But somewhere in my mind, I knew it wasn’t okay. Long before the external consequences start piling up – the wrecked family, the DUIs the job losses, the health effects… there are ones that only you know about. See if any of these sound familiar.
10. Your Serving Sizes Have Increased
You used to have just a glass of wine but now it has increased to two – sometimes three. Or you measure out five ounces of wine to see what an actual serving size is supposed to look like, and it seems like a joke.
9. You Have Trouble Stopping Once You’ve Started
You can’t remember the last time you just had one drink. It sounds totally doable, but it just hasn’t happened in a while. You mean to have only one, but somewhere along the way you end up saying, “Oh, what the hell?”
8. There Seem To Be More Drinking Occasions
You consider cutting back, but it’s hard to find a good time. Between holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, funerals, BBQs, dinner parties, work events… it just always seems inconvenient.
7. You’ve Lost Your Taste For Sugar
This should be a good thing, no? Well yes, it is better not to eat sugar, certainly. But if you used to have a sweet tooth and have noticed you now much prefer savory (so long as it comes with alcohol) you are probably drinking often enough that the alcohol is messing with your blood sugar and your brain. This is a lengthy topic and the science is tough, but there’s a reason you see lots of sweets at a recovery meeting. Sugar and booze are definitely linked.
6. You Are Embarrassed By Your Recycling
The racket your recycling makes because of the number of bottles clinking as you try to make your way to the recycling bin is in danger of waking your neighbors. You probably wouldn’t put the recycling out during the day, or if you did you would say you’d had a party. Maybe you even put your recycling in your neighbor’s bin one time. Y’know. So the garbage men wouldn’t judge.
5. You Are Finding More Bruises
If you have started bruising like a peach, yeah, you may be anemic, but your sauvignon blanc habit may be more likely to blame. Alcohol dilates your blood vessels so if you bump into something, your wide-open vessels are more likely to become injured and bleed more. Since alcohol also makes you more clumsy and numbs pain, you are less likely to notice it when you bump into things.
4. You Lie About Your Drinking
Oh no, not me! I hear you thinking – but what about the last time your doctor asked you how much you drink? Were you completely honest? Or did you downplay? Ever said you’ve had “a couple” drinks when it’s more like four? Or tried to hide how much you drank by restocking the next day?
3. You only do part of your drinking with others
You have a glass or two at dinner with a friend, but then come home and have a couple more. Or, though you love your kids, you kind of can’t wait for them to go to bed so you can drink the way you want to.
2. You use alcohol to deal with negative emotions
It’s one thing if you drown your sorrows for one evening when you lose your job, or something similar. But if you continue to use alcohol to cope, or if you are using it to numb feelings that you don’t want to deal with, that is a ticket to the bad place my friend. As intuitive as it may seem, you are sabotaging yourself by pouring a depressant on an already unhappy brain – so when you wake up, it will only feel worse, and not just because of the hangover.
1. You read articles like this one
The fact is, if you’re thinking about you’re drinking, it’s usually a sign that things have taken a turn. People who don’t have any issue with alcohol don’t stay up nights wondering if they’re an alcoholic or if they should quit. It’s not a part of their life often enough for it to matter.
It’s so easy to look at an article like this and just pick out the things you don’t do, using it as evidence that you don’t have a problem. But it’s a progression. Not every alcoholic is born that way. You can start out with a “normal” relationship to alcohol, but the more you drink it, the more likely you are to become addicted. This is an addictive substance. If you take it with regularity, your body becomes dependent. It’s not your fault, it’s just science. Our society likes to paint it as “You’re either an alcoholic or you’re not” but it’s not that simple.
If you recognize any of these, I get it. You don’t WANT to stop drinking. Of course you don’t! If you did this would all be simple. But I do have some good news for you:
- It’s not as hard as you think, and everyone who has made the leap has done it scared.
- You don’t have to stop forever. No one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. The fact is that most people who quit drinking find their lives get better, and they don’t want to go back.
- This is an opportunity, not a punishment. So much of life opens up when you take alcohol out of the equation.
There is never going to be an ideal time. If you are thinking about it now, this is the moment to make the decision. It’s terrifying, I know. But I promise – you can do it.
If you’d like some help, my new FREE mini-course Beating Wine O’Clock can teach you how to unwind, beat cravings, and have a great sober night!
Feeling sober-curious? Read these posts next: