- As a twenty-something New Yorker, Sarah Levy’s life of working hard and playing hard seemed relatively normal.
- However, her drinking almost always led to fainting and she struggled to stay in control.
- In her new memoir, Levy describes early signs of trouble and her bright life during sobriety.
Throughout my twenties, I thought of Sarah Levy as a fun, sophisticated New Yorker. She’s the one who ordered the smudged vodka she’s on a date or at work with an olive added to her martini. She celebrated “Bachelor’s Monday” with wine, sushi and girlfriends. And she pampered herself with SoulCycle and hot yoga.
“At 28, I seemed to have it all,” Levy, now in her 30s, wrote in her memoir, Drinking Games, out Jan. 3.
But in reality, Levi was quietly falling apart. Her alcohol-related fainting became more frequent, her anxiety and embarrassment became more intense, and her attempts to curb her cocktail consumption consistently leveled off.
More than five years after sobriety, Levi says her new life is full of love, creativity and excitement. Looking back, she has three signs that indicate her relationship with alcohol was unhealthy.
1. Levi’s default setting is to black out when he drinks alcohol
When Levi attends her first real house party in high school, she impresses her crush with a glass of vodka and forgets the rest of the night. (She later learned she was more drunk, vomited for hours, and went home without her shoes on.)
From college to her twenties, drinking alcohol made fainting the “default setting” of her brain, doctors later told her.
Fainting occurs when blood alcohol levels rise rapidly, shutting down the part of the brain that stores memories.
Blackouts allow drinkers to continue functioning in the present, but rob them of their memories in the future. could not remember what landed her there.
“When the brain is switched off, the body has to go through life alone in the dark,” says Levy, an LA-based writer who has published in publications such as The New York Times and The Cut. I wrote in my memoir.
According to the American Addiction Centers, blackouts are not a direct sign of alcohol use disorder, but they can be an early sign of addiction.
2. Unpredictable what will happen if Levi drinks
Sometimes Levi had four glasses of wine and felt physically and mentally fine the next day. Other times she drank half a cocktail before it melted in her tears.
Once, she was scheduled to meet a friend for coffee after brunch, but ended up in a hospital stained with Bloody Mary vomit instead.
Another time, she was going to impress her boss with a drink at a dinner party, but woke up in his friend’s bed with hazy memories of a nightclub and a two-day hangover.
Continuing to drink despite physical, social, work, or relationship problems caused by drinking is one of the signs of alcohol use disorder.
“I wanted to believe that I could control the way my brain and body processed alcohol,” Levy wrote.
3. Levi’s Attempts at Rules and Moderation Didn’t Work
Levy tried to control his drinking with rules like “no more than three drinks a night,” “no shots,” and “no drinking on an empty stomach.”
“But as soon as that first drink hit my system, all bets were off,” she wrote.
That’s not Levy’s fault. When you drink alcohol, you get a dopamine spike, followed by a crash. Many drinkers see it as a cue to drink more in an attempt to restore their original high.
All the while, booze dulls the decision-making part of the brain. “What you moderate actually robs you of your ability to moderate,” alcohol coach and author Annie Grace writes on her site.
But Levi has noticed that her friends don’t seem to have the same problem with moderation. , I noticed that most other people drink 0-2 glasses of wine.
“I felt an incredible sense of relief when I fully accepted that I wasn’t safe to drink,” she wrote. I couldn’t drink.”
If you or a loved one may be struggling with alcohol use, report your symptoms to your doctor or call the SAMHSA Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Individuals and families facing substance use disorders.