I’ve been sober for three years. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
My drinking was a problem for years, but I refused to see it. I thought alcohol gave me confidence, numbed the pain, and helped me cope with my demons.
But it didn’t. The alcohol was a demon in itself.
I convinced myself that my drinking wasn’t a problem for many reasons. I could still hold down a full-time job. I didn’t drink first thing in the morning. I mean, what’s wrong with having a drink after work or with your friends?
But it was never one drink. Or two. Or three.
It was a bottle of wine. Then two. Plus shots.
And it wasn’t just after work. It was all evening. All night. Every night. More on the weekends.
But I still didn’t feel like an alcoholic. I didn’t hide my drinking. But then, I lived alone, so had no one to hide it from.
And turning up to the pub early to sneak in a couple of extra drinks was just to settle my nerves, right? Pretending my third drink was my first wasn’t a big deal… right?
My body was ravaged; my internal organs painful and weary. The hangovers felt like dying; my head throbbing, my thirst unquenchable. Blurry patches in my memory… did I really say that? Why can’t I remember saying that?
When my drinking was at its worst, I couldn’t go a day without alcohol. But now (as of yesterday), I have three years of sobriety under my belt.
The first step towards recovery is acknowledging you have a problem. It’s not easy – it took me years to finally accept this, and even now, I’m still coming to understand elements of my behaviour and habits that should have been red flags about my drinking.
I think it’s important to monitor our own behaviours around drinking. I didn’t become an alcoholic overnight. It started with what we consider “normal” social drinking and progressed to full-blown alcoholism over many years. Because of this, my brain did all sorts of mental gymnastics to normalise, justify, and deny the growing issue.
Could you test yourself? You could try setting yourself a goal not to drink for a month, or even a week. If the thought of not being able to drink worries you, or if you intend not to drink but end up doing it anyway, that might suggest there are some underlying issues that require attention.
If alcohol is starting to become a problem for you, whether it’s frequent drinking, binge drinking, or something else like having to use alcohol to get to sleep, please seek help.
You might feel like it’s impossible. Or you might feel like you don’t want to “waste people’s time” because it’s “not that bad”. But I would encourage you to examine those thoughts and feelings.
If it feels impossible, you definitely need help. I don’t say that with any condescension or judgment on you as a person. I say it because I’ve been there and I’ve listened to my brain telling me “if you admit the problem then you have to do something about it, so just stay quiet”. I feared losing alcohol. I feared losing my coping method, however unhealthy it was. I get it. I needed help. And so do you.
On the other hand, if it’s really “not that bad”, then having a chat with a professional or a support service worker can put your mind to rest about the topic. If you’re honest with them about your drinking habits and they come to the conclusion that your alcohol intake would not be considered problematic, then that’s a good thing. Don’t worry about wasting people’s time. There are services dedicated to providing this kind of advice (see below). If in doubt, please ask.
ADVICE AND SUPPORT SUGGESTIONS
- Make an appointment with your GP to discuss the problem and get advice or support
- Contact Drinkaware for free, confidential advice
- Start attending a support group, such as SMART Recovery (online or in-person groups)
- Monitor and evaluate your alcohol intake using a tracker app or a journal
- Do some reading around alcohol use/misuse/addiction to enhance your understanding of your own habits
- Talk to a friend or family member about your concerns and ask them to help you access support
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For me, three years on, I am so incredibly thankful that I freed myself from the prison of alcoholism. I hope I’m around for many more years to experience sober life in all its beauty.
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