wellness

"I'm too young to have a problem." 5 lies I've told myself about alcohol.

You wake up slowly, registering the pounding head, the dry mouth, the nausea. There are chips on the bed because you made the Uber go through McDonalds apparently, but you don’t remember, not really. 

You don’t remember much at all, actually. And with that realisation comes shame; all consuming, sickening shame.

"How did I get so drunk, again?"

That was me three months ago. 

In fact, that was me consistently since I discovered alcohol. 

I was the "party girl", always up for a good time. Out on the town Thursday to Saturday and sometimes even Sunday if my arm could be twisted enough to go (it could). 

The Queen of Blackouts. Just one coaxing text message away from hopping in an Uber somewhere to blow lots of cash and drink myself to oblivion.

Right now though, I’m a few months sober.

Watch: Your body after one year without alcohol. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia .

I won’t lie; this is my third time attempting sobriety. I did a year each time previously before I caved and decided to drink again (but only "a little bit, on special occasions"... except three weeks later I’m waking up hungover with five Facebook friend requests from "BFFs" I’ve made in the toilet the night before that I don’t even remember). 

Alcohol has always seemed to find its way back into my life. I tell myself narratives about it that open that door a crack and let it sneak in.

Here are some of the lies I’ve told I’ve told myself about my drinking and here’s how I’m now challenging them:

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1. "I’m too young to have an issue with alcohol."

Let’s be clear, alcohol doesn’t care what age you are. 

Alcohol is an addictive substance, so it doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50. That’s it – that’s the whole truth. You are never too young to have an issue with alcohol, and you’re never too young to address the issue.

2. "Everyone else drinks like me."

Cue my Mum: "If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?"

I mean, it’s pretty simplistic, but it rings true. 

Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t a) make it okay or b) mean that you have too. 

Also, who cares if everyone else was also languishing in hell on a Sunday, the overindulgence was affecting me. 

I was miserable and anxious. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. It matters what you are doing and how it’s making you feel. If the answer is, "not good", then it might be time to reassess.

 3. "I don’t drink alone or every day, so I’m fine."

Ah yes, that old stereotype. 

Baileys in the coffee in the morning, whisky under your desk at work, nightly bottles of wine. That’s what an alcoholic is, obviously, not a hip (kind of) millennial going out on weekends. That’s just being young.

This narrative completely bypasses the fact that the real definition of an alcoholic is just someone who can’t control their alcohol consumption. 

How many times had I gone out promising to have a quiet one, only to find myself waking up to "ARE YOU STILL ALIVE???" texts and no memory of coming home? I didn’t need to drink every day to have a problem; the times I did drink, it was bad enough.  

4. Moderation is easier than total sobriety.

False. See above re: lack of self-control.

(In all seriousness, when I tried to moderate, I would spend an entire night thinking "how many have I had? How many more can I have?" etc etc. Exhausting. You know what’s easier? Deciding I won’t have a single drop and not having to think about it again).

5. It’s fun, it makes me fun and I need it to socialise.

Ah yes, Drunk me. So fun. 

What with her mood-swings, her tendency to vanish at random points in the evening because she’s suddenly spotted someone who "looks cool" and wants to force her friendship on them, and that one time she split her head open on the side of a table and went home in an ambulance.

So fun. 

And here’s the thing – is alcohol fun, or is what you’re doing fun? 

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That’s what I’ve come to realise.

 Alcohol was never the source of the fun – the source of the fun was friends and events; eating good food, dancing, gossiping. 

The first time I tried to go sober, I rarely left the house. I was convinced it was too scary to socialise sober and became a hermit for an entire year. 

Shockingly, this wasn’t sustainable, and when I was desperate to speak to other humans again, I did it with a wine in my hand because, even after a year sober, I hadn’t learnt to do it any other way. 

This sobriety stint, I’ve been determined to go out as much as I can. I’m determined to prove to myself that life does not need to revolve around alcohol – and you know what? It's been a blast. 

I won’t lie and say quitting alcohol cured every little problem in my life, but it sure as heck removed a really large one. 

I’m happier, less anxious, and, most importantly, I’m learning things about myself I never knew because I spent so much time in a drunken haze. 

It turns out I can still make people laugh and hold conversations and I still can absolutely, 100 per cent... not dance well, but at least I’m enthusiastic.

If you’re considering taking some time off drinking, it might be worth writing down the things you believe about alcohol, like I have. And then challenge these beliefs – you think alcohol makes you fun? Do things without alcohol and prove it wrong. 

Alcohol makes you sexually confident? Explore things in the bedroom, stone cold sober, and show yourself that you’re damn fine without the liquid courage.

It is not easy to untangle the lies we tell ourselves about certain things – especially when it revolves around something so openly celebrated in our culture like alcohol.

But I’m here to tell you it’s worth it – you’re worth it.

Shaeden Berry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Creative Writing and a Masters in Secondary Education. She is a 30-something year old millennial, cat mum, reader, writer and accidental killer of plants. You can find her on Instagram  @berrywellthanks 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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