HOW TO STOP DRINKING
When readers contact me, more than 70% of the time it’s about how to stop drinking. I first mentioned that I’d ceased sipping in a post titled, Something You Do Daily. I followed up six months later with 10 Inspiring Female Celebrities who Don’t Drink, and a year later with 15 Inspiring Male Celebrities who Don’t Drink. It’s now been 3 years and 5 months that I’ve been alcohol-free!
As I wrote in 15 Inspiring Celebrities, “Summertime is always a challenging time to be a non-drinker, especially at weddings, and at any (and every) outdoor occasion. But so are the Holidays, and weekends, and cocktail hours, and pretty much any other time you can think of.”
So to kick off the month of July, a wonderful Holiday weekend, and a strong Summer, I’ve put together my answers to eight readers’ questions about how to stop drinking, – i.e.: what works for me. Whether you drink or not, I think you’ll find the questions, and responses, interesting.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE GIRLS NIGHTS?
Girls nights have never been a thing women I know have proposed to me or in general, as drinking is a given in every social interaction that I have ever been aware of. “Let’s get a drink,” or “we should do drinks,” is the way that the people I know ask others to spend time with them. During my 15 years in New York, socializing was predominantly done outside of the home, in which case alcohol could be ordered, and in the year I’ve been in Virginia, socializing is done more often in people’s homes, where alcohol is always extended as a gesture of hospitality. Although I do not partake, when I entertain I, too, view offering alcohol as hospitable and would not host without having more than enough to provide.
DO YOU TELL PEOPLE THAT YOU DON’T DRINK? IF SO, WHAT DO YOU SAY?
I only tell someone that I don’t drink if it feels necessary. The majority of the time I simply ask for what I want, which is water. When someone asks, “what will you have to drink?,” I say “I’d love a water,” or when I anticipate the person will insist on an alcoholic beverage, I say, “Something non-alcoholic, like a sparkling water,” – with perhaps a little more emphasis on the word “non-alcoholic.” Fairly often, others who overhear my request for water will tease me and suggest I have a drink, and I laugh and say, “Oh, I’m good,” and they accept that.
DOES YOUR SPOUSE OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER DRINK?
My significant other does drink. He mostly drinks when we go out for dinner, and when we’re hanging out with others. He drinks much less at home, but does enjoy a glass of wine with dinner now and then. Since I stopped drinking I would say he’s become more of a social drinker.
DO YOU KEEP ALCOHOL IN YOUR HOUSE?
We do; we have a makeshift wine cellar and a well-stocked butler’s pantry. I am a very visual person, and these are both lesser-used spaces that I have limited interaction with – and for me: out of sight equals out of mind. If the storage place for a bottle of alcohol was in my direct line of vision, say: next to my computer, all day, I would not keep it in the house.
DO YOU STILL HAVE CRAVINGS? IF SO, WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT THEM OR HOW DO YOU HANDLE THEM?
I crave alcohol when I see it, just as I desire delicious foods when I see them. When I see french fries I want to eat them, and when I see a glass of wine I want to drink it. Every. Single. Time. I know I can’t always eat fries, and that when I do I eat them, I have to eat them sparingly, just as I know I can’t have wine. Or cheese or yogurt, for that matter, because although I love them, they will make me ill (I’m lactose-intolerant). I know I can’t have wine, because it, too, will make me ill, just in a different way. Namely, in the I-don’t-like-who-I-am-when-I-drink kind of way.
I handle cravings by remembering that I like myself, and my life. I visualize the big picture of who I am, and what I want, and then the temporary temptations recede, and I am reminded that they will pass. The cravings always pass.
DO YOU GO TO AA?
Although I, personally, do not attend AA, I know AA works.
HOW DO YOU FIND SOBER FRIENDS?
I don’t have sober friends, at the moment. All of my friends drink. We respect each other and each others’ preferences. If I’m drinking water and they’re drinking rosé, it’s all good.
DO YOU STILL HAND OUT WITH GIRLFRIENDS/PEOPLE WHO DRINK?
Once I stopped drinking, I realized that I didn’t have anything in common with friends that I exclusively “partied with,” – except that we liked to “party!” Those friends would try to persuade me to drink and to guilt me into drinking by saying that they “didn’t want to drink alone.” It was sad for me, but I ‘ghosted’ out of those relationships, and I’m pretty sure that I slipped away completely unnoticed.
On the flip side, as I said in response to the previous question, once I stopped drinking, all of my true friends were behind me all the way. My friends want me to be happy, and if I’m happier without alchohol, they are that much happier for me.