Did you know that alcohol-related deaths have doubled in the last twenty years in the U.S.? It’s been widely reported that alcohol is killing more people and younger, yet drinking is still the go-to activity for every celebration of life. Going sober, choosing not to drink, being alcohol-free is beginning to get more positive press, but most people still feel ostracized if they chose not to drink and for good reason.
Drinking often, drinking too much, and bragging about it, is normalized in our culture. The message comes across loud and clear everywhere from social media to the morning news anchor’s banter that all the cool kids drink, get drunk, and recover quickly. If you say I’m sober or glorify not drinking in some way, the room goes awkwardly quiet. People have trouble hearing I don’t drink without questioning why.
I stopped drinking about five years ago, after many years of knowing that I needed to stop but not being able to stick to living alcohol-free. I kept drinking when I knew it was getting dangerous because I wanted to fit into my world. Labeling myself alcoholic in a world of drinkers who seemed to be handling alcohol just fine, felt every bit as shameful to me as plastering Hester Prin’s ignominious Scarlet Letter “A” across my chest.
I thought a lot in my first few sober years about how I had been bullied by my culture and bullied by the nature of the drug alcohol itself, to keep drinking when I knew that the relationship had soured. It wasn’t just the stigma behind owning the label alcoholic that isolated me and kept me bullied to hide the problem. It wasn’t just the expectation to drink casually with my friends and family that made it hard for me to stop and not feel left out of life. It was the alcohol itself that bullied me. The symbiotic relationship that fed my increasing addiction.
Alcohol took me aside into a quiet corner… just the two of us… divided me from the pack of my friends and family who were normal drinkers … and when things started to go very wrong in my relationship with alcohol I felt like it was my fault. Everyone else seemed to be fine hanging out with my bully. My bully was their friend.
Many of my friends and family can drink without the dark side of alcohol taking them down. In a way, my friends’ and families’ ability to drink without becoming dangerously addicted, groomed them to see my issues with alcohol as somehow my fault. Or my fantasy.
I seemed fine. It can’t be that bad—
I read an article 5 years ago, that eerily described the terrifying effect of my drinking while I was still close enough to my last drunk to remember. The description is bizarre, spooky, extream and supernatural. Reading it now is surreal. It’s hard to imagine that I ever felt that way or allowed it to happen more than once. But I did. It felt on the nights that I drank to blackout there was something sucking out my soul: The Spiritual Consequences of Alcohol Consumption
“In alchemy, alcohol is used to extract the soul essence of an entity. Hence its’ use in extracting essences for essential oils, and the sterilization of medical instruments. By consuming alcohol into the body, it in effect extracts the very essence of the soul… That is why people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol often blackout, not remembering what happened..
Most people have experienced alcohol in a very different way than me. They have been groomed by their own experience to think that while alcohol may make them feel a bit off now and then it is actually something that gives them more than it takes. Unless they have had the experience of being the victim of addiction they will not be able to see what it is for you if alcohol is your bully. They will always believe that others should be able to handle drinking if they really want to.
I learned about High Functioning Alcoholism when I first stopped drinking and that term described me to a tee. The term that is often used now is Grey Area Drinker because there are many otherwise High Functioning people who need to address their relationship with alcohol but are stopped by the word alcoholic.
I am sober. I am alcohol-free. I do not call myself an alcoholic to this day. The stigma that follows that word has nothing to do with me and I will no longer be bullied to accept living life in any way that is not genuinely me.
The very functionality of me, my ability to hold my liqueur, get up in the morning and get on with life, made me the kind of person who people will never believe really had a problem. The physical and emotional strength that helped me keep bouncing back binge after binge, blackout after blackout, was the very thing that made me kind of person who is most likely bullied by alcohol and bullied by the culture that trivializes its effects.
That high functionality also made me the kind of person who is least likely to walk into an AA meeting and likely better served in stopping drinking by a super-private, anonymous, community. An easily accessible online platform that does the opposite of the kind of mainstream booze bullying that you’ll find on social media. A free platform that has no investment in selling you anything or in selling you to anyone. A place where you are encouraged to think for yourself. You’ll find us here.
I think that the thing that keeps people stuck in alcohol addiction more than anything else in our culture is this attitude that there is something wrong with people who find that they cannot drink routinely without becoming addicted. It’s fine to brag about getting drunker than the next guy, but if you say – I can’t get routinely drunk without somehow NEEDING to routinely drink– if we admit to becoming addicted to an addictive substance that is killing people in record numbers – Then we become the problem.
It helps to have a community to talk to. A community who knows how it feels to be the odd man out in a world where alcohol is the only drug that people will question you for not using. It helps to have a space where you can dig deep for your own truth and not be beaten down daily by the message that the drinker is the problem not the drink.
And you need friends to stand by you and encourage you to just block the alcohol like you would an internet troll – a bully.
Come hang out with us and we will encourage you to Rethink the Drink. We’ll encourage you not to accept the labels that a culture awash in alcohol ascribes to those who don’t want to wash away. We’ll encourage you to think for yourself …
How do you Stay Sober?
And join Here
It is this simple…
NAFD – Not A Fucking Drop
ODAAT – One Day At A Time
Close the door and do not open it again.
But sometimes also tremendously difficult because the end of a bad relationship can make you feel as empty as the end of a good one.
Talk about it…. it helps