Is my drinking bad enough to quit?
In this blog Jen shares what brought her to the realisation that she could choose to go alcohol-free despite not having a ‘bad’ drinking problem, and why sobriety is actually an option available to everyone.
In March 2018 I decided to quit drinking for the first time. Prior to this, I had tried to make moderation work for me. It wasn’t happening. I’d also tried to take a month off from drinking to prove to myself that I could. Turns out, I couldn’t. I hated my way through two weeks of Dry July before caving in. Five months later I tried again, but only made it five days into Dry January.
I resisted even entertaining the idea of sobriety for a long time. Because, in my mind at that stage, only people with serious drinking problems needed to quit, and I didn’t see myself as having one. In fact, I had no external signs of a drinking problem. No one ever expressed concern about my drinking or encouraged me to cut down. So, it took a long time for me to fathom that quitting was an option available to me.
But when I started asking the better questions than “Do I have a real drinking problem?”, like would my life be better if I didn’t drink at all? Sobriety started to intrigue me. Did I really need to slap a stigmatised label on myself to justify not pouring a dangerous drug down my throat every night? Did I even need to have a diagnosable problem to justify choosing to put my mental and physical health above society’s expectations of me?
I felt like alcohol wasn’t serving me anymore. There was a long period of time where I genuinely believed that alcohol was helping me. But my relationship with alcohol had devolved, and I knew that at this point, alcohol was adding to my problems rather than helping me through them.
And, for me, that was enough.
I stopped caring whether three-quarters of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, being my average weeknight consumption, was “bad enough” to justify quitting. What I knew in my heart was that the way I was drinking (and living) wasn’t good enough for me to continue without making changes.
I had already tried many, many things to improve my life with alcohol in it. I’d moved countries, states, jobs within the same industry, reinvented myself and moved to new industries, become a mum, seen multiple psychologists, gone on and off multiple medications, done acupuncture, naturopathy, meditation, yoga, running, I’d even done crossfit for crying out loud. None of these things, alone or together, made my life good enough with alcohol in it.
So, like a scientist, I decided to remove alcohol as a single variable and see if my life was better if I didn’t drink at all… And as it turns out, it was.
If your drinking has become a ‘thing’ in your life, I want you to know that sobriety or taking an extended break from booze is available to you regardless of how much you drink or what consequences you’ve experienced as a result. Being alcohol-free is an option available to ANY drinker.
No one should have to justify their choice not to take a drug. Even a legal one.