Tales of a High-Functioning Drinker Told to My Newly Sober Self

Today I’m 100 days soberWOW!! It’s been 100 days of not calling myself an alcoholic, but rather consciously celebrating being alcohol-free! 100 days of working my sobriety so differently than I expected. 100 days of being courageous and opening myself to new ideas. 100 days of sharing the journey with people like me. People who spent years stuck in a rut of living as high-functioning drinkers stuck on the hamster wheel of drink, drunk, regret, hoping I Really Wasn’t That Bad, I’m not an Alcoholic.

In honor of my 100th day alcohol-free, I do not want to risk complacency, so I’m going to go back and look at my headspace on my last day one.

100 days ago when asked this question – If you can think of one thing that scares you, or scared you most about sobriety what would it be ?

This was my answer :

I’m in an industry that is synonymous with drinks at the end of the event. I set up events that involve wine as part of the package.  I love every fun, social minute of it.  I am very fearful of losing the fun.  It keeps me on the fence about the future, I must admit.  

I wrote this about a month ago, when I was seeing a lot of posts online about being high-functioning drinkers, and how people didn’t want to quit because they weren’t really that bad.  I referred back to this the other night after my first sober wedding, when I was feeling kind of down about it all, and feeling that I had missed out on something by not drinking with everyone else.  Reading what I wrote snapped me the hell back to reality, and it’s incredibly helpful to me to remember why I stopped and what a gift sobriety is to me.

 I call this –

I Really Wasn’t That Bad, I’m not an Alcoholic


I really wasn’t that bad.  I was high-functioning.  Textbook.  I knew precisely how to schedule long layovers when traveling on business so I could drink for hours in the airport clubs.  I always booked myself into first class at great expense so I could have those two or three, or hopefully more, free drinks.  I always hid my annoyance at flight attendants when they didn’t start the drink service immediately because I was high functioning and we don’t show when we’re annoyed.  But come on, tap tap, people, time’s a-wasting. I spent $450 extra per person on a cruise so we could have the unlimited drink package and then we wisely drank from morning until bedtime to make sure to get our money’s worth.  Yeah, my stomach was upset and I felt like shit the whole two weeks but I know it was just the coffee they served on board.  Something sure didn’t agree with high-functioning me on that trip.

Woman standing with skirt in water Tales of a High-Functioning Alcoholic Told to My Newly Sober Self

I rarely answered my phone after three in the afternoon so no one knew I was drinking already.  I only drank vodka, and then wine.  None of that other disgusting stuff non-high-functioning people drink.  Except when I also had gin and tonic between the vodka and the wine.  Well, just gin really, because tonic just screws up that gin taste.  I never started drinking before 5, and then 4, and then 3, except when traveling, and then I started in the airport bar at opening time in the morning because days when traveling don’t count for high-functioning travelers.  I always had the bartender split the bill so my company didn’t know I was drinking at 6 in the morning.  High-functioning people remember to split the bill for accounting.  Me and the other high-functioning people sitting at the bar drinking at 6 a.m. used to laugh about how travel gives you an excuse to day-drink.  Ha ha.  Isn’t this fun?

I for sure never started before 3 at home except during the pandemic lockdown, and then I made an exception and started at 1 because of stress.  Or boredom.  Or something.  Or sometimes I started at noon because it’s lunch and you can have wine with lunch, right?  All the high-functioning girls do it.  Those pretty chardonnay glasses.  It’s just wine with lunch!

Woman floating Tales of a High-Functioning Alcoholic Told to My Newly Sober Self

I never blacked out and I rarely had a hangover.  Except at Christmas that time when I started drinking in the morning and by dinner, I could barely see my food and my husband had to help me to bed.  I didn’t throw up as I laid there on the bed feeling like I was going to pass out, because I’m high functioning and we don’t puke or pass out.  We stick around for the whole thing, unfortunately.  I never alienated friends or family except when I had that big relationship-ending phone call with my brother when we were both drunk but I was definitely justified in everything I said. 

I always enjoyed nice meals out with a nice bottle of wine, and I never let anyone know I was watching the waiter and how much he poured for other people because I was afraid I wasn’t getting my equal share.  I hated sharing bottles of wine at dinners because I was always scared I wouldn’t get enough. I always drank fast so I was sure to get the same as everyone else.  I was usually so pleased with those nice meals out, I would pick up a glass of wine at the hotel bar afterward to take back to the room to celebrate how nice the evening was.  Unless I had a bottle in the room, and then I did a before- and after-dinner glass of wine to go with my wine at dinner.  We high-functioners are good planners!

There was one horrible time that didn’t seem too high functioning but it was only that one time.  It was so horrible I can’t even write it down and wish with all my heart I could forget it, but darn the luck.  High-functioning people don’t forget shit like that.

Woman standing on Rock in lake Tales of a High-Functioning Alcoholic Told to My Newly Sober Self


I really wasn’t that bad.

More from this author :

One Day at a Time

The Tipping Point – Choosing to Stay Sober Despite the Triggers

8 Tips and Tools to Get Sober and Stay Alcohol-Free

Listen to Selected posts from our Boozemusings Blog on Spotify

If you’re “sober curious” …If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break… Talk to Us

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14 responses to “Tales of a High-Functioning Drinker Told to My Newly Sober Self”

  1. […] When our problem is low level, like we don’t drink huge amounts but we drink more often than we want and can’t stop, it is just as much of a problem for us as someone who drinks gallons daily. The urgency and need to stop is just as present. Or should be. Because I am sure that while we don’t tackle it, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to a much higher level problem in the future. At any time. – more reading – I Really Wasn’t That Bad, I’m not an Alcoholic […]

  2. Hi this was me two, even though I have only stopped drinking two days now. I would hide wine all over the house and forget where i put it and then find it when I was sober, and I would find empty bottles all the time,
    I even started buying small boxes of wine so i could hide them in my purse and get them passed my husband without him seeing, I had it under control two little boxes of wine, i was ok, but the nights i had three i would become a horrible abusive person to my husband. i felt like such a liar to my husband, and my kids, My daughters who are now grown and no longer live with me, asked me years ago to get help but i denied it. but they knew, i was not fooling anyone but myself, well after of 25 plus years of drinking the time has come to stop. I am about to lose my husband who loves me and stood by me for over 5 years (second marriage) because of this horrible disease, I have already lost most of my family members and friends, So today I write this two days sober, the second day of the rest of my life. Thank you and God Bless you all

  3. Fantastic Sober Cindy! Yes it does feel wonderful. Isn’t it amazing how hard it is to stop, but once you have a few weeks under your belt life is just so much better without the thing you thought you needed to feel good

  4. Oh my , this is so me! I planned my drinking, I never had hangovers or through up. The planning was exhausting. Making sure the wine was in the house and hidden. Then forgetting where I hid it and having to go get more. Lying about where I was going.(to get more booze silly) It is quite possible that I will find a bottle now that I forgot about. But, I am now 52 days in recovery and it feels wonderful!

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