real life

“Nine years ago, I had my last ever drink on Christmas Day. It took me 25 years to get there.”

I haven’t always been sober

In fact, throughout my 20s I was drunk far more than I was not. I honestly didn’t see a problem with my drinking at the time and it was my body that decided I needed to stop long before my brain caught up with the idea and understood why. 

Watch: Your Body After 1 Year Without Alcohol. Post continues below.


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I was a binge drinker, and I somehow thought that this was okay because everyone was doing it.

Drinking alcohol was very much a part of the social scene I was in and no one questioned how much you drank. 

I thought because I only drank at night in pubs and clubs (predominantly) that meant I didn’t have a drinking problem. 

My drinking days started early. It was 1987; I was in Year 11 at a new school and I was only 15 years old (I turned 16 in Year 11). 

I was absolutely desperate to fit in and just have some friends. All the cool kids were having parties and drinking on Saturday nights so if I got an invite to any of these parties that is what I did. I drank to fit in. 

This pattern continued throughout my HSC year as well. 

During stu-vac, I should have been studying but I spent most of the time drinking cocktails, sitting in the sun working on my tan and well, not studying. And the day of my first HSC exam I went to the local RSL after the exam for a Melbourne Cup lunch to have a few more drinks.  

It was easy to get into pubs and clubs, even though I was only 17. As soon as my friends had all turned 18 we got copies of their birth certificates from births, deaths and marriages or got re-prints of their driver’s licence. 

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There was no photo ID, so it made underage drinking much easier. 

By the time I actually turned 18 I was a seasoned drinker (so I thought.) 

There was rarely a weekend that didn’t involve drinking or partying of some sort, waking up with a hangover and doing it all again that night.

Image: Supplied.

We had a pattern - we'd go out on the nights where we'd get the biggest bang for our buck. 

Wednesday night was cheap drinks at Carmen’s. 

Thursday nights were Coyotes. 

Friday night back to Carmen’s and Saturday was either back to Coyotes, the football or the city, Sunday night was Northies at Cronulla which meant Monday and Tuesday were my nights off drinking. 

I drank to fit in, I drank to be the life of the party, I drank to lose my inhibitions and then slowly I started drinking to forget what had happened the night before. 

Throughout my 20s I really thought the only way to have fun was to be drunk. I wish I could time travel and tell my 20-year-old self that people will like you anyway and if they don’t that it's on them. You do not need to drink to fit in. 

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In my late 20s I had a couple of health scares and then I fell pregnant with my son. 

This was the first big break from alcohol since I was 16, really. And by break I mean no alcohol at all. I was incredibly sick throughout my pregnancy with him and for some time after he was born I couldn’t tolerate alcohol, it made me really sick. 

Slowly though I was able to have a glass of wine here or there. 

Then I fell pregnant with my twins. It was after they were born that I would discover that I had permanent liver damage which was the reason I was so sick throughout my pregnancies. It also required major liver surgery in 2006. 

After I had my surgery my body actually bounced back and I found that having a glass or two of wine or a mixed drink didn’t affect me as it had and I could tolerate drinking without feeling so sick. This didn’t last long. 

I wasn’t hiding bottles in the bin when my kids were little but I certainly found myself reaching for a glass of something as a “reward” for making it through the day, for getting them into bed and to unwind. 

Image: Supplied.

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I often had those drinks when I was home alone because when my children were little my husband was a shift worker so in truth it was pretty easy for me to have a drink and have no one question it. 

That was until I started to get sick again. 

I noticed that every time I had a drink I would feel nauseous and even one glass would mean a hangover the next day. Which when you have small children is really hard work. So slowly I cut down and Christmas 2012, I had my last drink. It has been nine years since I last had a drink of alcohol.

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Three women share how to face Christmas completely sober. Post continues below. 


It was easy to decide to not have another drink because ultimately it didn’t serve me anymore physically. However, on a mental level it hasn’t been easy to continue choosing not to have a drink. 

Since 2012 I had a major mental health breakdown and that forced me to confront a lot of my habits around many choices in my life; drinking alcohol being one of them. 

My psychologist and I often talk about how I just want to numb the feelings and that the easiest and most socially acceptable way to do that was to have a drink. 

The thing is, we know that with my history that it would be unlikely to be just one unless my body does me a favour and I get really sick. 

My brain is forever chasing those feel good feels that I crave and I am not going to lie I felt fabulous when I drank. Of course the very few pictures I have would tell a very different story. 

I am okay being around people who drink and I honestly will not try to convince you not to have a drink of alcohol unless you are my children as I really don’t want them to follow in my footsteps. 

I grew up surrounded by alcohol and with a very normalised drinking culture in my wider circle of family and friends. I wish I understood then what I do now and how my brain and alcohol interact. 

I am also glad that there are now so many fabulous alcohol-free options on the market for me to choose from. No longer do I feel like I am missing out because the only options for me were water or soft drink. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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