What Made Me Stop Drinking: Five Years Sober
March 16th, 2020 was my five year sobriety anniversary. I don’t post about my journey often, but when I do (click here for my first post on sober living), I usually get asked many of the same questions about what made me stop drinking. I’d like to address some of the more frequent ones here.
What made you want to quit?
There were a series of events over a period of about four years (between the ages of 33 and 37) that led to my desire to quit. Like most alcoholics, I attempted to quit several times. I also repeatedly tried to moderate my consumption, and was always unable to. In fact, it was easier for me to abstain completely than it was to reduce the amount that I drank.
Some of the events that led me to want to quit are too personal to mention at this time, but I put myself in extremely dangerous situations–everything from drunk driving, passing out in unsafe locations, making terrible decisions about where and with whom I would spend my time–and when I say I am blessed to be alive, I mean that very literally.
Other reasons include recurring patterns of getting into unhealthy relationships, and knowing that as long I was drinking, I was not being the best mother that I could be, nor would I ever reach my full potential that God intended for me.
When did you accept that you had a problem?
After one horrible event (that was indirectly caused by my drinking), I sunk into depression. At this point, I began drinking daily, and spent my days counting down the minutes until I thought it was acceptable to have my first drink (5pm during the week). To feel satisfied, I required more and more alcohol. Once I took the first sip, I wanted to keep going. I could drink all night long. I know now that had I not stopped, I would have eventually become someone who drank all day, every day.
Were you drinking every day?
Towards the end of my drinking, yes, I was drinking every day. However for many years, I only drank on the weekends. I was a binge drinker.
Did you drink a lot?
Yes! When people ask why I don’t drink anymore, I often joke and say “I drank enough to last a lifetime. I don’t need to drink anymore.” Although for many years I didn’t drink daily, I was never able to moderate my consumption of alcohol when I did drink. From the first time I got drunk my senior year in high school, until the last drink I had at a local bar in Vancouver, WA in 2015, I overdid it. Often, I had to run out of alcohol, have a friend make me stop, or pass out first. Forcing myself to stop became less and less likely, and the bargains that I made with myself were getting more and more lax.
One of the many deals I made with myself included switching from vodka to just beer and wine. That didn’t work, because I would end up drinking a couple of bottles of wine by myself, in one evening. When I would go out partying with friends, when everyone would be ready to go to sleep and stop drinking, I would be the girl up and wide awake, still drinking until 6am. When I would go out to dinner with friends, and people would leave wine in their glasses, I would finish it for them.
There was never enough alcohol to satisfy me. This is one of the tell-tale signs of alcoholism.
Does it bother you when other people drink?
It makes me sad when I see people drink who are alcoholics, particularly my loved ones, but I do not judge them, nor do I try to convince them to stop. There is no convincing an alcoholic that they should stop. You only stop drinking when YOU are ready to stop drinking.
It does not bother me when people talk about drinking. It doesn’t offend me when people invite me out for drinks. I’m secure and confident in my sobriety, and it’s not my place to judge or try to convert anyone.
I share my journey in the hopes that I will inspire someone who feels they have a drinking problem. Nothing more.
The images that follow are unrelated to the content, but who wants a blog post with no photos? 🙂