Kate's Blog

Grey-Area Drinking (And Why You’re Not Alone)

“I truly believed I was the only woman in the world who felt this way about alcohol.”

When I got this email from a student of mine this week, I knew I had to talk about it.

If you’re a grey-area drinker, the chances are your drinking doesn’t feel “normal” but it doesn’t look like one of those clichéd stereotypes either. 

This can leave you feeling lonely, ashamed and lost. 

But you’re not alone – and there’s nothing wrong with you, as I explain in this week’s video.

Key points

Why grey-area drinking is so hidden

If you’re a grey-area drinker, the chances are your life looks fine on the outside, but doesn’t feel great on the inside. You do a brilliant job of hiding your drinking from others and excel in other areas of your life. This kind of drinking isn’t very dramatic or remarkable – so we rarely see it depicted on TV shows or talked about more generally.

Many women hide their drinking

Take it from me – your experience isn’t out of the ordinary. It just seems that way to you right now because of the stigma around this subject. Think about how well you hide your drinking, and how many times you’ve faked being fine despite a horrible hangover. Who else might be doing that too? 

Why this matters

If you’re a grey-area drinker and want to change, you need compassion, curiosity and understanding – not shame and judgement. But when you’re struggling with this on your own – or you’re convinced there’s something wrong with you – it’s hard to bring in that compassion or see the bigger picture. Making lasting change happen is a lot harder when you’re isolated and alone.

Looking for help and support in creating an alcohol-free life you love? My Getting Unstuck course will transform your relationship with booze and yourself. Click here for more details.

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. 


39 Responses

  1. Hi Kate,

    You’re so right. I am a greyarea drinker. I have gone into work with a hangover and felt terrible but have never thought it was an excuse to say how awful I felt. It has been a real epiphany realising that when you are not using drink as a coping mechanism you are made to think your on your own and to blame for your weakness.

    1. You’re right Jacqui, feeling ashamed or lacking in willpower means many women stay ‘stuck’ in the alcohol trap. It’s the alcohol that is the issue, not the person! It’s absolutely predictable that we should become addicted when imbibing an addictive substance…

  2. This is very me, I get it completely. I feel weak and a failure forgot having better coping mechanisms in place. Drinking makes me feel rubbish but I still do it.

    1. It’s not you! With all other drugs we seem to understand this. For example, we don’t shame smokers for becoming addicted to nicotine. We don’t tell them they should be able to cut down or control themselves better, yet we do exactly that with alcohol – strange right? I can help you find better and healthier coping mechanisms with no shame or judgement. Find out more about my course here: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

    1. Aw Shirley that’s do bad. I could use an accountability partner.
      My email is taylortracy37@yahoo.com if you want reach out. Then if so we can exchange Facebooks or just text messaging. You’re not alone I promise! I’m in the same boat.

  3. I have been sober since I started your course and I am feeling fabulous now. I identify with everything you have said. I want to be sober now for good.

  4. Thank you Kate wow so inspirational and I relate to what you said hiding alcohol to make it look like I’ve only had one!! I’ve tried to go without and have only managed 2 days at best. I’m ashamed and embarrassed that I can’t talk to a friend/ colleague/ partner; on the outside to others I don’t have a problem !

  5. Thank you so much for helping me understand my behavior and thought proceses. I really believed i was the only one who did these things and that i would always have a problem. I have used alcohol to fill a void and tried to show the world i was fine. Im now in therapy and trying to change for the better. Thank you for your amazing insight you are a inspiration.

    1. You’re welcome Emma and thank you for your kind words. Education about ethanol and the hold it has over us is the cornerstone of my online coaching programme that I run just a few times a year. We’d love to help you further if you can join us in January 2023.

  6. This very much resonates with me Kate. Thank you. I could not help but notice the “longer living” (the term I use for elderly) woman who walked by in the back. I thought to myself, I will never make it to that time in life if I don’t embrace a vino free life.

  7. I was this person too. I have been living my sober life since July 2020 thanks to this course and I wouldn’t have stopped without the step by step learning. If you are thinking this is you and you can’t string a few alcohol free days together, do this course. Best money I ever spent. Really, honestly, truly.

  8. I feel that you know me and my drinking. I can stop for weeks then lie to myself that I can easily have a drink, BUT I can’t stop at a couple I get drunk for 3 to 7 days. Do little but drink and sleep off the booze and start again to cure my hangover. I miss the gym that I love and make excuses not to meet my friends. When I am sober I go to the gym meet my friends and achieve lots in my flat and garden, and love not dri king. Then the cycle starts again. I need and want you support to STOP drinking g please.

  9. I love your blogs Kate. I am currently day 24 being alcohol free and already feeling great. It is such a relief to find you. You talk sense and it’s great to know we simply need to learn new coping mechanisms. Thank you

  10. No Kate, thank you. Just listening to your advice I am 5 months sober today. I didn’t hear from you in what seemed forever, but I received another short video today. I really could not have come this far without you!

  11. This was me, totally. I never went out without having another bottle of wine when I got home however much I’d drunk already. I would organise social events around making sure I could drink enough alcohol.
    I took Kate’s course in April 2021 out of desperation and signed up whilst hungover and feeling terrible. Over 18 months later I can’t believe I ever drunk alcohol. The cravings have gone completely. I’m lucky that all my friends have been super supportive. I’ve lost 3 stone, run several 10ks and a half marathon and honestly feel the best I have ever felt.
    I still watch Kate’s videos because they are a reminder of how much better life is now.
    Good luck to everyone who wants this change and thank you Kate.

  12. I’ve added my interest to the last two of your courses but always chickened out at the last minute. The fact I have signed up twice now shows that I know I need to do something about my alcohol but the commitment is scary. I’m currently sat here with a thumping headache from Monday night wine, I had all sorts of plans for today but none of them will happen now as I’m too tired from the night before. I need to stop as it’s stopping me from becoming the person I want to be. I’ve signed up my interest to your January course so hopefully 3rd time lucky!

    1. It sounds like you are ready to make a change and just taking a break from booze and learning about the effects of alcohol on our bodies will help to quieten the constant chatter in your head that’s going on right now. That’s exactly what I recommend in my Getting Unstuck course and I look forward to working with you in January. I wrote a blog earlier this year that I think may help: https://thesoberschool.com/i-dont-feel-ready-to-take-a-break-from-booze/

  13. I definitely hide my drinking I’ve been told to stop by my consultant and did for a few months then I would have the odd bottle always made me feel terrible and when my daughter found out she was really upset with me a wouldn’t talk to me which makes me feel ashamed I really need to stop it’s not only killing me it’s ruining my life

  14. I can relate to this and I am so incredibly happy being alcohol free and that I am taking the Sober School class … I have learned so much about alcohol and doing the exercises and reflecting on a topic every day, having the support of other women and of course, Kate Bee, is amazing. I relate to what you say that so many smart, successful, driven women fall into the trap with alcohol. I did and I’m out of that trap – never falling for it again.

    1. It’s true, finding success in one area of your life can lead to much bigger achievements. You’re doing great Deanna, keep going 🙂

  15. I have been trying to stay sober since the end of July this year. My significant other says enough or he is gone. I get drunk about 2x a month and it starts out one day with 1 wine, then a couple and within a few days I am on a drunk.
    Then I am embarrassed and ashamed and don’t drink for a few weeks and start to feel good. Then I get this pit in my stomach that craves alcohol and the same routine starts. I really want to quit. I am in a good relationship and this is about all we argue about.

    1. Don’t forget that alcohol is an addictive substance, but it is portrayed as fun, sophisticated, exciting and essential to a full and happy life. I can help you change your mindset and challenge some beliefs that will enable you live a life without embarrassment and shame. Here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

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