Drinking too much can be a very isolating experience.
This is particularly the case if you’re a grey zone drinker (like I was). I never felt like an alcoholic, but I wasn’t a “normal” drinker either.
When you’re in the grey zone, life often looks fine to the outside world. You get the kids to school and turn up at work on time.
Yet all too often you’re quietly battling a killer hangover after drinking too much at home the night before.
It’s easy to become convinced that you’re the only person who feels this way.
But you’re not.
I’ve coached hundreds of women to quit drinking, and in doing so I’ve noticed some distinct patterns, and recurring themes, in people’s experiences.
In fact, there are a few things that nearly all worried drinkers do, but rarely admit:
1. Hiding drinks
Maybe you top up your glass when your partner isn’t looking. You open a bottle of wine and imply that it’s your first drink of the evening, when it isn’t. Or maybe you go to the bar and quietly order a double, rather than a single.
Perhaps you pour your alcoholic drink into a mug, because it feels easier than explaining to someone that you fancied a drink already. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re hiding a few sips or a few bottles – the fact is that you’re trying to conceal what you’re really drinking.
2. Keeping one eye on the bottle
Your ability to hold a conversation whilst knowing exactly how much is left in the bottle is like a superpower – you never lose track. And you’re always noting how much other people have left in their glasses, so you can keep pace.
This means part of you is slightly distracted, because you’re always thinking about your alcohol supply. Should you order another bottle for the table? Does it look like you’re drinking too much? And why, oh why, do other people drink so slowly?!
3. Sneaky searches for help
Perhaps you have a stash of books about quitting drinking that are hidden under your bed. Maybe you type random questions into google late at night, or visit sites like this and clear your browser history afterwards.
If you’re still wondering whether you’re drinking too much, or if things are ‘bad enough’ for you to quit, it’s worth taking a good look around you. How many books are under the bed? How long have you been worrying about this already?
4. Rum bum
Thank you, urban dictionary for introducing me to this crude but rather apt term! It pretty well sums up the less-than-pleasant digestive experience many people go through the morning after a night of drinking too much.
The problem is that if you’re drinking three or four times a week, your system never really gets a chance to recover, so this unpleasant side effect can be something you’re dealing with far too often.
5. Visiting different shops on rotation
If you don’t trust yourself to keep alcohol in the house, it’s easier to buy only what you plan on drinking that night. But this can mean frequent trips to the shops… and a fear that the person behind the till has noticed.
I remember going into my local wine shop and the owner said, “We’ve got some more of your favourite here.” I know he meant well, but the fact that he’d noticed what I regularly bought made me feel so paranoid, I didn’t return for months.
6. Creating rules. Lots of rules
Here are some examples: waiting until a set time of day to have your first drink. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water. Only drinking in certain places, with certain people, or on certain days of the week. Using smaller glasses, or drinking alcohol you don’t like the taste of…
At the height of my drinking career, I had so many ‘rules’ about my drinking I could hardly remember them all, never mind stick to them. They were all attempts at trying to control something that was getting out of control. Creating lots of rules is a sign that you’re drinking too much – and all is not ok.
If you’d like some help to quit drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.
All six were applicable for me
Yep all 6 applicable to me
Yes that’s me
I can honestly say I can to relate to everything you’ve listed. Great read and very helpful Kate!
So true. I was in denial about hiding drinks too. I would never have admitted to myself that I did that, but I did. So my husband wouldn’t comment or notice. I also began buying boxed wine, on the pretense that it was economical, but really so that way no one knew how much I drank. By no one, I mean my husband, ha. I’m really looking forward to a sober, refreshed Christmas. Last year I pretended to enjoy everything with the kids but in reality I even went in the bathroom and threw up at one point in the morning due to being hungover. Ughh. NEVER again!!
This really reads like my life with alcohol. The guilt I felt for hiding my drinks from husband, yet telling myself it was the only way…spot on Kate
This was me to a “T” for ten plus years. I am finally AF thanks to using your approach. I feel free from the prison I had gotten myself stuck in. I have been AF for a year and a half. When I have thoughts of what I am missing, I remind myself of the freedom I have gained and how hard it was me to come to terms with giving up alcohol. I don’t ever want to have to do that again.
Congratulations on your sobriety Anne! It’s great to hear that you feel so free now 🙂
100% me to each and every one of these. I’m now ten months AF and love my sober life and really excited to be able to truly enjoy Xmas this year. Great Post.
Yes that’s me also
Wow, they all applied to me.
Having got to 176 days AF, then to go on holiday and it all slipped backwards, BUT, I am 43 days AF again.
This will be my first festive season without alcohol, at the moment I feel strong, I have things in my head already planned if I feel like I am about to slip up
Well done for getting back on track Michelle – enjoy your alcohol free Christmas!
I finally was able to get 7 days in…I am on a roll really dedicated for myself and my family. Learning to deal without escape.
Glad to have you girls.
4 out of 6 for me. And the Australia version of Rum Bum is ‘ After Gog Bog’. Nice 🙁
1 year and 9 days sober. If you of you are on the fence, give it a go. I can be challenging but I promise… You will NEVER wake up wish you drank the night before. x
Lucy, I am 1 year and 9 days today too! Congrats to us both! The best decision I ever made was to quit the drink. I love waking up after a great night of sleep with no morning regrets.
Ha ha – I’d never heard that phrase before! Congratulations on your sobriety Lucy.
All six apply to me too, hoping for a sober Christmas this year after a hangover from hell last year only to get up and do it all over again the next day…… such a fool. You really hit the nail on the head with these six I had them all down to a fine art but now I know the only one I was fooling was myself
9 days AF. I’ve never decided to give up drinking before so here I go! I hate the relationship I’d developed with wine, and the ‘rules’ you refer to, Kate have really resonated with me. That’s where I was at. There’s so much more to do in the evening! I’ve purchase some ‘alcohol removed’ wine so I can have something in my glass when a glass in hand is called for. I am not missing alcohol at all and it feels amazing to be in control.
Thank you Kate and everyone who has written helpful messages. xox
Well done on your 9 days. Keep going! 🙂
These all make sense to me. I am so glad to be sober now (since August 17, 2017), thanks to your course. I still have all my books that I keep in my bedroom, for reference if I feel weak. Life is good!
That’s brilliant Margaret – it’s great to hear from you and know that alcohol free living is treating you well! Congratulations on your sobriety ❤️
Hiding the number of drinks is what I do best but then you have to sneak out the empty bottles that accumulate in the wardrobe ( in my case!) ,,,,,
I definitely need help to stop. I am amazed how accurate you are in the description of who I have become. I have told my husband I drink too much and his response was to buy more booze to fill the wine rack “ because it’s Christmas “. I am on the waitlist for January to begin the program so in the meantime I will continue to battle that 5pm deadline, continue to fail and then feel wretched at 3am when I wake up deciding to stop tonight again, as it feels like my liver is giving up on me. But each day I try at least.
January isn’t too far away now Lynne – I look forward to working with you and helping you break this pattern. There is a much happier life out there without alcohol, I promise.
This sounds like the story of my life! Keep trying as I will.
All these were totally on point, google searches late at night was how I found your course (after trying several times with dry “whatever” months that only have you counting days until you can drink again).
Your course made me quit and still going after 2 years, 9 months. It was tough, still is at very stressful times, but my head is in the right place now.
Great to hear from you Karen! Many congratulations on your sobriety – you’ll be celebrating three years very soon! I’m so pleased for you, well done ❤️
Boy can I relate to all of the comments made. I switched from alcohol 30 years ago and changed to wine and now I find myself hooked on wine. I have bouts of gout and I stop drinking for several weeks when this happens and I feel great and my weight drops.
Yes, USED to do ALL of them!
Am a very happy non drinker now!