November 9, 2022
Q: I’ve tried to stop drinking but everyone tells me I don’t need to. How do I know if they’re right?
A: I experienced this early in my wellness journey. My husband went to treatment for alcohol before I got well. At the time, no one thought I had a problem. They told me I was fine and that I didn’t need to make the same changes he was making.
It felt like no one was hearing me. The reality was, I was doing everything my husband was. But I was better at hiding it so no one thought I had a problem. It made me feel guilty and ashamed. I was also confused, because I knew I needed to make a change but everything I was hearing from other people was something different.
I’ve learned a lot since then. People in your life may not believe you need to stop drinking. But they’re not you – they probably can’t tell how bad your hangovers are or how anxious you feel after a night of drinking. They may not know the destruction drinking has caused in your private life or realize that drinking may be fueling depression or other negative feelings. Take others’ reassurances and opinions with a grain of salt; you’re the best judge of your needs.
Unfortunately, there’s a stigma that comes with sobriety from alcohol. People often don’t understand it or they assume you “can’t handle it,” and sometimes people interpret your choice not to drink as a judgment on their drinking.
Some of our members at Face It TOGETHER have benefited from having prepared responses to questions about drinking. It’s OK for you to keep your reasons for not drinking private. But it never hurts to think about what you’re going to say beforehand. (And for those of you attending holiday parties soon, check out more specific tips here.)
What’s really important is following what feels right to you. What makes you feel happy and healthy? That’s what matters. Don’t worry about societal expectations or standards. You don’t have to be diagnosed with an addiction or publicly swear off alcohol for life – just do what feels right to you and you alone.
Since we stopped drinking, my husband and I helped several people we know get into treatment and find wellness. Now, our friends and acquaintances will come to us with questions about drinking and mental health. That group includes some of those same people who told me I didn’t have a problem in the first place. I’m so glad I followed my own path of discovery and learned for myself how fulfilling sobriety could be.
If you find yourself where I was, ask yourself what might your life look like if you did stop drinking. Is alcohol holding you back? Are you unable to accomplish certain goals due to drinking?
If you need help working through these questions, or want personalized guidance on what your next steps should be, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Face It TOGETHER. We know how you’re feeling because we’ve been there.