When is it ever really a good time to get sober?

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Planning for “Tomorrow”

I spent most of my adult life as a heavy drinker, strongly addicted to alcohol. I’d drink every day, and almost always to the point of drunkenness.

As my addiction wore on, I found myself perpetually planning my eventual sobriety. I knew that I was drinking too much, and I knew that I needed to quit, but it never quite felt like the right moment.

I was living in a constant state of expectation. In my mind, sobriety was always right around the corner. I told myself that I’d keep drinking “today,” but that I’d finally quit “tomorrow.”

I spent years truly believing that I was just one day away from leaving my drinking habit behind. I believed this so strongly that whenever I went to the store for beer, I only bought enough to last me through the evening. I didn’t want any leftovers around the next day, because I was sure that “tomorrow” would be the first day of my sobriety. …

Drinking helped to ease my boredom, but it turned me into a boring person.

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Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Eliminating Boredom

Before getting sober, one of the things that I used to love about alcohol was how good a job it did at eliminating boredom.

I never had to think of ways to keep myself entertained. If I was feeling bored, I’d just open a beer.

Drinking made me content to sit around doing nothing. I could watch television all night long, every night of the week.

Experiences that should have been mindnumbingly boring were made completely bearable thanks to my drunkenness.

I was doing almost nothing with my free time, but it never bothered me much. I wasn’t a total shut-in; I still occasionally visited friends or explored the city. …

Knowing when your drinking habit has gone too far.

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

One of the questions that many drinkers struggle with is how to know whether their drinking habit has gone too far. It can sometimes feel like a fine line between a beer enthusiast and an alcoholic.

I used to struggle with this question a lot. Although in retrospect it’s obvious to me that I had an addiction, it wasn’t so clear to me while I was in the midst of my heavy drinking.

So how much alcohol is too much? Two good starting places to answer this question are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, and the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM. …

Why I went back to drinking, and how I finally got sober for good.

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Photo by Mert Kahveci on Unsplash

How My Daily Drinking Habit Began

I’ve struggled with alcoholism for most of my adult life. My daily drinking habit started when I was still in college, shortly before graduation.

I was feeling extremely isolated at the time. I had transferred to a new university after my sophomore year, and then had my junior year interrupted by back surgery. I ended up having to complete many of my credits through “correspondence courses” (the analog precursor to online classes), all while living at my parents’ house.

Between transferring and back surgery, I barely knew anyone by the time I was back on campus. …

How I used expensive beers to mask my addiction.

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Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

From Cheap Beer to IPAs

Back when I bought beer in college, I only ever had one criteria in mind: the price. I’d spend my weekends loading up on the cheapest drinks I could find, most often cases of light beer.

It didn’t taste great, but I never hated it as much some people do. Light beer was easy to drink a lot of, and I’d often spend entire days just sitting around and getting drunk.

All of this wasn’t too out of the ordinary for a college student, but unfortunately, I brought the habit with me after I graduated.

During my first year out of college, I was going through a dozen or more beers every day. My drinking had gotten completely out of hand, and I soon realized that I had developed an addiction. …

I always had time for drinking, so I can make time for my sobriety too.

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Finding Time for Sobriety

For most addicts, quitting alcohol is an insanely difficult process. To be successful, it requires a serious commitment of time and energy.

Within AA (and other twelve-step programs), one of the most common pieces of advice given to newcomers is to attend 90 meetings during their first 90 days sober. By going to so many meetings, the newly recovering addict uses their first three months to build a new habit (going to meetings) to replace the old one (drinking).

Outside of AA, many other programs suggest similar commitments. …

Relapses are disappointing and frustrating, but they aren’t a permanent failure.

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I Relapsed Many Times

I quit drinking in December of 2016. Since then, I’ve stayed completely sober, without taking a single sip of alcohol.

Despite this recent success, my past is filled with many attempts to quit drinking that didn’t go so well. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I relapsed.

I remember a few times that I quit drinking for weeks or even months, only to give in and buy a six pack during a moment of weakness.

Far more often however, my attempts at sobriety didn’t even last a day. I’d start each day with every intention of quitting drinking, but by sunset, I’d have given up. These day-long stints of sobriety were so short that I sometimes struggled with whether they even “counted” as real attempts. …

The excuses that I made to keep drinking made no sense.

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Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Before I got sober, I used to make every excuse in the book to justify my addiction. I’d downplay how much I drank, I’d say that I needed alcohol to function, or I’d come up with reasons that it wasn’t a good time to quit.

Back then, I often talked about alcohol as if it was the solution to so many problems in my life. For example, I’d say that I needed it to get over my anxiety, or to relax after work. Ironically, I often gave credit to alcohol for solving the exact problems that it had actually created.

Now that I look back at my years of heavy drinking, I can see how badly I had misunderstood the effect that alcohol was having in my life. …

How I tried (and failed) to reinvent myself overnight.

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Photo by AJ Yorio on Unsplash

Ignoring Sobriety

I spent years as a daily drinker, and by the end of my twenties, it was starting to take an obvious toll on my mental and physical health. I knew that my only path towards a healthy life would require getting sober, and soon.

Sobriety should have been the highest priority goal in my life. Instead though, I shifted my focus to secondary problems: my smoking habit, and my ever-increasing weight, for example.

These were issues that were also certainly having a negative effect on me, but not nearly so severe as a daily drinking habit. …

How I’ve described myself since quitting drinking, and why it matters.

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Photo by Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash

A Difference in Terminology

Since quitting drinking, I’ve learned that there’s an interesting split in the terminology that sober people use to describe themselves. Most people who have quit drinking refer to themselves as “recovering” addicts/alcoholics. This language is especially popular among people in 12-Step programs.

There’s a growing number of people who use new terms though, referring to themselves as “former” or “recovered” addicts. There are even some former drinkers who use all three terms interchangeably.

To some sober individuals, debating the best terminology to use may seem pedantic. …


Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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