“Surely one drink won’t hurt?”
The thought pops into your head from nowhere.
Now you’re thinking about trying to moderate and wondering whether it’s a good idea. Just one drink sounds so harmless. So normal… so reasonable.
You’ll just have one and leave it there. Or maybe two small glasses. But definitely no more than that, right?
If this internal battle sounds familiar, you probably already know, deep down, that moderation rarely ends well for you. But that doesn’t stop you from thinking about it. Or trying it, again and again.
If you’re toying with the idea of having ‘just one glass’ tonight, read on…
Trying To Moderate? 10 Things You’ll Need To Be Ok With First:
1. Spending ages coming up with a plan you’ll later ignore
If you’re trying to moderate, you’ll need to start by enthusiastically creating some rules for yourself. Google advice on how to cut down and remind yourself of all the tips you’ve read a hundred times before. Convince yourself that this time, you really will alternate every alcoholic drink with water.
2. Regularly breaking your promises
Moderation is so hard, you will inevitably break some of the commitments you make to yourself. You’ll need to be comfortable with this happening on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can move the goalposts and ease the pain of going back on your word by finding creative ways around your own rules. E.g. Is it really drinking alone if the dog’s at home?
3. Knowing that moderation is a full time job
What are you going to drink? When? Where? How much? Are you sure? Do you have enough supplies? Where are you going to get more? Has anyone noticed? These questions aren’t going to answer themselves. Moderation gobbles up time, energy and brainspace, so make sure you’re prepared for this.
4. Finding a range of stores to shop from
Is the person on the till giving you a funny look because they can remember what you bought yesterday, or is it just your imagination? Who knows. Make life easier for yourself by selecting 3 or 4 shops you can pop into on rotation, and pretend you’re there spontaneously.
5. Learning a lot about wine
Nothing signals ‘sophisticated, moderate drinker’ like someone who knows their way around a wine menu. Personally, I used to be happy drinking any old thing (especially after a few glasses) but it’s never good to be caught buying the cheap stuff.
6. Starting your day early. Very early.
Alcohol interferes with your sleep cycle, even in small amounts. It’s frustrating to wake up in the early hours, hungover and exhausted, yet somehow unable to sleep. Keep a pile of good books by your bed to help pass the time. Plus some water and painkillers, of course.
7. Getting to know other heavy drinkers
When you’re trying to moderate, you’ll find yourself drawn to other people who also drink a lot. You feel good around them and your drinking seems normal compared to theirs. The downside? A drinking buddy is not the same as a true friend, and you may end up losing touch with people who genuinely care about you.
8. Low self esteem
Here’s a secret: ‘normal’ drinkers get addicted to alcohol. (I wrote more about that here). Struggling to control a mind-bending drug is not a big deal, nor is it a personal failing. But when you’re in the middle of the moderation dance, you won’t be able to recognise this. Your self esteem will take a pounding and you’ll wonder, ‘what’s wrong with me’? (Answer: nothing)
9. Setting regular tests for yourself
This is an important part of keeping the moderation magic going. Every now and then you will need to take a week off. Or if you can stand it, a whole month. Then you know – and everyone else knows – that alcohol is definitely NOT a problem for you and there is absolutely nothing at all to worry about.
10. Be comfortable lying to yourself
Occasionally you’ll catch yourself wondering if you should quit completely. Might it be easier? Would it make you happier? When those pesky thoughts creep in, remind yourself that you’re enjoying the best of both worlds right now. You’re fine. People like you don’t quit drinking, right?! Right. You’re just having a bad day. You’re happy with things as they are. Honestly. This. Is. FINE.
If you’d like some help to stop drinking and create an alcohol-free life you love, click here for details of my online course.
hmmmm…. did I ever need these reminders…. It’s been over a year, and I think that’s when the thought of “moderation” emerges full force. Thank you Kate!
Congratulations on your one year AF Kristine. You’ve come too far to only come this far 🙂
This is what I am so anxious about…I am 6 months AF and I just don’t want to be complacent and say, just one drink won’t do any harm. Why is it that I feel I am missing out? And yet I know that this moment is all that it is … a moment. This feeling/thought will pass, and I will be so proud of myself. Just like when I gave up smoking (nicotine), 33 years ago.
Ready this caused me to stress out just imagining myself doing all of that. It was exhausting
I know moderation is NOT for me
This is so me. After 2 enforced alcohol free spells of 5 weeks each, I really thought I could drink moderately. Wrong. I’ll learn one day and hope I won’t wait until health issues are the reason I stop again.
This is so true and I’m printing this out to remind myself. I had stopped drinking for a couple of months. Then I went out on Thursday and somehow got roped into having a drink (it was a free cosmopolitan for my friends birthday, then another). Pretty soon it’s Friday and I’m out again with another friend, then it’s half a bottle of wine and a cocktail. I felt miserable and I couldn’t sleep, my anxiety spiked. Saturday felt like a waste and all I wanted was junk food. It was a reminder that drinking isn’t worth it.
It’s nice to see my friends but I can do it without alcohol. I’m back to the gym and taking care myself. I reset my no alcohol counter for Saturday. I watched your videos and l’m going for a goal of 100 days to start with. I’m also setting up a short holiday that is about hiking and being outdoors, I saw your travel videos and they inspired me. Thank you
No problem Anne. If you need some help to make sobriety stick for good this time, I’d be happy to support you with that (it can be so hard doing this all on your own!) I’ve just wrapped up my latest stop drinking course, but the next class isn’t too far away. Here are some more details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Thanks Kate, I added my name to the waiting list. I agree it’s difficult to do it alone without some support. Thanks
I have absolutely no desire to look back. There is nothing there for me.
This week I plan on looking forward, picking up the pace with exercising, working towards a better sleep routine and redo the course- especially week four as I did catch up after hiking that week.
That’s great to hear Carey. You have lifetime access to all the material from my class, so you can keep revisiting it as much as you need. You sound as if you’re in a great frame of mind!
I’m just finished the six week course and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel so good about living free of the burden of worrying about my drinking. I can do what I want when I want without having to think about having a drink. It’s true freedom. Thank you so much Kate.
I was never able to figured out moderation by myself, I tried everything possible, but nothing ever works until I took the Getting Unstuck Course, and I am so happy now, It was the best decision ever. I feel so confident now, I lost weight, I enjoy life so much now. Thank you so much Kate.❤️
I’m so pleased to hear this Elvira! It was a pleasure having you in the class, and seeing you go from strength to strength. Keep rocking that alcohol free lifestyle! ❤️
Thank you Kate
This is a great reminder and well timed!! Thank you so much. Been there so many many times. Not having to plan,think about and constantly punish myself over it is a relief. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people that could moderate but I’m not and never have been. So that is that!
I agree Elvira. I did the course and never looked back – couldn’t believe how well it worked.
Reading this blog reminded me how much mental energy I used to waste thinking about/ justifying/ rationalising drinking. It’s just not an issue anymore and the mental freedom is probably one of the biggest pluses for me! Thanks Kate.
Jenny, I agree 100%, the mental freedom is amazing.
No guilt, no regrets.
This is such a good post and oh so true! Thank you for the reminder I’m on day 15 and feeling great but that little voice is always there saying ‘you can have just one’ I can NEVER have just one and hopefully will never have one again. X
Congratulations on your 15 days Claire! Keep going – sobriety delivers everything alcohol promises 🙂
There’s a quote I read that really resonated with me, “drinking alcohol is like pouring gasoline on anxiety” not sure who said it but it’s so true. I know one glass will lead to three and then to anxiety so I just can’t. It took me a long time to get to that point. Almost 6 months AF!
Love that quote – it’s spot on. Many congratulations on nearly reaching the 6 month mark!
This is an important read, thank you!
After some sober time it can be easy to sometimes forget all this, because it becomes further away in your memory and all the horrible things alcohol causes start to feel more distant.
I do occasionally begin to think “maybe it wasn’t so bad”, even though I know the reality was that yes, it absolutely is that bad!!
Sobriety means being free every day 🙂
I’m glad this resonated with you Carla. Alcohol free living is all about the freedom! 🙂
I tried quitting 2 other times until the old “I’ll just moderate” mantra settled in. Scary thing is, I failed each time only to drink more than previous times. A huge bonus in my corner is my husband who is 100% supportive of my decision to go AF. It was our anniversary this weekend and he didn’t mind at all that I chose not to drink. I hope to get into the next class!
Hi Barb, it sounds as if you’ve learned a lot from these experiences of stopping and then going back to drinking afterwards. It’s great to hear your husband is being so supportive too. My next course isn’t too far away now (it starts end of September) and I look forward to working with you 🙂
Barb, you will be so proud of yourself for taking the step to take the course. I can tell you that it will do something wonderful to you. It did to me, I am a new happy person. I love my AF life
Having just finished the 6-week course, it seems such a relief to not spend time on “moderation”.
I look at all my friends and their ‘moderate’ behaviour and I think I can see the same thoughts drifting through their minds as I had: how many glasses have I had compared to them? How fast am I drinking? Can I afford another bottle? I’ll get it anyway and worry about the bills later… Just roll the movie to the end and you know it won’t be “different this time”!! Same plot, same ending, just different scenery.
Anna, % with you
Moderation, ha that’s a joke for me and you know what? – I wouldn’t even want to try again…….life is so much better living it sober. I turned 48 today and was so excited to enjoy my birthday and celebrate sober! It will be one year for me in a few weeks! Thank you Kate! You continue to inspire me everyday !
Happy birthday Liz! What an amazing gift to give yourself. I hope you had a brilliant day! 🙂
Anna, 100% with you. Congrats by the way 🙂
Thanks! 🙂 you too!
Thanks Anna 🙂
I pray I never fall for that (just one) trick.
In 3 days I will 600 days free, never to go back.
I still have to pinch myself now and again cos I remember a time where it seem so impossible
Wow – 600 days! Congratulations Chantal. I hope you’re doing something nice to celebrate that milestone later this week. Very inspiring 🙂