So you decided to stop drinking? I did – and these are my year’s lessons | Life and style

aFirst ankle-deep, and as I immersed myself deeper and deeper, the swell of the waves crashed against my thighs against the tide. My friend was at the beach, spreading a towel and applying sunscreen. I didn’t have time to do those chores. I wanted the sea

I had never been to a tropical island, let alone the Caribbean. It’s also her first sober vacation with her four best friends in college, a friendship that spans her 20 years. I stopped drinking 7 months ago when the days were short and dark. The season felt like the right match to confront the reckoning with alcohol that took decades to make.

It was spring now, and I was thousands of miles from home, and there was still snow in the highlands. We were well beyond our infamous college antics, but this joint 40th birthday celebration showcased the potential for nostalgia-inspired fun and usually included alcohol. was

I was nervous before the trip and had confided in my husband. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you have a glass of wine with dinner? Will I feel out of place with friends who knew me as a wild child? Is Just One Pina Colada Harmful?

There were few topics of off-limits conversation among my friends, and alcohol was no exception. It was mixed with text messages. My friends knew I had stopped drinking, so Claire called me from the Dominican Republic where she lives with her family and suggested that we stay at an all-inclusive resort and It gauged my comfort level about having alcohol available to me.

Had this call been made earlier in my recovery, I would have felt more uncomfortable. Discussing the triggers that may lead to drinking thanks to months of addiction-focused group therapy and a concerted effort to unravel the hold that alcohol use disorders have placed in my life As my children squealed in the background, I told Claire that I appreciated her thoughtfulness. I’m so proud of you, Maggot,” ended the call.

I snorted, but it was pretending to be annoying. Claire calling me by my lovely yet hostile college nickname made me feel so normal. A positive joke from someone who has known me well for a long time.

For the most part, I was able to float on waves of temptation during my stay on the island. . If some of our group chose to go to a bar for a beer after dinner, I didn’t object, but I didn’t participate. . One night we all decided to go out dancing and didn’t need beer or shots for that. Sober had strengthened his ties with his friends. There was no shortage of laughter, fun, and inappropriate jokes. The support my friends gave me helped me with my determination.

Colleen Davis Timms, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in alcohol and addiction, agrees that a strong and accepting social network is an essential part of staying sober. Unless you can find a circle, sobriety will not last, and if you feel isolated, you will not succeed.”

S.Obedience has its moment. “Calm curiosity” or “mindful drinking” are now familiar phrases. Sober Her October and Dry His January are popular trends. Problematic drinking was confined to anonymous meetings, often held in church basements, and was muted or relegated to the edge of polite conversation, but abstinence from alcohol was increasingly condemned. Yes, but it still requires a willingness to go against things.

Country singer-songwriter Margo Price published an essay on GQ in March 2021 announcing her decision to quit drinking after too many pandemic-induced stressors, including tour cancellations. Bearing the brunt of cyberbullying or relying on alcohol to ease the uncertainty of a music career no longer worked. She believed she was in control of her alcohol use and thought she was going to quit drinking, but after reading Holly Whitaker’s Quit Like a Woman, she decided to 2021. She wrote that she decided to quit completely in January.

Without alcohol and its drowning effects, parenting and work would be easier, and she would be able to enjoy life more. , was a completely conscious rejection of the culture of alcohol.

Being sober was the opposite for me, but it had unintended consequences. This is not an uncommon reaction. Davis-Timms said, “Temperance is an identity shift.” Reassessing my life without alcohol went deeper than what I drank.

The aspects of your personality that make you uncomfortable or cause you pain don’t just go away when you stop drinking. I would argue that it just buries it until it mutates into an even uglier monster. I made it

My personality still has a very human element of pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidance, but having a clearer mind has allowed me to put up with discomfort and live with more patience and acceptance than before. You can face conflict. Compassion for myself, which used to be a huge hurdle, is slowly spreading to all other areas of my life.

Back in the Caribbean, after a swim, I joined my friends on a lounge chair under a palm tree. When they ordered drinks, I raised my hand and added, “Make mine a virgin.”

The proliferation of non-alcoholic beverages in grocery stores and mocktails on bar menus, covered by journalist and editor Julia Bainbridge, help those who choose to avoid drinking. Her book Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes, for when you’re not drinking for whatever reason, is a collection of recipes that celebrate innovation in non-alcoholic beverages.

Bainbridge is quick to point out that the culture of sober curiosity and recovery are very different. This he is important not to confuse the two.

“Maybe the paradigm will shift to the point that this doesn’t matter – drink, don’t drink, whatever, don’t need labels or dedicated dry months – but some people are choosing a sober lifestyle. “I understand that, but it’s still important to remember that drinking was likely painful for someone with a substance use disorder,” she said.

This lack of distinction worries me a little bit every time I read a glossy magazine that boasts headlines like “Have you guys stopped drinking?” Trends create coveted conversations but flatten nuances. Alcohol use disorders require a comprehensive understanding and approach.

“Providing good non-alcoholic beverages and normalizing their consumption in all social settings is good for those who want them.” Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

This cultural reckoning nevertheless affects the alcohol industry. Demand for alcoholic beverages is declining, especially among Generation Z.

Bainbridge applauds the increased availability and variety of alcohol-free beverages, but caution is warranted. “But the increased availability of these drinks is helpful and a pleasure, but it’s not a cure. It’s not a cure. People usually have to work hard to keep alcohol out of their lives, and that work is underway.”

I was hesitant to offer non-alcoholic beverages because I hadn’t yet been in a place where I could drink a non-alcoholic craft stout and not feel the urge to trade it for its alcoholic counterpart. and acquaintances, not always knowing how to do it, have given me bottles of alcohol-free wine, beer, and spirits out of a genuine desire to offer support. I have it in my fridge.

I’ve been sober for a full year and still feel uneasy about alternatives like alcohol. It’s about understanding my boundaries.

I don’t consider myself very trendy, but my recovery journey along the sober and curious trend has been inspiring (Are Margo Price and I both rebels? Absolutely so!) It’s worrying at the same time. Seeing purposeful and focused conversations about alcohol finally taking place and recalibrating its effects on our lives and health makes me wonder. I am comforted.

Unfortunately, nothing about job recovery requests is trendy. This is a concern shared by Davis-Timms. “It’s scary to say ‘I’m a sober person’ and ‘I’m trying a sober October.’ I don’t want my sobriety journey to depend on it.

My decision to stop drinking had nothing to do with Sober October. I had a bad drinking night. When I woke up, I realized that without help, I would lose the most important relationships in my life: my husband, my two young children, my friends, and my family. not continue.

Some days I don’t even think about alcohol. Other days are much more difficult, making me crave beer or the once-familiar copious amounts of wine when the world feels like too much. In that moment, I find the ultimate connection—connection with myself. I take a breath, remember the turquoise Caribbean waves, and choose not to drink again.

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