- Six months ago, Jamie Bradley decided to quit alcohol after questioning his drinking habits.
- After two months, Bradley decided to drink and occasionally drink.
- At first, she saw it as a sobriety failure, but now she sees it as a progression to sobriety.
When I said I was quitting drinking last June, I surprised most people in my life. After not drinking for two months, I surprised everyone again by ordering a glass of wine at dinner one night.
Since then, I’ve started drinking occasionally, but much more often I’ve decided not to drink when I used to. It was clear that everyone in my life was desperately trying to define my new lifestyle. Can you handle alcohol or do you have a problem? I gradually realized that it was about reducing the frequency.
Since my decision to abstain from alcohol, I’ve learned how to trade an all-or-nothing mindset for a practical approach to long-term change. Be kind to yourself when you drink while learning self-care and social skills that don’t rely on alcohol.
I used to drink regularly before deciding
Drinking for me started as an inducement to be “cool.” This is the social contract of affiliation I wanted to sign. and a contract. Once I started drinking, I never thought I would be able to stop. I’ve gone from high school parties in the basement, to Lower East Side dive bars, 5pm happy hours, and rosé-filled brunch.
As a 29-year-old woman working at a tech startup, I’ve grown comfortable with a few glasses of wine at dinner and a shot of tequila the night I dance with friends. On Sundays, I was prone to hangovers at times, watching TV and eating mozzarella sticks. According to the CDC, on average she drank 7 to 10 drinks a week and was classified as a “heavy drinker.”
I never questioned my relationship with alcohol. I didn’t even know it was something I could ask. Alcohol was just part of life.
Reading Holly Whitaker’s ‘Quit Like a Woman’ changed everything
Whitaker’s book awakened me to some hard truths I’ve avoided. Reading self-help books made me realize that alcohol has done far more bad than good over the years. It’s been reframed as a more honest story about putting down, taking serious damage to your physical health, and making choices that negatively impact the most important relationships in your life.
Whitaker asked a simple question: After all, I had to admit it took, took, took.
Then I decided to challenge myself and explore what an alcohol-free life would be like.
Not drinking became a welcome discomfort for me
When I broke the social contract most of us made when we were teenagers and officially quit drinking, my brain was full of questions. Is there anything fun you can do without alcohol? Socially awkward if not tipsy? Will I feel left out if I don’t drink alone?
All my fears of not drinking turned out to be true. I’m awkward A lot of things are boring. People judge me for not drinking and make me feel left out. But I also discovered that there is another side to the coin.
Being awkward and leaning into it creates a genuine connection. I’m more selective about who I spend my time with than people and situations where I need alcohol to have fun. Saved over a dollar. I regularly get 9 hours of sleep, am in the best shape of my life, and have healthier, more meaningful relationships. The list is endless.
But I still drink from time to time, and I don’t think it’s a failure.
I’m not cool In the past six months, there have been 15 days when I decided to drink. Sometimes it’s because you want to feel included. Sometimes I just want it. I don’t think it’s a failure anymore, but it took me a while to get here.
After promising to never drink again in June of last year, and months later after caved in and drunk, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. T: I don’t want to drink. So I tried again and failed again. As this pendulum normalized for me, it turned from successes and failures into a journey. I learned more about myself the day I chose to order.I started listening to podcasts and watching sober TikToks. I also got an app called I Am Sober on my phone to track my progress. I took lessons from the sober community that resonated with me and left the rest behind.
Every time I trade tequila for tea, or ask for fizzy water in a wine glass, or see my friends turn down a drink because they know how fun it is not to drink, it’s something I celebrate and it’s me keep moving.
For some people, the choice of sobriety is life or death. For me, it’s about making healthier, better choices more often. Over the past six months, he has cut his drinking by a whopping 75%. That’s something to be proud of.
I still wake up with the same goal every day. It’s about living an alcohol-free life. I may be able to do it perfectly one day, but for now I’m happy with my progress.