Over the past year, I’ve periodically planned “dry months,” wherein I stop drinking alcohol. Usually this comes after a period of increased alcohol intake, which triggers a desire to scale it back. The increased alcohol intake is when I’m having one drink a day so regularly that it becomes a default part of my routine.
I openly questioned whether this meant I had a problem with alcohol.
99% of the people I shared this responded with something like, “One drink a day isn’t bad!” or, “Lots of people have a drink every night. It’s no big deal.” I understood these reactions, and partially accepted them as true. But also still felt… uncertain.
Alcohol consumption is a normalized- and often pressured- part of the American culture. Especially, these days, American mom culture. I recently saw an article with a headline including reference to “boozy mom culture,” and was compelled to read it. I’ve found myself so frequently annoyed and bored with all the drinking memes and themes amongst the women in my Facebook feed.
The article cited some concerns about that trend, but also introduced me to more conversations about alcohol use, including lots of analyses of “grey area drinking” or “almost alcoholics.”
Suddenly, my concern over my need to institute “dry months” was validated. I had wrestled with the question of why I would give up alcohol if I didn’t have a “problem,” and something about these articles and conversations triggered a light bulb moment for me.
This needn’t be said by any anyone but yourself, but in case you are questioning your alcohol use or having any concerns, I’ll just go ahead and say it anyway:
You are allowed to stop drinking just because you want to stop.
You are allowed to abstain. Say “no.” Choose not to drink. You are allowed to cut alcohol out of your life just because it disrupts your sleep sometimes, makes your breath smell, gives you puffy eyes, is out of your budget, triggers junk food cravings, or messes up your bowel function. You might feel like it doesn’t quite “agree” with your system. You may feel slightly hazy, but still fully functioning, the day after having a drink or two, and you might just really want to feel energized and clear-headed instead.
It is okay if alcohol is not okay for you.
You don’t have to be dependent on it to give it up. You don’t have to be at the point where you’re missing work, or acting impulsively or yelling at your kids to decide that alcohol doesn’t work in your life.
Alcohol doesn’t necessarily have to be a “problem” for you to choose to give it up.
It is hard to take this stance in our world. Like giving up meat or giving up sugar, giving up alcohol will trigger a lot of reactions in the people around you. The “boozy mom” culture, and other alcohol-steeped references might trigger a lot of doubt in you. It will help if you can identify one or two people who will accept this choice and support you in it. If you have a therapist, bring up this issue so you can get help in maintaining this new boundary you’ve created for your health.
And iff you take this leap, feel free to come back here and post questions or comments for support. I’d love to hear how you’re doing.