Drink Less or Alcohol-Free?
During my late 30s I’d started to become uncomfortable about the way that I drank but couldn’t figure out what to do about it. In an average week I didn’t more than the UK government guidelines for safe drinking limits in women but when I went out with my girlfriends I always drank more than I intended to and always had a hideous hangover the next day.
As far as the Chief Medical Officers guidelines are concerned if women drink more than 6 units in a single sitting that is considered binge drinking. On average one large glass of wine contains 3 units of alcohol so I only needed to be drinking 2 large glasses of wine to be binging. I hate the word binging – it even sounds ugly! Anyhoooo… binging is apparently what I was doing when out with the girls and the price I paid seemed to get heavier and heavier over time. It was making me feel physically and emotionally exhausted.
In 2017 I had a night out with some friends in London and the next day I suffered one of the worst hangovers I ever had. I’ve kept the travelcard from that night out in my purse ever since. I keep it as a reminder of how I never, ever want to feel again. The feeling of shame lasted well over a week and I still have flashbacks that catch me out from time to time.
Through 2018 and 2019 the idea popped into my head every now and again that I should cut back my drinking on nights out, however I never got round to actually cutting back – I just thought about it.
I thought I had to behave the way I always had as that was what was expected of me.
When I was ready to change, I started with changes I could make at home. I started buying those really small single serve bottles of wine so that I didn’t feel the need to finish a full sized bottle. Sure, they’re more expensive per ml of alcohol but I knew I was benefitting my health massively by not drinking a whole bottle of wine so I didn’t care.
I then began to tell myself a new story about who I was on a night out. I would tell myself “I am the person who goes to the pub with friends and enjoys two glasses of wine and no more”
This took me a while to perfect but once I had it as a firmly entrenched belief about who I was it worked a dream
Drinking less over time was a massive part of my pathway to being able to choose alcohol free for myself further down the line. I had a good 2 or 3 months successfully moderating my drinking before I took the plunge and went alcohol free.
We should all choose what works best for us and drinking less led me very neatly into alcohol free, for other people a hard stop works well and for others getting their drinking to a place of moderation is their dream goal. Each to their own.