How do you know if it’s time to quit drinking?
I asked myself this question many times.
I’d google “Am I an alcoholic?” and would fill out endless online questionnaires. But nothing seemed very straightforward.
I didn’t meet the stereotype of your typical problem drinker – my life wasn’t in the gutter. I still had a good job and a roof over my head. I never drank in the morning. I didn’t even drink everyday.
Sometimes, I’d stop for a whole week, just to prove I could do it. (I’d be miserable the entire time, but seven days off proved I didn’t have a problem, right?)
When I was doing my late night, drunken google searches, I struggled to find anything that really resonated with me, or spoke to the way I drank.
This blog post is exactly the kind of article I wish I’d stumbled across when I was looking for help.
5 Signs It’s Time To Take A Break From Booze:
You spend a lot of time thinking about your drinking
Alcohol can take up so much brain space. I used to spend hours thinking about when I’d let myself drink next – what would I have? Where? How much? And then the next day, I’d still be thinking about alcohol, as I beat myself up for drinking more than I intended.
Most regular drinkers do not spend a great deal of time thinking about booze (and they don’t spend much time on sites like this!)
You’re creating lots of rules around your drinking
I ask everyone on my stop drinking course to list out all the ways they’ve tried to ‘control’ their drinking in the past. More than 600 women have been through the programme now, and the answers I get to this question still surprise me!
For example: buying low alcohol wine, buying wine in small bottles, promising you’ll only drink on certain days, banning alcohol from the home, sticking to one kind of drink, drinking alcohol you don’t really like the taste of, only drinking after a certain time, promising to be the designated driver, keeping a sticker chart of drinking days and non drinking days…
To cut a long story short: none of these rules work for long.
You hide how much you’re drinking
Perhaps you drink alone late at night and hide the empties the next day. Or you sneakily head back into the kitchen to top up your glass. Maybe you make a big show of opening a bottle of wine to share with your partner, pretending that it’s your first drink of the night.
Once you start hiding your drinking, it’s easy to get stuck in the habit, without really acknowledging what you’re doing. Hiding your drinking is a sure sign that part of you knows something is wrong – you know you’re drinking more than you’re happy with.
You fear something bad is about to happen.
Perhaps nothing truly awful has happened as a result of your drinking – yet. But you fear that some kind of disaster is just around the corner.
Maybe you’ve already had a few close shaves – getting behind the wheel when you shouldn’t have, or making a big mistake at work because you were hungover. It’s stressful, constantly feeling as if you’re only just managing to keep it all together.
You’re suffering as a result of your drinking
Never mind how much you drink, what you drink, where, when or who with. Ultimately, it all comes down to this: is your drinking making you miserable? If it is, then you owe it to yourself to explore alcohol-free living properly.
(I’m not going to suggest cutting down or moderating your intake, because the chances are you’ve already tried that, many times. I explain here why moderation rarely works.)
I recommend taking a proper break from alcohol – at least 6 weeks – so you can put some space between you and your last drink, and find out what sobriety is really all about.
You’ve got nothing to lose… and who knows what might happen along the way? If you give alcohol-free living a proper try, you might just discover it’s pretty amazing 🙂
You inspired me Kate @thesoberschool!! I stopped on 16 July and that’s it. No interest since and believe me there are a lot of people who don’t like my new lifestyle. It’s not easy but I was doing all those things you mention and well after reading all your blogs etc it just clicked. So thank you. Thank you sincerely. And i still read all your work
Thanks Roisin – many congratulations on your sobriety! Here’s to many more happy, healthy, alcohol-free days ahead 🙂
After listening to Kate as a guest on The Truth About Alcohol Podcast with Lee Davey. Kate also inspired me to give up. I’m only 2 weeks in but feel with reading Kate’s blog it has really helped me.
Congratulations on your two weeks Tracy – keep going! 🙂
I’m ready to be done with drinking. I don’t drink all the time, maybe every few weeks, but when I do, it’s always too much and I don’t like myself in the morning. I feel tired and disappointed. I don’t need to drink to have fun. I usually drink at home because I’m bored or I think a glass of red wine would taste good. It actually doesn’t even taste all that great! Drinking is occupying too much time in my head
Go for it Rhonda, you won’t regret it! 🙂
I know I won’t! Thanks for your encouragement
I’ve been sober for 8 months now. The reason was a scare about my liver which luckily for me turned out fine. At the same time as that happened I got rosacea and was then diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It felt like my body was screaming at me to stop. 99% of the time I enjoy being sober but times like now when I’m having a fibromyalgia flare and know that a couple of glasses of wine would take the pain away for a couple of hours makes it more desirable. I won’t drink because the repercussions are too great but Christmas is going to be a challenge.
Congratulations on your 8 months Sue! Well done for listening to your body and hearing the message. I wrote this blog post last year that I think might help you this Christmas: https://thesoberschool.com/alcohol-free-christmas/
I have been sober for 13 months and in the main have loved it. It changed my life for the better. I am now driving,clearer at work and everyday life. I also have a new beautiful grandchild whom if I was still drinking would never have seen. I drank every evening after work and basically all day Sat and Sunday. It is hard socialising there is my struggle and being lonely but with time…..
Congratulations on your 13 months Amanda! I’d recommend you do some work on reframing the socialising aspect of all this – yes, it can feel a bit weird sometimes being the odd one out, but when you think about it, we’re pretty good at being ‘different’. (I’m sure you’ve been in situations where everyone else was smoking, for example, and you didn’t feel the need to join them.) Plus, if you’ve ever been to a bad party, you’ll know that it doesn’t matter how much you drink, alcohol doesn’t have the power to transform a bad night into a good one! My tip for you is to get super clear on the story you’re telling yourself about alcohol and it’s power. I have a better social life now (sober) than I did when drinking – it can be done!
I am totally exhausted with trying to control/moderate my drink. As the book This Naked Mind says, it is a bit like sort of jumping out of a plane. It doesn’t work for me! I want to enjoy (and remember) my life and be a good role model for my children.
Kate, this is all so true! I’ve been sober for 4 weeks today – I feel better than ever. Thank for your work – it has changed my life 🙂
Brilliant, so pleased to hear this Abby. Well done and congratulations! 🙂
Tomorrow I will have been drink free for 100 days (having drunk a bottle of red every night for best part of 5 years). I now sleep all night through no waking up, am less anxious and more relaxed, happier, nicer to be around and I’ve lost 1 and a half stone. In some respects it’s been easy peasy and other respects hard (weddings and holidays abroad have been a bit tough) but I always feel great the next day not to have succumbed. I still read Kate’s blog and I have to remind myself every now and then why I’m not drinking. Thank you Kate. To anyone thinking of giving drinking a break, give it a go. It is really worth it.
Fantastic. Huge congratulations on your 100 days – here’s to many more!
Oh Kate thank you so much. Today I am 7 weeks sober and I don’t think I could have got so far without your blogs.
Week 6 was hard, I had one day where I really wanted a drink and I did what you suggested and kept playing the movie, over and over till the bitter end and kept telling myself that I deserved better. It really helped me so much.
On Saturday night I went out with friends. I had thought about cancelling but instead of meeting in the pub I went later and met in the restaurant but I did do a mini pub crawl with them afterwards and you know what, I didn’t even miss the booze. In fact it was the best night out I’ve had in years. My jaws were sore laughing, I could hear all the conversation and jokes. Usually I’d have been so drunk I missed most of the night. And the Sunday, oh what bliss, getting up smelling of sleep and stale perfume rather than the stench of alcohol, looking in the mirror and seeing clear eyes and a face that is coming back to life. It was wonderful. So wonderful that I said ‘lets go for a drive round the coast road and we’ll have Sunday lunch out’. Something I haven’t done in years and years. Thank you so much Kate. I know I’ll still have had days but I’ll keep reading the blog and all the comments, it helps so much.
Well done Bridget – 7 weeks is amazing! You make a great observation about having MORE fun sober. I don’t think people realise just how much they miss out on when they’re drinking. Sounds like you had an amazing weekend 🙂
Playing the movie?
hi Kate. when you drink you make bad choices which I always do then best myself up for the week. you get a great sense of control when you can control your drinking.
I’ve just reached 108 days without a drink. I feel amazing & am so pleased with myself. I’d reached the stage where wine was my only coping mechanism. Thank you Kate, for the brilliant blog posts which help me when get through the evenings when I think that wine is the only answer.
It’s so important to have other coping mechanisms in your life! Congratulations on your 108 days Gem – you must be so proud. Here’s to many more 🙂
6 days in to a sober lifestyle. I am 39 and have had this habit since 16. Every night three glasses of wine, and going to bed with regret, waking up with guilt and fearing one day a real health problem that i wont be able to change. My grandparents had this issue, my parents have this issue, i have this issue….i will not pass this on to my children. It is a curse to bear this cross every night for years and years. I want to be free, and i hooe that the desire will leave me, as i nurse a new habit of tea, and an evening walk with my dog, a talk with a good friend or a lovely bath. I want this habit to stop with me now so it does no damage to my children as they grow up.
It’s fantastic that you’re changing now – and setting an amazing example for your children. Well done Mini, keep going! 🙂
Yes I totally agree with you.
How is it going???
Somedays are easier than others. Yesterday was hard to talk about my issues openly. Staying away from alcohol i find easy but its only the first week. Ladt year i went 6 weeks sober so i know I can do it. This time I have decided to seek help actively. I am going to my first AA meeting. I am on this forum. I am reaching out to an old friend who is 6 years sober for support. I talked with my husband and he supports me 100%! Full sobriety for both of us.i want to look in the mirror and be proud. I want to accomplish my goals without alcohol in my way.Im done with this shit.
Good for you! I know the struggle.
I quit for seven months and felt amazing but then Christmas rolled around and i started again going right back to where I was before. Not daily drinking but mostly over doing it. Feeling guilty. Worrying about the example I’m being for my kids, not being a good wife etc etc
I’m tired of worrying about it.
It’s my third day today and I hope I’m strong enough to keep going.
I’ve tried to stop in the past, but the longest it lasted was 2 weeks. How in the world do I control the cravings? My dad was an alcoholic, and I am so so scared that I might become one too. All the above 5 points applies to me. Each one of them. I so want to stop. Not drink less, I want to STOP! This is day 2. I know by tomorrow I will crave a glass of wine. It has become such a bad habit. I just want to STOP!!!!!!!
Hi Annie, I’d be happy to work with you on this – sobriety isn’t just about busting through cravings. It’s much more about having the right mindset, educating yourself about booze and understanding how alcohol works. Once you get clear on that stuff it’s a lot easier to stay the course. This is exactly what I cover in my six week coaching programme – here are some more details, if you’d like to join us for the next class: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
My life was spinning out of control. I know I was in a downward spiral and I couldn’t catch myself. I think about my alcohol intake every day and pledge to stop in my mind and yet 5 o’clock rolls around and I give in to my desire more than not. Reading everything I can get my hands on to help me be AF.
Hi Kate,just to let you know am off drink 3 weeks,inspired by something you said about not feeling like you are depriving yourself if you don’t drink,and actually you are depriving yourself of good health of you do drink.Made such a difference to my frame of mind .Feel really good physically and mentally.Thank you so much x
Wonderful – I’m so pleased to hear this! Well done Caroline, keep going! x
Hi really need to control my drinking I drink every night and more on weekends I did sober tober this year and felt great also raised money for such a good cause but now back to drinking everyday wish the urge would just go away
Thanks for creating this site, Kate and for treating people like adults rather than sinful children. I have been a drinker since around the age of 15 – I’m now 60. Beer is my drink of choice. I really enjoy drinking and other than the guilt that 5 beers a day will probably wreck my liver, I hadn’t felt any bad effects. However, because I realised that I was ‘overdoing it’, I decided to give up. 14 days and counting. No obvious well-being benefits as yet. Hope I will see the up-side (other than financially) soon.
Congratulations on your 14 days! Be patient and you will see the benefits. Alcohol really beats your body up and it can take a little while to recover. Keep going!
I found your site when I awoke at 4AM feeling bad after another night of drinking wine when I don’t want to anymore.
I have had periods of sobriety before and reaped so many benefits..why I fell back into thinking drinking is a treat I don’t understand….but here I am on Day 1 again and I look forward to coming to your site for inspiration and support.
I really want to go through the holidays with my adult kids visiting as a sober person and not have hangovers, feeling like a failure
Hi Kate, I found your site today after throwing a NYE party which I told myself I wouldn’t drink at…here I sit in bed with a horrid hangover, heaps of guilt and monumental regret. Alcohol has never agreed with me. The first 1 or 2 go down fine, no real affect on my personality, But then something happens and I change. I become nasty and aggressive and opinionated. People don’t enjoy being around me. I feel like Jeckyl & Hyde. Over the past 5 years I have tried to manage my alcohol, monitor it, restrict it but it always ends up controlling me! I’m ashamed to admit to people that I’m a ‘bad drunk’ as I feel they will like me less or I will lose friendships or relationships but I know they already know what I’m like. I’ve upset many friends and family members over the years and my boyfriend especially. He forgives me every time and I promise to change and I always fail. I’ve decided to become completely t-total and I really hope I can do it. I really want to be my nice, kind, happy sober self all the time and enjoy life. I hope your site gives me success stories like the ones I’ve read today. Here’s to a sober 2018!! Day 1.
I am celebrating 3 years and 1 month of sobriety. It hasn’t always been easy and finding this blog today is just what I need to remind myself why I’m doing this. My life has changed beyond recognition. I’m happier, my husband is happier and my children too. Thank you for all the inspirational posts.