When I chose to eliminate alcohol from my life I knew it would be hard at the beginning.
After an on off alcohol drinking career that had lasted 34 years with many ups and downs and countless failed attempts at moderating I felt it was ‘time’ to say no to alcohol.
As the saying goes I was ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I wanted to take alcohol out of my life and see what happened.
I had always struggled to do this before but this time I had found an online site just like this one.
For the first time I was able to talk to like minded people.
People who understood……who were considering the purpose that alcohol served in their lives and whether it was time to make a change.
Finally!!! – without being labelled an alcoholic – (a word that in this age of grey areas of social drinking I personally feel has no use) – I was able to discuss my relationship with alcohol in order to make an informed choice as to whether or not I still wanted alcohol in my life.
Apparently – and totally unbeknown to me – on the day I decided to stop drinking alcohol I had also signed my signature on the dotted line of an invisible document.
A document that gave consent to other people to not respect my decision – but to question it😳😳🙄😳😳
You would think that at the beginning of being alcohol free (AF) just the act of staying off the booze would be my biggest problem.
However I soon found out that an unexpected problem to the newly AF me was that of other people’s bizarre reactions to my decision.
No matter how well meaning the person my decision would be seen by some as (in no particular order) –
The reactions to my saying no to alcohol varied from the supportive and positive to the negative, the downright rude and the sublime.
“Oh no! poor you!”
“Can’t you just have a couple?”
“Why would you do this to me?”
“But you haven’t got a problem.”
“I didn’t know you had a problem”
“You only drink as much as me.”
“You only drink as much as me – mind you I don’t drink much”
“You’re not still doing that ‘not drinking’ nonsense are you?”
“When are you drinking again?”
“I hope you’ll be drinking on New Years Eve”
“I hope you’ll be drinking on my birthday”
“How much did you drink?”
“How much did you drink? – of course you know I don’t drink much.”
“Oh you gave it up for health reasons? – that’s fine I didn’t think you had a problem with alcohol, – if it’s health reasons then that’s different. I don’t drink much as you know…..”
“What is the health reason?”
“Is there a way of getting treatment for your health problem so you can drink again?”
“I only drink a small beer every so often. I hardly drink at all”
“I only drink on weekends”
“Did I say I don’t drink much?…………😳”
“I don’t drink much……..”
My opinion is that the person reacting in this way has very little to do with the person who is AF – it is more to do with the person reacting to protect themselves.
You may find they are eager to ‘other’ those reducing or stopping drinking alcohol. They want to ensure that the person reducing or not drinking alcohol is someone whose story is completely different to theirs.
Very often the statements that people come out with are their barrier against their own drinking pattern.
They may be threatened – they do not want your reasons in any way to relate to themselves.
They may feel they have to be careful so that no one can relate your drinking pattern to theirs.
I can’t stress to you enough how important it is for you be aware that you may get these inquisitive comments and try not to get upset about them.
By that I mean make sure you are ready to protect yourself from any negativity.
I’m afraid there’s often that ‘one person’ that wants you to stay ‘on their side of drinking’ and may try to goad you.
They will almost certainly be someone that drinks heavily or maybe has a drinking problem but won’t admit to it.
They may not want to lose their drinking partner
People who do not drink excessively and recklessly will never make you feel uncomfortable or challenge you.
In fact have found that the people who have questioned my not drinking the most are often the ones who then proceed to get drunk. In fact on more than one occasion so drunk that it’s them that everyone is talking about the next day.
The reactions I’ve mentioned can be very stressful for the newly AF.
The last thing you want is the anxiety of a spotlight on you when you are already vulnerable and trying to walk down a different path.
Unless you choose to bare your soul to every person who questions your decision (which I wouldn’t recommend unless it’s someone close to you who you trust) I’d advise you to have your excuses for not drinking alcohol ready.
“TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY”
But what if you’re not wanting to be jolly with alcohol?
What excuses could you use?
I used some of the excuses below for at least 8 months until I gained in confidence.
Some of them were actually true and some of them were not. They are only examples – I’m sure you can think of many more relating to your own situation.
Well at our age if we can’t enjoy a social event without alcohol then we have a problem don’t we?
I’m on a health campaign.
I’ve been to the dentist.
I’m on antibiotics and can’t drink alcohol.
I’m trying to lose weight and alcohol is full of calories.
I’m doing Dry January, Dry February, Sober curious etc etc…
I’m having a break from drinking.
I’m having a break from drinking and I’m realising whenever I drank alcohol it made me anxious after drinking it.
It was affecting my health.
(If you choose this one it can open a can of worms about your health so in my opinion it’s not a great excuse unless you are happy to say what part of your health it’s truly or fictitiously affecting).
eg. – My blood pressure is high, I’m having a lot of headaches, I’m getting migraines,
I’ve found I feel much better without alcohol.
I’ve found I feel much healthier without alcohol.
I’m happier without alcohol.
I’m going through the menopause and I’ve found that when I drink alcohol it hits me quicker now. (Obviously if you’re male this one probably won’t work 🤣)
I can’t have a hangover tomorrow because………(insert reason why)
I don’t want a hangover tomorrow……..subtle difference to the one above where you have no other reason and are confident to say so.
I look directly at them and turn the conversation around by putting the focus onto them.
I have found that people like to talk about themselves……..
…which is great because that takes the focus off me.
eg. – Nice dress, nice shirt, nice T-shirt, loving the haircut, loving the nail colour, how’s your family, how’s your baby, how’s your mum and dad, how’s your dog, how’s your hamster……wow you look well……your hair looks great……cool shoes…..did you see the big fight……did you see the football……seen anything good on Netflix recently….I saw a great film the other day….etc….etc… etc…. you get my gist.
Smile, chat, laugh, be happy, dance if you can – just as you would – you’ve only changed the drink in your glass.
Make sure your glass is always full.
Sparkling water ice and lemon looks like gin and tonic whilst coke and ice looks like Bacardi and coke.
You can maybe take your own sliced lemons in a plastic bag, grab your drink, don’t get into rounds, buy coke or sparkling water and ice, chuck your lemon in…. and Bobs your uncle.
Get through this situation and don’t give in and drink alcohol just because someone else wants you to…..
Because if you do bend to pressure the stakes are high that you are going to regret it the next day.
I wake the next morning my dignity and self-respect intact.
Full of joy with no regrets.
I have never woken up and wished that I had drunk alcohol the day before – just because someone else had wanted me to.
This post was written by Zoo. You’ll find more of her writing on Boozemusings here :
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us.
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using
community support 24-7 or sign up and sign in here
Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”