A lot of people ask why I stopped drinking. It seems to be coming up more often these days so I thought I would explain. I realize I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but it’s also not a secret. I don’t call myself “sober” or put a label on this. I just don’t drink anymore.
I see why there is confusion since we have cocktail recipes on the blog and you don’t have to look hard to find a picture of me with a drink in my hand. There are many cases in life where I am a walking contradiction!
13 Reasons Why I Quit Drinking
1.) Allergies – Beer was my drink of choice for many years. At some point in my mid-twenties, I started to have a reaction every time I drank. My chest and neck would get red and blotchy soon after my first drink. Of course, that wouldn’t stop me. The next morning my mouth would feel like I chewed on glass. My gums were so sore, and I never knew why. Since I would also chain-smoke when I drank, it had to be one of the two. After further reflection and reading, it seems as though I have an intolerance to beer. It’s not a true allergy but just like with almonds, a horrible intolerance.
2.) Self-employment – You might be able to roll into your desk job and fake it through the day with a wicked hangover, but when you’re self-employed that’s only hurting yourself. It sounds terrible, but it’s a lot easier to sacrifice productivity on someone else’s dime. My hangovers started to last for days. If my brain is not sharp, I don’t get paid. That quickly cleaned up my act.
3.) My wedding – I got married on the pirate ship in Las Vegas. Back then, when you put me in Vegas, I would shift into full party-mode gear. Thanks to nerves, excitement, happiness, and recklessness, I behaved like a freshman frat boy. The binge drinking that went down after I said “I do” is something I regret. I drank so much that I had a small seizure in our hotel room at some point during the trip. At least I think it was a seizure. Whatever it was, it scared me straight. That’s pretty much the time I decided I was done.
4.) Addiction – Saying “I am and addict” sounds so dramatic, but I guess I am. I went to rehab twice for pills. My addictive personality explains my bingeing behavior, too. My whole life I have been extreme with everything. I go overboard with whatever I am into at the time. Exercising to the point of danger, working excessively, eating everything or nothing shows a definite pattern in my life – my addictions are always there, I just transfer them. This is why when people tell me, “Just go out and have one” I shake my head. That doesn’t work for me. Once I enter a bar-like atmosphere, something shifts and I become a woman on a mission to get hammered. My family tree is also loaded with addicts and alcoholics. No need to challenge those genes.
5.) Medication – I went on medication for my mental health. I was taking a cocktail of four different meds. Obviously, it would not be wise to mix all that with alcohol. I am now off meds, but that’s beside the point.
6.) Shame – I used to be “hilarious” when I got drunk. Oh yeah, I was the life of the party, and I was laughing WITH everyone. Right. Until I got older and decided to get honest with myself… Once I allowed the shame to cut through all BS and realized the booze wasn’t the only thing making my stomach nauseous the next day, I knew the self-destructive behavior needed to stop. I would get blackout drunk and have to call friends to ask for the replay. That’s not fun or funny to me anymore. My twenties are best summed up by this Sia song.
7.) Feeling – I’ve had a few sips of alcohol over the years since I changed my ways and I hate the feeling. I used to love the buzz; now it feels gross.
8.) Respect – My behavior while drunk might be somewhat acceptable for a 21-year-old, but no way in hell is that the way I want to act at 38. Not to mention the world hasn’t gotten any safer. It’s best to stay in control of your brain and on high alert at all times.
9.) Goals – My goal list is huge, you guys. Many people can have a few cocktails, and it improves their creativity. That’s not the case for me. I get sick and lose days of work. Can’t do it.
10.) Health – If my hangovers were any indicator of what I put my body through, I consider myself well warned. My organs didn’t appreciate the binge-drinking and smoking. Binge-anything can wreck your body. Since I cannot find balance with booze, I stay away.
11.) Expense – Um, we used to drop a couple hundred dollars at the bar every weekend??? Can I please have that back? Now I just see us drinking the cable bill.
12.) Anxiety – Part of the reason why I would drink so heavily was to be more comfortable out in the world. Being drunk would provide an illusion for the night, but the next day my anxiety would be back with renewed vigor.
13.) Aging – The last few times I woke up after a wild night I looked 97-year-old. Pass.
So there you have it. There are 13 reasons why I don’t drink anymore. As I said, I’ve never officially declared myself sober, and there’s no need to hide your mouthwash if I stop by. However, I appreciate those that don’t push me on this issue.
The well-meaning advice to just “try to have one” doesn’t work. Trust me; I tried for years. I’ll end up trying to talk everyone in the bar to relocate to Mexico with me to open a dream tiki bar. And I’d do it if I have any takers – consequences be damned.
I don’t judge others who drink, and I am impressed by people who know how to do it well. There’s a she-wolf in my closet who’s lured out by liquor. It’s best for everyone if she stays locked up! <– Update: 2018 me just cringed that I wrote that. But, I said what I said, so I’m leaving it.
Monday 27th of January 2020
Jennifer. I had been sober for Five years before I started drinking again. At first I really didn’t like it and I conditioned myself to drink. Then started drinking more and more. I actually don’t like it now. I feel sick all of the time. Even when I’m drinking. But I seem to think this is what I want to do to escape from life’s problems. It is self destructive and not even enjoyable. Any thoughts?
Monday 27th of January 2020
Hi Rachel, Of course, I am not a professional and can't really give advice. However, I can definitely relate to what you are saying. I have often missed the escape that I thought I received while drinking. But, then I remember the consequences. What I thought was an escape was really just a bandaid. All of my problems would return -- usually worse -- along with that hangover the next morning. I don't know your situation, but you say you don't enjoy it. I can only say what helped me and that was throwing myself into projects and working on underlying issues. For me, I had a shame spiral going on. Drink, do something stupid, feel horrible, drink again, and so on. I would punish my own bad behavior with more self-destruction. Once I broke that cycle, it was so freeing. If it's a social thing, I can now go out and chug water all night with ease! I can be with friends and end up super hydrated instead of sick. I'd definitely recommend digging deeper to see what exactly you're escaping from. Also try to remind yourself that usually drinking just adds to the problems. Please stay in touch!! You got this!
Friday 18th of January 2019
This is SPOT ON for me! Thank you!! Just know that you helped so much!
Friday 18th of January 2019
Oh my goodness, thank you for letting me know that! So happy I could help. Please reach out if you ever need to talk. :)
Saturday 24th of June 2017
This was a great post. Many people would be doing what is called self medicating. Thats what I did, and didnt realize it until later. I have tremors, and one of the hallmarks is they will seem to abate after 2 drinks . Only i would drink more. I made that promise to the porcelain goddess after one bad experience, and I havent drank fr maybe 25 years now besides a virgin versions of bloddy marys or something along that line.
Thursday 25th of May 2017
My husband and I don't drink for a few of the same reasons. In part, it's because I had an ex with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. In part, for religious reasons. It takes a strong person to step back and see themselves and make changes. Congratulations.
Monday 22nd of May 2017
Your honesty and transparency are greatly appreciated, Jennifer.
I've seen many people fall down the hole of addictions. For many, they have to hit rock bottom to even contemplate giving it up.