Kate's Blog

31 Clues Your Drinking Is Becoming A Problem

How do you know when it’s time to quit?

If you’re a grey-zone drinker like I was, the chances are it’s not that clear.

Perhaps your life looks pretty normal from the outside? You’re still showing up and taking care of the 101 things on your to-do list.

And yet…

You keep drinking much more than you planned to and you regret it afterwards.

So how do you know when you’ve crossed a line?

There are 31 clues to pay attention to and I run through them all in today’s video.

Looking for the FREE 7 day workshop I mention in the video? Click here to find out more.

Here are the 31 clues that your drinking is becoming a problem: how many resonate with you?

  1. You spend a lot of time thinking about drinking – what, when, where and how much.
  1. You often promise to “just have one”, but that rarely happens. Once you start, it’s often hard to stop.
  1. You’ve created lots of rules around alcohol, such as not drinking before a set time and only allowing yourself certain types of drinks.
  1. You frequently break your own rules.
  1. You feel ashamed of your drinking and beat yourself up about it.
  1. You try to hide how much you’re drinking from those closest to you.
  1. Your partner has expressed concern.
  1. Your drinking feels like a big, heavy secret – it’s a source of stress and anxiety.
  1. You dread putting out the recycling bin. Sometimes you dispose of empties away from your home so no one sees how many there are.
  1. Given the choice, your favourite way to drink is by yourself. Alone, you can have as much as you like without being judged.
  1. When socialising, you keep a careful eye on everyone else’s glasses to make sure you don’t drink too fast.
  1. In public, you work hard to be moderate. People would be surprised to discover quite how much you drink at home.
  1. You’re passionate about running or yoga, so everyone assumes you must be super healthy. This makes you feel like a fraud.
  1. You’re disappointed – angry, even – if you’re unexpectedly asked to be the designated driver.
  1. When someone makes a joke about your drinking, you’ll analyse it for hours, wondering why they said it and what they really know.
  1. You’re often anxious about whether there’s enough alcohol available. Will your supplies last? Should you get more?
  1. You buy your wine from different shops on rotation because you’re worried the store staff will judge you.
  1. You delay eating so you can drink first – a full stomach would dampen your buzz.
  1. You feel bad about rushing through things, such as your child’s bedtime story, but you do. You want that drink.
  1. You’re regularly blacking out. There are long periods of time that you have no memory of.
  1. Mornings often begin with you trying to work out who you called last night and what you posted on Facebook.
  1. You frequently argue with your partner whilst drunk and then cannot remember why the next day.
  1. You drink to manage your emotions – whether it’s stress, sadness or something else. You have few other coping mechanisms.
  1. After a change in circumstances, e.g. retirement or leaving a stressful job, you thought your drinking would naturally wind down, but it hasn’t.
  2. You’re permanently exhausted. Alcohol is seriously affecting the quality of your sleep.
  1. You rarely have enough energy for the hobbies you used to love.
  1. Your physical appearance is changing. Your face looks puffier.
  1. You diet hard during the day, but you’re still putting on weight – you know the empty booze calories aren’t helping. 
  1. You’re scared something bad is going to happen. You’re not sure what, but you’ve had a few close shaves recently e.g. driving when you shouldn’t. 
  1. You keep googling things like, “Am I an alcoholic?”
  2. You find yourself on websites like this, looking for help.

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. 


14 responses

  1. OMG Kate your list really resonates with me.
    alcohol-free now since 1st January , feeling fantastic.
    However this is a great reminder of what it was like before, and therefore a brilliant reinforcing incentive to continue on this journey. You have listed all the reasons for NOT returning to drinking.
    Thank you Kate.

    1. You’re very welcome, it’s always useful to stop and remind yourself of how far you’ve come – congratulations on the first quarter of 2023 alcohol-free 🙂

  2. This really reminds me why I decided to go sober. It’s so good to be reminded. I said yes to all 31 clues! I am
    Nearly 1,000 days sober

  3. Awesome job Joy D. Im envious. Im at 64 days. You, other successfully sober ladies & Kate B. are my Heros. Keep on the sunny side of life! J

  4. To everyone out there – go and join the trial workshop. I once owned all of the 31 statements, didn’t believe I would get out of the hamster wheel. But now I have 15 months AF under my belt. And it all started with this workshop.

    1. Thanks Claudia, you are a shining example of the change that one decision made to your life – sobriety suits you 🙂

  5. Watched your first video today. I’m determined to quit for good, I lost my lovely husband last August; he was only 47. I honestly believe that drinking is making my grief impossible to deal with.

    It’s lovely to read all the positive comments. Looking forward to starting this journey.

    Thank you

    1. I am so sorry for your loss Dottie. Alcohol may temporarily feel like it’s helping but it never does long term. AF living will help you finally process your grief properly. I love your determination to do this for yourself.

  6. Thank you Kate for your wise words and encouragement. I’ve been 2 years completely sober now. I started my journey in 2019, and used to have the odd drink… gradually I lost the taste for it as I could see how it exacerbated my anxiety and I didn’t want to experience that again.
    What I have noticed in the last few years, is the need to address difficult emotions, which drink used to suppress. I know if I had carried on as I was I would not have been able to face those challenges in a safe way. I think it’s important to point out this aspect of sobriety, as it requires a willingness to do that. So much of our culture is geared to instant gratification, it is a gift to yourself to value that your whole person needs time and attention, not just a quick fix.
    All the best to everyone here, and thanks again Kate for your work.

    1. That is so true Lindsey, our emotions are a big part of life, and no longer being suppressed by alcohol, we need to learn how to process them. That’s why we cover it in the Getting Unstuck course.

  7. Hi there Kate.
    I sometimes check in to your blog just to remind myself how much this/you changed my life. My annual thank you letter!
    5 years ago this would have been mostly “yes”‘s for me. I remember so clearly stumbling across your website; a sigh of relief finding someone in the same boat; someone also not putting vodka on their cornflakes but giving me “permission” to acknowledge that if I thought I was drinking too much then I probably was and that was enough reason to do something about it. No judgement – just really good practical help in order to change.
    I am a previous student of yours – I did the April 2018 course after a lot of procrastination but I did stop drinking there and then and never looked back. Alcohol free now for 5 years and living a completely different life. Thank you. Jenny xxxxx

    1. Hi Jenny, great to hear from you. Congratulations on your 5 years of sobriety, that is so wonderful. I hope you have a wonderful Easter and get some time to celebrate in true alcohol free style.

  8. This hits me so much it hurts. Especially # 13 for some reason: You’re passionate about running or yoga, so everyone assumes you must be super healthy. This makes you feel like a fraud.

    I am so happy now that the good things I do for my body ACTUALLY make a difference. I am not running or doing yoga to make up for the wine I drank the night before. I am not spinning my wheels anymore. So much happier without the alcohol.

    Thank you for the reminder!

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