond.

  15. Your video made me realize that I am one of those people who needs to learn to sometimes “sit with uncomfortable feelings” rather than seek artifical joy. I also appreciate what you said about the glamourization of alcohol. There is very little glamour the next day in waking up with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing because I couldn’t stop myself from opening another bottle of wine.
    Being a functional alcoholic has been my “normal” for far too long and it is not what I want for myself.

    1. It’s so important not to make do the with artificial joy that drinking brings. Not just because the morning after is always so terrible… but because when you numb the highs, you also numb the lows. So you never know true joy when you’re drinking. Life is more joyful without booze, no question 🙂

  16. You are so right how can any drinking be normal when it’s a drug none of us need to take. I started my own sober September and tonight is my 7th day clear of alcohol. It’s been really hard I won’t lie really hard and I’ve been tempted so many times to ‘start again tomorrow’ but I didn’t and I feel really proud of myself for getting this far. I always felt I could handle my drink but never knew my limits and before I knew it I was waking up with no idea what had happened and how I’d got to bed. My husband and I have had a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol since we lost our 9 year old son in 2012. We’ll if I’m honest it was probably unhealthy before then too but…I’ve been trying to change my relationship with alcohol for 3 years now but it’s hard because my husband isn’t interested in changing and thinks it’s ok but I’ve had enough now I want my life back and I’m determined I can have a normal life without alcohol.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. But I think it’s great you’re choosing a different path forward for yourself – and you’ve recognised that alcohol isn’t helping you or giving you the results you want. Wishing you all the best with your alcohol free journey Suzi.

      1. This was just what I needed to listen to this evening. I’ve gone seven days without even a whiff of wine or alcohol. I’m quite proud of myself, until I remember it’s seven days! I am counting days which is probably better than hours or minutes! Thanks for the encouragement

    2. I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I think it is incredibly brave to choose to give up alcohol. I wish you the very best in your journey, you are brave and strong. You can do this!

  17. your video was great, thanks for sending it to me. I know, that I do want to do one of your on line course but not sure what fits me…I am AF for one year, and two months. I love it! I am happy about it.. but want to make sure, I keep it up!

    1. Hi Erin, I do have some people in longer term sobriety take the course if they need a boost. I’ll be sharing more information about the class at the end of this month, when enrolment opens, so keep an eye out for more details 🙂

  18. I have friends who wouldn’t dream of drinking before midday but take them to an airport at 5am and they are straight at the bar! Myself included. Our society has drinking “norms” and drinking “faux pauxs” and put one foot out of those and you are frowned upon big time. It’s also a fluid thing as it changes over time. My parents grew up in a generation where women didn’t really drink and men could drink 7 nights a week yet no one drank at home unless it was Christmas and even then the rules were a small sherry or equivalent.

  19. My beloved daughter forwarded your video to me,not because I have a problem with alcohol, but because she does. She’s had more than 20 years of a difficult marriage and stressful job and increasingly took to relaxing with the wine bottle. When she left her husband and came to live with me after my husband died earlier this year, she finally felt secure enough to stop drinking. I have my one glass with dinner and she has a fruit cocktail. After only a week she is feeling heaps better. How can I best support her? I can see that having just one glass as I do, is probably not the way forward for her.

  20. Brilliant Video. When a desire to drink arises, the puzzle for me is this: “What is it that I really need at this moment?” Maybe I’m feeling left out. I’m hoping for a feeling of acceptance. That’s a situation I can do something about: I can more deeply follow an interest, I can join a new group, etc. Maybe what I really need right now is understanding or compassion. Writing about this and getting to the core of the situation with self-compassion works wonders. And/or I could hook up with a good therapist. Alcohol is what keeps the puzzle pieces scattered. Drinking creates an additional problem. Thanks for your ongoing wisdom, Kate. You are turning us into victors, one met feeling at a time. ♡

  21. Hi Kate.
    I’m one of those people who can have 1 or 2 glasses when in public, but I was drinking every night at home. Now I have been overdrinking since my late 20s, gallons of the stuff, every night. For the 1st time in my adult life I have reached day 50 something…I’m not so obsessed with reaching the end date, hence me forgetting how far I’ve Come. Here’s the amazing thing, I’m 51 years old. That’s 23 or 24 years of drinking loads almost every night and BOOM I’ve stopped. It’s taken me way too long, and heaven knows the damage I’ve done, but thanks to you Kate, I feel as if I’m going to enjoy the rest of my life sober. It’s early days really, and I’m still having the occasional urge, that voice that says “you’ve done it, you can have a drink anytime and quit again” but I just tell my brain troll to shut up… And he does.
    Any ladies out there struggling, you can do this, please don’t give up xxx
    Thankyou Kate xxx

  22. I’m on day 27 AF and feel like a veil has fallen from my eyes and I finally see alcohol for what it is; a poisonous monster who basically wants to kill me. I am so over having any more day 1’s…waking up full of shame or regret or embarrassment over whatever I said or did while drinking. I just can’t start again. Failure is not an option this time. Thanks for your video’s, Kate. They are very inspiring.

      1. So very true what is normal drinking. Really great video I felt I could relate to. I’m 335 days alcohol free and its definitely a great journey to be on.

  23. Thank you Kate. This was very insightful, and by seriously looking at drinking as a coping mechanism I was able to understand more fully why I began drinking at a young age and never saw it as coping, but boy was I coping!! It was always just “partying” and having a good time. I feel it’s really time to rid myself of a habit that no longer serves me physically or emotionally. (Not that it ever did!). I’m ready to dig in and do the work to solve this puzzle. Feeling hopeful for what is to come!

  24. Hi Kate. Thanks so much for the video and all your advice. I stopped drinking a couple of years ago and made it one year sober, but went right back to where I was. Yes, too thought I could just start with one glass of wine or one mixed drink but it did not work. I’m back to almost one bottle of wine a night. I know this is not healthy. I do love red wine and would very much like to drink in moderation but not sure that is possible. We all carry ghosts in our closet so to speak and alcohol really helps cope with these crazy times. Thanks again for all you do!

  25. Normal drinkers have an off switch and I just don’t have an off switch. I love the feel of getting a buzz and it is very difficult for me to stop at one or two drinks. I have been sober for 15 days and I am very happy with myself. It feels good to go to a party and not have to apologize for something I did or said while under the influence. I am still struggling with cravings, but I would rather struggle with cravings than feel ashamed of my behavior while under the influence. Thank you for the motivational emails!

  26. I am 93 days (13 weeks) AF today. I have lost 23 pounds, and feel so much better. I look forward to reading the weekly posts because they help me stay focused on the reasons I decided finally to put the glass down. Thanks Kate, and blessings to everyone.

  27. I just finished listening to you and I think that the way you approach this issue demonstrates that you know how this feels and can point to a way that helps identify the behaviors and how to address them. Thank you and I’m planning to stay tuned.
    Thank you for giving me something to think about as I start living again as a widow. I’ve met someone and I think it’s time for me to confront this issue.

  28. Thank you Kate, it’s Sunday morning & I am on day 42 and I am still wondering about how I ended up drinking so much each evening before I said enough is enough and I will stop for 30 days and I have extended to 60 days. What is normal drinking video is really helping because I couldn’t understand why I am not like other people who drink reasonably. Thank you and I will now work on my ‘puzzle’ instead of getting cross with myself.

  29. I struggle with this constantly! I just hate that I feel like I’m some deeply flawed person and everyone else around me can handle drinking “normally.” It’s funny because I did a sober October this year and people who I consider “normal” drinkers scoffed and were almost like baffled as to why someone would do that, but I figured it’s only 30 days? Thank you Kate for this video it’s a nice reminder how silly it is that we constantly compare ourself to “normal” drinkers.

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