After a year of becoming sicker and sicker every time I drank, I woke up one morning last summer with the worst hangover in my life and resolved to stop drinking, once and for all. It had taken me a long time to accept that I had a problem with alcohol and needed to free myself from its clutches. At 69 years old, I’d been downing at least a bottle of wine a night for more than 20 years. Every few months I would stop or slow down for a few days in the hope of moderating the habit, which worked fine for a night or two. But by the third night I was always back at it.
I rationalized my drinking a hundred different ways: I deserved to relax after a hard day of work (every day was hard!). I needed one more glass so I could fall asleep. Nearly everyone I knew drank as much or more than I did. Wine was a better short-term analgesic than Tylenol for my frequent body pain. How could I have a problem with alcohol? I didn’t need to stop drinking . I never missed a day of work, or a deadline. I never blacked out or embarrassed myself in public…too badly, anyway.
But at least 10 years before I quit, I had started to take those “do you have a problem with alcohol?” quizzes that showed up online or in the pages of magazines I read at the doctor’s office. And the answer was always YES. I had a problem with alcohol. Yes it was time to stop drinking.
Sadly, it took me 10 more years to admit it to myself. But once I made up my mind that I had to quit, I Googled “How to stop drinking without AA or rehab” and found my way to Boozemusings and the BOOM community, where what we have in common is the desire to get and stay sober by sharing our stories and supporting each other.
Here I have found encouragement, compassion, and hundreds of compelling stories from other community members. Their journeys may not be exactly like mine, but they want exactly what I want: freedom from addiction to alcohol.
We recently asked our BOOM Community the question:
At what point did we realize we’d crossed a line into alcohol abuse?
Here’s what our community members have to say.
21 answers to the questions How do You Know You Have a Problem With Alcohol? Is It Time to Stop Drinking ? :
- I knew it was time to stop drinking when I started hiding bottles of wine.
2. I knew I had a problem with alcohol when I wanted my husband and kids to go away and leave me alone so that I could drink more.
3. I knew that I had crossed the line to alcohol abuse when more of my waking hours were spent drunk than sober.
4. I knew that it was time to stop drinking when I felt like absolute crap after a binge and drank all day the next day to “feel better.”
5. I knew that I was in trouble when I saw at least 8 empty bottles of wine and whiskey on the floor after just 2 days! Also being deathly sick from drinking it, missing work, lying and hiding out.
6. When we had to send our child to an intervention program, and I realized my drinking had been increasing for years as a way to deal with the extreme stress in the household. I realized that if we were asking her to do hard things, the least I could do to support her would be to be available and present as much as possible, and there was no way I could do that while drinking. Turns out I’ve learned and healed myself as much as she has as a result of giving up the bottle!
7. I knew that I had a problem with alcohol when I switched from buying wine by the 750ml bottle to the 1.5L bottle, I knew something was going down…and then graduating to buying wine in a box (holds the equivalent of six bottles) which would only last 2 days! I knew I was in big trouble, but it was easy to hide how much I drank while serving myself from the box. There were no bottles lined up on the counter, no one to see. But who was I kidding? Those boxes and plastic liners were adding up quickly. I justified it by how much I was “saving” by purchasing wine by the box. How dumb! I mostly drank at home. I began drinking a little earlier over time (I worked from home at the time) and then a little earlier. Every day was a reason to celebrate. I’d drink and then just fade off into oblivion, and then wake in the wee hours, scared my heart would burst out of my chest. I would lie there, filled with anxiety, vowing to stop the madness. I’d try moderation but that didn’t work for me. On the day my hubby was diagnosed with cancer (he’s fine now), I vowed I’d be there for him 100%. I didn’t tell him that, it was just an internal promise to him and to myself. So here I am, Day 162. I am never going back to drinking. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worth the disappearing act I performed every day. I like it here better.
7. There were many things and many times, but this last time, where I really made the decision to stop drinking and stuck to it, was because I had been carrying around a thermos full of gin every day, drinking it from the moment I woke up and filling it up in my restaurant’s liquor room each night during my shifts. A coworker and good friend of mine caught me one night; we talked, and she said if I didn’t get help she would tell my boss what was going on. I went to an AA meeting the next day and have stayed sober since!
more from this Boom Community member The Cages in our Minds – Talking With my Young Son About Alcohol and Sugar Addiction and Words Have Power to Create and Destroy – Tell Your Story Wisely
8. I was actually oblivious that I had a problem with alcohol. I went to my husband’s retirement party on July 4th. I was angry at him, but didn’t even realize it. His friends were smoking pot. I wasn’t but thought I would just have a few small glasses, really trying to be super careful. The next thing I knew, my daughter was saying, “Mom, I am taking you home.” I was confused as hell. I thought I had been good, but I guess I just got drunk instead and blacked out.
9. I knew that it was time to stop drinking when I sprained my wrist and broke my toes. I tripped on a bunched-up area rug in the dark while drunk and now have “turf toe” on my left big toe. One of the joints has practically no movement. Normally athletes get this injury, so I watched a sports medicine YouTube channel to learn how to tape it up when it hurts. I’d like to add that football players with turf toe don’t have to wear high heels ever, so their ability to score a touchdown does not impress me. Try walking two miles in heels in the rain because you’re lost and can’t find your hotel.
10. Can I answer this if I haven’t crossed the line as yet? It’s just I can see the line waiting for me in the distance and don’t want to take any more steps towards it for two reasons: 1, I want to be and feel present, and 2, I think the distance to the line would get shorter or my steps to it would speed up quickly. Does that make sense?
11. How did I know that I had a problem with alcohol and it was time to stop drinking? Firstly, I needed a drink just to get my hands to stop shaking in the mornings. But I have to say what really clinched it for me, was when I started to hear voices and see “little green goblins” running around with not all that much alcohol taken. I knew then it was starting to have a serious effect on my mind.
12. I stopped drinking because of a general sense of unwellness and wearing down from all the wine. Enough was enough, and I couldn’t trust myself to not drink too much.
13. There was a constant yap in my head about alcohol. I didn’t drink every day, but I wanted to. I didn’t always open a second bottle, but I wanted to. My world had got very small.
14. It was not being able to stop, even though each time I thought I could. And the incredible guilt and shame and damage to my relationships.
15. I stopped drinking after noticing how much planning was going into alcohol. Planning layovers so I could drink longer in airports. Paying extra to upgrade so I could drink on the plane. Planning conference calls to never happen after 3, and being annoyed as hell when they were scheduled for 5. Drinking before boozy dinners on the road, and then taking a glass of wine back to the room after. Finally, after drinking all day and all night, having the mother of all fights with my husband about HIS drinking. Hellooooo! I knew that I had a problem with alcohol and it was time to stop drinking.
related reading : Tackle Business Trips Alcohol-Free
16. I thought about alcohol all the time and couldn’t wait until 5 PM so I could start drinking. Alcohol consumed my thoughts. The early morning anxiety and shame, the morning recovery, and then by 3 I’d be plotting to do it all over again. A couple times a week I would get into arguments with my husband and not remember in the morning what they would be about so I’d have to pretend that I did. Ugh. I never want just one drink. Never. I started sneaking booze. If I would go out and buy wine around 5 PM, when I pulled in the garage at home I would take a couple big gulps in secret before coming into the house. I mostly drank boxed wine so I would try to hide the boxes deep in the recycling or shove them way back in the cupboard if I had bought too many that week. I started taking secret swigs off liquor bottles from time to time if I didn’t think there was enough wine. Once I did this at my mother in law’s house when everyone was outside during BBQ. I bought a small box of wine (3 glasses worth) and hid it in my child’s diaper bag when I went to dinner at my parents. I went to the bathroom a couple times throughout the night and took big gulps of it so my family only thought I was drinking the 2 glasses I had with dinner.
related reading : The Lies I told
17. There were many things: Waking up and not remembering part of the previous evening. Missing the end of so many movies! Seeing pictures of myself and not understanding that others didn’t know I was completely s-faced! The worst one and that made me be AF for three months was a picture of myself in swim trunks and seeing how horrible my posture and my overall shape had deteriorated!!!
related reading : The alcohol effect on middle aged “fun” sensors
18. There were lots of signs I ignored for years, but winding up in the hospital was a wake-up. I had done a fantastic 6-day cleanse (my longest since being pregnant). At the end of the cleanse I went out and “rewarded” myself with 4 pints. My body went into total shock, and I had to be carried out on a chair stretcher. I was not fully conscious and spent the day on IV. Yet I still went back to drinking for a few more years. Boom finally opened my eyes to take the leap.
related reading : Alcohol Related Deaths are up 100% in Twenty years
19. I knew that alcohol had taken over when after years of trying to stop drinking and losing my “sober momentum” a week in, my husband and I went away for the night for our anniversary. We had gotten into the habit of taking our own beverages in the suitcase when we went away so that we would not spend a fortune on the mini bar. This time we both agreed no wine, no whiskey, just the two of us away together for the night. When we got to the hotel we talked each other into one glass of wine. . . and when we checked out in the morning there were two bottles of wine and 4 double whiskeys on our very large restaurant tab. The thing is, we didn’t even really get drunk; we had lots of lovely room service food to sop up the alcohol. But after two bottles of wine plus two glasses plus four double whiskeys I was dragging my ass in the door when we got home, not really hung over as I understood it but just dull and dark. Now after over five years sober our alone time together is gorgeous, and it doesn’t cost a small fortune!!! But it still took me a couple of months to finally stop after that night in February 2015.
20. I knew it was time to stop drinking due to health concerns. None had surfaced yet but I was on an elevator to some floor that was going to be bad news. I needed to get off the minute that door opened. My BODY was begging me to stop, like the cells were audibly crying for relief in the deep dark of those nights when alcohol woke me up at 2 AM. STOP THIS MADNESS! Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself: Do I want to keep drinking myself to Death or do I want to really LIVE this one wild and precious life?
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.
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
How do you go Sober? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions