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.