Do I Need To Quit Drinking? 6 Surprising Signs

Do I Need To Quit Drinking? 6 Surprising Signs

Do I need to quit drinking?

Years ago, when I was trying to decide what to do about my own drinking, I used to google this topic endlessly.

I was never sure if I was overreacting or not – I wasn’t a rock bottom drinker, but I didn’t feel like a ‘normal’ drinker either. I was somewhere in the middle, in the grey zone. 

If you can relate – or you’re trying to figure out what to do about your drinking – I made this week’s video for you.

I’m sharing 6 surprising signs you probably haven’t thought about before… these are the unexpected clues that it might be time to take a break:

 


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A quick recap of the six signs:

 

1. You’ve always got one eye on the booze.

You know exactly how much is left in the bottle. You’re keeping an eye on what everyone else is drinking and wondering if there’s enough left; you often feel anxious about getting to the shops in time so you can buy more.

 

2. You’re very touchy about your drinking.

Perhaps a friend makes an offhand, jokey comment about your love of wine and you replay the remark over and over in your head. What did they really mean by it? You worry that other people think you drink too much.

 

3. You’re relieved when you know you’re going to be able to drink.

You often feel worried that you won’t be able to drink in the way you want, so it’s a relief when you can. You feel delighted when someone else volunteers to drive, or you get home early so you can have a few drinks alone.

 

4. You create lots of rules around your drinking.

Perhaps you make yourself wait until a certain time of day. Maybe you have rules about what you can drink or where. (If you want some more ideas for ineffective rules that rarely actually work, check out this old blog post of mine!)

 

5. There’s a lingering feeling of fear and unease.

You have this sense that something bad is about to happen, you’re just not sure what. Perhaps you’ve already had a few close calls or put yourself in situations that could’ve ended in disaster, with you seriously hurting yourself or someone else.

 

6. You’re here.

Asking yourself if you need to stop drinking is generally a sign in itself. If alcohol is making you unhappy, you have nothing to lose by experimenting with sobriety and taking some time off from drinking. (Need some help to do that? You can find more support here.)

 

Let me know…

How many of these signs feel familiar? Which ones resonate with you the most? Or perhaps there’s been something else entirely that’s made you question your drinking. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂

 

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93 Comments

  1. Hi Kate
    Just to let you know I am 78 days af.

    Thank you for your support.
    Eils

    Reply
    • That’s great to hear Eileen! Many congratulations! 🙂

      Reply
      • My drinking became daily due to laziness and boredom. My husband and I do not work anymore. I’m honest with my doctor wjo told me I need to stop drinking. It’s been several days and I’m fine. I’ve done it before and can do it again. I get in ruts and need to pull out of them.

        Reply
      • All of the 6 signs resonated with me. Especially keeping an eye on how much is left in the bottle and going to different shops.

        Reply
      • Hi Kate , this video hits home. I’m struggling to stop.

        Reply
        • Me too Shelly – I’ve been telling myself for years ‘I’ll start stopping Monday’ etc

          Reply
    • I am 17 days AF – first target is end of September, then if it’s going well half term….
      From the 6 signs the ones that I really identify with are – keeping an eye on how much alcohol is left or available abs feeling relieved when it’s a drinking occasion. Also, once I start I just keep going! Yet in the last few years I’ve realised how much I prefer days out (rather than evenings out) when alcohol isn’t involved. Finally – I want to live longer!
      Thanks for all your encouraging emails and videos.
      X

      Reply
      • Hi Naomi ..in 19 days in ..I’m the same the point about watching beer was so me .. how are u feeling I’m feeling brilliant physically but hard at night ..adele

        Reply
  2. The one which resonates with me is that I feel relieved when I know I can drink. Quite sad really! Wish I didn’t feel like this.

    Reply
    • Being aware of how you feel is a great first step Susie. Now you can take action and do something about this. Taking a break from drinking would be a great idea – I wrote more about this here: https://thesoberschool.com/stop-drinking-autumn/

      Reply
    • I think a lot of people feel like this. If we are acknowledging it, we are on the right path.

      Reply
  3. All 6 points resonated with me. I am very aware of my drinking habits and it frightens me. I am willing and hoping to achieve an alcohol break, turning eventually to the abstinence route

    Reply
    • Go for it Gemma – you won’t regret it 🙂

      Reply
  4. All of these are me… I need help

    Reply
    • Hi Angela, if you’d like some help to stop drinking, I’d be happy to support you. The best way for us to work together is via my online course. The next class starts soon, here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  5. Hi Kate, I have to say that video is spot on! I can relate to 5. I am so much more happy living a alcohol free life. Still going strong and enjoy your weekly visits! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and put this journey in perspective and keepingme on track!

    Reply
    • It’s great to hear you’re happier AF. So many people see a shift in their mood and outlook on life when they quit! Well done Sherrie, keep going 🙂

      Reply
  6. All of them resonate with me They are spot on!
    Thank you
    Betsy

    Reply
    • Thanks Betsy 🙂

      Reply
  7. all of these apply to me. mostly so #4 – im currently making and then modifying rules as i go …

    Reply
  8. All 6 signs resonate with me the predominant one being number 3.

    Reply
  9. All.:/

    Reply
  10. A couple resonated with me ; I do feel upset if For any reason I think I can’t have a drink in the evenings but those evenings are very few and far between and If visiting friends I make sure I take a couple of bottles to be sure there’s enough to go around.

    Reply
  11. Hi Kate,

    I was nodding all the way through your 6 points and I do indeed resonate with all six of them. I’m more of a day drinker than night drinker so wine o’clock can literally be any time of day. I have the same lady serve me at our local shop during the week so I buy food alongside the wine that I don’t really need to make it look like I’m getting stuff in for dinner. Heaven forbid I should be buying a bottle of wine at 9am. I’ve also avoided that shop if I realise it’ll be 3 days in the trot and go out of my way to a different one. I don’t want people to think I’m “one of those”. Terrible eh? When my partner realises my wine consumption is on the up, he checks the recycling bin and I have been known to walk an empty bottle to the rubbish bin on the road (concealed in a carrier bag) to hide it. I enjoy my son and partner being out so I can drink freely but if I feel it’s too early and my son comes down the stairs I have hidden the wine glass in the kitchen behind the bread bin.

    When out with friends I keep an eye on what I’m guzzling but know a bottle is two glasses each and I will need at least 3 so I’m always constantly thinking of when is appropriate to go to the bar.

    I was horrified a few years back my 11 year old son chose a birthday card for me all about wine and got extremely defensive so yep, I’m touchy about that too. I can safely say I tick every single box. …. unfortunately!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience so honestly Nickie – you are certainly not the only one who feels this way.

      Reply
    • Nicky,I could be your twin.

      Reply
    • Reading Nickie story I think oh my gosh she has a problem. But it’s exactly my life. Thank you for sharing really helps to know we are not alone. Amazing work Kate is doing. Thank you so much!!! 2 days AF

      Reply
  12. All but #4.

    Reply
  13. I can identfy all 6 signs. Gave up Alchohol after Xmas and never looked back. Thank you for your blig. I was heading onto a bad road but am much happier now.

    Reply
    • That’s great to hear! Congratulations Eleanor – wishing you many more happy, healthy, alcohol-free days ahead 🙂

      Reply
  14. Numbers 3 and 4. I can’t wait until 5 pm on Friday and Saturday, because those are the rules I have created for myself. I am really good at avoiding it all week but once the weekend sets in I seem to lose my will power.

    Reply
  15. Hi I’m using alcohol and have been for a while as a means of helping me unwind at the end of a busy day ( which is most days) and also to help me sleep ! I don’t drink at all during the day but it’s getting to the point where I get quite panicky and irritable if I can’t have a drink . I tell myself most mornings that I’m not going to drink that night but more often than not end up doing so . Any advice would be gratefully appreciated , Bev .

    Reply
    • Hi Bev, I can definitely help you with this. Make sure you have a good look through my blog archives (they’re all packed with tons of tips and ideas). Or if you’re ready to really tackle this and make some lasting change, why not join my next stop drinking course? The October class starts soon. Here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  16. Trying to cut down with husband. We are having nights off and supporting each other. Good luck to you all xx

    Reply
    • Hi Julie, cutting down is a great place to start. However if it doesn’t work out, I’d highly recommend taking a complete break – most people actually find that easier than trying to “control” alcohol. If you’re interested, I wrote more about why moderation rarely works here: https://thesoberschool.com/control-drinking/
      Good luck with your sober journey!

      Reply
  17. Number 2 is defiantly me. How do people get out of the habit every night

    Reply
    • Hi Hayley – if you need some help breaking the habit I’d be happy to show you how. My next online coaching programme starts soon (it’s where we deep dive all of this, and help you quit and actually feel good about it.) Here are some more details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  18. I find these very helpful, Thanks!

    Reply
  19. Buying from different shops. Friends and family have commented! No days sober yet!

    Reply
  20. All 6 resonate with me, especially number 1, buying an extra bottle just in case, panicking that one wouldnt be enough. Alcohol free for almost 6 months, 170 days, and feeling lots of benefits. Scary how even after 6 months, i still get a familiar tempting feeling the same time on a friday evening! I look forward to your blog Kate, it focuses me to keep going each week.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 170 days – fantastic stuff! 🙂

      Reply
  21. 5 for me..i drink fri sat and maybe a sun ..last weekend was 3 bottles of red and a 70cl gin..this weekend 3 red ..l like it but just dont know when to stop

    Reply
  22. One week and a day AF. Love your articles.

    Reply
  23. I am well aware of all of these signs, particularly #1 and#3. I didn’t think others would identify with all of these signs because they seem so personal and private–and I know I thought I invented some of these clever “tricks.” Apparently, these are universal signs that a change may be in order. I think a big sign is feeling like you need to hide your drinking. That’s me too–it was, anyway. No alcohol for 3 weeks now, including my 30 year H.S. reunion.

    Reply
    • Well done for the last three weeks, that’s great! Keep going! 🙂

      Reply
  24. I can relate to all 6 points Kate. Really struggling and it’s worse as I am off work for a couple of weeks and can’t wait to get in at tea time to start drinking. So many good opportunities in life just now and I’m going to blow it if I don’t change. Feeling very vulnerable and not in control.

    Reply
  25. Hi Kate Yes the feeling of unease if very real for me and the anxiety that comes with it. I’m good all week and when Friday looms I can feel the excitment to have a drink.

    Reply
    • Did you know it takes 10 days for alcohol to completely clear the body? It’s an incredible powerful (and dangerous) drug, so if you’re repeatedly drinking every week, your body is in a constant state of withdrawal. And you’re making yourself do the hardest bit (being sober for those first few days and weeks) again and again and again! I’d love to see you take a proper break Kathy. It feels completely different to just being sober for a few days during the week. It could be life changing for you.

      Reply
  26. Most of them resonated with me. I have drank on a handful of occasions since the beginning of 2018. I’m not sure why I do it….it’s almost like I want to taste it to make sure it’s as gross/regrettable as I remember!!

    Reply
  27. I recognise all of these and could write another half dozen. I stopped completely on March 25th and wish I’d done it years ago …. my life is transformed. Please if you are in any doubt just stop completely – it’s liberating. No more fear and anxiety.

    Reply
    • Congratulations Sarah – what an inspiring post 🙂

      Reply
      • I’d love to help other women anyway I can – life completely alcohol free is fun, emotional at times but always real. You have so much more productive time and you feel like using every minute of it….. the best benefit is that your eyes regain a sparkle and people comment on how well you look.

        Reply
  28. Most of them sound familiar but particularly keeping 1 eye on the wine! If I’m out with friends I’ll constantly be checking their drinking but not in the sense of me having to hold back, but wanting them to hurry up so I can get more in! And if I didn’t an amount I’d be happy with it would kind of ruin my night.
    21 days AF today and going well, not craving it as much as I thought I would. All your blogs have really helped me get to this point Kate, so a big thank you!

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 21 days Julia! Here’s to many more 🙂

      Reply
      • Numbers 1, 2 & 3 are totally me. Happy to say I’m on day 23 AF. Sleeping WAY better, and my mood is so much happier. Think the alcohol was making me feel depressed – caught in a vicious circle. I find the first week really hard to break the habit, but once I’ve done that first week I’m no longer thinking about that drink when I get home from work. I now don’t want to have a drink at all because once I do then it quickly can become having a drink every night. For some people (like myself) stopping is the only way to go. No such thing as moderation. Hope to keep it up :-).

        Reply
  29. Kate
    A couple of these apply to me. I know I need to take a break before I make a fool of myself. I’m 52 yrs old

    Reply
  30. I can resonate with 4 of the signs. Haven’t started my AF journey as yet. Today I will. Wish me luck.

    Reply
  31. Hi Kate
    I also am guilty of all of these. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve gotten so angry when confronted about my drinking I made a complete fool in front of my kids. I have a huge weekend wedding coming up I promised not to drink. I feel scared that I might slip and make a fo of myself. Any ideas to help me
    I have never been sober to a wedding. Well my own but I was pregnant

    Reply
    • Hi Tanya, good luck with your sober wedding. If you scroll through my blog archives you’ll find tons and tonsof helpful tips and strategies. Here’s the link, so get reading! https://thesoberschool.com/kates-blog/
      If you need some more support to really make a lasting change to your drinking, I’d be happy to help you via my online coaching programme. The next one starts soon: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  32. Kate I relate to each and everyone of the 6 clues. I’m not feeling scared instead I’m feeling relieved that I’ve found someone/group to relate to I felt very alone and ashamed in the past for not being able to control my drinking when it seems everyone else could. I’m sober 21 days since finding your site and have read most if not all of your content/blogs – thank you for sharing – I feel normal for the first time.

    Reply
    • You’re definitely not alone in feeling this way Elaine. Congratulations on your 21 days! 🙂

      Reply
  33. I relate to all six.
    Hugely vicious circle.
    Cannot write at the moment as too sad.

    Reply
  34. All 6 resonate with me.
    Still drinking every night.
    Hope to stop soon but no night seems a good night to start at the moment although I am desperate to stop.
    Managed three weeks in January and felt amazing then fell back into it.
    I know that completely stopping is my only option!

    Reply
  35. So glad I found this blog I so want to stop drinking this site is going to be helpful

    Reply
  36. Yes, yes, yes , yes , yes and yes!!!

    Reply
  37. All of those signs were me.. and I had to hit my own ‘rock bottom’ before I stopped..! Just celebrated 365 days of sobriety on Sunday.. thank you so much for your blog.. it keeps me motivated to continue on this journey to a healthier, happier Me..:)

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 1 year sober Candice, that’s brilliant 🙂

      Reply
    • Awesome milestone Candice! One year is awesome. Keep going!

      Reply
  38. All of them worked out how many units I drink weekly and it’s not good.

    Reply
  39. All of these .. it’s frightening .. I wish I had your strength

    Reply
  40. All of those signs are me. I really want to stop drinking and have asked my husband for his support as he needs to stop too (he has a heart condition but as he feels well I think he thinks it does not apply to him). This is what makes it hard for me when he drinks too. I have put on loads of weight too due to drinking too much. As of today I am three days AF and am aiming to get to the end of the week as AF.

    Reply
    • Keep going Jayne! 🙂

      Reply
  41. Thanks Kate. I laugh when I watch because that’s me. I had all the signs. I am 7 months sober now and life is so much better. I was under the control of alcohol for so many years, especially that last one. It controlled my mind daily and it took over my life. My family was concerned, my health was a concern, and just my dependence on it like you said. I changed stores, stayed home to hide, counted my bottles of wine, made sure I was taken care of, etc. I am so free now. In the beginning, it was sad to think I could never drink again, but now, I never want to. I don’t even think about it. I just had to buy a case of wine for my daughter’s upcoming wedding and it doesn’t even bother me to have it sitting in my house. I hope this last the rest of my life. I will continue to watch your weekly videos. Thank you so much:)

    Reply
    • Thanks Liz and congratulations on your 7 months! It sounds as if alcohol free living suits you 🙂

      Reply
  42. I quit drinking just after Christmas and have 263 glorious AF days. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Before that I could check off every one of the signs you mention Kate. I’d like to add one more: spending so much of your mental energy planning around alcohol. Since I was a day drinker, if I had errands to run I’d have to plan way ahead and make sure to do them as early as possible so I could get home and start drinking. That way I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere later. Most evenings I spent stuck at home, isolated, like a slave to my habit. I’d even get super annoyed if my kids had anything they wanted to do in the evening that required me to drive them. I feel a lot of shame about that still. But now I feel tremendous freedom: I can go anywhere, anytime I want! It’s amazing

    Reply
  43. Yep. I can relate. All 6.
    I can’t seem to get past 3 days af.
    I’ve subscribed for ages now, but never actually read your advice. And I admit, I was having a glass while listening to this and this was the first thing I’ve listened to.
    Time to actually make a change.

    Reply
  44. I have been following you for some time now but this blog really struck a chord. All six signs resonated with me but particularly number 3. I also just read in your comments about how your body is in a constant state of detox when you only go a couple of days af each week. That really makes sense to me. I would like to see how it feels to really be af. I think I’m finally ready to give alcohol a proper break. I’m not ready to commit to forever. On day 3…

    Reply
  45. All 6 sadly hit home.

    Reply
  46. Hello Kate, all 6 I have felt before. I have been wanting to slow it down but, that doesn’t work at all. I only have one drink or two drinks a night and only when I’m not working the following day. I used to get up and walk or run every day and now I’m am just too lazy and have gained a lot of weight! I want to stop not slow down just stop!

    I hope you can help

    Reply
  47. Hi I’m trying not to drink during the week but by the time Thursday arrives I find it difficult to keep going .It’s hard to stop at just one too.

    Reply
  48. All of them

    Reply
  49. Another sign is throwing away alcohol. Every morning when I awaken I say ‘I’m NOT drinking tonight’. I know exactly how much booze is in the house and if my hangover is bad I know the bit of wine in the bottle and the quarter bottle of gin has to go immediately so my first action is to throw them down the sink. What a waste of money! I can’t afford to do this, in fact I can’t afford to drink the way I do. I’ve done this so many times. Alcohol is such a powerful enemy but not as strong as me. I will beat it! 20 days AF and feeling good. Thanks Kate, I look forward to your weekly emails, it’s good to know I’m not alone.

    Reply
  50. Hi really enjoying your videos a lot of it hits home. I have cut down a huge amount over the last few years but have yet to be able to make the final step and stop completely your talks are really helping me get my head in gear. Thanks keep it up

    Reply
  51. I identify with all six signs and hav just joined a slimming club and need alcohol free days as I’m not happy with my daily drinking

    Reply
  52. Hi Kate, the feeling of unease is with me a lot, not because something has happened but I’m afraid something will. Either my liver will fail or I’ll get in an accident…who knows. I have alcoholism in my family and I feel crappy on the weekends a lot. Anyway, I enjoyed your video very much, thanks.

    Reply
  53. All 6 – I’ve not read all the comments and not yet got to all the help you provide so was wondering if anyone has any advise on where best to go for support – is there a support group where we can talk to each other? I need to do this.
    Xx

    Reply
  54. I’m always making excuses for my drinking! Even though all 6 reasons resonate with me No1 an No2 are the most relevant to me!

    Reply
  55. Hi most of the above triggers are true. I like the fact that I can have a bottle of wine without anyone watching as I live alone. I know I have upset the man I see through alcohol and also fell and hurt myself on a few occasions. I need to stop drinking and get my life back to normal.

    Reply
    • Hi – okay I don’t know where to Start! Most of my life, I was never a drinker. Went for YEARS w/o it. But when I started getting awful anxiety for many reasons, I started to CRAVE it. That was 10 years ago. I am 2 full days sober so far. I was up to a pint a day of hard liquor & I KNEW that was REALLY bad. Health wise especially so I wanted to stop but each day, every day, the anxiety crept in & I would start all over again. I told someone recently that it must be my middle age but the last several years, TIME is FLYING by. Until I just read that here about time, I stupidly couldn’t figure it out. Also the “eye on the bottle” really hit home too. I’m SCARED because I feel like the days are boring, nothing to look forward to. What will change between today & a month from now I ask myself. I quit cold turkey but it’s the only way for me. At least my S.O. Is doing this with me but he’s NOWHERE NEAR as bad I have been. My nerves aren’t THAT bad these last 2 days. But I FEAR they will be again. I slept EXCELLENT last night as I didn’t sleep at all the 1st night. No shakes. Not Sick. Not Hungry at all but I have wanted to lose this weight for like over a YEAR & could NOT with an extra 1200 Calories a day from alcohol. Then I read about many woman GAINING weight after quitting! So depressing. About an hour ago, I did start to cry for no reason. I imagine that’s normal. I am scared of possibly going thru withdrawals. I know for SOME, that can happen after a few days of feeling fine after quitting. I PRAY I’m not one of them. The only thing I guess I’m worried about besides withdrawal symptoms is that I feel like there’s nothing to look forward to. I really don’t have blackouts. (Sorry I am ALL OVER the PLACE) but days definitely went by in a slight blur, especially lately. I have quit other types of things & NEVER had any desire to go back. I pray that is how I will feel about this too. Thank you for your blog. It helps to read what you say as well as other people’s stories. I am mostly afraid of losing certain people in my life that have said if I don’t stop, they won’t be around anymore. I fear if they changed that threat I would drink. Not sure now that I really made it 2 days! Seriously though, it’s been EVERY day for the last 10 years. Not yet functional either. I maybe don’t know what to replace the “focus on alcohol “ with yet. Not sure as I’m retired & alone all day. Please tell me I will lose weight AND FEEL HAPPY. I looked forward every day to drinking. But HATE that I’m up almost 20 pounds! Will I ever have fun again? Be happy like this? Thank you for honest answers. Even if I won’t be happy I won’t lose anyone.

      Reply
  56. Wow – so many people in the same boat – it is a good feeling that I’m not the only one – all six resonate with me. I have that constant feeling of unease at the moment. I know I have to stop but I’m terrified

    Reply
  57. Broke my ankle while drinking a few years ago. Recently ruined a trip by drinking to much and being very sick the next day. At 50 this just isn’t acceptable anymore. I need help

    Reply

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