Food

How I Changed My Relationship With Alcohol

water

Last month, when I mentioned that my dream dinner included sparkling water, a few readers wondered why I hadn’t chosen white wine (with which I’ve had a long love affair). Here’s why…

Throughout my thirties, I regularly drank alcohol. I cherished the ritual of putting the boys to bed, walking into the quiet kitchen, and pouring a cold glass of white wine. The bracing acidity signaled the shift from the work day to a relaxing evening, complete with grown-up conversation and maybe a Frasier rerun (that Niles!). A glass was a reward for parenting two nutty kids and a way to instantly turn off my whirring brain.

I also loved learning about wine; it’s exciting to be an enthusiast! I taught myself how to navigate restaurant wine lists. I learned to differentiate between a grassy Sauvingnon Blanc and a peachy Vermentino. I became friends with the guys at the wine shop and followed funny wine columnists.

Plus, wine seemed to make life bigger. A glass of rosé on a summer evening, a chilled Grüner with salty chips before a meal, a flute of Champagne at a friend’s wedding — what could be better? “People who really love wine think of it as an ordinary part of their meals, like salt or bread,” wrote Eric Asimov in the New York Times. “Regular consumption is the single most important characteristic of the confident wine lover.” That was me!

But, as time passed, my grip on alcohol became slippery. I realized that I was regularly drinking two glasses of wine per night — more if we went to dinner or a party. I had a nagging feeling that alcohol wasn’t under my control, but I pushed it away. Now and again, I tried to take a break, but I would make it only a couple of evenings before treating myself to just one pour, which led to a second, maybe a third. I reassured myself that at least I didn’t feel side effects from drinking, like headaches or hangovers. Plus, it’s chic and European! I come from British stock! It’s part of my larger family culture. It’s FINE.

Cut to 2021. Throughout the pandemic winter, wine bottles filled the recycling bin. But in February, my phone dinged. “Who’s up for a three-week health challenge?” my friend Jordan texted me and a few other women. Her proposal was simple: Eat healthy foods, walk 10K+ steps per day and cut out alcohol. I ignored my nerves and typed a response: “I’m in.”

The first night was the hardest. Around 8 p.m., I craved a drink; I irritably headed to my bedroom to read a book and stay away from the fridge. (I also poured a glass of sparkling water so I could have something to sip.) But it really helped to know I was accountable to the text group. Every night, we’d message each other: “I did it today!” The group was counting on you.

The second night, I felt less tempted; the third night, less still; until, somehow, after a week or so, alcohol, which had been such a constant part of my adult life, wasn’t something I thought much about. (This surprised no one more than me.)

At the same time, something else was happening. Without daily drinking, I felt much more awake, energetic and clear-headed. When the boys came to wake us up in the morning, my eyes would pop open — good morning, world! Writer Sarah Levy said that refraining from alcohol “feels like waking up in clean sheets every day,” and that rang true.

I suddenly wondered: all that time, when I believed alcohol wasn’t affecting me, was I actually slightly hungover every day for years?

Nowadays, I haven’t had much to drink since February. Sometimes I make exceptions. Last month, my dad visited, and we split a bottle of Italian wine at my favorite neighborhood restaurant. We tasted hints of honey and pineapple, and our cheeks grew rosy and warm. I still love the flavors and the feeling. So, I may have wine now and again at dinners out or on special occasions. But for now, for this time in my life, the decision feels right.

I’m so curious: what’s your relationship with alcohol like? How do you feel about it? I’d love to hear.

P.S. Three flavored waters, and “how stopping drinking changed my life.”

(Photo by Sophia Hsin/Stocksy.)

  1. Cara says...

    Before the pandemic, I had the same feeling of being on a slippery slope. I found the Alcohol Experiment (Annie Grace) and did it for 30 days, and it dramatically changed my relationship to alcohol. Learning about what actually happens in the body when you drink, and afterwards, has helped me unlearn everything I thought about alcohol, and give me a barrier against the messages continually bombarding us via advertising and social media. I especially hate all the “mommy needs wine” stuff — I never want my child to feel like I need alcohol to be his parent. I applaud you for sharing!

  2. Jessica H says...

    I’m not a big drinker at all — if someone gifts me a bottle of wine, I can almost guarantee 90% of the bottle is going down the drain 😂 it’s something that I generally enjoy as part of a meal or a special occasion, and rarely if ever partake on my own at home (I’m single). It wasn’t this way in my 20s and I did a lot of emotional work that unveiled I just wanted people to think I was cool. Now I don’t care nearly as much and love that I don’t ever feel I *have* to drink. Thanks for sharing this, Joanna 💜

  3. Courtney says...

    I got pregnant toward the beginning of lock down and had my son right before the new year. I am mostly a social drinker but would sometimes have a few beers or glasses of wine at home on weeknights just because. I think it was fortuitous timing because I probably would have slipped into unhealthy drinking habits had I not been pregnant during the pandemic. I’ll have a drink or two occasionally now – I really do love a craft beer or good glass of wine – but it’s kind of lost its draw. And I have no desire to get drunk (I can’t even fathom being hungover), even though I used to get drunk with some frequency at social events even into my early 30s.

  4. Meg says...

    I don’t drink for religious reasons and am a female executive in a male dominated field. Oddly, my lack of drinking has been more of a stigma and challenge than being a woman. I have zero issue with other people drinking (live and let live!) and wish sipping a mocktail or Diet Coke could be seen as an equally normal, personal, choice. It’s hard.

    I’m really grateful to people who share stories that normalize not drinking, for whatever the reason! Thank you!

  5. Rosie says...

    “Is this a worth it moment?” and “I’m not drinking right now.” Two phrases I’ve leaned in to this year. It doesn’t make it definitive or permanent or forever, but does make me stop and think. LaCroix cheers to thoughtfulness!

  6. TC says...

    My husband has been a functional alcoholic for years and of course that got worse during the pandemic. We say “functional” because alcohol never made him abusive (though often obnoxious) and it never started in the morning, or afternoon, and it never interfered with work or taking care of our son, or any other excuse we made for why it wasn’t a problem. We both made excuses – him, because it was his crutch, and me because at some point I realized enabling him was easier than dealing with him if he didn’t have a drink. The reason for that, of course, is because he was physically addicted to it and was having withdrawals if he went too long without it. For years I secretly hoped he would stop, but wasn’t sure what it would take and didn’t feel like pushing it because, again, we were functional! But we decided to do a “dry January” this year with some friends and something just clicked for him. He had one beer in February after a day of skiing and it instantly gave him a headache, and that was it. It’s still a long, hard process of relearning how to operate in a world obsessed with drinking, where every occasion seems to have a correlating beverage (beer at the baseball game! wine with a steak dinner! margaritas with friends!) but it’s getting easier, despite the tediousness – like pulling off a hundred Band-Aids one at a time.

  7. Meredith says...

    Oh gosh, this post really resonated with me, Joanna. Thank you for sharing. I have noticed as I slide deeper into my 40s, my love of wine no longer serves me. I’m depressed, achy and exhausted…and even when I keep my consumption to less than 7 oz. Yes, I measure my wine now because I realized that my version of one glass of wine was likely closer to 1.5-2 glasses. Now, I keep my beloved New Zealand Sauv Blanc to big birthdays or major holidays. It’s made me a happier person/wife/mother.

  8. Mollie McAuley says...

    Lockdown gave me a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol. And not like, haha, I’m an alcoholic…like not funny. I’ve been trying for a year not to drink on nights that I have to work the next day and I just do it anyway. I had nothing to hold me accountable. I was listening to my favorite podcast The Moth and I heard this story about a pro bono lawyer from NY that went to his doctor and was told he needed to change his habits or he was going to die. He wrote a $10,000 check to the NRA that he had to donate if he failed or cheated and now he runs marathons. I thought it was absolutely hilarious and genius. So I wrote 3 $25 checks to my most hated politicians and if I cheated, I had to mail one. Yes, not $10,000 but you are a donor and are on their mailing lists forever. It’s a life sentence. I made it a month and gleefully put them through the shredder. (I also documented this on Instagram and had a whole entourage of people who also hated these politicians rooting for me). I wrote another check to some idiot running for congress and now I’m trying for 2 months. It’s working!!

  9. Agnes says...

    I was a regular drinker and stopped drinking on July 15, 2020. I’m 1 month shy of 1 year “sober”. During the pandemic, I just got bored with drinking so I stopped. Before this, I would drink every-single-night at least 2 glasses of wine since I was 25(?). From 18-25, it was drinking multiple nights a week socially and binge drinking.

    There is a lot more to this and why I drank —which I have learned and unpacked as I’ve gotten older— but it was like a switch flipped in July 2020 and I thought, why am I doing out of habit? I’ve craved a glass of wine here and there but haven’t had any issues thus far. I realized it really was a habit and instead of alcohol, I have a fever tree light tonic and fresh lime juice every night as a “drink” (or 2!) and it’s a refreshing way to “unwind”.

    While I haven’t had any big physical changes since I stopped drinking, waking up “fresh” every morning was the biggest change I noticed. Like Joanna said, it made me wonder if I was operating with mini/slight hangovers my entire adult life without knowing.

    Good luck to everyone making a change! I’m happy I came to terms with it and while I don’t know what the future holds, I’m going forth with “no drinking” for the foreseeable future.

    • Agnes says...

      Just to add, I’m now 38, so this was a long time of regular alcohol consumption on my end.

  10. I don’t drink alcohol. I never have. There was no cultural of drinking alcohol in my family. I didn’t want to do something illegal when I was younger, and then I lived alone in New York City for much of my young adult life (or with my best friend who also doesn’t drink) and I didn’t want to make myself less safe. I do like the taste of wine and was interested in drinking it but quickly realized that it gives me a terrible headache — I subsequently learned that I am allergic. I’m in my late 40s now, and most people assume that I don’t drink because I’m in recovery, which is not true, of course. I do have to say, that after 25 years as an adult around people who do drink, Joanna is absolutely right: it is affecting people all of the time, even if they are not technically drunk-drunk or in crisis. That one drink that people thing they are handling so well it’s invisible is definitely not invisible. I see it in their skin, their energy level, their ability to be productive/alive before noon. I see it in how people define a good time, and their need to have a drink to be sure that they having one. I see it in their insistence on endowing me with a complicated backstory for why I don’t drink, when it really boils down to “I don’t like it.” I see it in the restaurant industry that is built on supporting these beliefs which allow them to make bonkers upcharges. While I do feel sorry that I don’t have the fun of drinking — the joy of pretty cocktails, for example, or the gift of a really special bottle of wine — I am happy I never started. To each their own, of course, and I mean that.

  11. Cara M says...

    I’m not much of a drinker these days – in general, it just doesn’t make ME feel great (no judgment if others want to drink). But when I go to parties or social functions, instead of bringing a bottle of wine, I bring a beautiful jug (or huge mason pickling jar) of a beautiful infused non-alcoholic drink. My favorites are “smashes” (just google that term). Because it is so lovely, many party-goers enjoy it. It also looks great in a glass and is indistinguishable from another cocktail. I feel like it gives everyone an opportunity to drink something special and also helps avoid those pesky conversations and questions…”why aren’t you drinking, are you pregnant?”

  12. Stef says...

    Thank you for sharing this. Removing alcohol from my life is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I thought I needed alcohol to have fun, relax, de-stress, celebrate, you name it. The answer is NO – i do not need it for any of those things and alcohol was taking away from my life and relationships rather than enhancing it. It was hard for me at first but now it’s not something I think about. Honestly, I found it way more exhausting to do the mental gymnastics of should i have a glass of wine tonight, should I have only 1 or 2, no drinking on school nights, no drinking for month of January, blah blah blah. The self imposed rules were exhausting.

    I wish it wasn’t so glorified in our society and we looked at why we drank: for me, I ended up doing it to disconnect from myself or situations.

    Oh and not to mention that NO AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL IS SAFE (google it. Here’s a direct quote “No amount of alcohol is safe, study finds. An Oxford University study is causing a stir in the drinks community for its findings about the impact of drinking on brain health. In short: No amount of drinking alcohol is safe for brain function, according to brain imaging data.”) and it causes cancer.

  13. Anita says...

    It‘s so important to talk about this and be honest about it – thank you!!!

  14. Nikki says...

    Thank you for sharing this, Joanna. I have a similar story. I’ve always loved wine, beer, and cocktails – the taste, how well they pair with food, how it makes a day a little extra sparkly, how it makes laughter flow more freely.

    I never felt addicted or that alcohol seriously impacts my life, but it made me more tired and hungover, so early pandemic, I decided to cut back. I did the 30-day Annie Grace challenge, and it was hard but eye opening. My sleep improved, I felt more alert, and I started exploring the world of non-alcoholic drinks.

    To my surprise, what I craved 60% of the time wasn’t always ALCOHOL itself, but a fun, creative beverage. I’ve since discovered a few NA beverages that I drink on weeknights. Athletic Brewery NA IPAs are great (nice and hoppy and beer-like), and NA gin + tonic (Lyre’s NA London Gin with Fever Tree tonic, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, a dash of bitters, and a sprig of rosemary or thyme) are my favorites. I still drink alcohol, but I’ve definitely cut back.

    I’d LOVE to see a blog post on your favorite NA cocktails, or NA wine reviews! I haven’t tried NA wines but I’d like to.

  15. Rosalie says...

    I read this post when it came out, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since! I go up and down and back and forth and all around thinking about my relationship with alcohol, and it’s always changing. Haley Nahman linked to an Atlantic article this week, which describes the human relationship with alcohol from an evolutionary viewpoint, and it is fascinating! Since reading that, I’m moving toward the idea of only drinking when I’m with others, over a meal. Here’s the article:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/07/america-drinking-alone-problem/619017/

  16. Jaana says...

    This was a good read. Being raised religious, I didn’t start drinking until my mid thirties and found myself very fortunate that I never got hangovers or felt bad after drinking. But as I get older it’s definitely harder to enjoy. Thru the pandemic, I struggled with severe anxiety so drinking never sounded good. I think I had a handful of drinks the whole year. Now that I’m seeing friends again, I enjoy the social aspect of drinking, but really have no desire to overdo it. To NOT drink in our society is unusual and I think it’s important to share that it’s totally normal and ok! Sparkling water FTW!

  17. VP says...

    Thank you for sharing this! I think society in general over-emphasizes using alcohol to cope with life, especially for young moms. I don’t have any issue with enjoying a drink now and then, but the idea of having a drink every night or most nights of the week simply does not strike me as healthy or normal. Alcohol is, in fact, a poison if you think about it. Not to mention, working in health care, I see how devastating long-standing alcohol overuse (and in many cases abuse) can be not only to the patient, but to their inner circle of loved ones. We all need to do a better job about not glorifying drinking.

  18. I’m 31 and have never had a drink of alcohol before. It never appealed to me. Just a personal decision

    • EM says...

      Same. 33 here :)

  19. Amanda says...

    One side of my family has a strong history of alcoholism and my dad got sober when I was around 12. I am forever grateful to my parents for being open and honest with me in age appropriate ways about addiction, recovery, and how alcohol had been a challenge for many people our family. As a result, I was able to make an informed decision about abstaining from alcohol and at 40, I’ve never had a drink. (Tastes, but not an actual drink of my own.) I never felt any pressure from either parent (though my dad shared later on that he was SO HAPPY with my decision not to drink), my mom has an occasional drink herself, and I never ever felt like I was missing out. Even in high school and college, I found wonderful friends who enjoyed drinking themselves but never pressured me to join in –and conversely, I’ve never judged others for choosing to drink. It’s not the right decision for everyone, but for me, making the decision not to drink very early on simplified my life in so many ways and I never had to wonder if I’d be able to control my drinking or not.

  20. Jess says...

    Wow I needed this. I never drank in university due to have an alcoholic mother. Once she achieved sobriety I started drinking and have since struggled to stop. I can go months without having a sip but once I do have one I inevitably ruin the night. The thought of not drinking forever terrifies me and yet I can’t seem to ever drink in moderation.

    Back on my healthy journey shit as I try to find the happy medium of enjoying social gatherings and not using alcohol as a crutch!

  21. Libby says...

    This article resonates with me! Thank you Joanna for sharing your perspective. As a fellow mom of three energetic kids about the same age as yours…. I had a similar pattern. Red wine, on my porch. Lights off, quiet house, day washing away. But…. Then, as you know, it somehow looses its charm. I was waking up groggy, and tired, with less patience for my talkative kids, and I was always getting distracted ( but this could also be due living with three energetic talkative kids), but my point is that I realized it was not really helping me relax anymore. Then I came across an article from the beloved Jenny Rosenstrach https://www.bonappetit.com/story/drinking-lovers-guide-cutting-back
    It set me on a new path and really helped me feel more in control, and now, when I do choose to enjoy that red wine or other cocktail, I really do enjoy it. Just as much as I enjoy waking up more regularly with a clear-head.

  22. Katherine says...

    Huzzah! I had the very same experience! I realized what I was really craving in the evenings was something cold and sweet. Now I reach for Izzies (those fizzy fruit sweetened sodas kids love), or kombucha in the evening after the kiddo is asleep, and save wine for special occasions.

  23. Lisa says...

    This post and your honesty and perspective are staying with me…
    Thank you, Jo. I’m curious – Have you lost weight as a result of this change in relationship? Because I’m sure I would. And any difference in your skin?

  24. K says...

    As someone who’s close family member has recently been suffering from alcoholism I really appreciate this post! Watching someone lose control of their entire life due to this substance has really made me look around and see alcohol differently. It’s shocking to see how quickly for some people a habit can become a disease that they have no ability to control. I don’t think a healthy relationship with alcohol is talked about enough in our culture and if more people opened up about it we could avoid huge numbers of alcoholism in our communities.

    Thank you so much for bringing this up and being brave enough to be honest about this subject!

  25. k says...

    I love this! Thank you for sharing! I HATE mommy wine culture. I think it is covering up a much deeper issue of lack of support, PPD etc. I rarely drink, although my husband and I do like to share a pint on a warm day on a patio. I find it makes other people uncomfortable. As soon as you turn down a drink at a social event people act like there is something wrong with you, why aren’t you drinking, are you pregnant (which by the way can we stop asking people???). I am glad more people are starting to talk about foregoing alcohol

    • VP says...

      I totally agree!!! Can we all get through a day without needing alcohol as a crutch?

  26. courtney says...

    I highly recommend listening to author Holly Whitaker read her book “Quit Like a Woman” on audio–she’s so good. It’s a feminist perspective on quitting alcohol and so very empowering and eye-opening. I gave up alcohol before NYE this past year after watching my sister’s life completely blossom in her five years of sobriety. The theme I keep coming back to–I feel like it is a gift. Of time, of paying attention to my life (and kids and partner), of knowing myself way, way better, and of prioritizing what I want to be prioritizing.

  27. Maggie says...

    I loved reading your article and these comments. Thank you, all. We move quite a bit and in this last stint fell in with people who drink more than I’ve ever knew was possible. I followed suit. It began ruining my relationship with my husband, it was hurting my children. I thought I was my best self when with them and drinking but that was so far from the truth. I did a dry January to prove to my husband that I could do it. I had a big drinking weekend shortly after that and after that was over I really had a come-to-Jesus about it all. I’ve spent the last 4 months getting to know myself better as a completely sober person and THAT person is my best self. Some of my friendships have suffered, but I realized that the people I was hanging out with love alcohol more than they love me. And just like the alcohol, those types of relationships don’t serve me at all. So “no” to the dependency on something to make me feel more me and “yes” to the feeling better, showing up more, less anxiety, better sleep, better health and a much much better relationship with my family.

  28. Cheryl says...

    Your story is my story except mine began about 4 years ago, when I realized I needed to stop drinking. Every night I would meditate, and in the meditation, I would give my desire for alcohol over to the universe and ask for support. In the morning I had “clean sheets”. The meditations went deeper, I felt transported, buzzed in a new way, no hangover included. My whole spirit felt lighter, free. The desire fell away.

    My journey to where I now stand with alcohol is incredible because I loved it so much. I was so deeply attached to it. There’s very little stigma surrounding it. In fact, not drinking has more of a stigma at times. But I’m free. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    Now I’m addicted to meditation, drunk with the peace of my soul at rest. It’s the gift I deserve, my little indulgence I look forward to daily.

  29. Ramona says...

    I would imagine this is a reckoning a lot of us are up against now, whether with alcohol, online shopping, junk food, trashy tv…whatever our thing is that we do to treat ourselves after a rough day and are now doing all the time. Because the truth is that we’ve just done 15 straight months of rough days! But now, as things get less awful, we need to recognize those unhealthy or expensive habits we have formed. Also, we need to remember to rely on the things we used to do that made hard days not so bad, like seeing friends, getting hugs, venting with coworkers!

  30. Sarah says...

    I have recently been diagnosed with a medical condition that is made worse by drinking. Not in a threatening my life sort of way… but in a generally will make me miserable sort of way. My tolerance for alcohol has rapidly gone down in recent years, and now with this diagnosis it makes perfect sense.

    Even though I KNOW I don’t react well to it, it’s been hard to wrap my head around giving it up completely. I actually like being sober, but I definitely have the association of drinks = celebration, reward, relaxation, and special occasions. The thought of missing those fun nights when your inhibitions are loosened and maybe you dance harder, sing louder, laugh more than ever —- well, it’s a little sad.

    However, the reality is that it doesn’t work for me anymore and no matter how many times I say “maybe this time it will be okay” it never really is okay. I think need some sort of goodbye ceremony to booze.

  31. Rachel says...

    Thanks for sharing this, Joanna. I really admire your self-reflection and new approach. I really wish non-drinking was normalised more, no matter the reason.

    The conversation on the latest episode of the “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast touches on this topic as well, with a couple different people’s experiences.

  32. Fiona says...

    I’ve been following you for years. Rarely comment. But I am struck by the honestly one this post. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me:) I think many of us have a similar relationship to alcohol. I can relate to that one glass in the evening, declaring the transition from work to home, helping to boost my coping skills with parenting my 8 and 10 year old (or so I tell myself). A gift to myself as I make dinner or clean up. And yes, then 2020/2021 comes and we need more gifts. We need to be kind to ourselves and the norm now is 2 glasses, not one. A routine develops that as soon as I come home, I crack open a beer. I deserve this. We normalize it. Friends tell us they’re doing the same thing, and they are. Our mental health is suffering and this is keeping us from breaking. But, it’s getting out of hand. Thank you for breaking it down. I can do relate to your dialogue. It feels like an honest discussion with a good friend. One I needed. ❤️

  33. Suzie says...

    I’m so envious of people who can drink wine without getting headache…that’s my relationship with wine.

  34. Sarah says...

    Longtime firsttime here!

    My history of drinking sounds similar to yours and it feels so good to see this story out in the world. A few years ago I was on a medication for three months and I couldn’t drink while taking it. And HOLY GUACAMOLE I felt so great! I had no idea how crappy drinking made me feel. I also decided I was only going to drink on special occasions, but then eventually ended up deciding to stop that, too. I spent too much time thinking and negotiating with myself what constituted a special occasion. It’s been almost five years, and I am so grateful for my decision. I occasionally miss it, but the net gain is one million percent worth it. Also, some ideas/ways of thinking that helped me: 1.) I don’t have to quit, I GET to quit. 2.) Don’t ask myself is is bad enough to quit, ask myself is it good enough to keep. 3.) thinking of myself as a “grey area drinker” — I def wasn’t an alcoholic, but it also wasn’t healthy. We tend to think of people “having to quit” when they’re drinking from a paper bag on a park bench, not when everything is mostly fine. Some people out there whose work really helped me: Jolene Park, Adan Donelly Rowley, Laura McKowen.

    Go, Joanna! I’m proud of you for sharing your story with everyone!

  35. Janet Boseovski says...

    I personally have a very healthy relationship with alcohol; I enjoy it and I’ve always been able to do so moderately (e.g., 1-2 glasses of wine per week or 1 glass of wine and maybe 1 cocktail). Sometimes, I’ll go weeks without it and on vacations, I’ll enjoy a little more. To me, it’s one of the great pleasures in life (like cheese, bread, and chocolate), so I have no intention of giving it up currently. That said, it I ever feel like it’s starting to get out of control in the future (like peanut butter pretzels, which I cannot keep in the house!), I’ll take action and I totally applaud others here for doing what’s right for them.

    • Em says...

      Yes, same here! I applaud others for recognizing when they need to stop, but I can confidently say I’ve always had a healthy relationship with alcohol. My consumption habits are very similar to yours.

    • rachel simmons says...

      totally agree with you on this! you are me!

    • Emma says...

      Omg I SO agree about peanut butter pretzels though. My in-laws stock them and I cannot control myself.

  36. Sally says...

    I personally think that the relationship people have with alcohol is related to the situation they grew up in? Were their parents drinkers?

    My parents were very minimal, “social” drinkers. They might have shared a bottle of wine over Christmas, which would have lasted them 2 or 3 days. They might have had the occasional half-pint of cider when out for a meal, but that was it.

    For me, I did like many people do. I drank throughout my late teens and up to my mid-20s. Then gradually my drinking tailed off.
    I’m 36 now, and I’m pretty certain I haven’t had an alcoholic drink this year.

  37. AL says...

    Alcohol has played a fun role in my life for years until the pandemic hit. I had gained a lot of weight (can’t blame that on Covid), was drinking several bottles of wine a week. It was a reward. An escape. And after I didn’t remember ending a zoom call with my family after drinking one night, I tearfully told my husband the next day I thought I should stop drinking. And I haven’t had alcohol since the Fourth of July last year. I miss it a bit for the reasons you shared in your article, Joanna, a beer while cooking dinner, a celebratory glass. But when I turn that faucet on, it seems that I’m not good at turning it off. So for now, I choose to not turn it on in the first place. I haven’t told anyone that I quit drinking, but I’m proud of myself for recognizing that I was not in control of drinking, but I took the control back. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • CR says...

      AL – this is a late reply but CONGRATULATIONS on nearly a year without alcohol!!! That is a huge accomplishment, especially to do it quietly and on your own.

      My fiance is nearly 2 years sober, and I drink a lot less than I ever used to. I wanted to share a couple of options in case you’re ready to venture into non-alcoholic alternatives. Surely (hisurely.com) is the best rose I’ve found. It tastes like the real deal! At $25 a bottle and having to purchase online, it’s more of a special occasion drink for us. Also my fiance really enjoys the Lagunitas IPNA (if you like IPAs, this is the best NA beer) and I like a Heineken NA with a squeeze of lime (tastes similar to a Corona with a squeeze of lime).

      Wishing you the best! xo

  38. Mimi says...

    A drink is such a nice way to mark the transition from the work day, so during the early days of COVID, I found myself having a drink or two every day as we got dinner ready. However, I started to feel uneasy drinking every single day, especially since I had just decided to step away from a friend who simply could not tolerate “negative” emotions — either in herself or in people around her — and relied excessively on alcohol to stamp out those feelings.

    I realized that more than the drink itself, I liked the opportunity to mark the end of the work day and start of the evening by giving myself a little treat. So in lieu of fixing myself a drink, I started brewing a nice cup of quality green tea. It was a nice substitute, and I was able to wean myself from my cocktails in about a week. Occasionally, I’ll still have a drink as I get dinner ready, but most of the time, I really look forward to my tea. I’m glad that I was able to make the transition because recently, the NY Times has been reporting on how alcohol is actually a carcinogen and how even a drink a day can substantially increase your risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

  39. Megan says...

    I come from a long line of alcoholics. Some chronic, others polite, yet all held “the curse”. Thankfully, my beautiful mom took her last drink in 1989 when I was 19 yes old. She passed away, sober, 4 weeks before the pandemic in February 2020. During my early 20’s, when I could see the writing on the bar room wall, I had asked my mom, “How do you know if your an alcoholic?” She tilted her head, slightly smiled, and quietly answered, “When you have to control something, you probably have a problem.” Never once did she mention alcohol, or tell me how to live my life. She simply offered a perspective. A very wise perspective that led to a wonderful solution. On 7/28/21, I will be sober from alcohol for 25 years. Thank you, Mom.💜

    • Sage says...

      Amazing, Megan. Big hugs to you. May all us parents be like your mom when given the opportunity to gently guide our own children.

    • Another Meghan :) says...

      Reading this brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing your mom with us, Megan <3

    • Jo says...

      Thank you for sharing this!

      I love your mom’s statement!

      25 years sober 🙏🏼!

    • Elise says...

      I got chills reading this. Sending you best wishes, and thank you for sharing.

  40. Annie says...

    Lately I’ve been drinking (2-3 drinks/glasses per night) Thursdays- Saturdays. I take a break from alcohol Sundays-Wednesdays, so I can wake up and work out at 6am 4 days a week more easily and enjoy that clean sheets feeling half the week. It works
    for me because my personality is all about balance- I enjoy the let it go-blissed out-social energy feeling of alcohol on the weekends (I work from home on Fridays so I can sleep in more), and feel the clear-eyed energy on the weekdays. This plan takes away the “should I or shouldn’t I/pros and cons” struggle. Because I need to have something interesting to sip on off days I drink kombucha or curious elixirs (fancy non-alcoholic cocktails with adaptogens).

  41. Raleigh says...

    I’m so proud of you, and I’m tearing up. Jo, big hearts and hugs your way, and praying for grace on your journey of figuring out where you want to go with this relationship. It might not have rules, and it might have hard and fast rules. You’ll figure it out. <3

    I lost a family member to alcohol as a little girl (car crash), and have been slowly losing people I love (mostly patients, some family and friends) ever since. Whether it's the distant gaze, the memory loss, the anger, liver failure or the abrasive social edge toward anyone who doesn't drink at *the* dinner party of the summer, it's just sad to be on the fringe. I'm a total lightweight, and been made fun of more than once for abstaining. Brene Brown wrote an amazing article that I re-read every few months to help me better understand how to be a not-really-sober, not-much-of-an-afficianado friend to my friends and colleagues who have high (or perceived high) tolerance. I also live in wine country, so it's hard for anyone who does want to scale back to have the opportunity to do so confidently. I've got sparkling water ready, am working on being content at events with a glass of sparkling water if I find a friend who is afraid of relapsing in front of colleagues… Sparkling water has its own charms, especially with a few frozen berries with their cute fizzy bubbles. :) Hang in there, and enjoy the essence of clean sheets. xoxo

    https://brenebrown.com/blog/2019/05/31/what-being-sober-has-meant-to-me/

  42. Leah says...

    My relationship with alcohol has changed dramatically over the past 16 months. Right before the pandemic started, my dad died from complications of alcoholism. He had been sober for many years after being on the brink of liver failure. But he eventually relapsed and died very suddenly. It made me take a long and hard look at my own relationship with alcohol. I’ve always been a bit of a partier and have been known to enjoy a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail after work. But as I tried to keep myself afloat in the endless waves of complex grief and navigate the pandemic and postponing our April wedding, I took a break from drinking and spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted my relationship with alcohol to look like. I eventually arrived at a happy medium that works for me: up to 5 drinks a week. I can choose to have a glass of wine after dinner every week night if I wanted to or not drink all week and have all of my drinks over the course of the weekend with friends but between Sunday – Saturday I only have a max of 5 drinks. Most weeks I have less than that (it’s not uncommon for me to go alcohol free for weeks at a time) but it makes me be more thoughtful about my consumption and my relationship with alcohol. It also feels like I’m more intentional with my time.

  43. MK says...

    Both of my parents are alcoholics — one who has remained sober for my entire life; and one who has slipped in and out of excessive drinking my whole life. (For those wondering, they’re not together.) My sober parent has always described drinking like lighting a match; it lights up and busts into a beautiful flame, but if you aren’t watching closely it can singe you; and if you let it get away from you, it can burn your life down. You can choose whether or not to light the match, but it’s harder to control once it’s lit.

    • AL says...

      The match analogy is exactly how I feel about my relationship with alcohol. Thanks for sharing. Xo

  44. Ramya says...

    Good for you, Joanna, and I’m having the exact same experience! My regular pandemic drinking was getting a bit worrisome, and I’ve decided to limit myself to 3 glasses a week (still might sound like a lot but this is a drastic reduction for me). So far it’s been a couple of weeks, and I’m also feeling the alertness, clarity and general healthy feeling that you describe. I hope to make this a sustainable shift of a 20+ year habit.

    • A says...

      I should probably also add that I have recently started drinking non alcoholic beer. Like many here I found early in the pandemic my drinking did increase. I don’t think I have a bad relationship with alcohol generally but I want to reduce my consumption for my future health. Having kids makes me more mindful of my healthy choices. While there’s no doubt it doesn’t quite taste the same, I do find I get around 70% of the pleasure and relaxation from it but without the tiredness/grumpy mood the next day!

  45. Kathleen Zenz says...

    Try pouring your favorite nonalcoholic beverage into your wine. The no-wine evening was much easier with the comfort of that familiar glass.

    • Kathleen says...

      I did not proofread carefully! My post should have read, “ Try pouring your favorite nonalcoholic beverage into your wine GLASS. The no-wine evening was much easier with the comfort of that familiar glass.”

    • A says...

      I used to do this when pregnant, non alcoholic drink in my wine glass. Part of the joy of a drink is the ritual and feeling the weight of the glass in my hand made me feel less deprived of a treat.

  46. EL says...

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve never really been super interested in alcohol – it tastes fine to me, not amazing, I hate the loss of control. For my husband though, alcohol became an unhealthy way to cope with grad school stress. He eventually confessed that he thought he had a problem and we got rid of all the alcohol we had. We also told our closest friends and were so thankful for their response. Now they almost never have drinks at gatherings, or if they do, will often have a non-alcoholic beer for my husband. Another friend confessed to using alcohol in unhealthy ways and became an important support for my husband. Anyway, this isn’t to suggest that it was an easy change, but doing it with support made a big difference.

  47. Mikaela says...

    My favorite post-bedtime drink is half kombucha, half seltzer water with a squeeze of citrus. I started after deciding that my quarantine post bedtime cocktail habit was no longer serving me, and this scratches the itch. I find that kombucha by itself is too intense and not fizzy enough for me, but this is perfect. I use the GTs “Trinity” flavor, put it in a pretty glass, and it’s the most gorgeous rosy color…:)

    • Mimi says...

      Try Better Booch. My new favorite. Not too sweet. Not too vinegary. Perfectly balanced. Island Hopper and Morning Glory are my current go-to. And if you’re thinking, hops in kombucha. Yes. It’s amazing. And I don’t even like anything “hoppy.”

  48. Sally says...

    Dram Apothecary has really nice herbal bitters and sparkling waters that I am sadly not able to get here in Canada. A little pricey but still cheaper than alcohol!
    http://www.dramapothecary.com

  49. Aidan says...

    Thanks Joanna perfectly timed post for me. I was a daily 1-2 glass of wine drinker since my 20s. In January, 47 year old me did a big reset, stopped all alcohol for 6 weeks. It was fantastic, I felt less anxiety, my skin was better, I didn’t feel achy every day, definitely felt better every morning. Fizzy water was my replacement and it’s great! But my partner still drinks daily, and I went back to a few drinks a week. Had just decided this week I’m going to stop again and get back those benefits. Alcohol doesn’t add anything to my life (except as a special occasion treat). Once you stop drinking regularly you realise how out of control/scary it feels to be drunk.

    Good luck on your journey!

  50. Sally says...

    I am an introvert and drinking has always been a way for me to feel more comfortable around people. Especially big groups. I also have the kind of wind-down associations you described with an evening glass of wine. But cutting down has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve tried to make guidelines for myself but they tend to be quite slippery so this post is coming at a good time for me. I’m inspired :)

    • Sara says...

      Same!

  51. KW says...

    I’m a child and sister of an alcoholic. I’ve never had trouble with alcohol, but my relationship with it is very controlled. I set up some rules for myself in college, and have followed them for the past 20 years. They help me feel in control and avoid any “slippery slope” behaviors. I’ve never had the urge to break these rules, I just like that I have them. The rules I follow are: 1) I don’t use alcohol to regulate my emotions. If I’m experiencing a negative or extreme emotion of any kind, I don’t drink. 2) I don’t drink at home during the week. If I’m invited out for an event, I might have one drink, but I consume no alcohol in my house M-Th. 3) My husband and I will have a drink or two at home on the weekends, but I have a max number of drinks allowed (2 Friday, 2 Saturday, 1 Sunday). I frequently have less than this, but these are my maximums. That’s it. They work for me.

    • JW says...

      Love this.

  52. Marielle says...

    I gave up alcohol August 6th 2020, after a very fun night with my girl friends. Not that I really drank that much, but I started to find, over the last 10 years, that alcohol doesn’t serve me any longer. Most notably, I started getting these colossal hang overs that would last 3-5 days. I’m not kidding…even drinking 1-3 glasses of wine would really make me feel awful for days. I would feel depressed, bloated, and it would make me CRAVE carbs. So, I quit having any alcohol…and I’m so much happier. I am a teacher and I had to go back to in-person-teaching in September 2020, so I decided in order to keep my immune system in tip top shape, I would not have alcohol. As well, I am a runner and alcohol destroys my training. I am 54 years old, and my body can not process alcohol any longer. Have I missed it? Not one single day! I am so much happier- I sleep better and feel fantastic. When I am out with friends, I have water, or bring Kombucha! And, I am finding that lots of people my age don’t drink alcohol. I wish I had done this earlier in my life, but when I was younger, it was such a social thing to drink when you went out! I am so glad that you brought up this conversation…it’s so important to talk about!

  53. Kate says...

    Oh Joanna, I really appreciate this post. Kudos for becoming aware of your habits and taking good care of your health.
    I have also experienced that “slippery slope” with alcohol throughout my life. I think coming from a family of alcoholics also made me more aware of my drinking habits. In my early 20s, I was SO conscientious about my drinking and would literally monitor myself all night. I have gotten more relaxed about that though over the years as I’ve gotten comfortable with drinking and do over do it from time to time for different reasons. I’ve never felt that I had an addiction to drinking, but it’s still important to me to pay attention to how much and why because I care about my health and don’t want to be a person who walks unconsciously through the world. When I feel myself drinking too much/too often, I lay off for a while. And “luckily” if I do drink a lot, I am haunted by it the next day as a reminder of my stupidity. Oof.
    Just a couple weeks ago I was out with a new group of people, and I had three beers. Going home I was like, “whyyyyyy did I do that?” and I realized it was probably the nerves I felt from the situation.
    My feelings about other people in my life and drinking are complicated. I understand that alcoholism is a disease and can be a tough battle for people to fight, but growing up with an alcoholic father and those early perceptions of someone out of control while drinking left a really bad taste in my mouth. (no pun intended lol) I have always said I would never sustain a relationship with someone who abuses drugs or alcohol for that reason. It’s just really hard for me to respect them.
    The other thing about heavy alcohol use, whether it’s an addiction or not, is that while it can feel like an avenue to better connection, it actually only serves to separate us in the end. SO, I’m wary of having it be the go to, BUT it can be great, and really important, for that occasional let your hair down session! All this ramble just to say, moderation and consciousness is KEY for me. xoxo

  54. CEW says...

    The level of defensiveness from some readers choosing to equate living sober or with moderation as “mom-shaming” is absurd.

  55. Kelly S. says...

    Does anyone here have a step-counter that also tracks your sleep? One of the biggest eye openers for me has been examining how much deep sleep I get after have 1-2 glasses of wine vs. no alcohol. It can truly be the difference of 30 minutes of deep sleep vs. 2.5 hours of deep sleep, even if I get eight hours of sleep both nights. I didn’t realize how tired and sleep deprived I felt after nights of drinking, even when only drinking moderately.

  56. Tania says...

    Yes! I too loooove drinking (the taste, the ritual, the social aspect…)but have also effectively quit. It got to the point where just having two drinks left me with a two day hangover (probably partly to do with medications I take, partly getting older, partly who knows what) and it just stopped feeling worth it. It’s also hard to let go because it is so much a part of my family of origin (Australian, so I get the heritage thing!)– drinking was how you celebrated, relaxed, enjoyed food, and it was considered kind of not being a good sport or being a killjoy to not drink. I do have the occasional beer now, or small glass wine with a meal, but not drinking generally has left me feeling much mentally clearer, my mood is better and I need less sleep. Ice cold spindrift or La Croix’s have become my treat! My parents think I’m lame. Oh well!

  57. Marsa Musha says...

    I related so much to this post. Recently I made a pledge to only drink socially, never alone. And as someone who greatly values alone time, this feels like a nice balance to me.

  58. Hollye says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this Joanna! It’s such a hard thing to talk about in our culture that I think brings up a lot of shame for people.

    I really loved this piece in The Atlantic. I think it explores both the light and the dark sides of alcohol and culture, and doesn’t lump all drinking into good or bad: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/07/america-drinking-alone-problem/619017/

    I definitely self medicated with alcohol before I had a kid, and have some really shameful memories from some of those days. I also have some beautiful memories filled with friendship and connection and laughter from nights of sharing a few drinks with friends. I don’t think I can say it was all good or all bad.

    My husband and I are trying to get closer to a southern-European culture of drinking to raise our daughter with. An occasional glass of wine or beer with a meal, and drinking responsibly in social contexts for connection, celebration, and even creativity. But no binging, and no drinking alone.

    What’s the saying- “drink to remember, not to forget”?

    There’s still a lovely feeling I get from sharing a few beers with a friend at a bar and catching up and making each other laugh. I cannot WAIT to be able to do that again post-Covid. But my two or three glasses of wine at home in front of the TV days are behind me.

  59. sarah says...

    love this! I have cut way back too! saving it for Friday nights or special occasions. I sleep so much better without alcohol in my system. Also I hate the “mom needs a drink” crap. It is out of control in our culture.

  60. Heather says...

    I am one of those people that just never got into alcohol – when I was young I was focused on soccer and as I was older, I just simply didn’t like the taste of it or the feeling of being “out of control” (the latter comes to no surprise to my family). I’ve had alcohol around 6 times in my life and I’m 36 – and for four of those the drink was just cider.

    It helps that my parents didn’t keep drinks in the house or seem particularly interested themselves, but my in-laws are a different story. Wine is a big big part of meals and social gatherings – but it’s never been awkward for me to decline. Somehow it feels no different than declining food I don’t like and its as simple as that.

    I have plenty of other vices (not that alcohol itself is a vice, but just in terms of what I tend to over indulge in) I need to work on like screen time though so I really value the idea of this – revisiting things that don’t actually make our lives and relationships better. Thanks so much for sharing and encouraging us all

  61. Rachel says...

    I can strongly relate to this but about a different substance. I enjoy a glass here and there, but nothing called to me like certain foods did, and more importantly a shameful pull to eat them in secret. Two years ago I cut out certain categories of foods for a few months, cold turkey. Similarly… It was hard, until it wasn’t. After 5 months, as i reintroduced some foods and left others behind, I realized that food in general no longer had an outsized priority in my life. Food as a substance is no longer something I abuse and my body and mind are better for it. It’s such a freeing feeling; I had no idea it was possible to live like this. Like a lot of large changes or admissions of truths, the first step is definitely the hardest.

  62. Liz says...

    I don’t drink alcohol at all. Never have. Never will.

    I grew up with an alcoholic biological father, an alcoholic aunt, alcoholic cousins. My grandfather was a recovering alcoholic. I’ve seen enough of the negative side effects to keep me away forever.

  63. Em says...

    In 2015, I had a severe respiratory infection that has since triggered a suite of autoimmune conditions. Up until that infection, I drank socially (but never drank alone due to alcoholism in the family). Since that infection, even a tiny sip of wine gives me terrible allergic symptoms, including anaphylaxis.
    While it wasn’t initially by choice, the last 6 years alcohol-free have been the best of my life (even with the health challenges). As cliche as it sounds, my mind, body, and soul feel more whole and connected.
    On top of that, there is something greatly empowering about backing up the alcohol “no thank you” with confidence. While my conviction originated from fear of getting sick, it has strengthened my ability to say “yes” to myself and what I need, and “no” to things I don’t across all areas of my life. It’s taught me to love and respect myself, and release the need to fit in and be liked.
    From the outside, giving up alcohol seems like it’s the trendy thing to do, but I truly hope that it positively affects even a small percentage of people that way it has me. Cheers to life, y’all!

  64. Ellie says...

    Love this article! I quit drinking for health reasons a few years ago and almost never miss it. I had one wedding where I didn’t manage not to cave to ‘peer pressure’ and drank, and haven’t had another since so we will see what happens the next time.

  65. Sanaa Murray says...

    love this! thank you for sharing

  66. Caroline L says...

    The hardest part about not drinking is the societal expectations. I only love sweet cocktails where I can’t taste the alcohol, so it’s not something I’m going to order with dinner. I gradually stopped drinking because I just don’t love the taste, didn’t like how it made me feel, and would rather spend my calories on food. I often get comments and I can tell people would be more comfortable if I drank with them, but I wish it weren’t an issue. I don’t care who else is drinking what. Let’s just enjoy each other’s company! I’ll have fun without alcohol, I promise!

  67. Eliot says...

    I stopped drinking regularly as a junior in college, before I even turned 21. I got tired of getting vomit-drunk at big college parties. Woof. I continued to drink socially (1 cocktail maximum) after college but noticed that I always felt horrible (migraine, upset stomach), even if I just had a sip of something. I felt a lot of pressure to drink though, especially from my family. Turns out, several of my family members are alcoholics and have since become sober. Now when we’re together there’s zero pressure to drink, which is really amazing and has changed our entire family dynamic for the better. I still have a glass of wine for special occasions but am even moving away from that since there are so many amazing non-alcoholic (NA) beers and spirits available now. I’m lucky, none of my friends are bothered when I have a sparkling water instead of a drink. Hopefully soon bars will start to carry NA beers and serve NA cocktails!! I think they would make a huge profit and make sober folks feel more welcome.

    • rosa says...

      Would love to know about your favorite NA beers! I want to cut back or stop drinking but Would really miss craft beer… TIA

    • Vero says...

      I’ve noticed a lot more places where I live are offering some amazing non-alcohol offerings at bars, restaurants, etc. I love it. It’s wonderful even if you do drink to have those options.

    • Nicole says...

      We tried a non-alcoholic spirit replacement from Seedlip that is amazing. We chose the botanical blend (a la gin) but they have others that mirror the warmth of whiskey or spice of rum. Maybe cupofjo could do a sponsored post since there is so much interest. I would highly recommend!

    • Annie says...

      Rosa- Athletic Brewing is GREAT, I live in CT so I can go to their actual brewery but they also ship and are sold in stores like Whole Foods too. I love putting muddled fruit in with them for some extra flavor, too (esp their Gose with raspberries, Cerveza Athletica with lime, or their IPA with orange).

      https://athleticbrewing.com/

  68. monica says...

    Oh my! I 100% am the person that you mentioned but a little older. I have refrained here and there fr month sabbaticals and after turning 50 I figured out that red wine was waking me up at night and so was any alcohol consumption. Fast forward to a couple of months into my 50th year and I took a blood test for a life insurance co and my liver enzymes came up much higher than normal so I made the permanent quit. A nice glass of bubbly water does the trick. Thank you for sharing your story, I appreciate knowing I am not alone.

  69. Sarah M says...

    Over the past year, I noticed I wasn’t drinking quite as much as in the past (there were a few years in my past with some HEAVY drinking and the mistakes that go along with them…I don’t like to look back on those days much). With reflection, so much of my drinking was in social environments, where it’s easy to let consumption get away from you. Without those events happening, I just wasn’t as drawn to it. At the end of last year I also made some big changes for my health and fitness, and noticed that when I wasn’t drinking, I felt better the next day, I recovered from my long runs faster, and felt fresher all the time. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve maybe only had 2-3 evenings where I’ve had a drink, and I don’t miss it at all. Having a hangover with a four year old is no fun, so I’m enjoying this newfound “energy” — it’s like I tapped into some secret extra energy reserves, LOL!

  70. Heather says...

    Good for you!!! It continually blows my mind that people drink every day. I feel so much better without it, I can’t understand how people could do that.

    I highly recommend reading: Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker. Even if not everything in the book is for every reader, aspects of it just might blow your mind.

    • Shannon says...

      I find your comment very judgmental; who are you to address why someone would drink every night? It “blows your mind”? Wow! I’m doubtful that you have much life experience or awareness of other people’s struggles.
      Reading through this thread, so much judgment!

  71. Michele says...

    I went about a year without drinking to see if I could do it because I was drinking almost daily out of habit. I didn’t lose weight, improve my skin or sleep, or feel any better, which was really disappointing.

    • Kari says...

      @Michele, this is my experience so far as well, granted only 2 months into it. It’s disappointing for sure. I do feel a sense of accomplishment though, which is a reward in and of itself I suppose. I was really hoping it would help me be more patient, but it has not.

    • KJ says...

      THIS. People act like it’s life-changing and it’s just….the exact same for me. Sure I spend more money drinking but I also am able to confidently go into social situations. It’s a toss-up for me for sure.

  72. M. S. says...

    After doing a Whole30 in January, I recently read two fairly life-changing books about sobriety: “We Are the Luckiest” by Laura McKowen, and “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker. These women’s stories completely changed how I perceive drinking and the alcohol industry (and how alcohol is marketed to women). I highlighted dozens of passages in these books that truly resonated with my relationship with alcohol. I am becoming much more mindful of how often I reach for a drink.

  73. Tricia says...

    EXACTLY the same as you! Thank you so much for sharing! Cutting back myself. One perk I hope to have is less puffy eyes, especially as I will drink more sparkling water in wine’s place.

  74. Lauren Burke says...

    I love, love, love this. Does anyone have ideas for fun non-alcoholic drinks to order when out for dinner? I find myself reverting to club soda and lime, which has started to feel meh. Would love to find something with a little more flair.

    • Jen says...

      Most places will make all their cocktails drinks as a mock tail… I like to ask for a non alcoholic drink that is more tart than sweet if the bartender is asking what I prefer…

    • Andrea says...

      Second this question! Maybe worth a follow up post? Best non-alcoholic alternatives for when you’re tired of ordering sparkling/water but don’t want a pop?

    • Lauren Burke says...

      So helpful, Jen – I too prefer tart over sweet. Thanks.

    • Naomi says...

      Ask them if the bartender will make a non-alcoholic cocktail for you! I used to do that when I was pregnant. Most of the time, they were delicious. Once in a while you would get a less inventive dud, but it’s worth asking!

    • Ashley says...

      Hi! My favorite thing to order is half grapefruit juice half club soda with a squeeze of lime. I either ask for it in a champagne flute or in a rocks glass over a little ice. I even make it at home…it’s my go-to when I don’t want alcohol. The acidity of the grapefruit juice just perfectly fools my brain into thinking it’s happy hour – which is why I reserve it for only that time so it always feels slightly special. Hope you like it, too! Xx

    • Kate says...

      I love Angostura bitters and soda! But I also like to order spirit-free cocktails at nice restaurants, many more restaurants even have them right on the menu alongside the alcoholic ones. The other thing I love for at-home are the tiny bottles of Italian aperitivo bitters sodas like Sanbitter and Biz (my favourite)

    • Katey says...

      Shrubs are a popular alternative at many hip places. They are tonic and a dash of tart syrup. They look classy as the colored syrup mingles with the tonic. What else. Tonic and bitters. Bitters are… bitter. Any establishment with a traditional bar should have bitters as they’re part of a Manhattan. With original bitters the drink will taste like a very mild, sugar free Dr Pepper because the combo of bitter herbs etc in bitters were believed to help digestion and that’s part of Dr Pepper’s story, too. Now there are several types of bitters: cucumber, orange, rhubarb (a fave of mine), and more. I also think you could ask for a fancy glass if you want and if the place isn’t mobbed.

      And for brunch or lunch order an Arnold Palmer because they’re delicious.

      I love this topic. Also, I love Frasier, but they glamorize alcohol consumption, too. “Sherry, Niles?” “None for me, thank you.”

  75. K says...

    Brava, Joanna! It can be tricky to stand back for a minute and decide to go against something that feels bad personally but is socially accepted. Alcohol is so funny in so many cultures. One is considered brave if they’re a reformed alcoholic but prude if they don’t have the “right” reason for abstinence. We’re often socially pushed to drink till we lose ourselves, yet considered sloppy when we actually do. The pressure is so strong sometimes that alcohol-intolerant people try to find ways to drink by ingesting this or that liver-damaging pill, as if being sober is to be devastatingly left out of the collective daze. We blame it when we’ve done something “embarrassing” the night before, i.e., if things didn’t go our way.

    And then there are cultures that completely forbid it, as a response I’m sure, which I don’t think is necessarily the answer, either. I do believe there’s a place for alcohol, but our relationship with it is very often all muddled.

  76. Kate says...

    Since the new year I’ve made the switch from the occasional glass of wine while cooking dinner to only drinking socially, and even then it’s usually spirit-free: a paloma made with La Croix and no tequila or my beloved Biz over ice (a small, retro glass bottle of Italian bitters soda that resembles a negroni). I also refrain from drinking these special drinks until after 5PM to make it feel even more special and earned.

    I have also been fortunate to not feel hungover from drinking wine (which is all I ever drink, don’t like spirits) but the discussions on CoJ did make me realize that I wasn’t craving wine after work to relax, the cue was coming from a low-level addiction. I will happily share the occasional bottle of rosé on a patio with friends, but honestly I’m just as happy to stick with spirit-free cocktails. I hadn’t realized how much of it really was just about having a glass of something that feels a little bit fun and celebratory in my hand.

  77. Christina says...

    My husband and I used to drink wine now and then before we had children, especially when we were in France. Then I got pregnant and my husband didn’t feel like having a glass of wine alone. Then I nursed, and then I was pregnant again….
    And then we hosted a child from an abusive past, for five summers in a row. To increase her ability to build trust, we didn’t even want to have alcohol in the house. Suddenly more than ten years had past and we thought, why begin again? We are happy like this and never miss it.

  78. Angie B. says...

    I am absolutely a purely social drinker — I’ve never felt the urge to have a drink at home alone (no judgement against those who do!). And as I’ve gotten older, the less drinking appeals to me (especially since I’d rather avoid any sort of hangover). I might have a drink or two in a social situation, but I may not have one at all. Most people don’t notice or comment, but I have one friend who sometimes will, and I think that is more about her feelings about drinking (does she think my not drinking means I am judging her for doing so?). Honestly, I don’t miss it and would have no problem never having a drink again. And I’d rather get those extra calories from chocolate!

    • Kate says...

      What you said reminds me of this quote that really resonated, “Not being hungover is a better feeling than being drunk”.

      I don’t drink often, and almost never drink enough to feel hungover, but on Christmas Eve my roommate made fancy cocktails and we stayed up late drinking and laughing. On Christmas day, the idyllic afternoon spent sledding with my friends was less enjoyable due to feeling a bit icky from a mild hangover.

    • Heather says...

      I have found that comments about not drinking are almost always more about that person and their feelings about their own drinking.

  79. Gillian says...

    Congratulations on changing your relationship with alcohol by making that relationship on your terms! I found that the pandemic really threw some of my own routines into hyper drive. For example, I had a reliance on TV that really escalated over the last year. Pre-pandemic, I would often spend my weekday evenings watching a show but this routine was interrupted by spending some evenings seeing friends or going into social spaces or out into nature, so while still a routine, watching TV didn’t feel like a crutch. During the pandemic, my need to watch shows grew into something I had a hard time controlling. Every day was the same: wake up, work, sit on the couch and watch hours of mindless shows, go to sleep. For so many reasons, the pandemic has felt like our lives have stagnated and the act of spending evenings watching shows I didn’t care about wasn’t helping. About two months ago, my partner suggested that we try a month with no TV (movies were allowed – we watched two: Minari and The Mummy!). I also told many friends about the goal (more to complain than to create accountability but it had the latter effect). The first week was challenging but we distracted ourselves with fun activities (hikes, bike rides, etc). By the second week, the habit was starting to break but my home was silent – I realized that for the last many months, TV provided a talking point for my relationship. I think we cracked on the third week, but we did so for a docuseries that we actually were both very excited to see. We’re done that show now, and haven’t turned the TV on since! I’m sure we will again sometime, but it will be for a show that we choose because we want to watch it, not because of a habit (or maybe not – who knows!). In any event, that accountability friends provided was priceless, and I’m so glad to know that habits can be broken (which I was it sure about before).

  80. Ellie says...

    Alcohol feels like a reqard for me. I generally only drink at weekend, sometimes on a Monday if there is wine leftover from the weekend. But if I drink regularly through the week, then my first drink on a Friday evening loses its sparkle! Also, after my first baby I really went off wine and switched to craft beer. It’s really filling so I drink less, its generally cheaper, and it’s a lower alcohol content. I do tend to have wine on a Sunday now or when out, but never more than two glasses at a time, it really floors me and wine hangovers are THE WORST!

  81. This is such a wonderfully brave article to write. Well done you! I feel like the 2-3 drinks a night is so normalized its a bit scary and troublesome. Drinking culture, especially within parents (the coffee cups that say “this might be wine”, the countless memes and such that equate dealing with children and needing to drink) are just not positive. Honestly, they’re so prominent its overwhelming. Thank you for calling this out.

    • Heather says...

      Agree with all of this

    • Heather Alarcon says...

      I am curious about this. Part of me suspects that more is expected of modern parents than any other parents in the history of the freaking world, and it’s too damn much and we are all stressed out. We are laughing about self-medicating with alcohol but are not taking on the true problem which is an honest assessment of how to adjust expectations of parents.

      The other part of me suspects parents have always been drinking a lot only now since you can get any words screen printed on anything and create internet memes we just think it’s a new craze. A coworker of mine in her 60’s (no kids) has told me her parents’ generation drank and partied regularly and that my generation isn’t having ENOUGH fun. She has stories about weeknight cocktail parties at other families’ houses when she was a child where she and her sister would fall asleep on someone else’s couch and then at the end of the night their parents would just lay them across the backseat (no seatbelts) and then DRIVE HOME! Parents should relax and enjoy each other more, she tells me. Have fancy cocktail nights and wear fun bright outfits and lipstick and ignore your children more! Her story reminds me a little of the opening to Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth. Can you imagine getting wasted at your kids’ baptism? The way she describes it, though, parents in those days drank for FUN and we are drinking to ESCAPE.

  82. Lyn says...

    I was never much of a drinker, but I had to make a conscious commitment to abstaining from alcohol a few years ago when I decided to donate a kidney to a friend. The hospital where we did the transplant surgery advised donors to abstain from alcohol entirely once they’d donated. I wasn’t sure what life would be like without the occasional glass of wine or margarita. Now, almost eight years later, it’s been easier than I thought it would be, though I’ve become more aware of how much pressure there is to consume alcohol in social situations.

  83. Haley says...

    My husband got sober in November 2020 after a long and rocky relationship with alcohol. I cut back my drinking then in support: just social and weekend occasions. My last drink was on March 17, 2021 and I haven’t felt the need or want to open a bottle of wine since. I am not sure if my husband or myself will eventually reintroduce alcohol into our lives, but I feel happier without it and the money we have saved is an extra bonus!

  84. Christy says...

    Joanna, I so appreciate the honesty and the encouragement in your story. Thanks for creating this place where we can be real about many parts of life together.

    My priest once said, “We drink to remember.” Rather than drinking to forget, we drink to celebrate together, to feast, to cherish the good—to remember. This concept has been a helpful and happy guide for me.

  85. Angela says...

    I love this!
    I also cut out alcohol from my life, except for the rare exception here or there and it’s helped my mental and physical health tremendously.
    I love that I’m able to have fun with or without alcohol and that non-drinkers are becoming less taboo. One challenge I faced early on was that friends around me would feel uncomfortable if I was not drinking and they were. They were more uncomfortable than I was! Was I going to be a downer at the party? Was I judging their habits from my high horse of sobriety? Would this change the dynamic of “grabbing drinks” when I opted for soda water instead of a spicy margarita? Alcohol is so personal, but it’s also such a social construct. It’s something that most of us do together, it brings us together similar to sharing a meal.
    My tips for anyone trying to stop drinking, and feeling the social pressure is to always have a drink in hand. It makes others feel less uncomfortable and you’ll get fewer questions. Of course, if you’re living in integrity and want to communicate that you’re not drinking – all the power to you! But sometimes, pretending, or little white lies can take the social pressure off if that is something you’re worried about. Take the glass of champagne, and pretend to have a sip. Take your shot glass, and set it down after the toast. People aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think they are. And, ultimately, their judgement is a reflection of their own insecurity rather than true care about whether you are drinking or not.

    • Maeve says...

      The peer pressure is so real… and I’m 32! When does that go away? I second this comment wholeheartedly, including the suggestion to have a drink in your hand.

    • Yes this is so true! I also feel more comfortable having something in hand to drink – like I am more a part of the party without actually having to drink. I’ve been so appreciative of how many restaurants and bars and grocery stories have great NA beers and mocktails lately. It’s becoming so much more normalized!

    • Heather says...

      Agree with all of this. I am such a light drinker compared to how I used to be. I don’t think all of my friends realize the extent of it, especially due to Covid putting socializing on hold.

      I have my bachelorette party coming up in August, and I REALLY don’t want to drink a lot for it. I want to feel good and remember it all clearly. I’m trying to tell a few friends in advance that this is the atmosphere I’m looking for, and I’ve already been told twice – oh hell no, you’re taking shots! I am strong enough in my convictions to not feel pressured to do anything I don’t want to, but I will feel bummed if I am combatting that through the whole weekend.

  86. Lindsey says...

    I’m glad to see that choosing not to drink is getting some support. I have not really ever drank a lot of alcohol post college for the simple reason I usually feel like crap later. I don’t care if others choose to have some at meals (or whatever) but the hostility I have had directed at me at times has been incredible.

  87. Kari says...

    Today is day 66 without alcohol (counting the streak keeps me motivated to keep going!). I would have 1-2 glasses of beer or wine and night and just didn’ t want to be a daily drinker anymore. However, I haven’t noticed ANY upsides!! I feel so disappointed. Sleep is worse, I’m feeling more depressed, more short tempered, and actually gained weight ha. Maybe daily drinking was just masking some other underlying mental health issues? Has anyone else experienced this?? How are you coping with stress and anxiety?? Frustrated.

    • Danielle says...

      When I quit drinking the first time, I would have terrible sugar cravings. I would allow myself to overeat candy to avoid alcohol. I think this is common. It passed.

    • Hollye says...

      Kari that must be so frustrating! This is annoying advice, but does exercise help? I feel like I used alcohol to self medicate with anxiety and depression regularly before I had a kid and cut back to one or two drinks a week instead of two or three drinks a day (yikes). Your body might still be going through a withdrawal after taking away your “medicine” and just from the sugsr withdrawal. I’ve always hated working out, but I recently started doing it regularly and really pushing myself, and the endorphins I get after a hard workout (I’m talking HARD- like circuit training, pouring sweat, cursing the gods), anyway the endorphins after a super hard workout are seriously better than any anxiety or depression meds I’ve ever tried. I hate recommending exercise because I think for women it’s often tied to body image stuff, or a prescription of what we “should” be doing to stay “attractive”, but for people with anxiety and depression I do think breaking a sweat and challenging yourself physically is one of the best medications you can give your body and brain. The actual working out still kind of sucks for me, but the mental high and clarity make it all worth the uncomfortable daily hour.

    • Yes! I have other cravings and I didn’t notice weight loss or feeling that much better. I mean, marginally better, but not what I’ve heard others experience. It’s tempting to think maybe it wasn’t affecting me as much as I intuited, but my brain also likes to tell some tricky tales, and I recognize that one as being more an extension of my frustration, than a road back to daily alcohol consumption. I think for me, it’s more about cultivating self trust. When I do for myself, what I say I’m going to do, THAT feels truly wonderful. And staying away from alcohol as a promise to self, and keeping that promise, that’s, for me, where the magic lies.

    • Kari says...

      Thank you ladies for your kind and constructive comments. @ Danielle, I think you are right re: sugar, another thing I should try cutting out. @Hollye, it’s funny you mention exercise, I’ve always sort of hated exercise but have found myself almost craving it lately, I feel motivated to try harder, thank you!! And @Valerie, I do have a sense of accomplishment and it helps me feel more motivated to keep on going.

      Also as an aside, it took me about a week of not drinking to get to a place where I didn’t crave it, and the Partake NA beers are great subs, tasty and refreshing!

    • Vero says...

      I think it’s just that alcohol isn’t masking these symptoms anymore. There’s a deeper root here and without using alcohol as self-medication, it’s an invitation to go deeper and treat the stress, depression, etc. In Chinese medicine this is often what we call Liver qi stagnation. I think it’s often related to needing to express yourself, move energy through your body, ask for support where needed, speak about your feelings, establish good boundaries, and look at where the places that you might be spending your time and energy may not be fulfilling. Acupuncture can be super helpful with this :)

  88. Sheila says...

    I haven’t had a drink in almost 4 years, but never really think about it. I drank in college (ahem, though it was less about the pleasure of savoring the alcohol so much as ramping up for a good time), but when I moved back home with my parents I rarely drank. Once I moved out on my own, I envisioned drinking a glass of wine in my first adult apartment! But a really clear pattern started to develop: a friend brought over a bottle to have with pizza, then I woke up with a terrible migraine; I tried a flight at a winery with a friend, then had a terrible migraine 3 hours later; and so on. I’ve struggled with migraines since I was a teenager, and any time a really clear pattern shows up, it’s an easy choice to cancel it out. So, goodbye alcohol.
    I will say, the woman (who is now my wife!!!!) I was dating also didn’t drink, so she completely respected my thoughts about alcohol. She avoided alcohol as a residual from religious beliefs she was raised in, not for health, but it felt normal for her to order sparkling water with dinner as opposed to a cocktail. I’ve been in a few work situations where people will be dumbfounded that I’m not drinking and make me feel like an outcast, but I’ve never second-guessed my decision — anyone who’s had a migraine will understand!

  89. Danielle says...

    I did dry January in 2020, wanting to start the next decade clearheaded (little did I know…) even for just a month. After a month I realised the anxiety I have struggled with for years, which has even led to periods of intense depression, had gotten MARKEDLY better. Don’t get me wrong I still have my moments, but instead of drinking to cope (and making it worse) I now have to (gasp) talk about or sit with my feelings and eventually they pass. It’s been nearly 18 months now, and whilst I do sometimes miss the taste of red wine, I’ve gotten to the point where I can have one sip of my husbands wine, swirl it around really enjoy the flavours and that’s enough. As for other drinks there are literally endless very tasty alcohol free beers which I really enjoy. Most of all I realised sometimes the drink I wanted was just the ritual of something special, so now I treat myself to nice tonic water, or shrubs, or an alcohol free botanical spirit. The first month was hard, but now it really isn’t, it’s just something I do. My husband still drinks, and I do definitely notice the amount that other people drink a lot more now, but I try not to judge. To each their own, but for me, not one aspect of my life has not improved significantly, from the ridiculous to the sublime. I love how sharp I am mentally (seriously it felt like Limitless for the first few months), how present I am for my 4 year old son and family, how much I actually enjoy exercise (that was a shock). Your brain actually rewires itself after a long spate of not drinking, and you start enjoying the simpler things. I never say never, and I’m sure at some point I’ll have a glass of wine on a really special occasion, but I’ve gotten to the point where I know one will be enough and I will really enjoy it. And right now I’m enjoying not drinking too much to even consider it.

  90. Amy says...

    Love this! Inspiring me to give this a try. I’ve tried before and followed two of my favorite authors Gretchen Rubin and Aidan Donnelly Rowley. I always give up after a few days. It’s been a real struggle but I noticed that one glass a night creeped up to two easily and then two can turn into thre eon the weekends.

  91. Meg says...

    Thank you for this! For people who are curious about reducing or quitting alcohol, I highly recommend Quit Like a Woman and The Naked Mind. I read both, and while I don’t drink as much as either author, their stories and arguments made a huge impact on the way that I think about alcohol. One of the biggest takeaways was that the relaxed feeling you get from alcohol is brief and mixed – like half an hour, and then you want another drink to keep it going, and relaxing but also depressing and then anxiety-producing on the other side (precisely 3am-5am for me). But I do like having a drink with girlfriends or on our rare date nights, so I decided to stop drinking at home. This wouldn’t be a huge shift for someone who goes out all the time, but as a mom of two young kids most of my wine drinking was at home on the couch after bedtime so it’s significant. And it feels great. Like Joanna said, I wasn’t really drinking enough to have hangovers, but it was definitely affecting my sleep and I am SO bright-eyed, present, energetic when I’m not drinking that I was like, has this always been in me and I didn’t know it??

  92. Lisa says...

    When I was a student and in my 20s, I would drink a lot. when I first started working I would sometimes down a whole bottle of wine a night, sometimes alone. It then calmed down after I met my husband (he doesn’t really drink). Then I started trying to conceive, had issues, and then had to stop drinking for medical reasons while going through IVF. I live in the UK and it can be tough (especially at work) as there is such a culture of going down the pub after work. My boss at the time was a big drinker and his favourite team members were very obviously the people who went out drinking with him on a regular basis. I would go to the pub, but having glass after glass of tonic water or sparkling water and then dealing with people who were getting progressively drunker was tough.

    Now I’ll drink a glass of wine when we go out for dinner (not now now actually, as I’m pregnant) and that’s it. I come from a family with a history of alcoholism and when I was sinking a bottle a night it was scary that I craved it so much. Once this baby’s out I think I’ll go back to what I did before, of the occassional drink but I really don’t see myself drinking regularly. Morning sickness is like being hungover for me, and that’s bad enough. I don’t want to inflict it on myself on a regular basis without the outcome of a squishy baby.

  93. Alyssa says...

    I’ve been with my partner, who is sober after a decade-plus of struggles with alcohol and other substances, for three years. Before we got together, I frequently went through phases where I didn’t drink or drank very minimally, mostly because I have depression and am on anti-depressants and find the two don’t mix well. When we got together, it was the first time (at 28) that I’d had a series of first dates without alcohol, a first kiss without alcohol, sex for the first time without alcohol. We had so much FUN because we WEREN’T drinking, and because we were avoiding the usual get-a-drink date. It made me realize how enshrined alcohol is in western culture and how often our unhealthy relationship with it goes unexamined. These days I would love to learn more about wine and have the occasional yummy glass with dinner, but I’m really happy without alcohol, and cherish all those (clear-headed) memories from the early days of our relationship.

    • Kate says...

      I’m in a similar boat, just 6 months into a lovely relationship with someone who is ten years sober, and navigating the ins and outs about how I feel about my own drinking vs not…and being around my family’s drinking habits seeing them from a different perspective.. It’s been really refreshing getting to know someone without the drinking involved.

    • A says...

      My husband and I met during an intense social drinking/drugs phase of our late 20s. The first year or so of our relationship we were either drunk, high, and/or hungover. We naturally chilled out a bit over the first few years of marriage and then I gave all of it up to get pregnant and never really went back except for an occasional cocktail at events. As many have mentioned, being hungover with a baby or little kid is not fun! Our kid changed things for my husband too and he is now several years completely sober. Navigating that change between us – from ‘drunk in love’ to sober partners and parents – has been difficult, eye-opening, and extremely rewarding. I honestly think we’re in the best place we’ve ever been in our 10 years together.

  94. Sylvie says...

    During the pandemic, as me and my husband both worked from home and all the restaurants were closed, we created our own “apéro” (a abbreviation for “apéritif”) at the end of every day. At first, it was with a bier or a glass of wine, with potato chips. Then, we switched to San Pellegrino Bitter Rosso or sparkling water with lemon, and radish, carrots, olives, salted almonds or whatever we had in the fridge to go with. I realized that the good part of this ritual had nothing to do with the drinks or the food: it was a time together, to chat, reflect on the day or do a board game, and every day I’m looking forward to our apéro.

    • jane says...

      This is what I do too – in the US there is a huge craft culture especially around bitters – so many creative fancy ones to try!

  95. Trish says...

    In a similar vein, I quit drinking coffee in January 2020 and haven’t looked back. I think it was causing as many problems as alcohol can: waking up feeling awful until I’d had my first coffee, sometimes drinking too much and feeling overly buzzy and anxious until the caffeine wore off, feeling dehydrated, feeling extra tired in the evenings, the list goes on. Not relying on caffeine as an “upper” has, for me, been exactly the “fresh sheets” experience that Jo describes. Telling people I don’t drink coffee has been a trip – reactions range from horror to confusion to jealousy.

    I had my second child in September 2020 and I swear the newborn months were so much easier to manage than when I’d relied heavily on coffee with my first. Sure, I was achingly tired some days, but I swear it was a world of difference from last time, even with a worse sleeper!

    • Claire says...

      Trish, you are giving me the inspiration I need to quit! I’ve scaled way back on coffee over the last few years, but I’m hyper-sensitive and I can just tell that it’s messing with my health and sleep. It’s great to hear you’ve had such a good experience–thank you!!

    • Vero says...

      I’ve let coffee go from my life too and life is much sweeter because of it. I do love it so much but it hasn’t been worth the downsides: blood sugar ups and downs, emotional ups and down, headaches if I can’t get it, jonesing for it in the morning, drinking it just to feel like I have a normal amount of energy, major energy crashes in the afternoons, overcaffeinating and it spiking my anxiety, not deep sleep, poor digestion, etc. I’m an acupuncturist and interestingly on my intake forms, almost all of the patients I see who tick the box for caffeine dependence also tick the box for afternoon energy crashes. It’s a positive feedback loop where drinking coffee gives you the crash so you need coffee, etc. Coffee gives you fake energy that you don’t actually have, so you aren’t listening to your body’s cues to rest. For something so commonplace in our culture it can be very insidious in its effects on our lives. I love it but I also have chosen to let it go and choose all the gifts that NOT having it in my life brings.

  96. Audrey says...

    I quit entirely for similar reasons a year and a half ago. I plan to drink socially again someday but I’m so glad I quit. The Atlantic currently has a very interesting article “America has a drinking problem” which talks about the history and possible evolutionary uses for alcohol. I highly recommend!

  97. Joanna says...

    I drank A LOT when I was younger (pretty typical “party on the weekends” type stuff). But I could not picture not drinking regularly. Then I had kids and drank much less and then the pandemic happened and I realized I really am a “social drinker”. I enjoy drinking a little around friends in a party situation or out to dinner or at a bar, but I don’t drink at home ever nor do I really want to. I also feel that I get hungover VERY easily, so it’s just not worth it anymore to me.

    Now I may drink a beer a couple times a month in a social setting or if there’s an event of some sort, perhaps I’ll drink more. But it’s not a huge part of my life anymore and I’m happy about it!

  98. Jessica Camerata says...

    Love that you’re sharing this. I feel like I had the opposite revelation over quarantine. I rarely drink unless it’s a social thing and well, there were no social things. The few times I did have a drink at a front porch hang, I noticed my next day was DESTROYED. I always knew alcohol affected me so terribly, more than anyone I know, but didn’t think just one stupid drink could do it. Sometimes even just HALF a drink! Not even worth it to me anymore. Sticking to this has been hard though because the social pressures are so there and I SO love a great cocktail.

    xo Jessica

  99. Pam says...

    I love this! I can relate so much. I drink maybe one glass of wine a week, and the less I drink the less I feel the pull of alcohol. A family member nearly died from alcohol poisoning in January, and his drinking over the years has really turned my husband and I off of wanting a drink ourselves. But I also think I just don’t love the feeling- I find after a glass of wine I don’t sleep well and wake up feeling kind of crappy.

    I really resent all of the casual joking that goes on at work and in our society about indulging in alcohol to counteract difficulties in life. From sharing cocktail recipes over slack, “mommy juice” to recover from taking care of the kids, or people joking about needing a drink to recover from work. I totally understand this as a way people connect. But, I think so, so many people struggle with their relationship to alcohol, and our society really makes it hard on them.

    A tip about how to keep a bottle of wine for a long time- get a vacuum sealer! It’s a top that fits on to the bottle and you use a vacuum pump to take the air out. I can keep a bottle of white in my fridge for months!

  100. L says...

    I’m in graduate school and much of our limited free time is spent drinking (to relax, to celebrate, to socialize). I’ve never been much of a drinker, but I often felt odd if I didn’t drink too. However, I learned my brother has been in a long-standing battle with alcoholism and I’ve grown more disenchanted with the “drink to relax” attitude. I’m now more firm when I decline a drink, and most of the time…no one cares. Having the confidence to control my beverage choices has translated into more fulfilling gatherings, and I can still get up and study the next day (win-win!)

  101. I’ve never been a big drinker: two beers a week? When I did drink, though, it served to disconnect and dull negative emotions, like a day fraught with lovely, needy small children or more easily socialize at parties. But in September of 2020, I decided I wanted to stop “numbing” and allow myself to process all my emotions in a healthier way. I wanted to *feel* *everything*. Nearly a year in, and I’m never going back. :-)

    • Amanda says...

      I feel this. I used to think I had a healthy relationship with alcohol, but eventually realized I was using it as a way to escape anxiety. I still have the occasional cocktail if I am out (so, haven’t had a cocktail in over a year…), but no longer have alcohol in the house. I feel much more connected to my real emotions now.

    • Heather says...

      Out of curiosity, as I sit here vibrating with stress after my son screamed at me for an hour… how does one feel everything and why is that good? Like, I feel stressed by this. My body is in fight or flight. I’ve done some shaking and dancing and now I want a glass of wine to move past this tense moment. Why must we feel everything?

    • C says...

      Heather, maybe go find some offline support. You don’t need to try to justify your drinking. Many people who don’t drink also have tough family situations that come up. Raising children is difficult but does not require the use of alcohol to move past hard moments. Good luck.

    • April says...

      @Heather. That is super stressful. I’m sorry. I have two small kids and I can relate. If the wine is working right now, great. Maybe someday you’ll have the space and desire to eliminate it. Maybe not. Both are okay options. Sending positivity.

  102. Donna Ford says...

    Thanks for sharing this. Because of a medical condition I had to quick drinking any sort of alcohol many years ago. Honestly I don’t miss it anymore (I miss chocolate, which I also had to give up, way more.). Because I don’t drink I am often the only person at a dinner party or out to eat who isn’t “relaxed” by alcohol, tipsy, buzzed, or downright drunk. This means observing people who are and I feel glad I don’t drink! I’m amazed at the way people let them self go and say or do anything and have no memory of it. I think most folks don’t realize how their behavior changes even with one drink.

  103. Crystal says...

    I loveI recently left the Mormon church (I feel like I have fresh eyes and am finally free!) and had my first drinks a few months ago. I loved it… until depression as well as this burning desire consumed me for days. I remembered that my family has a history of addiction and realized this was something I needed to break up with. It was surprisingly hard for only one night of alcohol but I feel so much peace in my decision. I can handle an edible just fine though!

    • Sarah says...

      Congrats on leaving! I left when I was 13 :)
      And good on you for knowing when to break up with alcohol too!

  104. I had reduced my drinking a lot in recent years and the pandemic actually made it easier for me, as I tend to mostly drink in social situations. It’s been long enough that I sort of forget it exists/don’t really miss it. I’m sure I’ll drink a little more as the world re-opens, but it’ll likely be no more than two drinks over several hours. I’ve also been fully sober during some recent friend hangs — I am realizing that when I’m with people I really like, I don’t “need” a drink as much to feel at ease.