I don’t have an “alcohol problem”. I have a problem with alcohol.

I don’t have an “alcohol problem”. I don’t need to drink every day, or every week. It’s been 4 weeks to the day since I last had a drop of booze, and it’s been easy-breezy to steer clear of alcohol. So, if I don’t have an addiction, why stop drinking?

There’s no other mood-altering substance – other than perhaps coffee – which is universally accepted and integrated into our daily lives like alcohol is. Alcohol has a unique ability to make us feel as though it needs to be front and centre for every occasion or situation; celebrating some good news, commiserating some bad news, revelling in the company of the people you love, stifling loneliness. Mulled wine when it’s cold, a mojito when it’s hot. A shot for courage, a beer to wind down at the end of a hard day.

This is why me and alcohol no longer see eye to eye. If alcohol were a person, they’d be blocked and unfriended on all platforms. The friendship I had with alcohol was a toxic one which only served to make me feel less than. I won’t stand for that.

The thing is, when we water down every difficult situation, each emotional scenario, and any social interactions with alcohol, we unconsciously tell ourselves that we are not good enough exactly as we are, we aren’t capable of coping alone. Using alcohol as a numbing agent or an enhancer of emotions which already exist within ourselves belittles our own ability to feel fully and to enjoy the present moment authentically. The message this unconsciously sends to us is that the power is not in our hands to feel better, to feel happy, to feel relaxed, to feel confident, to feel anything at all; we must include alcohol in everything we do, whether as reward or punishment, otherwise the occasion is incomplete. I realised that by thinking in that way, my relationship with myself was deeply flawed. Alcohol was getting in between me and self, and that was unacceptable.

I’ve been guilty of underpinning almost every possible situation with consuming something alcoholic, almost to the point of seeking excuses to drink. I then wondered why I felt shameful and anxious and depressed in the days following drinking, even though I’d not done anything embarrassing and despite everyone, myself included, having had a lovely time. I’m not a violent or a mean drunk, I’m not wild and irresponsible when I drink. Alcohol only ever served to enhance the personality I already possessed, to create confidence to say the things I wanted to, and to feel more comfortable in my own skin. Excruciatingly I had to ask myself, why was I unable to tap into the fullest version of myself on my own? Why did I need to poison my body and brain in order to access the most authentic parts of me?

I want to go deeper. I want to experience everything that’s within me and outside of me fully, without stimulants creating emotions and reactions which are disingenuous. I think the reason that I started to feel so guilty after drinking is because while I was under the influence it was as though I was lying to myself and the people around me. I’d let something outside of me possess me and take credit for my words, feelings, and actions. Alcohol made me feel like I was an alien in my own body.

I’m not saying I’m never drinking again because restriction, in my experience, leads to rebellion. I’ve not “given up” alcohol because that implies a loss. I’m making a conscious choice every day to not drink booze. I’m focusing on developing the relationship I have with myself and those around me, uninhibited by external stimulus.

So for now and the foreseeable future, me and alcohol are not on speaking terms. And aside from the personal benefits, life without hangovers is pretty sweet, too.

Check out Sober Girl Society, Sober and Social, and Sober Huns Club.

Published by Alice Shuttleworth

I am a freelance content and creative writer studying a Postgraduate MA in Children's Literature.

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