Why Does It Feel Awkward To Admit I’m Giving Up Alcohol?

It’s day 2 of being sober and I’m already shaking.

I’m shaking with the thought that someone might ask me if I want to go out for “one or two…”.

No, don’t worry I’m not an alcoholic. But I do love a drink.

Social drinking has been part of my life since I started university (obviously excluding school parties, where we used to crack open a bottle of WKD and wake up three hours later in a field). Drinking is also part and parcel of my job. The amount of events and meetings that involve alcohol is enough to make your liver shrink.

I drink alcohol when I’m happy, sad, angry, loving life, celebrating something or nothing. I drink socially and sometimes, on the rare occassion on my own (if I fancy a cheeky glass)  but other than that,  I have my drinking under control.

Or do I?

I just recently had a check-up at the doctors where I was asked to fill out a standard NHS health questionnaire which basically asks you ‘Are you an alcoholic?’. Usually I lie when answering these questions, because, why worry your doctor?

If you’ve never done an NHS questionnaire before, here’s a couple of example questions for you:

Q. How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?

A. Absolutely never (I just won’t mention that my favourite thing about drinking is thinking everyone hates me for the next 6 years).

Q. How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?

A. Memory like an elephant, mate! (More like a drunk fish – how did I get home again?).

So yes, you get the idea. However this time I actually decided to answer the questions truthfully. Not in the British way, where you’re like, ‘I drink only 1 unit a year’. More like the Russian way, where your blood type is actually vodka. I got to the point on that form and said exactly how much I drink in the week. I might as well had signed the paper saying “Sometimes I do drink a glass of water”

Three days later, I got a letter from the NHS saying my binge drinking could be damaging my health. I know I’m not an alcoholic (although my need to emphasise that I’m not an alcoholic is slightly concerning) but seriously I’m not. I do however know that I need to cut down on social drinking. I honestly can’t remember going a week without having a drink. Honestly. If I’m not catching up with a friend, I’m going to a party or some event where alcohol is involved. I can feel my liver melting just thinking about it.

So, when the clocks went back this weekend, something inside of me changed. I decided to challenge myself to a whole month of no alcohol. Why not for the rest of my life? Well this is why…

Because I bloody love a glass of pink champagne!!!!

And also I don’t want to be that awkward person who doesn’t drink.

I know I’ll regret saying that one day ^ and I know it makes me sound weak to peer-pressure, but that’s kind of the point to this blog. Everyone, who I have so far told that I’m no longer drinking, has looked at me in shock. My friends are disappointed with me, that I will no longer be able to entertain them with my drunk unfiltered mouth. How could you betray us like this? Who else is going to say the wrong thing and  dance on the table and flash her knickers? And I get it. I’m going to miss drunk Stina too. Already I am finding sober-me boring.

And believe me, I dislike nothing more than that smug girl at the party, who’s nursing a glass of water and you go up to her and ask her is the reason why she’s not drinking because she’s driving?.  Then she gives you this evil look and responds all defensively like, “No, I don’t drink alcohol”. No one likes this angry-sober girl. But now I’m beginning to see why she gets all defensive. Because when you tell people that you’re a non-drinker, 99.9% of these people start to question what’s wrong with you. Are you on antibiotics? Are you pregnant? Are you weird?  

Being sober in society’s eyes, might as well be another word for I don’t let my hair down, instead I judge all of you peasants while you ruin your social reputation.  I think this scares many drinkers because I guess there is some truth in that. Getting drunk is literally a chance to be someone you’re not. You can say the wrong thing without any thought, and dance to music you wouldn’t usually. We all know alcohol is a recipe for disaster.

So, why does admitting that I’m giving up alcohol such a negative thing?

Since going cold turkey, I’ve realised that people’s reactions to non-drinkers need to change. Why can’t we just normalise not drinking? How about when someone says that they don’t want a drink, we don’t demand an explanation and just get them a glass of schloer and get on with it?   Their decision to go without alcohol, won’t impact on your night. In fact, it’s pretty good having a sober friend because they can help you piece together the night before.

Anyway, still only 2 days in. Not that I’m counting. But one thing I’m learning already is that being aware of how much I usually drink, isn’t such a bad thing. Plus, I know I don’t need alcohol to have fun – I have ADHD for god sake. There’s too much energy in this body to be anything but boring!

Cheers x








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