Help me end the party.
May 6, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

It's difficult for me to admit this, but alcohol has become a problem in my life. I can't rationalize it away anymore. I'm ready to just stop drinking, but I would like to hear stories from people about the positive benefits you noticed when you cut alcohol consumption way down or completely out of your life, either with or without help.

Just to give some background: I'm a woman in my 30's, and I live in Chicago. I don't binge drink, but I drink just often enough for it to bother me. On weekdays, I'll often (not always) share a beer with my SO after work, or drink a glass of wine while cooking, and then another while eating. On weekends, I'll drink on average two beers a night (with pizza or something) if I stay home, but more if I go out. Therein lies the problem: I sometimes don't know when to stop when socializing, and I'll become sick or overly rambunctious and feel shame the next day. I've grown to absolutely hate this feeling, and anticipating it has helped curb things a little when I go out. But despite being an extrovert who loves to make people laugh, I suffer from social anxiety. Unfamiliar people and situations cause me to drink more to feel comfortable.

I know it doesn't seem like I drink a lot, but it's really crept up in the past year or so, and I don't like that it's become a habit to drink (even a little) almost daily. I come from a family where addiction was an issue for a couple of extended family members, but not my parents. I thought (foolishly, I know), that might make me safe from developing a problem.

However, recently, a close immediate relative revealed to me that they are receiving help for meth addiction. This came as a complete shock--I never imagined that this was part of their lifestyle at all (good job, great marriage, wonderful friends, etc). They are doing great in recovery, but it made me examine my own destructive habits, and I started to confront my drinking.

Some recent , particularly embarrassing, episodes have brought this to a head. Besides feeling shame about my losses of control, I'm more anxious and depressed than usual. In addition, I've noticed that all of this drinking is taking a toll on my physical health as well.

So, if you've faced this before, please tell me how it's going to help me, in the long and short run, to stop this destructive habit. I'd like to hear all of the little ways that being sober has changed your life, physically and mentally. I need to know why this decision is awesome. It's too easy to rationalize just having *one* beer, or *one* glass of wine.

I know I should also be dealing with this in therapy. I have crappy insurance and very little money, so I would welcome any free or sliding scale therapy suggestions. Also, is Alcoholics Anonymous appropriate for this type of drinking? So far drinking has wreaked havoc on my sense of self-worth and confidence, but hasn't caused any other glaring problems. I'd like to prevent causing permanent damage to myself or others.

p.s. I've discussed this with my SO, and he's being very supportive and wonderful. He asked me what he can do to help me, and I told him that words of encouragement, rather than policing, would be the best for us. Is there any other kind of SO support you've found helpful?

Thank you very much. Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
It is really nice to wake up in the morning without a hangover. That, for me, was the biggest immediate benefit.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:10 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

You don't wake up thinking "ah, Christ, I did it again". You don't wonder if you said or did anything inappropriate that you don't remember. You stop worrying about whether or not anyone is going to find out. You quit thinking about cops and getting caught by the law.
So your whole mindset begins to change from waiting for the other shoe to drop to "what's up for today?" - without that nagging thought about what the end of the day would have brought otherwise.

Your health improves as the toxins exit your body, your mood will decline a little for a time, but then bounce back. You'll be more aware of things around you and more capable of thinking things through because your head is clear. It's like that commercial where they peel back a film to expose an oversaturated picture - things look so bright.

Here's a biggie - when you really decide you have options OTHER than drinking to quell whatever it is you're drinking about, you suddenly realize that you have choices EVERYWHERE in your life. You're not on the hamster wheel anymore. It's a huge change, and you'll wonder why you waited to quit.

Good luck! Update us on your progress!
posted by disclaimer at 12:25 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Find an "open" AA meeting and check it out. You won't be asked to speak or anything. I sometimes go to meetings with a good friend and always get something out of the experience even though I don't have substance abuse issues. You don't need to have more serious problems than you already have to benefit from AA, you just have to want to stop drinking. You may be one of those people who can learn to stop at one, even when you're out socializing, or you might not be.

Try a test run: eliminate alcohol for a couple of months and see how you feel.
posted by mareli at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who quit drinking. He tried AA, didn't like it; decided to go sober himself. His SO was a big factor in his quitting, but in a much more strict sense that she basically told him that he had to choose her or the drink. YMMV. But! He is so, so much happier now.

He's fitter, healthier, thinner - all those alcohol calories can now be nutritious foods. He looks So much younger, and obviously feels it. He obviously enjoys his life more, Does more, isn't as often depressed, never seems to struggle with the shame and Stuckness that he felt before, feeling like he had no control. He doesn't look like death in the mornings (presumably because he feels good).

There's my best answer: it feels good - try it! (only in a much more long-term way than any drug ever could)
posted by ldthomps at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2011

I haven't gone totally sober, but I have cut back my drinking substantially -- from years of being drunk every day to only once a week to once a month to, well, I'm planning on not drinking at all for a bit. But, yes, the biggest immediate benefit to me has been the lack of hangovers and their associated pain, shame, and occasional panic attacks. The second biggest immediate benefit has been monetary: alcohol is expensive, especially in bars or restaurants. That $40 that I could spend in one night at a bar was, oftentimes, the only unallocated money I'd have for a month.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try to leave it alone for a year. If it's become an issue with the loss of judgment in social situations, inappropriate lack of inhibitions, etc., that you're not comfortable with, just cut it out of your life. For a year. If you can't or won't do this, you need to make a determination at that point as to whether it is because you can't, or you won't. Only you can make the call as to the extent of the issue, but it is advisable to determine if there is an issue to be had at all.

Example: I enjoy Veal. I don't like how I feel "morally" after I eat it for whatever reason. Conclusion: I don't eat it. It's not that big of a deal at all. In the last 5 years, I've had veal about twice, when it was offered at dinner parties, to be polite. It was simply a decision I made, and haven't really thought twice about it since.

(full disclosure: I am an alcoholic, and simply was unable to stop drinking for anything like a year, regardless of my motivations, conclusions, desires, self-promises and consequences, until I sought outside help)
posted by Debaser626 at 12:41 PM on May 6, 2011

It can be a big relief to go to a shindig without drinking and worrying that you need to be the life of the party to be accepted as good company.

Drinking a little bit in the evenings is probably not all that bad for you but it means that you shouldn't operate power tools and probably can't do any other kind of hobby that requires manual dexterity. So if you drink, you're kind of stuck watching TV night after night and booze becomes a bit of a mental straight jacket.

In my opinion, for those of us with anxiety issues, a drink every night has a cumulative effect that pushes the psyche towards depression.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:44 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your description sounds a lot like Elan at She's been writing incredibly insightful and truthful entries for some months now on her decision to stop drinking. Most recently these have included answering questions from readers about her experience. Reading a few may be helpful.
posted by goggie at 12:54 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I stopped drinking in 1999. Some people - and I'm one of them - find that, once they have even just a taste of alcohol, it triggers a craving, and then it's impossible to stop at that one glass. I would vow, time and time again, that I'd only have one or two drinks and before I knew it, a whole bottle (or two) of wine had gone and I'd have no idea how it happened. I'd lose hours of time and end up miles from home, not knowing how I'd got there, or find that I'd have phoned people and had long conversations without even knowing I'd done it.

The overwhelming feeling I had about myself was shame - I was ashamed of the way I was living and didn't know how to change it. And because it made me feel like crap, I'd have a drink to dull the feelings and then it'd all start over again ...

These days I wake up with a clear head, without that dread, that "Oh God, what did I do/say last night ...". I'm healthier in my 50s than I was in my 20s and 30s, I feel good about myself in a way I never thought possible.

For me the trick is living my life in such a way that the fuck-it switch doesn't go off. I had to learn how to live that way through AA - which works for me. It's not for everyone, but I'm an atheist who got sober in AA and I'm still an atheist. AA won't turn you away or mock you for not drinking enough - although there are the old-timers who like to brag about their drinking, the "I've spilled more than you ever drank" arseholes, but if you're powerless over alcohol and your life has become unmanageable, then you're a candidate for AA.

Not everyone in AA is a street drunk who's lost everything. When I came into AA I had a great job, a good income, two cars in the drive, all the trappings of a successful life. But inside I was desperately unhappy and drinking was both the cause of it and the only cure I knew to take away the feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness.

If you're in a big city, you'll find many, many different kinds of AA meetings. I have to say that for me, I tend to seek out the meetings where I meet people I have something in common with - people holding down a job, paying their way, leading productive, happy lives.

Today I have a great life - a wonderful job, lots of friends. I know how to be a good friend, a good neighbour, a respected and trusted employee.

Good luck.
posted by essexjan at 12:55 PM on May 6, 2011 [17 favorites]

I find the title to your question - "Help me end the party" - particularly striking because when I made a decision to do something about my own alcoholism that was EXACTLY what I thought was going to happen. I felt like the party I had convinced myself I was in the midst of was going to be over, and that even though I knew I needed to stop drinking, I was committing myself to a life of drudgery, boredom, and overall "medium-ness." It was very hard for me to believe that a life without drinking would be anything other than a life that played second fiddle to the most enjoyable moments I had with a bottle in my hand.

I was completely and utterly wrong. As people have mentioned above, my life without alcohol is absolutely FULL of options that were otherwise closed because my addiction was calling the shots. It's very hard to explain just how freeing this is, and it most certainly did not come about overnight. When I first quit drinking I had a very difficult time sleeping (for about a week.) I was also filled with a lot of self-loathing and regret (which is one of the main reasons I drank, but now I had to face these feelings head on without the assistance of alcohol), and I was VERY very angry. Some of these things (particularly the physical symptoms) went away naturally over time. Others I needed help with and I found that talking with people with continuous sobriety in a support group (I got sober through AA) was tremendously helpful even though I was extremely resistant to take any advice.

Anyway - to actually answer your question. The short term benefits: being able to get a full night's sleep (after the initial period of not doing so); knowing what I did the night before and not having to worry about whether my behavior was acceptable; knowing I was making a positive change in my life and putting myself in a position to improve other aspects of it; rejoining the human race (although that can be tremendously scary at first) and getting really excited about the possibility of a "normal" life with "normal" relationships.

The long term benefits? God... too numerous to count. By choosing to quit drinking and learning acceptance (and dealing with the ups and downs appropriately) I am able to experience a life I couldn't have even imagined while drinking. That all sounds very vague and there's nothing in that statement to really sink your teeth into as a solid benefit, but just as an example... When I first got sober someone told me to look at where I was and then make a list of all the things I wanted to do with my life in the next twenty years. At seven years sobriety I had to make a new list. Yeah - there were some material things on that list, and those are not to be ignored, but more importantly, there are the intangibles. I have the best relationship I have ever had with my family. I am able to be a trusting and honest person who treats others with respect and dignity and expects the same in return. I've gotten married and I'm able to love my wife unlike I've ever loved any other human being. I can actually HELP others today instead of being caught up in all that selfishness that surrounded me when I was drinking. I'm really starting to sound like some sort of hippy dippy after school special here, I know, but man... sobriety is some good stuff.

As for AA... it's for anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. If that's you, then by all means check it out. It's important to find a meeting that suits you, however. Some meetings seem more like church services where they talk about nothing more than God or a "higher power" and how focusing on that helps you stay sober. If I didn't know anything about AA, and I had walked into one of those as my first meeting, I would have run far away and not come back (but that's just me.) Other meetings don't mention God at all but talk about the causes and conditions of drinking and attendees share stories. Others concentrate on the 12 step process, etc... It all depends on what you're looking for, and it might take a few attempts to find the right meeting to start with. A call to your local central service office (the phone number is listed) will put you in touch with someone who should know the meetings in your area and might be able to point you in the right direction depending on your needs (beginners meetings were a tremendous help for me, just as an FYI...) If you decide to go to AA, however, the advice I can give you right away is 1) find someone (preferably with continuous sobriety if you can determine that) who meets your definition of normal and introduce yourself, 2) grab on to the hope in that room and 3) identify and don't compare.

I apologize if I've written too much here. I just celebrated a "sobriety anniversary" last week and I'm probably guilty of being a little overly enthusiastic. But, whatever path you take to sobriety, recognize that just by asking this question you have taken a huge step in personal growth. If you are indeed an alcoholic (and remember - only you can answer that), and you make a decision to get sober, well then... your party ain't ending. On the contrary, it's just beginning.

Best of luck, and feel free to MeFi mail me if you have any need or desire to discuss this further.
posted by Rewind at 1:33 PM on May 6, 2011 [12 favorites]

When I had to give up drink, I carried a pocket filled with M and Ms for the soothing sugar, which boozers get via settled nerves...After a while I could go into favorite bar and the owner/bar tender always gave me free drinks of orange juice and seltzer, as many as I wanted.
In time, I did not miss the drink. Now I buy wine in stores for my wife; she has drinks at dinner and at home, and I am content with my seltzer or whatever non-alcohol drink I have.
Feel much better than I had, and do not miss drink at all.
posted by Postroad at 1:33 PM on May 6, 2011

I know it doesn't seem like I drink a lot

Actually, that is alot. Drinking almost every night 1 to 2 units, and more on weekends is ALOT of alcohol.

I quit drinking about 2 years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did for myself, my wife, and our marriage. I have maybe 1 drink a week now, usually alot less.

You'll find focus and perspective really shift and settle when you quit drinking.
posted by TheBones at 1:35 PM on May 6, 2011

Oh, this has been great for me in several ways.

- Financially. I go out with a bunch of friends to a bar. We hang out and have a great time. Then, it comes time to settle the tab. "Duane, you owe..... six dollars." Awesome.

- I feel that it puts me in a good position with regard to my work with teenagers. I can say, honestly, that I used to drink a lot and that I don't any more and that now it seems like a dumb thing to have wasted so much time and money on.

- My chances of being pulled over for a DUI are statistically indistinguishable from zero.

- My chances of doing something really really stupid and inappropriate while hanging out with my friends are, well, pretty low. (I still do dumb things, but I do them sober). :)
posted by DWRoelands at 1:36 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Also, is Alcoholics Anonymous appropriate for this type of drinking? "

AA can be great if you want to completely quit and the groups I've had experience with were accomodating of people who fell off the wagon. Their system isn't geared for people who merely want to reduce their consumption though so if that is your goal (I'm not really sure from your question) then you'll probably need to look elsewhere for help.

The biggest advantage of AA in all it's varied forms is, IMO, that it gives you something to do. Many people who drink excessively (for whatever definition of excess you want to use) are uncomfortable socializing and drinking around people who don't. It's weird but true even if you never talk about your abstinence. Going to a meeting gives you a social structure free of that kind of peer pressure. In any moderately size community you'll be able to go to meetings twice a day if you want. And when you are first starting go to lots of different meetings; the variety in approaches is amazing.
posted by Mitheral at 1:47 PM on May 6, 2011

I haven't stopped drinking at all, but I do drink much less frequently than I used to.

I wake up at a reasonable hour on weekend mornings. There is a downside, in that those are not necessarily the most exciting times of the week. But, on the other hand if I do chores then, I can enjoy myself for the rest of Saturday/Sunday. This is a good thing.

Sort of on the other side (and stay with me), one thing that feels like a downside is that on weekdays I cannot socialise beyond about 10pm - I'm just too tired. But, really that's a good thing because the alcohol just stops me realising how much sleep I need. So, aside from the benefits of not having a hangover, I also get better sleep. And IMHO sleep is seriously underrated.

FWIW I like plain tonic water as a grown up soft drink. YMMV. Also, I have social anxiety and when I'm in the pub and not drinking alcohol, I still drink liquid at the same rate. It gives me something to do with my hands, fills lulls in conversation, and feels more social.
posted by plonkee at 1:52 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the "sleep sucks for the first week but gets a lot better" statement. My first few nights of sobriety were terrible. I couldn't fall asleep and I couldn't stay asleep. Booze had become my sleep medicine.

But it went away and the sleep is much better now.
posted by tacodave at 1:53 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Now: I fall asleep and wake up.

Then: I'd pass out and come to.
posted by essexjan at 2:03 PM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I quit drinking years ago and it was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. I have never met anyone who quit drinking because they thought that they might have a problem with alcohol regret not drinking. Give it a try and if you find it difficult get help.
posted by calumet43 at 2:18 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can speak only for myself, but Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life. It's not for everyone, but it works for me. Very very well.

I stopped drinking when I was 24. I was never a daily drinker... in fact alcohol wasn't my "drug of choice" at all, but I feel quite welcome and at home in AA meetings. I've never been made to feel like I don't belong there, or that I'm not a "real alcoholic" -- those are feelings I make up for myself. The end of my drinking, etc., came at the end of a really bad breakup, but nothing on the exterior would have tipped anyone off that I was in trouble. It was a big enough problem that quitting became my best option. I just felt awful all the time, just like you described in your post. Now 8 years in, the payoff for getting sober are very clear. In sobriety I've gotten married, moved to another country, and went back to school for what I figured out in sobriety what I want to be when I grow up.

A caveat, though. My first 2 years, I went to some meetings but never actually did the steps with a sponsor. I was what you might call stark-raving sober. Only going to meetings didn't work for me. YMMV, but for me the sponsorship and steps were vital. Meetings are great for fellowship, but it's the steps where the real transformation happened (for me).

There are AA answering services in almost every major city and town, if you want to talk to someone about what the program is (and is not). Also, please feel free to mefi-mail me.
posted by wowbobwow at 3:00 PM on May 6, 2011

I am a woman, also in my 30's. I started drinking occasionally in 1997. What started out over the years as 1-2 every night, turned into blackout drinking- every night. I finally admitted I had a problem in the spring of 2009. I didn't get help because I didn't want to give up the comfort I felt with it. That was my only escape. It was so much easier to get off from work and look forward to drinking. I hated all of the shit I did when I was messed up. I have so many regrets, so many broken relationships (friends and my now ex husband), and I lost the best job I'd ever had.

I did not want to go to AA, because of the religious aspect. I found a counselor who specialized in drug and alcohol addiction and started seeing him once a week in August of 2009. (Most counselors will work on a sliding scale with you if you do not have insurance or if you have crappy insurance) My last night of blackout drinking was the night before Thanksgiving 2009. I have found that I *can* drink in moderation....but, I'm scared to do it. I know that if I pass that point and have a 3rd glass of wine, I will have 10. I also have that social phobia, and alcohol always made socializing WAY easier.

The awesomeness of it for me is:
I don't have hangovers every day anymore. I finally feel 'in control' of my life. I don't wake up with the regret...or just that *feeling* that I've done something that I can't quite put my finger on but whatever it is, is bad. I don't have the picture flashbacks of moments from the night before....the one's that make your heart sink because you can't believe you actually did that. I like knowing that I don't have to have alcohol to feel good anymore.

I really didn't have any support when starting my recovery. I didn't tell anyone. I was so ashamed. When I told my counselor once that I didn't want to go out with my girlfriends, because they would ask why I wasn't drinking and I didn't want to tell them, he said to me "Right. Because a little accountability would be bad." After that, I confided in a few close friends and they were VERY supportive. I'm still not very open with the whole thing, but I find when I am, it's liberating. I feel great about my decision to get help.

I wish you the best of luck.
posted by Jayes8ch at 3:09 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm an atheist who got sober in AA and I'm still an atheist.

Ditto, pretty much. Don't let antipathy towards religion steer you from checking out AA. I'm perfectly normal among my sober friends for being essentially agnostic. You didn't mention anything about that in your post, but it's a common enough reason for people to dismiss it sight unseen.
posted by wowbobwow at 3:09 PM on May 6, 2011

The health angle is not trivial; not only are you doing your liver an enormous favor, but your skin and hair will probably look better. I noticed people with alcohol problems in my old clinical lab used to have dull skin, possibly in part because they drank alcohol instead of water. You'll consume quite a few less empty calories, and maybe lose weight because of that. You will have more consistent energy once you start getting sober sleep because alcohol disrupts the REM cycle. Think of someone you know who exudes good health- energy, inner glow, etc. YOU get to be that now, but it will probably take at minimum a few weeks before you start noticing changes.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:12 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't drink.

When I'm at an event with alcohol, some hosts do not know how to handle "I don't drink." I've had people offer me hard liquor, and when I respond with the previous statement, they then offered me beer.

I'm not sure if some people cannot conceive of a guest who doesn't drink, feel uncomfortable if one person isn't sharing in the group activity, or feel uncomfortable about their own drinking if not everyone's doing it too.

However, it's one of the things I've noticed about going from drinking a little to not drinking.
posted by zippy at 8:06 PM on May 6, 2011

I would suggest cutting out the casual drinks at home and saving alcohol for celebrations - birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc. that way when you do drink it's not all the time but rather part of a one day or evening event.

I am also of the same age as you and I am finding myself tired of the activities in my city always revolving around alcohol. I have social phobias that I'm working to break through and don't want alcohol to be my crutch anymore, so I'm looking for things to do in here this summer that don't involve or require alcohol to have a good time.

Having your SO on board is great - you guys should do a trial sober night on the town, see how much fun there is to be had without drinking. without alcohol as the focus it will change what you do, cause you to hunt down more fun things going on besides going to the local bar. then you can transition this to how you hang out with other people as well.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 6:01 AM on May 7, 2011

You're right that it doesn't sound like you're drinking a lot. But if it's a lot to you, and you're feeling effects from it, then it's significant, so don't worry about that.

I can honestly say that everything feels better as a sober person. Sleep is huge. Waking up rested is huge. Better moods, more money in your pocket, not having to worry if you smell, not facing your local-seller-of-alcohol on a regular schedule, getting along better with friends and spouse, etc. It bleeds into everything.

I'd like to share here a tip for the sleeping issue that I figured out by piecing stuff together between here and various sessions with the ole search engine. I don't know if the science and biology I'll provide is exactly correct and I'm a bit of a smirker when people start evangelizing about vitamins, but it has worked for me to kill the 2-3 week insomnia fests that were a factor in my continuing to drink long past when I wanted to stop. I'd provide links but I'm on a phone.

When you drink a lot, apparently your brain stops manufacturing an essential amino acid called Glutamine. One of Glutamine's functions is to keep you awake. When you stop drinking, your brain overproduces it, and as a result you lie there with your brain racing.

So I knew I wanted to quit, I started a week or so before quitting taking 4000-5000 mgs of Glutamine in the morning (always the morning), with the rationale being that it would keep me up throughout the day. Then at night I took 10mg of Melatonin, which is what your body produces to regulate your sleep cycle. It's common to take it for jet lag. It helped me fall asleep, and it also helped me stay asleep longer, as opposed to falling asleep and then popping up wide awake an hour later. I tried Benadryl for this, but found that it left me feeling weirdly sluggish the next day.

Doing this didn't completely stop it, but it cut my normal 2-3 weeks of horrific, soul-killing sleeplessness down to 2 or 3 days of merely poor sleep (4-5 hours a night, instead of 0-1 hour), for the first time ever.

tl;dr: 4000-5000 mg of Glutamine in the morning and 10mg of Melatonin an hour before bed helps ameliorate alcohol-withdrawal induced insomnia.
posted by nevercalm at 6:04 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Read a book called,Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. Knapp was a journalist and writer on the East Coast. She writes clearly, and with great insight about her own addiction. See whether you identify with her.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 6:26 AM on May 7, 2011

alcohol is full of calories, so you'll find that cutting out drinking will help you to lose some weight.

one thing about making the transition into not drinking, though, is the fear that 'i'm missing out on something' at the bar or at a dinner with friends. (this TOTALLY goes away after a bit; but it's the transition that can be hard.)

the way i deal with this is to order sparkling water, add ice and lime, and there's my instant hi-ball. i have something to do with my hands (hold the glass) and i don't feel like 'that girl who's quitting drinking' and i don't wonder if everyone is noticing that i'm not drinking. (all of these are just insecurities, most people will either be excited to hear that you're drinking less, or not care at all, but still it's helpful!)

i also tell myself when i'm deciding whether or not to have another drink, that i've never woken up the next morning wishing i had had just one more glass of alcohol the night before.
posted by andreapandrea at 6:51 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, as for whether it seems that you "don't drink a lot" -- isn't it safe to say that ANY time a person finds herself doing something (drinking, eating cake, hooking up with creeps) that, in her more thoughtful moments, she really wishes she hadn't done, there's a problem? If you're doing something you don't want to be doing, that's all the rationale you need for considering it a genuine problem and doing some thing to stop.
posted by rhartong at 6:59 AM on May 7, 2011

I might not be the best person for this thread since I still drink regularly, but when I've gone on long self-imposed periods of drying out (say, 6 months or so a stretch) I've really enjoyed total sobriety. Your memory and senses seem markedly sharper, you react and interact with the world differently. That to me was the number one benefit of not drinking at all and it motivates me whenever I decide to quit completely for an extended period. And if you're using drinking as a crutch to cope with social anxiety or self-doubt at parties or whatever, socializing without it and realizing you CAN be interesting and interested with others feels great.
posted by ifjuly at 12:21 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh--I meant to say too that your sleep will eventually be much better. Not at first, as mentioned upthread, but once you get it out of your system it's remarkable how much more satisfying the sleep you get is. And as others also mentioned, your appearance will probably improve--the times I've quit for months it seems like my hair gets shinier and thicker.
posted by ifjuly at 12:26 PM on May 7, 2011

(Thank you for posting this question.)
posted by ruelle at 2:24 PM on May 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

You don't wake up thinking "ah, Christ, I did it again". You don't wonder if you said or did anything inappropriate that you don't remember. You stop worrying about whether or not anyone is going to find out. You quit thinking about cops and getting caught by the law.

the lack of hangovers and their associated pain, shame, and occasional panic attacks.

In my opinion, for those of us with anxiety issues, a drink every night has a cumulative effect that pushes the psyche towards depression.

The overwhelming feeling I had about myself was shame - I was ashamed of the way I was living and didn't know how to change it. And because it made me feel like crap, I'd have a drink to dull the feelings and then it'd all start over again ...

Just want to reiterate these comments from above because they are so true.

The anxiety goes away almost immediately, at least IME. You will be amazed at how much of your anxiety is because of the drinking, at the same time that the drinking is a result of the anxiety. It is a vicious cycle, but it can be reversed.

Warm wishes for your success and happiness.
posted by torticat at 10:09 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Piggyback question:

Does anybody know if that glutamine/melatonin combo mentioned upthread is effective? After this thread, I've decided to try this out for a bit, and actually getting to sleep is really difficult.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:47 PM on May 10, 2011

Regarding the glutamine/melatonin combo, I've done a slightly different combination, and found it to be effective. I take GABA in the AM & PM, and 5-HTP and melatonin before bed. I do find that I feel better when taking the supplements, with the main benefit being that I feel better equipped to handle stress (daily, family, work, etc) and don't have the desire to turn to alcohol to "relax" and take my mind off things. I haven't had been keeping up the past few weeks, and just realized that that's what's led to my "Oh, hai vodka! I can haz drink?" nights.

5-HTP is an amino acid that is supposed to support brain function (as well as serotonin levels), similar to glutamine, so I think either combo would be worth a try. I get my supplements at vitacost or Swanson vitamins, and I feel like they are reasonably priced; local health food stores also have them, but at about double the cost.
posted by andeluria at 11:41 PM on May 11, 2011

Piggyback question:

Does anybody know if that glutamine/melatonin combo mentioned upthread is effective? After this thread, I've decided to try this out for a bit, and actually getting to sleep is really difficult.

10mg is a huge overdose of melatonin. Anyone interested in that as a sleep aid should do some research but 1mg is about the most effective. I will let you research it since that's for the best and a simple google search will give you all the info you need.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:46 PM on September 24, 2011

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