Why Drinking In Moderation Sucks

Disclaimer-if you are reading as someone who has always drank in moderation, this post is not for you. This post is more for a person who has wondered if their drinking is problematic (and by problematic I mean-interfering with living your best life, not necessarily alcoholism) and is trying to control it with moderation.

Picture this. You’ve decided to moderate your drinking. Maybe you woke up with a killer hangover and decided you never want to feel that way again. Maybe you made an inappropriate phone call to an ex when you were drunk and you’ve decided to never get that out of control. Maybe you missed a day of work, drove drunk, had a panic attack, or felt super depressed after drinking. You’ve decided that now is the time….to drink less. Not stop drinking.

Moderation is key. We hear lots of positive things about it. Moderate drinking can help reduce drunkenness, hangovers, side effects, cancer, and other health-related diseases. Moderate drinking can actually be good for us, especially in wine right? Moderation will be so much better than not having to stop drinking because only alcoholics actually stop drinking. Obviously.

So, you set out to moderate. But what does moderate drinking mean exactly? Does it mean a certain number each day? Less than normal? No more binges? Maybe you’re out with friends and you decide that you will drink water in between drinks. You choose to break up the six-pack and leave three at home and put only three in the cooler for your outing. Maybe you decide not to drink during the week and only on the weekends, or only on Saturdays. Or, you try only one glass of wine at dinner.

Suddenly, you start feeling a bit better. It’s working, mostly, except for that one night last week when you had four instead of two. Oh, and the weekend before that where you drank that extra margarita with dinner, but overall things are much better. No hangovers, no weird text messages, life is feeling good for the most part. You still have anxiety and you wish that you didn’t have to have this obsession with how much you’re drinking. You’d prefer to not have to feel guilty when you go over your allotted amount and you really wish that you didn’t feel disappointed when you got to your last drink and you still want more. You find that you feel really tired now because once you slow your drinking it just makes you groggy. Drinking feels a bit stressful because you’re always wondering what is enough. But, it’s better than having to live a life alcohol-free right?

This is the question I get the most. People ask me all the time how I feel about moderation. The above scenario is how things played out for me for a long time. I tell people that trying to moderate my drinking was my lowest point. It was a constant battle.

When I was moderating I couldn’t be present. I was always wondering if what I had planned to drink would be enough and if I would have enough fun. I woke up every day a little off, not hungover, but never ever clear-headed (even if I only had one). Drinking just one or two drinks impacted my anxiety and my mood the next day. I couldn’t make progress toward what I wanted when I so focused on how much I would drink. If I was invited to do something fun on a day that I had decided not to drink I would stress so much, hating the invitation, and always feeling a bit resentful.

I am a type A, full throttle, high energy type of person. With most things, I’m either all in or all out. I haven’t been great at moderating anything in my life which is why things felt so hard during those times. It was a feeling of constant deprivation. I felt deprived of drinking and deprived of freedom. Shackles and chains.

Maybe your personality is chill, easy-going, and low stress. Maybe you don’t overthink, obsess, or question everything. In that case, moderation might be your jam. I believe that many people can find pure bliss by doing so. I am not one of those people.

Have you ever wondered how freeing it would be to not have to think about alcohol? Sometimes I equate no longer drinking to no longer having to pump as a nursing mom. For a year, I carried around this giant black bag. I had to frequently leave the party, the concert, or the fun to go and pump. I couldn’t leave the house without making sure I had it. I had to keep things cool and find a fridge or a cooler. It was just one more thing to worry with. Same with alcohol. I was always worrying about what I would drink, making sure I had enough but not too much. I missed half the show, the party, or the event because I was either standing in line to pee or standing in line to get a drink.

You might be wondering if it is even possible to have a good time without alcohol? Maybe you’ve never tried that. If you drink regularly, there is a scientific reason why you think that life is no fun when you’re not drinking. I highly recommend exploring that more. Don’t just jump to the idea that moderation is best. You might be surprised to find that the one thing you’ve always feared (not drinking) is so much better!

Originally published at https://www.spaliveaf.com on June 23, 2020.



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Samantha Perkins

Samantha Perkins

Author of Alive AF-One Anxious Mom’s Journey to Becoming Alcohol Free. Founder of Alive AF blog. www.spaliveaf.com