If you’re thinking about quitting drinking – or taking some time off from booze – the chances are you’ve been mulling over a few important questions.
Things like: do I actually need to quit? Should I just cut down? Is my drinking really so bad? And if I do need to stop, what does that say about me?
Maybe you’ve been doing what I used to do: sitting at my laptop late at night, typing ‘am I an alcoholic?’ into google. (My other hobby was filling out drinking self-assessment quizzes, and doing them again and again until I got the answer I wanted…)
When you’re trying to figure out your relationship with alcohol, there are some questions that are bound to keep crossing your mind…
Here are 5 common queries and my answers to them:
Q – Should I stop completely or just cut down?
If you’re worried about your drinking, then trying to moderate your alcohol intake is a great place to start. But – and this is a big but – if cutting down doesn’t work, then you need to be prepared to take further action.
So, dig deep and be honest now: have you already tried to cut down? (Most people have been trying to do so, on and off, for years and years.) How has moderation worked out for you so far? Are you happy?
Cutting down always sounds like a great idea, but the reality is that you’re trying to exert control over a drug that makes you lose control.
And consider this: a big part of successful sobriety is opening your mind to the possibility that you can live a full and happy life without alcohol. Booze is just a crude, toxic poison. It’s a drug. Yet by trying to keep a little bit of it in your life, subconsciously you’re telling yourself that alcohol is special and you won’t be happy without it.
Q – I think I need to stop, but I haven’t hit rock bottom yet…
You do not need to hit ‘rock bottom’ in order to decide that you’ll stop hurting yourself. (Besides, what exactly is rock bottom anyway? It’s different for different people.)
Think about it: we don’t wait until we’re morbidly obese before we decide we should lose weight. We don’t wait until we’re bankrupt before we deal with our debts. So why is alcohol any different?
You can stop drinking now, before anything hideous happens. If you’re frequently drinking more than you intend to – and it’s making you miserable – then you’re already suffering enough.
Q – Do I have to quit forever?
Sobriety is a mindset game. As soon as we start talking about ‘forever’, things can suddenly feel rather overwhelming. Equally, many people find that taking things ‘one day at a time’ isn’t very helpful either, because you keep questioning your decision on a daily basis.
The solution? Commit to taking a proper break from booze. Make the decision once and then stick to it.
I recommend six to eight weeks, so you can put some decent space between you and your last drink. Treat it like an experiment – give it 100% and don’t be half-hearted about it. Go all in. Then you can see how you feel at the end, knowing that you’ve given alcohol-free living a proper test drive.
(After all, you can always go back to drinking if you hate it…)
Q – Do I have to go to meetings?
Only if you want to! Some people love them, some people don’t. The good news is that nowadays, AA is not your only option. There are lots of other inspiring, online resources available, including my fabulous stop drinking course. So if you want to find support from the privacy of your own home, you can absolutely do so.
Q – Am I an alcoholic?
There’s still a fair bit of stigma attached to the A word. In my opinion, there’s really no need to label yourself, unless you find it useful.
Personally, I wouldn’t describe myself as an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic. I’m just someone who got addicted to a socially acceptable, widely available, well advertised, glamorised, highly addictive, toxic drug that’s marketed as the solution to all our woes.
Nowadays, I choose not to drink because I feel a million times better without alcohol in my life. I choose not to drink in the same way that I choose not to smoke cigarettes or take heroin.
I’m not ‘taking things one day at a time’ or ‘battling the demon drink’. I’m just living a very happy, drug-free life… and I don’t think you need a label for that 🙂
Thanks Kate I really needed a boost today. This was much needed.
I’m pleased to help. Keep going Terri 🙂
Brilliant you hit the nail on the head
From this particular blog, I get the impression that you look down on those of us who are admittedly “recovering alcoholics.” You also sound like you are steering people away from AA? That’s the only way I could get these 12 sober years together. I don’t know what else can do that for people with a decade or more of continuous sober time. I don’t want to “slip,” so I will stick with what works for me. What else works long-term?
AA works for some people, but for many others it’s just not the right solution. Most of my clients come to work with me because they’ve tried AA and have been turned off by the 12 step approach. In fact, this is why The Sober School exists: I’m passionate about providing inspiring, modern sobriety coaching for people who don’t want to work the 12 steps.
I’m sure you, like me, want to see as many people find the help they need 🙂
If AA works for you, and you’re happy still going to meetings etc, that’s awesome. But if you do want to try a different approach, check out my course. Lots of my grads are happily in long term sobriety 🙂
It’s night one and I’ve decided not to have a drink as for a long time now I’ve been drinking every night and have decided that it’s become a habit ! Alcohol has been my way to unwind and relax at the end of each day , so the time has come for me to put a stop to my nightly alcohol consumption. It’s caused me to gain weight which makes me so depressed as I eat a reasonably healthy diet and have recently got myself a personal trainer . I sat down recently and actually realised that I’m now drinking almost two bottles of gin a week which I know is way too much !! I really need some advice as I feel anxious about not having a drink tonight .
It sounds as if you’d really benefit from a break from booze. Have you downloaded my Wine O’Clock survival guide? That will give you some practical tips for not drinking tonight (remember, alcohol won’t solve anything. It just numbs and masks … the same problems will still be there the next morning. So you’re always better off not drinking.) You can get the guide here: https://thesoberschool.com/wineoclock
And if you’d like some more help & support from me, my next stop drinking course starts in October: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Keep going Bev!
Today is first day in months that I am not having wine. I very nearly gave in. I read your blog, got a bath my treat is a chippy tea washed down with a tonic water. Thanks.
Chippy tea sounds good Gill! You can do it 🙂
Oh My! Thank you Kate this couldn’t have come in my email box at a better time! This is day 10 for me I’ve managed to get through 2 whole weekends and even been to a wine bar (drank coffee) and 2 pubs (drank soda) in these 10 days! However today has been a really good day – we’ve had good news and exciting news, we’ve paid half of the balance of our winter holiday and I feel happy.. you think that wouldn’t be a trigger but I’ve realised it absolutely is for me.. nothing is love to do now is go get a bottle to ‘Celebrate’! My tools and reasons seemed weak just 10 mins ago and although I’m still craving your email and today’s blog have strengthened me! So thank you x
I’m glad this helped. Think of it like this: ‘celebrating’ with a drug that makes you feel sick, and full of guilt the next day, isn’t much of a treat. In fact it’s kind of a punishment. There are lots of other lovely ways to celebrate. You’ll feel so good about this when you wake up tomorrow. Keep going!
Absolutely had one.more reason to feel happy! Day 13 creeping up to my 3rd weekend and I’m feeling amazing!!! Sober life is good
Night one…totally related to waking up in the early hours and feeling cross with myself for having a teatime drink again! I read your tips this morning and I made of list of things I was going to do today that I wouldn’t do if I had a drink this evening. I’d usually be half a bottle in by now with drying up on the side and housework not done. Me and the kids cooked tea together so I had company in the kitchen and then I’m buzzing round with the hoover now and feel great. I desperately want to give it a good month of nothing so wish me luck!
Fantastic – not drinking feels so good, right? You get so much stuff done, plus you have more quality time to spend with your kids. It’s all good. Keep going Helen, you can do it 🙂
What can I say…I just loved the short blog I read. I do not identify myself as an alcoholic either and am 72 days sober as I write…plus 5 months nicotine free. Now just don’t get me started on how much more acceptable it is to give the cigs up!
Yours, with gratitude (as sobriety is tough, Ciara.
Yep – what a different attitude we have towards giving up cigarettes, it makes me so mad. Congratulations on your 72 days!
Thinking about not drinking, taking the online surveys to assure myself I was not an “alcoholic”, moderating, on and on. I did that for about a year off and on. In hindsight that process should have raised a big ole red flag, but I was in denial, and scared about a life without wine!
Fast forward to today 110days AF AND a graduate of Kates course…Life without the booze keeps getting better and clearer every day. Glad I gave myself the gift of the course.
110 days is awesome Kathy! Well done! I’m so pleased you took the course. You are flying along 🙂
Thanks for these blogs, Kate! Headed into a long Labor Day weekend at a friend’s lakehouse, I was already feeling my resolve weaken, so I read about 15 of your posts on the drive there. To my surprise, all I had to say was that I’d stopped drinking 5 weeks ago and no one gave me a hard time or second glance. I completely enjoyed being present, laughing, and enjoying my time with my pals, even though they were drinking copiously. The next day I was hangover and guilt free, and I’m so grateful for your upbeat posts – and all the honest, wise commenters- for helping me stick with a happy sobriety.
Fantastic news! Well done for sticking with it Lizabeth 🙂
Tonight will be night 1 for me! I picked this date a month ago and have been following you since then and trying to develop my sobriety tool box. I’m excited, anxious and probably feeling every other emotion there is. Thanks for the support you provide to me and so many others.
Well done for taking the leap Michele! Here’s to many more sober nights and hangover free mornings 🙂
Today 1 week and I feel so Much better. I used wine to hide the chains of pain. I will still have the pain but being sober is so worth it and just one week tells me this.
Kate your words of pouring posion down your throat is what Really got me. Thank you! 🙂
I always think of alcohol as some yucky, toxic poison, because that’s exactly what it is. (It’s just packed up to look nice.) Congratulations on your week sober!
I’ve stayed off the wine a week & a half now! First break in a long time so it’s great to read your encouraging,positive blogs. I’m definitely going to aim for the six weeks,it’s great having a clear head every day,thanks a lot !
Well done on your week and a half! Six weeks is a great goal to aim for – you’ll feel brilliant 🙂
I am relieved to have read comments from various people who sound just like me. I need to bite the bullet and take a much needed break from the wine I’ve grown to enjoy too much! I’m afraid to start though
I know how you feel, I love my wine! However there have been days over the last few months when I have just felt “wined out”. I have just honestly felt as though if I had another glass I would pop! I’ve started not drinking through the week and this has helped me feel better. You can do this!
Loved your comment that you choose not to drink just like you choose not to smoke or take heroin. Thank you. That helped me x
A colleague and I are giving up alcohol for September. She has stayed sober since Friday, I have not and enjoyed my weekend with my partner. Fridays are our “party night” after spending the week apart due to work commitments and the weekend is the only time I am bothered about drinking and (dare I say it?) smoking cigarettes! We have promised each other we will start running again, and one of our run dates will be Friday evening thereby hoping we will feel a natural high and less inclined to drink (as much, anyway!). It’s a case of damage limitation. We have stopped buying as much wine and beer at weekends and I have stopped buying it though the week. I don’t drink Monday through Thursday and I do enjoy waking up fresh but I don’t drink fizzy drinks so struggle with non-alcoholic drinks. I already drink about 2 litres of water a day! Ideas for squash substitutes very welcome.
If you like bottled lager then the AF Bavaria is brilliant! Got mine in tesco . Four for £2 so cheap and less calories. Kumbucha is interesting. AF wine gets me over a hump too but have to admit doesn’t quite have the kick of normal wine. Good luck!
I stopped drinking 108 days ago aiming to do 100 days. The way advoce I have is to set a duration and then NEVER QUESTION THE DECISION. Not even for a second.
Now I don’t have the easy answer of ‘I’m not drinking for 100 days’ it makes every opertunity harder. I’ve decided I’ll go for another 3 months and then reassess again.
I feel SO MUCH BETTER not drinking- I’m sleeping better, I feel so much more positive and in that last few weeks I’ve actually managed to lose some weight!!
Everyone can do what I did. I was the ultimate party girl and was renowned for being the biggest drinker in work. Remove the deliberation and everything becomes easier!
Amazing! Congratulations on your 108 days and thank you for sharing your story. I totally agree about never questioning the decision!
Managed my second night – feeling pleased and the kitchen is tidy before I’ve come to bed!
Does anyone else struggle with the thought of not having wine, even though blood tests recently showed raised levels of my liver function test I was advised to go cold turkey and quit altogether about 1mlnthe ago I am really struggling quitting. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance
Hi Leigh, sounds like you need some help working on your mindset – sobriety doesn’t have to feel depressing and like you’re missing out! Make sure you get clear on the myths and illusions, so you understand exactly what alcohol does and doesn’t do (that makes it waaaay easier to quit and feel good about it.) This is exactly the kind of thing we tackle in my online course: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Yes this really actually frightens me. Not because I think I am an alcoholic, but I love my wine and I don’t drink fizzy drinks. Beer bloats me and spirits are bitter after a few. I try to drink posh squash (shloer or equivalent) if I have to in a pretty glass. Or mocktails. Good luck with your journey
I have been struggling for 5 months with trying to stop .
Was having 2/3 bottles of wine a night..admission to A&E and mental health ward…things are getting better..still drinking every day between a glass to a bottle a night ..one night I don’t drink I can’t sleep its awful
Treat it a day at a time ..love this web page x
The thing I love about Kate and Sober School is that it just all makes perfect sense!
I’m not being asked to enlist the help of a higher order because as a mere human I’m not capable of helping myself keep away from the demon drink! (sorry AA!)
It’s a choice -sobriety, alcohol free living – life is full of them. Sometimes we make good ones other times downright stupid and bad but that’s life! The only person that can change that is YOU!
I was once told by a recovering alcoholic (26 years sober) that the only way you can stop is to reach rock bottom and Kate you are so right to point out, what is rock bottom? It’s different things to different people. It also, in my opinion, infers that you have to reach an incredibly low point before you are able to make the decision to stop. I disagree!
Yes it may take a bad experience to give you a wake up call (as it did in my case) but I haven’t hit rock bottom, nor do I wish to carry on until I do. I made a decision and I stuck with it.
I had had hypnotherapy in the past which worked for me, so whilst my bad experience was fresh in my mind, I made my appointment, as far as I’m concerned it just enhances your resolve. It’s still your decision, your will power.
I have gone from being drunk every night on wine and legless on nights out to completely alcohol free in 3 weeks. It doesn’t feel daunting. It will only feel that way if you tell yourself it will. I still enjoy socialising and guess what, I’m not a social leper because I don’t drink. In fact, everyone I’ve met has nothing but administration!
Read Kate’s blogs, try another method if you feel you need to but you might find that like me, Kate makes much more sense than being told you’re not in control and the only way to recovery is to realise this!
Only my opinion but that sounds very unhealthy to me and almost passing the buck!
Keep it coming Kate. X
Thanks Jackie! And congratulations on making the leap into alcohol-free living 🙂
First night last night did I miss that glass of wine , nope
I like this Kate.. I’m going to have a break initially like you suggest and go from there.. every time I drink and just having the one and it escalates , I cannot bear hangovers anymore and I’m tired of feeling like it, it is also affecting other aspects of my life resulting like work, relationships and poor decisions, it’s time to make changes , thank you
Great post, excellent points! I’m 9 months sober today. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic; I think that label would give too much power to the poison. I simply am someone who developed an addiction to alcohol, and decided to quit. The thought of quitting forever was daunting at first, but initially quitting for 100 days helped me work toward a goal. Now instead of thinking, “I don’t get to drink again?” I think, “I don’t HAVE to drink again.” And it feels incredibly freeing. I feel closer to my true self now than I ever have as an adult. It’s the excitement and joy of being a kid again.
I’m with you on this Sarah. It feels liberating. Like a heavy burden has been lifted. Knowing you’re not going to be drunk or have a hangover is a great feeling. I feel I enjoy my nights out and social gatherings more now.
I am on Day 3 today. The blogs and comments are so helpful on this brilliant site. I.have been a heavy wine drinker since my mid twenties I have recently turned 50. It had got to the point where I was sluggish and hungover but just waiting on the 6pm (earlier in afternoon at weekends) to crack a bottle open. My usual consumption was a bottle and a half a day, however of late due to family health worries and lack.of a job since January this increased to two bottles a night. On Sunday just gone from mid afternoon into evening I hit 3 bottles. Monday I knew things had to change. So I have tonic water in, salted caramel and pistachio ice cream. Today I going to the gym (the one I have paid membership but haven’t had the motivation to be bothered). I took a selfie yesterday of my face and will do every day in the hope it shows in images how giving the booze the elbow can make you look more healthy. Not thinking of next week or next month just today … the here and now. People talk about “rock bottom” and whilst I felt that may have been mine I am aware that there is potentially further platforms to fall through and I am not prepared to risk it. Keep on going all.
Good for you Gill! I need all the inspiration I can get & your story really hits home with me. I need to be strong, especially around the 4:30 mark, where I enjoy my first glass of wine starting dinner Before I know it I’m heading off to bed around 8 or 8:30, too tired to enjoy the evening with my wonderful husband. The guilt is absolutely daunting! I need to give us a more fulfilling life.
I have gone to bed whilst visitors still at the house in drunken stupor or started a discussion with my husband ending up in drunken screaming row and tears. Keep going Liz xxx
Since stopping drinking 3 days ago I have had a lot of itching all over my skin, it is driving me nuts. I have taken Benadryl. It is really bad in the night time. I believe it is part of withdrawal and will right itself. Anyone recommend any creams or lotions that might help ?
Try Avene at Boots as I use that for eczema
This is my first sober weekend in about 10 years. I last had a drink on Saturday night. The first few days were ok but spent most of yesterday shut away in floods of tears. Tonight I’m feeling really breathless and anxious and I’ve realised that whatever this feeling is, is what I’ve been suppressing with alcohol and I’m just going to have to ride it out. It’s not a nice feeling but in a strange way I’m looking forward to recognising my fears and letting them wash over me so I can finally face my demons instead of drowning them in wine. Sorry for the rambling. Hope it makes some sense. I am sober…honestly
you are amazing! this post was so concise and perfect!!! Love it.
I woke up at 5am, knowing I went to bed after an drunken argument yet again with my partner. I looked across at my bed side table to see a half empty glass of wine and know this self destructive life style must stop. This is the first time I have publicly admitted I have a problem with alcholo and it must stop.
I looked on line and saw Kate’s story and others and it has inspired me more than you will know.
Tonight is going to be my first night without wine in a long long time.
I want to change my life for the better.
Thank you to all you brave inspirational people for helping me make this move
Hi 🙂 I discovered this website about a week ago and I love it. I’ve been trying to quit drinking for years. The best I’ve ever done is 10 days in a row without alcohol. And that was because I had a special activity going on. But day to day life seems to require alcohol because of all of the stress. I’d like to get together a toolbox. I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas on this website so far and a lot of hope. I used to be an athlete. I’d like to to get back to exercising. I’d like to get some self respect back too. I’m eager to learn more about the course beginning in January. I’m also unsure about what my sobriety goal should be right now. A week seems like a long time. I’ll keep reading these posts and comments. 🙂
Over the last few years I have come to a realisation in my life that I was drinking way too much and feeling ashamed and unhappy about it. However, after trying to moderate and failing almost every time, I now know I have to do something different. Unfortunately, I cannot trust myself to only have a few drinks, and it soon turns into another blackout. I am recovering at the moment from one of those blackouts, and have come across your website. I am going to commit to being alcohol free for 8 weeks like you suggest, which will bring me up to my 30th Birthday. I’m hoping that will be the start of a new, controlled me who doesn’t think I need alcohol to fit into society. Enough of comparing myself to others and here is to being me, a sober me.