Sunday 15 October 2017

Why Don't You Just Drink Less?

Have you been asked this question?

My friends and family can understand why I wanted to do something about the amount of vino I was getting through each week, but they still can't quite work out why I don't just drink a bit less? 

"Isn't going completely teetotal (God, I hate that word) a tad extreme?" they say.

And, many times over the last two years, I've have the same thought myself: have I gone a bit over the top? Surely, after all this time, I can have a glass from time to time, like a normal person?

So, as a reminder for myself, for anyone else who asks me, and in case it might help any of you, here are the three reasons why I don't just drink less...

1. Moderation is not my thing.

I am an all-or-nothing person. I am not very good at having a little bit of something I like and then stopping. I'm good at many things, but that just isn't my forte.

I was the same with cigarettes: thirty a day until I quit, then nothing, not one puff, for the last fifteen years.

I've come to terms with this character quirk. After all, it has its upsides. We 'immoderate' people tend to throw ourselves at everything - we're immoderate with our energy, our love, our enthusiasm.

We're not the sort of people who take one bite at the cake of life, then leave the rest sitting on the plate. Oh no, we gobble up the whole thing, then check the cupboard for more.

2. Moderation is exhausting.

I have, as it happens, managed to moderate my wine intake for periods of time. I did endless deals with myself, when I was trying to avoid giving up altogether.

I did 'I will NOT drink on weekdays.' I did 'I will NOT drink at home.' I tried 'I will NOT drink alone.' Then 'I will NOT drink wine, only beer.' 

Needless to say, within a few weeks I was stretching the rules, then abandoning them altogether.

And, in the meantime, I was exhausted with the effort of trying to be good. 

I was fed up with the devil and the angel on my shoulders constantly rowing with each other, the infernal, internal dialogue in my head, the self-loathing every time I failed again.

The very best thing about quitting altogether is peace. (You have to get through the first 100 days or so first, obviously).

No more endless debate about what you're drinking, when you're drinking, how much you're drinking, because the answer is simple: nothing, nowhere, never.

3. What would be the point?

Now, (and, I have to confess, it took me two years to get here) if ever I think about having a glass or two of wine, I ask myself what would be the point?

For a start, I wouldn't just have one glass. One glass doesn't even touch the sides. If I had one, I'd have several. And, having wrestled for some time with decades of social conditioning, I realise the absurdity, the pointlessness, of getting drunk.

Now, I can think back to those days of feeling woozy, wobbly, slurry, forgetful, annoyed and anxious and ask why on earth would I voluntarily do that to myself?

Deliberately poisoning your body with an addictive toxin in order to 'have a good time' just seems a little....absurd.

In the same way, I now look at smokers inhaling deadly fumes from a tube of rolled up dried leaves and think isn't that a bizarre way to spend your time?

I no longer need alcohol in order to feel relaxed or to have fun. I'm not at all sure what it would add to my life, but I have an incredibly good memory of the things it would take away.

Yet, explaining all of that to the friend at the party with their bemused question "surely you can just moderate?" would take far too much time, and I'm not sure they'd believe me in any case, so I just smile and say:

"Moderation? It's just not really me."

Because it isn't.

TO BUY SOBERMUMMY'S BOOK, THE SOBER DIARIES, CLICK HERE (You can read the first few chapters FREE with the 'look inside' feature)

Love SM x


  1. Wow the timing of this post is perfect for me, thank you!!!

    We were out with friends on Saturday night and As I am approaching a year sober, one friend asked me, "so what will happen then? Are you really never going to drink again? Even just in moderation?" And I just felt like I had to defend my decision to stop drinking, and this was a friend who's been so supportive in the past. It made me feel quite flat really and sad like they wanted the old me back but couldn't bring themselves to say it. I feel like I'm so happy with my new sober life and I will be sober forever now, but maybe other people aren't happy with that??feel quite rubbish about it really? I don't know but I'm sticking to my guns anyway because I totally agree and feel the same as every thing you said in your post.

    Thanks SM xxxx

    1. Good for you Ang75. I gave up drinking in 2012. Nothing for a whole year. Then in 2013 I thought, OK I have proven my point, now I can go back to drinking just now and then on social occasions. Well within 3 months I was back to every night and the same internal struggle and shame SM describes. So now I've quit for good, and it really is easier.

      It's especially true what SM said about having just one or two; what's the point? I had to realise I wasn't drinking to be social or because I liked the taste etc, I was drinking to get drunk. There was never such a thing as one or two small glasses for me and there never will. Once I realised that, quitting was a lot easier.

    2. Thanks w3stie! Exactly I was trying to explain that to my friend, there's no enjoyment in one or two glasses! Who want just that!! I too drank to get drunk and also to block out the feeling of being angry and mad at myself for drinking, how crazy is that! It's not even in my head to even contemplate drinking again because I know deep down that it would all be over for me and I would be so disappointed with myself I would drink into oblivion. Just the thought of it scares me! You've done amazing to give up twice because it's double the hard work, so well done you xxxx

  2. Oh man! Apologies if I have posted twice: Thanks for this great post SM. It's exactly what I needed to read. I've reached my 100th day sober today and I'm feeling a bit "meh" and "what's so special about it?". Your post has made me realise exactly why I don't want to drink anymore. Like Ang 75 and w3stie above, I drank purely to get drunk. There will never me moderation for me. I can imagine how exhausting that would be for someone who has been alcohol dependant.

    1. HUGE CONGRATS on 100 days! Awesome work! I can understand the 'meh' thing, but you really will find that from now on it will all, gradually, get easier.... Huge hugs xxx

  3. Timely for me too SM :-) We are getting everything ready for a trip away in Northumberland with a group ... I know the question will arise .. Done so well, what now?, just the one surely..... I know in my heart I am done with the booze but terrified of succumbing 'to please my friends?' Noooo
    Your post and comments from w3stie and Ang75 are strengthening and reassuring ..
    I also remember that 100 day high then 'meh' and add congrats and 'yay' for Mrs W
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you Jacs60 and SM for the congratulations. I've not made 'a big deal' out of not drinking to my family and friends, so no-one knows about this milestone. It truly means a lot to have you congratulate me xx

      Jacs60 - if you haven't already been to Northumberland - you'll love it, especially the coast.

  4. Oh Lord if I had a dime for every person who uttered, "Oh you can just have one drink with us, can't you?" I wouldn't have a mortgage anymore. Hell no I can't have just one drink or moderate. The last time I did that I wound up having 4 beers and a bottle and a half of wine. I woke up the next day and abandoned all of my household duties, ate a fried chicken sandwich, slept all day, and never went outside and saw sunlight. I like to remind myself of that day, which was the last time I tried to moderately drink, which was also the last day that I drank. We (previous) drinking enthusiasts are great at many things, however, moderation - of anything - will never be our jam. Thank you for the reminder.

  5. I get this all the time. It is such a bore. It is I think in the main from people who feel uncomfortable with the idea of not drinking themselves. They want you to make them feel better by joining them for a drink. I know for sure through extensive trial and error that if I had just the one, I would keep having 'just the one' until it turned into many many drinks. I love not drinking, I love not having to count units and worry about my next drink. I love knowing I am now giving my body half a chance remain healthy and I am inspired to improve other things about my health now I know I can kick the booze. best thing I ever did and no way am I giving that up for 'just the one'! xx

  6. This sounds exactly like me..I've been sober for 2 years now & can't imagine ever going to drink again..

  7. I could not love this more. Beautiful, funny, poignant. Congrats to you!

  8. Thank you!!! I've just re-read your post, which sums up perfectly how I feel. I stopped drinking just over two years ago and still have to justify to people why I'm not having "just one drink" with them. This week while on holiday with another family we were asked to go to a posh winefarm for a six-course wine and food pairing. Tiny portions and unlimited wines. I couldn't face such a boozy, extensive lunch that was celebrating alcohol as the focus of it all.
    So I said i wasn't keen and in the end nobody went, which made me feel like such a spoilsport. Not drinking has been the best choice I ever made but it's still putting me in awkward situations when socialising. Any advice on how to deal with this would be welcome...

    1. Practice what professional wine tasters do, and use a spitoon. The taste of the wine can still be fully appreciated without swallowing, so no drunkeness.

  9. I'm sure I just convinced myself it was normal to 'learn' about drinking alone whilst reading your book by opening a (second), bottle of wine after my wife went to bed (first bottle, I poured three-quarters for myself); but it was a 'special occasion' as The Winter Olympics were on. Inspirational reading, but I keep fighting the truth about what wine is doing to my life.

  10. I have been struggling with that idea for the past month.
    I am sober 56 days today and a bit fed up.
    Why can't I just drink in moderation?
    No! Can't! Tried and failed miserably over the years
    I am excited that I am 56 days sober but am tired of justifying myself as to why I don't drink.
    That being said I feel vunerable and a bit weak today.
    I am proud of what I have done and am looking at things on a daily basis.
    I want to be alcohol free for the rest of my life.
    I want to be free and soar above smelly bars and thrive in my new found freedom
    So, why am I wobbly today and why do I need to eat for a living?
    This is hard going enough without having to constantly explain yourself.
    Sorry, rant over, bur Clare, thankd you've nailed it today

  11. Brilliant article, its these things that help me stay on the happy road. I'm a newbie!

  12. Love it. I feel the same ways. I am 18 mths sober and people dont get it.

  13. Thank you for this, I just finished your book (audio version so no one would know!) loved it! I decided to start yesterday, July the 4th! Big drinking day here in the U.S. I returned from England with my mother the day before. Well it started in the morning when I told my mother I would be driving to the picnic so I wouldn't be drinking to which she exclaimed "don't be such a goody-goody Liz! Get an Uber!" My reply was that I had to work the next day anyway, at 3pm! Also did not go down well! My mother will be staying with me for 3 weeks until she returns to the U.K. In the meantime I guess I will become a secret non-drinker. Bring on the faux beer!

  14. CelebrateSober17 July 2018 at 12:25

    I am in the mental preparation phase. I am in the middle of Sober Diaries and it rings so true that I am like "how does she know?". I am planning to start 7/28/18. I have tried several times and tried "moderation". HA! Cheers to all who are already on this journey. People should be high fiving you when you say you aren't having "just one".

    1. So how are you doing? I stopped two days ago as well. Not the first time I've given it up. Hopefully, this my last. For you too. I've never reached out for support before. But Clare's book and this blog speaks to me. I feel safe.
      Good luck.

  15. Well it will be one month sober tomorrow! The faux beer helps because sometimes i just really fancy a beer!

  16. Clare - I'm a newbie. Your book had a huge impact on me. Your honesty has been appreciated. I'm reading this blog because it's 5pm on a Friday and the wine witch is kicking the door in. Give me strength!

  17. Right, alcohol is one of the problem for hangover, this big problem in young age people for that Dotshot is helpful for this problem.

  18. I'm on day 6 of my third attempt. I can't moderate, I'd love to be able to have that one glass when I'm out with friends for food or a couple of cocktails and stop. Tt's as clear to me as the nose on my face that it just isn't an option. I think to the nights/days where I haven't blacked out where I have gone home tipsy and I've known when to stop but they are as mystical to me as a unicorn. And as you caption above the constant negotiating is exhausting, I wont drink wine - I'll only have 4 G&T's blah blah....Scared and excited. Thanks for your ability to put into words all your insight, it resonates with me which is huge.
    Thanks SM xxx