I’m a backwards kind of girl. I stopped drinking on my 19th birthday. People shake their head at me, then pause to think, because they realize that means I drank enough before I was 19 to feel I needed to stop. I wasn’t a drunk, but I attended a lot of house parties.
It changed on my 19th birthday, and progressively I went from not drinking for awhile, to deciding not to drink ever. I’m not back to a glass of wine at functions, but nothing more. People ask me why. They think I’m in AA and maybe getting over a serious problem. While I don’t wish to diminish anyone who is currently struggling with addiction, I can say in confidence that I was not an addict.
Here are the reasons I choose not to drink, and maybe you can get some inspiration from them if you’re also thinking of turning the corner.
1.) It is never worth the hangover. Seriously. The day after my 19th birthday, I had to go to work, and I felt like I was going to throw up every second of the day. My eyes were all dry, and I was absurdly tired.
2.) I don’t like being impaired. A few times, when I was drunk, I did things that I regretted. We all have stories like this, I’m sure. But why would we have too? What is the point of consuming a substance that makes you do stupid and sometimes hurtful things?
3.) I don’t remember getting home that night. This was scary. My 19th birthday was a big one. I woke up the next morning, fully dressed, in my own bed. It scared me that I could have woken up in anyone’s bed. It scared me that I had no memory of what had happened. It scared me that my friends didn’t really remember when I’d left because they were all just as drunk.
4.)The money. Holy hell alcohol can be expensive. I was a student, and I could barely afford my downtown rent. I was eating noddles because all my money went to going out and having drinks with friends. My health took a dive, and I always felt like crap. Being broke sucks. I don’t even want to think about how much money I save now that I don’t drink.
5.) All my pictures looked like crap. I’m a pretty enough girl, but my facebook page made me look like I belonged on the site ‘people of wallmart’. Awful.
6.) My dad. This is a serious one. My dad got sick about the time I was 19. His liver was failing. He was not an alcoholic, but his liver couldn’t handle the casual social drinking he’d done his whole life. My brother and I both stopped drinking and/or doing any drug we may have been doing in case he needed something from us. Unfortunately, it was not going to help. He passed away a few years ago.
7.) I didn’t need it to have fun. Some people say that when you’re not drinking at a party, it’s less fun. It’s not. It can be more fun. And what’s better about it is that you actually remember the fun the day after. But be careful, because you could end up the friend that takes care of whoever ends up on the bathroom floor.
8.) I could make sure my friends got home safely. this is a big deal for me. My friends are so important to me, and I would just die if something happened to them. Unfortunately, I have a few friends who are not overly responsibly when they’ve been drinking. I can’t always convince them to stop being stupid, but I can make sure they know they can always call me, or count on me for a ride home. My parents used to say to me that they didn’t care what I did, as long as I was safe. Obviously there were exceptions to this rule, but it made it easy for me to call them if I found myself in trouble. I want to be that for my friends as well.
People drink for all kinds of reasons. As long as you’re not drinking to numb yourself, or because you’re addicted, then there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you’re responsible. For me, the reasons above make me never crave a drink. I’m perfectly happy having a club soda and cranberry juice (because I like Vodka Cranberry’s), and having a great time with my friends.
So how do I choose when I’m allowed to have a drink or two? That’s easy. I plan those nights. I take the bus to the event, and make plans to get home. Sometimes if I’m spending the night somewhere, I will consent to a glass of wine. Awards shows are a big one. With my job, I end up at a lot of award shows. In my industry it’s a social thing, and I always plan ahead when I know I’m going to one. Weddings mean a glass of champagne. New years I’ll have white wine. But that’s really it. I love not drinking. I’ve learned how to have fun without alcohol. It’s made such a difference in my life. I simply don’t have to worry about what it might be doing to my body, or what I might do without realizing it.
And here’s something else. Since I stopped drinking, I haven’t lost a single one of my party girl friends. If I ever feel pressured, it’s easy to give them the stare down and say ‘you’re seriously going to peer pressure me into drinking?’ that always shuts them up, and we have fun. If you’re going to a bar or club and you say you’re the designated driver, even if you’re not technically, the bartender will usually give you free or extremely cheap substitutes. But don’t go overboard with the pop. The caffeine and sugar will keep you up all night!