how I went from drinking every night to twice a week
Obviously, this warrants a huge trigger warning for alcohol.
I come from a family of alcoholics. Well, at least, my dad was. He successfully quit around the time I was born. Throughout my life, our household was alcohol-free, except for the wine my mom would share with friends and family for special occasions. Some kids drank in high school, but I wasn’t about that life. I used to be a hardcore rule-follower, you see, and I wouldn’t do anything that was illegal. Ever.
Times have changed. But anyway.
I was 20 when I had my first drink. My mom finally brought me out into the kitchen one night and declared that I was going to learn how to make margaritas.
From that point on, I would have a few shots at parties. Sometimes, on days off, I’d buy those tiny bottles of different liquors and try them. But that was about it.
Until I moved out.
I moved out of my parents’ house at 22. Having total independence for the first time in my life, combined with the deep depression that was my life around that time, led me to drink more than I probably should. My at-the-time boyfriend complained on a handful of occasions that every night, when he came home, I was “sloppy drunk”.
When we broke up, I was living all alone for the first time ever. It got worse. It got to the point where I realized I had to entirely stop drinking because, at that time, there was no such thing as moderation for me. I had A Problem, apparently.
And I did. Despite my best friend being unsupportive and relentlessly mocking my sobriety, I managed to not touch a drink for months. During that time, I turned to anime — I used to have a beer or two or six when I got home, but instead I’d watch an episode or two or six of Attack on Titan. It was hard at first, waking up in a sweat every morning, becoming anxious whenever I imagined my sobriety as a permanent state. I gave away all the beer that was in my fridge (and it was really good shit).
After a few months, I figured I could handle drinking occasionally without getting back to being Really Bad. I had one beer at a party. I was fine. I continued to have several a week, if that. I was fine.
And then the trauma that was January of 2015 happened. I had asked people not to bring too much alcohol to my birthday party, as I didn’t want to have too much around, but I had friends who worked in the specialty department of Whole Foods, so I got all the out-of-season pumpkin beer that year. I also got cheated on and broken up with within 24 hours. I also had the week off.
It was a recipe for disaster. It was a recipe for perpetual drunken sadness, not leaving the house in 5 days, doing nothing but drinking and crying and singing “Love in the Time of Human Papillomavirus” by AJJ.
It was fucking awful.
I spent 2015 in a drunk-and-high haze, egged on by my own anxiety and depression and by my at-the-time partner who had all the hookups. My at-the-time partner, whom I couldn’t stand to be around if I wasn’t drunk-and-high. I was constantly numb, except when I was angry or sad or generally unpleasant to be around. I think most people in my life can agree that 2015 wasn’t a good time for me.
These bad habits carried into 2016, but my drinking took a more social shift. Honestly, at one point, I was only drinking socially, and I was having the time of my life. 2016 was one of those years where, when it was good, it was really good, but when it was bad…
anyway, this Thing happened, something I’ve touched on in a previous post.
Lemme go ahead and throw on a handful of warnings: this is a content/trigger warning for sexual assault, creepy…medium.com
(peep paragraph…14, I think it is? the one about getting drunkenly taken advantage of.)
After that point, I was afraid of getting drunk to the point of losing control. That’s literally the only “good” thing that came out of that event: I stopped drinking so much, merely because I grew to despise the lack of control that accompanies that kind of debauchery. I was also afraid of having parties, but I’ve since gotten over that. That was the easiest fear to get over, honestly; I still have a lot of peculiar phobias that arose from that event, but that’s something I may or may not touch on at another time.
I also stopped going out so much in 2017. This is mostly a result of having become unexpectedly unemployed in March (the story of the job I held for 5 days is probably also medium-worthy, but I’ll tell that one when I’m good and ready) and having no money for awhile there.
Something else happened: apparently I’ve developed an intolerance for shitty beer. That sounds like pure snobbery, but I can assure you it’s biological. There was a time when I could just drink down any beer that was passed to me, but that time is over. I can still tolerate PBR (sometimes), but anything cheaper than that will make me sick before it makes me drunk.
Oh, and there’s the allergy I’ve apparently developed. I don’t know what exactly I’m allergic to, but sometimes, when I drink beer, I get really flushed. My face gets really itchy and red — it’s not cute, it’s actually pretty worrisome, especially when it extends down to my chest. That happened on my birthday this year. Seeing my face, neck, and chest that splotchy was honestly disconcerting and I hope it doesn’t get that bad ever again.
Pair all of these factors with the fact that I’ve been trying not to keep hard liquor in my house (I love whiskey, and even bought a decanter to keep it in, but I know I’ll burn through it in a week. besides, shit’s expensive) and the fact that I also really only like vaguely expensive wine, and…drinking has basically lost its magic for me.
There are a few things I still crave, and I’ve managed to find non-alcoholic ways to satiate those cravings. Let me explain:
I grew to love the very act of opening cans. Sometimes I didn’t even want another drink, I just wanted to open another can for the sensation of it. But, you know, you can’t just open a beer and let it sit there. Anyway, instead of opening beer cans, I’ve been buying canned sparkling water and drinking that at night. It gives you the same sensation of opening a can, complete with the sweet, sweet sound of carbonation escaping; except sparkling water actually hydrates you and therefore leads to the opposite of a hangover. I’m sure that’s scientifically valid. Maybe.
I also love just…having something calming to look forward to at the end of the night. At the end, most people drink because we’re bundles of stress and nerves otherwise. I know that’s the case for me, at least.
To solve that craving, I’ve started drinking tea. A lot of tea. An unprecedented amount of tea. Chamomile, Sleepytime, Snooze & Snuggle, Hibiscus…anything non-caffeinated is game. It’s a new nightly ritual, and I really dig it. You know, I used to be a huge tea nerd, but then I started drinking more beer than tea, and then I basically stopped drinking tea altogether. I’m really glad I’m back to tea, honestly.
Another beverage that fits both of those cravings? Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood. You can buy ’em at Whole Foods and Kroger, maybe other places, too. They have a whole handful of calming herbs AND they come in cans.
Another factor that has honestly helped me more than words can express, is that I’m surrounding myself with better influences. Of course, I didn’t go and entirely ditch my friends who drink. I have just found myself naturally gravitating towards people who don’t, or at least not as often. I used to have a whole group of “drinking buddies”, but we all stopped going out at roughly the same time. I haven’t really heard much from any of them since, either, which makes me wonder where our bond really originated.
I’m also dating someone who doesn’t really drink, so that’s awesome.
This post got a LOT longer than I thought it was going to, but I guess that’s what always happens when I let my brain wander. A wandering brain is a dangerous thing, folks. Uhh, but I guess my main point is:
We all have our reasons to drink. It’s very true. Mine were mostly depression, anxiety, shitty life circumstances, stress, and being surrounded by other people who drink even more than I did.
I’m not trying to claim sobriety. I still drink sometimes. I find that moderation works best for me, but it’s taken awhile to get to that point (obviously).
What I’m saying is that I’ve drastically cut back, and I’d highly recommend that to anyone.
Want to be able to wake up with no hangover, no regrettable sent messages, and no questions about what happened the previous night? Cut back.
Want to save money and lose weight? Cut back.
It’s not always this simple, and I’m lucky it was this easy for me. If you think you need professional help, I strongly advise that you seek that. Look up addiction therapists in your area, maybe even join a support group.
But if you’re like me, and you’d rather do it yourself because you know deep down that you need to change…
fucking do it. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it.
Don’t look back.