My Final Sip of Alcohol

I wanted to have one last hurrah before getting sober.

I Wanted a “Last Hurrah”

Near the end of 2016, I had a plan: as the new year began, so would a new me. I had been plagued by an alcohol addiction for years, and its effects were finally catching up to me. I was constantly tired and irritable, my weight had ballooned, and I was wasting thousands of dollars a year on booze.

I made a resolution to myself. Beginning on January 1st, 2017, I would be done with alcohol forever. I had tried to get sober before, but this time I really meant it. I was sure that things would be different.

This left me with the question of how to fill the remaining days of 2016. If I would be quitting alcohol soon, should I taper down first, to lessen the effects of withdrawal? Or should I have one last hurrah, drinking as much as possible, since it would be my last chance?

Of course, I chose the latter option. Give an alcoholic the choice between drinking more or drinking less, and it isn’t too hard to predict which way they’ll go.

Unfortunately, I was falling right back into a pattern that I had been repeating for years. Each time I promised myself to quit drinking, I almost always decided on a quit date in the near future (normally the next day). I never just committed to quitting immediately, then and there.

This left me with a day or more to sit around and think about sobriety, typically dreading the upcoming change. That’s when I’d end up drinking even more in anticipation.

The more I drank during these “last hurrahs” the less likely I’d be to even try quitting. I told myself that I just wanted to get wasted for one last time before giving up alcohol completely. In reality, I was strengthening both the physical and mental aspects of my addiction.

That brings me to December 31st, 2016. I had been drinking more than usual all month, but still expected to quit on January 1st. My plan was to celebrate new year’s eve by getting incredibly wasted one last time, and then to leave it all behind the next day.

Then something clicked in my mind, and I suddenly realized how ridiculous I was being. I had gone down this road so many times before, and it always lead right back to my daily drinking habit. No matter how many times I promised myself that I’d quit the next day, I always found an excuse to put off sobriety yet again.

What would really happen if I got drunk that night? Would I wake up and suddenly be a new person? No, I’d wake up hungover, and I’d tell myself that I needed a beer to help ease the transition. That one beer would turn into a six-pack, and soon I’d write off the entire day.

Then, day by day, I’d find justifications to keep drinking. Before I knew it, I’d be another year into my addiction and no closer to quitting. Did I really want to walk that familiar path yet again? Absolutely not!

Instead, I quit right then and there. I decided that my new year’s eve would be a quiet, sober one, and by the time the new year began I’d already be on day two of sobriety.

Forgetting My Last Drink

My decision worked. I made it through that night sober, and then the next one. Nearly four years later, I still haven’t had a sip of alcohol since December 30th, 2016.

I had planned for a big last hurrah, but instead my last drink wasn’t memorable at all. All these years later, I’ve literally forgotten it. I can guess that it was probably a beer, since that’s what I normally drank in those days, but I don’t know for sure. I can’t remember the brand, what I was doing while I drank it, or what I was thinking about.

At the time I was drinking it, I would have had no idea it was going to be my last. I still thought I had one more day of drinking ahead of me. I wouldn’t have treasured the drink or glorified it. I just drank it like any other.

That’s exactly the way a last drink should be. There’s nothing special about having alcohol for one last time. Alcohol was destroying my life. Why savor another night of harming myself?

When I was planning for a “last hurrah,” I was still thinking like an alcoholic. I was still treating beer as if it was something I loved and treating sobriety as if it was a sacrifice. The truth is that sobriety is no sacrifice — it’s an opportunity.

By quitting alcohol one day earlier than planned, I gave myself one more day to enjoy my life.

I can’t remember my last drink, and I’m glad to have forgotten it. I’d rather remember my days of sobriety than all the time I wasted drunk.

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at ko-fi.com/benyaclark.

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