A couple weeks ago I got a message from someone asking me how I “just” stopped drinking.
I have been so busy that I haven’t gotten back to her, and I was just reminded of her unanswered question, and I thought I’d answer it here.
Because she’s not the first to ask.
First, let me be clear that for anyone who is a really heavy daily drinker, stopping drinking cold turkey without medical supervision can be very dangerous.
This is not what I’m talking about. This was not my situation.
I was not a daily drinker. I wasn’t even a weekly drinker most of the time.
But I was a heavy drinker in most social situations or when I went out to dinner with my husband.
My usual plan was to get as drunk as I could without puking.
And that right there is not healthy drinking behavior.
There was more motivation to stop.
My marriage is a mess, and I used to have very little control over my emotions when my husband and I would get into arguments.
I would escalate pretty quickly, and when alcohol was involved, it was pretty much NEVER good.
So I had a bunch of different motivating reasons to stop.
First, I recognized that I had some unhealthy behavior around alcohol.
Next, I realized alcohol intensified any negative stuff going on between my husband and me.
Third, I started getting pretty bad hangovers, even after just a couple glasses of wine. It was like my body developed almost an alergic reaction. And I’d spend a full 24 hours, if not more, recovering from drinking, and I really didn’t want to waste that much of my life recuperating from something that was completely self-inflicted.
Fourth, I started forgetting parts of my evenings, even when I had 2 or 3 glasses of wine.
My age was catching up with me.
So I decided I was done.
It wasn’t easy at first.
I had to change my entire mindset.
I had to transform from the girl who thought getting wasted was cool, to the girl who thought not drinking at all was cool.
That was very hard.
In order to do that, I has to stop giving a flying fuck what anyone else thought.
This was probably the hardest one of all.
I wasn’t worried about if they thought I was an alcoholic.
I was worried that they’d think I was lame and a goody two shoes and a priss. Those were all things I kind of looked down on myself, to be honest.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s the people who don’t drink who are the rebels.
In a world of mommy drinking culture full of wine memes and selfies with margaritas, being a non-drinker is not the norm.
AND THAT MADE IT SUPER COOL TO ME.
I used to think I was a badass if I could out-beer pong a bunch of dads at a party.
Now I think it’s pretty badass to not give a shit what anyone thinks about me and to do what most people don’t.
Because it’s not easy to be the odd (wo)man out.
I know my kids are impressed by me.
They say, “I’m not going to drink when I get older.”
I don’t know if they’ll actually stick to that.
But I’m increasing the odds when I lead by example.
And that is a big motivation for me to stay away.
Ultimately, drinking did not increase the quality of my life at all.
It made things fun in the moment. For a little while.
And then it made them suck pretty badly.
The bad parts definitely outweighed the good parts.
And when I started focusing on the parts of drinking that sucked rather than the parts that didn’t, well…
then just stopping drinking got a whole lot easier for me.
And so, to answer your question, that’s how I did it.
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I stopped drinking 13+ years ago, not because I wanted to, but because I am an alcoholic and my husband had had enough. I had to give it some thought, I didn’t really think about my kids (11 & 12), but realized no one would let me live with them, not even my parents, because I was such a mess. I had gotten to the point where I was a daily black-out drinker, I never really had hangovers, just a weird feeling in the morning until I got my first drink. I drove drunk with my kids in the car, fell in my house, smashed my face open and put my head through a wall falling down the basement stairs.
I don’t miss drinking in the least. I lost a lot of “friends”, but gained better ones who love me. My marriage is awesome, he’s my best friend. I really do not give any fucks what anyone thinks about me. I’m living my best life, and my family and close friends are all that matter. When you go out in the big world sober, you realize most people don’t really care or notice if you drink or not.