Kate's Blog

“But I Should Be Able To Drink If I Want To!”

“I should be able to drink if I want to!”

Before I quit drinking, my brain spent a long time throwing a temper tantrum about it. 
Sobriety felt like something I “had” to do – and the whiny, two year old part of my brain was not happy. 
I thought I should be able to drink ‘normally’. I should be able to drink like my friends and I should be able to find a way to carry on drinking.
If this line of thinking is something you get stuck in too, I want to help you choose some thoughts that feel better:

Key points:

Pick a thought that feels better

Replace “I should be able to drink” with: “I get to put whatever I want in my body, in order to feel my best.” Your best is your definition. It’s your choice whether your best includes alcohol or not. No one “has” to quit drinking. You’re just making choices that feel best to you. 
Should is such an unhelpful word. When it comes to alcohol, there’s nothing you “should” be able to do. We don’t talk about how we “should” be able to eat chocolate all day. We know we can do that – if we want to – but we choose not to, because it wouldn’t actually feel great.

Still feel annoyed? Remember this:

At some point we have to quit making our lives all about that next glass. Life needs to be about more than when, where or how much we’ll drink. If you’re so upset about not drinking, it’s an indicator that something about you or your life needs to uplevel.
That feeling of “I should be able to drink,” is never really about the alcohol itself. It’s about what the booze covered up and distracted us from. Perhaps something in your life needs to change – or the perhaps the way you think about certain things needs to shift.

Watch your thoughts

Drinking problems are nearly always thinking problems in disguise. The goal of sobriety isn’t just to not drink. Long term, successful sobriety is about the inner work of creating a life you don’t need to escape from. For support with this, check out my online course here.

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. 


45 Responses

    1. Kate this has came as perfect timing for me. I can totally resonate with this. I keep thinking “I should be able to drink” Love the description that “Should” is an unhelpful work. I love the comparison as well on the gluten. Big take away for me is “Drinking Problems are Thinking Problems” I now have reached another level with so many lessons learned on my AF sober journey. Thank you Kate Bee and Team

    2. Thank you Kate, really needed this pep talk. Nearly 5 months off the booze and for some reason I have been craving it this week. I’m surrounded by alot of drinkers who are looking forward to beer gardens and festivals and other social gatherings after the lock down and this has sent me spiralling. I’ve stayed sober though and just got to take one day at a time. Well done to everyone doing sobriety in lock down and good luck to anyone starting sobriety or thinking of it. It’s a life changing journey and the struggles are real but it really is worth it. Take care all x

    3. I am so conflicted
      Obviously, I think that I should try/experience/live sobriety…
      But, then I have a good time with friends( plus HAVE to buy a bottle for myself on the way home)
      My vibrant parallel drinking friend discusses that drinking a bottle is only 600 calories and we would not lament that in junk food
      Why not indulge in wine at our over 65 age?
      We are productive,,healthy, independent, etc….

  1. You make some excellent comments on why we try to rationalize drinking. I’m on day 2 of sobriety. Your videos help a lot !!!

  2. Hi Kate
    Your emails do help , I’ve substituted alcohol for my painful disease for years , as medications have so many side effects , I’m thankfully trying holistic remedies instead , and I’m getting better , only 3 bottles of wine last week x

    1. No one should have to self medicate with alcohol – there are better and more effective pain remedies out there 🙂

      1. Great video I spend all my brain energy on exactly this it is exhausting to the point I gave in at the weekend and of course spent days disgusted with myself. I really need to change my thoughts

  3. Actually read this……..signed up for this a year ago and I guess I am finally ready to listen….thank you, I like this advice. I have said the same thing for way too any years, “I should be able to drink” and now I am finally saying I shouldn’t drink because it make me feel unhealthy!

    1. Sounds like it’s time for you to upgrade and make the leap into alcohol free living. I think you’ll love it!

  4. As always Kate, I loved listening to your talk about “I should be able to drink”. When I decided that I no longer wanted to drink, this feeling didn’t creep in too much as I realize that I am an all in or all out girl when it comes to drinking. Life feels so much better now without alcohol, playing the movie forward was a great tool for me!
    Talking about how alcohol is masking something else is so spot on correct! Forget about feeling ashamed that you drink and cannot tolerate it, learn to stop drinking and watch how much your life improves! No one cares that much about you anyway (other than your family and close friends, who only want you to have a healthy and happy life!).
    I am forever grateful to you and your course, you work miracles in so many lives. God bless you!!

    1. Thank you Dianne. It’s wonderful to hear how well you’re doing – you sound in such a good place! I appreciate you 🙂

  5. Thank you Kate! I love reading your blog. Drinking problems are nearly always thinking problems in disguise…this part intrigued me today. If we get our thinking problems under control (therapy, quit lit books, exercising, eating heathier etc.) why do you think many of us still fall into old patterns after taking a 3 month, 6 month, even a year break from alcohol?

    1. Because alcohol is a powerful, addictive drug. It’s a complete no brainer that you will get addicted to it – it’s not a reflection on you or your character. When you start reusing the drug, your brain remembers where you left off. Your neural pathways light up and know exactly where to go again, because they never truly forgot. Here’s something else to consider: if you truly get your thinking problems ‘under control’ why would you need alcohol?

      1. Great question! I am 70 days alcohol free today and still have some lingering feelings about how a glass of wine at dinner would be nice here and there. I have more to work on 🙂 Thank you again for your blog. I really enjoy it.

  6. Still working on this. Slowly but surely, getting a handle on things. So much more work to do.

  7. I am so looking forward to starting your course next month! I love Your advice on looking at 24 hours after you drink and playing the story through . This resonates with me and has helped me stay on course, day 23!

  8. Yes. The temper tantrums in my head around drinking are so embarrassing even when I’m the only one who can hear them. My thinking does need some scrutiny. Especially since I don’t throw them when I make other choices that involve giving something up or limiting it. Thank you for this helpful perspective.

  9. Hi Kate,
    Another great post. I’m on day three after a recent lockdown slip but feel so much better already. The last time I stopped it wasn’t the physical withdrawals that bothered me too badly being only uncomfortable for a week or so and relatively mild. The psychological mind games in my head though are much tougher, why can’t I drink like my friends and relatives ‘normally’? And the other after a month break last year ‘so I’ve done a month of not drinking, I’m fine now’
    The barman on my shoulder is there saying these things. Most of all its like a fear and anxiety of not EVER being able to drink that glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc again that is the hardest of all.

  10. Really appreciated this blog and get the idea that being AF is a choice made because it’s good for me. staying alcohol free is a life upgrade . However, I still need to change my thinking and work harder on creating a life I don’t want to escape from. Thank you Kate again , your blog came at a good time.

  11. Alcohol is not the answer But it disguises ! That’s a line that has us all thinking about ,,Thankyou Kate Xx

  12. I love the way that using different words and phases changes making something your right to your choice. It puts a whole new perspectine on it

  13. Struggling tonight. Im 6 weeks sober. Tomorrow I’m off work because of st.Patrick’s day- we live in Ireland. Tonight I ‘should’ be sitting with wine. Work was hard and my house is falling apart everyday something else is broke. I’m dealing with all that but I would just love a drink tonight to feel completely chilled. Very much angry with my sobriety tonight. But I’ll pull through. Thanks for this post.

  14. Your comment about creating an environment you don’t need to escape from was spot on for me. I had to identify and then painfully leave one that was having this effect on me. Now working on changing the situation instead of putting up with it and then escaping. Thx for a great blog!

  15. I realize that I need to do the course, when I am feeling proud that I have not bought a bottle of wine since Friday( only 5 days ago!) lol
    I am looking forward to the six week course commitment!

  16. This totally resonates with me, my anxiety is much worse when I’ve had a bit too much vodka the evening before. Need to work on my thinking, anxiety and depression are a big part of my life. Comforting to know I’m not the only one!

  17. I was doing good, proud of myself and happy with how I was feeling. Hit a snag. Will get it back, I’m sure . . .I hope

  18. Good advice for a good time! I’m doing that again, when I’m so busy, the thoughts of when, how much, if I only buy ONE bottle of wine. But yep it affects the next 24 hours, when I really need that time for Important things!!
    Thank you. I will rewatch in the AM and try to plan ahead better.

  19. Great video, there is definitely something missing in my life or I need to think differently how to change it.
    Thank you for all you do.

  20. I really hope I get a place on your course as all your blogs resonate with me entirely. Looking forward to a new way of life. Thanks Kate

  21. So, I thought I was doing great. I did not buy a bottle of wine for one week( Wow! One whole week lol)
    Then , I was at the grocery and decided to buy a bottle- of course for just one glass last evening.
    Surprise, surprise,: I drank the whole bottle and ruined today!
    Hoping this will reinforce how much better I felt the other days and remind me to play the movie through to the end…

  22. I love your blogs and have signed up to the waiting list for the course in April as I really really struggle with the weekends, I binge drink every weekend, the cravings are so strong and yet I don’t even think about it in the week… I know all the damage I’m doing but still can’t stop and your right, it takes over my mind from Friday onwards. I know everything will be better without the booze but simply can’t do it on my own, fingers crossed I get on the course x

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