Kate's Blog

The Harsh Truth About Numbing Out With Booze

Picture the scene: you’re feeling frazzled after a stressful day of rushing from one thing to another…

All you want is a glass of wine to take the edge off.

You keep thinking about how great it will be to open a bottle, switch off and pull the shutters down on the world.

I get it. I used to do that too. But there’s something important that you’ve got to know if you’re numbing out with alcohol… and I discuss it in today’s video.


Key points:

We can’t selectively numb our emotions with alcohol

When we’re numbing out from our painful emotions with alcohol, we also numb the positive ones as well. When you numb the dark, you numb the light too. When you drink to numb your sadness or anxiety, you’re also numbing joy and love. You’re numbing out from the moments that make life beautiful. Alcohol isn’t a smart drug – it can’t possibly know which emotions you want to block out, so everything gets the same treatment. 

The emotional cost of numbing out the good moments

Think about the good times you’ve had whilst drinking. What if they could have been even better, even more joyful, if you’d been sober? But because you were numbing out with alcohol (or trying to at least), the smiles and the laughs and the good times got numbed out a bit too. What about those moments when alcohol removed you from an experience or left you feeling slightly detached? It’s easy for something really special – like your wedding day – to become a bit of a blur.

If life is tough right now, know this:

Perhaps you’re thinking, “My life is pretty hard at the moment, there’s not much joy in it anyway – I don’t care about the side effects of numbing out from that!” I know this is tough – but I promise, there is joy in your life that alcohol is blocking you from. When you’re drinking, you don’t appreciate that it’s a sunny, spring day, the coffee your partner makes for you or the cute thing your kid says. Alcohol stops you from noticing those rays of sunshine… which makes you feel worse – and your desire to drink gets even greater.

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. 


15 Responses

  1. I completely can relate to numbing the dark. After almost 4 years of being basically sober, I am still struggling to feel joy in social settings without alcohol. I actually was mostly a solitary drinker and alcohol was my “friend”. I am now happier with myself by myself but the social situations feel duller. Maybe it will just take more time?

      1. Thanks. I am basically an introvert but also relatively adapt at socializing. It just I feel a bit dull when sober in drinking environments. Many of my friends are tea totalers so no pressure to drink there. I am not going to drink its I just want to feel a little “happy” while sober. It’s a goal in progress. Wishing you success.

    1. I really admire you for your honesty in saying that, Joan. I’m just in the process (4 weeks AF) of purposely test driving social situations AF and I know what you mean when you say they feel duller, although I’m taking my encouragement from.people around who are mostly really encouraging and I’m trying to be totally me alcohol free. Like I feel a bit worried that you’re feeling that way 4 years in. Perhaps it’s a bit of a trade off with feeling good about yourself and proud and healthier. Maybe, as the lady who commented on your post said, you might be more of an introvert than you think and there’s totally nothing wrong with that. Felt I had to comment because it could easily be a post I might make further down the line. Thank you

      1. Lisa, just to set the record straight there is no trade off between the rewards of sobriety versus drinking. Sober is the clear winner! I am an introvert but relatively adapt at socializing. Just being honesty that I feel a bit dull in drinking environments while sober and that is fine. Wishing you success.

    2. It’s understandable that socialising with alcohol may lose its appeal after four years of sobriety. Exploring alternative ways to connect with friends that don’t involve drinking could be beneficial.

      1. Thanks Kate and you, once again, have hit the nail on the head. Oddly, I sort of wish everyone else would not drink. Most of my connections are AF but some of my long standing permanent contacts do drink. I still feel a bit deprived and that its unfair which is just being honest. I am completely working on dealing with this so wrong view and being joyfully sober. You blogs are something that motivation me and disciplinary keeps me sober. Thanks you so much.

        1. Hi Joan, It’s good to hear that you are working on these thought errors around deprivation and it being unfair. You are missing out on nothing, other than a hangover of course. Concentrating on all those reasons why being ‘sober is the clear winner’ for you will be key.

    3. Yes, my own experiences at age 71 tell me that only time will repair the synapses that my brain needs to help me recognize dull from sharp, pain from pleasure. Relapses and repeat mishaps are things I don’t miss, so the ‘blahs’ I have, now remind me I’m staying away from tragedy one ‘blah’ at a time. If that helps…

      1. Hi Bree, yes, when we start to see and feel those chinks of light again we really do realise how many ‘blahs’ alcohol created for us.

    4. I can relate fully to your post.
      413 days sober and managing the wineoclocks and evenings rather well.
      But somehow really missing those happy party times with dances and laughter… and – yes – the taste of my favourite drinks.
      These days I prefere meeting for lunch or coffee with friends, to not get that longing.

  2. A very thought-provoking perspective… so often I wonder why what started out as just wanting to relax a little turns into something ugly. I ask myself, why did I only feel the stress, the anger and sometimes the hurt. An interesting perspective. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome Robyn. Sometimes, a fresh perspective is needed to fully appreciate the pervasive nature of a drug that’s widely accepted in society.

  3. I can relate to numbing your feeling with wine. Until I encountered a traumatic environment, one that still continues and I have not found a way out of, I did not drink a drop. A friend recommended a glass of wine to take the edge and yes, it helped immensely. In my mind, it went too far. I’ve cut back significantly, but when those intense moments hit, the wine dumbs those feelings and relieves me from the pain of the trauma. Yes, I’m in counseling. I rather new to this group and I must thank each and every one of your for your candor and honesty. And Kate … you’re a blessing to us all. So I get that numbing feels better than the pain. Blessings to you Al.

    1. Hi Renee, I am so sorry to hear you are experiencing a traumatic environment at the moment. Alcohol may feel like it’s helping you temporarily relieve that pain but it creates more problems of it’s own and doesn’t improve anything in the long run. I can help you find healthier ways to deal with this pressure in your life via my online coaching programme https://thesoberschool.com/course/

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