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Giving up alcohol - have you become teetotal? How has it been for you?

(44 Posts)
hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 11:34:40

Whilst I am not alcohol dependent, I do drink more than is good for me (4/5 nights per week, and probably 5 or 6 units some evenings). I just really enjoy it - in the way that other people have a thing for chocolate.

As I am getting older and am taking more care with other aspects of my health, I think it can only be beneficial to consider dropping alcohol too. Its bad that my first concerns are personal vanity blush - alcohol is counterproductive for my weight maintenance and it is very ageing ....but also I know that it is generally implicated in various diseases and health conditions...

If you have given up alcohol I would be very grateful for your frank assessment of how it has been for you. Are other people a total pain about you not drinking at social events? Do you miss it horribly? What have been the good points or bad points? Has it been hard to maintain?

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 11:43:31

Yep, I thought this might need bumping once or twice....

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 12:03:20

.

ChipsandGuac Tue 23-Feb-16 12:05:18

There are lots of people on here that are dry. Check out the DRY thread for encouragement. Good luck!

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 12:08:30

Have never spotted the dry thread before - will take a look

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 12:18:44

Can't find it sad - if you are still about Chips and have a link, I would appreciate it

Titsywoo Tue 23-Feb-16 12:29:01

I did it for a year. The first two months were hard but then it got very easy and I didn't miss it at all. In fact I enjoyed it a lot. Socialising was fine - I think I had more fun if anything and had no hangover to worry about. I took non alcoholic wine when I went out and drank it from a wine glass which helped a lot. The best one I find was the Sainsburys own brand sparkling which is cheap and quite nice (if a little sweet). Everybody else was fine about it (although I got a lot of "that's amazing/you are doing so well/I could never do it").

The only downside was I became more anxious than normal (I do suffer from anxiety anyway so if you don't I doubt this will be an issue)

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 12:33:42

Thanks Titsywoo - can I ask, why did you re-start after a year? Was it because you felt it helped your anxiety to drink a little?

I think that my alcohol consumption is habitual and probably like you, I may not miss it after a while. I am also happy to reflect that I won't embarrass myself if sober as I have done now and then when drinking (on occasion the tongue is loosened by alcohol!)

iPost Tue 23-Feb-16 12:45:13

I stopped drinking when I got pregnant with The Chianti Baby.

Who is now 15 and a half.

I had always drunk too much. I was half cut for all bar the first two of my O level papers. And things did not improve as my teens turned into my 20s

I have no brake. I could half one drink with the intension of it being just the one. But just the one was enough to make me stupid enough to have another and another. Given that I was a terrible lightweight that meant I got very very drunk, very very fast. And none of the choices I made in that state are what I would file under "good".

It's actually been very easy not to drink. Certainly compared to how hard it was to live with the consequences of my incapacity to stop at a point that left me still in control.

Fags were an absolutle nightmare to stop, booze in comparison was no effort at all. As long as I avoided The First Drink, it was all good. I can't actually remember the last time I wanted a drink. And that is saying something considering I got some deeply shocking, heartbreaking news two weeks ago that has had me in tears most days since. But not once have I seriously thought "I need a drink in practice, not just theory".

I live in Italy, so no pressure to drink socially. But sometimes when I go home there can be a not so subtle insistence that I stop being "boring". Which I ignore. Cos these are the same people who will be boggle eyed and looking askance if I do stop being "boring", drink... and end up on a table waving my bra in the air. So fuck 'em. They aren't on my side with drink, or without drink, so I pick what is best for me.

It's been too many years for me to remember what the immediate and medium term health benefits of stopping felt like. And to be honest they were probably masked and unnoticed due to the six years of sleep deprivation that DS came packaged in.

My husband stopped drinking when his mother died a few years ago. He didn't have a problem in the way I did. But he drank every single day. He has dropped 25 kilos, while eating more. His pot belly has gone, he looks pretty much like he did when I met him 20 years ago shape wise. His skin is clear, he's lost that slightly reddish look about the eyes and nose. He is certainly much much happier. I think that's becuase he isn't beginning each day slightly off colour from the drink.

He has no regrets. Yesterday he threw out his last two beers, that he'd been keeping "just in case". He'd noticed they were out of date so chucked them.
And he bloody loves all the compliments. Anybody who hasn't seen him for a while practically falls over with shock at the weight loss and general healthier/younger look he has about him.

I honestly can't think of a downside for either of us.

PurpleHairAndPearls Tue 23-Feb-16 12:52:47

I have given up alcohol - in my case it was "forced" on me due to illness/meds which weren't compatible with alcohol. I was a heavy drinker, one of the typical mothers drinking wine at the end of the day. Apart from pregnancy I probably drank every night, and at the end probably a bottle a night. I felt entitled to a glass of wine as a "reward" for a bad day, or a good day, or a weekend day, or to go with a certain meal. Or a glass of wine in the bath. Or with a friend. Or with DH. Or cooking. Or if I was on my own for the evening...you get the picture.

I'm still ill although the meds I currently take are OK to have with a glass or two of wine, but I don't have the wine.

Four years this year. Ironically my health is shit but stopping drinking has been one of the biggest "benefits" - one of the best things I have done. A lot of the reasons I thought things would be "awkward" without booze, were actually excuses. There is no social engagement, or even any reason, that actually requires alcohol. Actually a huge number of people don't drink.

My friends actually got cut right down for various reasons including my illness and at the moment, I have two very good friends, one who has known me a very long time, as a drinker and worse back in the day and they are both totally fine with it. I do think generally being able to say to people at social events "not for me thanks I'm on medication" smoothed the path so to speak.

My life is very much simpler and immeasurably better. I don't have to give it head space. I cannot recommend being teetotal, or sober highly enough. I think UK society sells alcohol (and particularly this whole wine drinking mothers shite) for lots of reasons, none of which are good. I now see it wine/alcohol for what it is - an addictive poison.

I expect a lot of people would eyeroll at my post, but I also expect they are the ones who can "take or leave" alcohol, or just have one glass a month. But some of us do get addicted to what is undeniably an addictive substance. It's very easy to drink, and it's easy to get addicted but it can be fucking hard to stop. Basically I would say if you're giving it more headspace than you should, or your thoughts frame your drinking as a "worry" then try stopping. If you can, great, if you can't, than you're exactly the person who should be stopping and there might be some work to put in. But it's worth it.

I would ask yourself what have you got to lose by stopping, or giving stopping a try? What have you got to lose by continuing to drink?

Apologies for the essay <considers name change>

PurpleHairAndPearls Tue 23-Feb-16 12:53:54

Fuck me that was long!

iPost Tue 23-Feb-16 13:00:13

Purple

Bloody brilliantly post.

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 13:02:26

Thank you iPost and Purple Hair - and sorry for your shocking news iPost a couple of weeks or so ago. A lot of what you both say really resonates and I agree it is an addictive, socially acceptable toxin. I think the positive example I will be giving to my children (11 and 13) is reason enough in a culture which promotes alcohol

Its going to be hard to begin with though - it is so ingrained

exLtEveDallas Tue 23-Feb-16 13:04:54

I rarely drink now. Never at home, and only occasionally when out: Christmas/New Year/My Birthday.

I drank far too much in my teens/20s. Got hammered every Friday and Saturday and quite often on Sunday afternoons too. Whenever there was a function at work (every 4-6 weeks) I would be one of the last to leave, and on certain functions would go right through to breakfast.

When I was pregnant with DD I didn't touch a drop, and after she was born (and turned into the unputdownable non-sleeping child) I found that I couldn't cope with the waking/early mornings after a drink. So I told myself that I'd stop until she was more settled. She didn't sleep through until she was 3, and didn't wake later than 6am until she was 7!

So I just got out of the habit. TBH I didn't miss it at all. However, yes, some friends have dropped away as they can't seem to cope with me not getting hammered. One of my closest friends seems to take it as an insult and I find myself having 'just one' that I then nurse for hours simply to keep her happy. Which is ridiculous really. But by the same token I have a number of teetotal friends too and we choose to go for nice meals or the cinema to socialise. The meals are better without alcohol - we chat more, laugh more and enjoy it more.

When I do go out for an actual drink (NYE for eg) I find that I don't drink anywhere near as much (I used to be able to drink a bottle of smirnoff in a good session). I stop and switch to soft drinks when I get the 'dizzy head' stage and it's fine. It also means I don't have hangovers - bonus!

Muskateersmummy Tue 23-Feb-16 13:08:13

I haven't gone tee total, but now only drink a glass of wine when my dh and I go away. I gave up when ttc, and stayed teetotal until after she was born. I then was worried about co sleeping and drinking so I have never really gone back to it. I really don't miss it. The thought of a hangover with a small child fills me with dread!

I think drinking does become habitual, and it takes a while to break that habit. I feel so much happier not having that habit.

Good luck

Titsywoo Tue 23-Feb-16 13:08:55

Well I only did it to knock myself out of the habit of drinking every night - plus DH bet me I couldn't do a whole year grin

Over a year later and I drink more than I want to but not as much as I was drinking before I did the year off.

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 13:09:20

I'm not sure I could just drink a couple of times per year at social events like Christmas and birthdays exLtEve, I think that would start me on a slippery slope and I would be back to 4 / 5 times per week. I wish I could do as you do and mostly leave it, but just have the occasional drink to oil the wheels of social discourse.

.... I think I am better cutting it out completely. Hopefully any reactions from friends will dry up when they realise they have a handy designated driver!

SirChenjin Tue 23-Feb-16 13:10:04

I'm not strictly tee total but very, very rarely drink alcohol and have been having more and more nights out where I'm not drinking or drinking one alcoholic drink and then soft drinks for the rest of the evening.

I used to drink in my teens and 20s, then had the kids, cut right back and then gradually over the years starting to hate the woozy, tired feeling it gives me even after a couple of mouthfuls - and it's bloody expensive! No drinking means a clear head and more money in my purse. The only downside is the looks of confused you get when I have to reassure people that I really am OK with not drinking. I never, ever pass judgement on what they're drinking but that doesn't always work the other way.

hmcAsWas Tue 23-Feb-16 13:10:40

Right - am off to gym now but will check in on thread later for subsequent posts. Thanks all for sharing your experiences - have been quite motivated by what you have said smile

Fizzy500 Tue 23-Feb-16 13:11:32

Such an interesting post Purple, I am where you were at in your first paragraph. It seems to have become a 'habit' between my husband and I that we drink a bottle of wine a night (each mostly) with the exception of the odd sober Monday. We enjoy it, we chat, laugh, go to bed. Slightly groggy the next morning, carry on. We only get a few hours together a day without children and work and I couldn't imagine us enjoying it as much without wine. Reading that back I realise how pathetic that must sound but it's true.
However, I have this growing concern that this needs to stop and reading this thread has struck a cord and made me more determined to have more sober nights - I'm going to aim for 3 a week and see how we get on!

iPost Tue 23-Feb-16 13:22:17

hm

Here's the long running mumsnet stopping drinking support thread
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2564354-The-Brave-Babes-Battle-Bus-Battling-The-Wicked-Wine-Witch-One-Day-At-A-Time

tribpot Tue 23-Feb-16 13:28:45

You may find some of the long running threads supporting those of us who are (or are trying to be) sober are not quite the thing for you, as many of us have considerable alcohol problems - which makes it both more and less likely we will succumb to drinking again, if you see what I mean. More because we have a problem with it and less because we know we have a problem with it. I know that I have to not drink - ever. There is no moderate drinking that I could do. You may always wonder if maybe you could, even though you suspect you could not. On the other hand, it's not going to kill you to give up for, say, two years and then decide what relationship you want to have with alcohol.

When I first quit my GP told me I had to give up for a year. This seemed an unimaginably long time but was a very well-chosen period - if he had said 'forever' I would probably have given up before I'd even started. But many even hardened drunks can give up for shorter periods of time in an effort to convince themselves they don't have a problem, so it does need to be a fair chunk of time.

I was very honest with friends and co-workers about my drinking problem, which meant I was never pressurised to drink. You may need to think about how to handle this, as people tend to assume you don't mean giving up all drinking, that you'd still have a glass of champagne on a special occasion or whatever. Like the majority of the world's population, who never drink, are unable to celebrate anything!

You will need to be quite mindful, especially at first. Your brain will trigger you because you have a habit (I don't mean an addiction). This may be drinking whilst cooking the tea, or once you get to slump after doing bed time. Be alert to these and ready to combat them. Plan ahead - I was very worried when I first did a business trip after I gave up booze because I knew the temptation would be very strong - a glass of wine on the long train journey, a glass of wine at the hotel. No-one would ever know. So I said exactly that to my DH, I'm worried I will do this because I can, and it gave me the accountability not to do it.

Keep your hands busy - I used to play Animal Crossing on my DS (love that game) and when I got a bit better and could concentrate more, I took up knitting. Which has proven to be an even more ruinously expensive 'hobby' than drinking but is better in all other ways grin

I now avoid alcohol situations much more than when I first quit, because then I wanted to still be able to socialise with my friends in the same way. Now I'm happier to socialise with them in different ways. I like lunch, and coffee (I don't actually drink coffee but what else do you call it when you go out for a drink in the day?), not pub after work or dinners out.

I completely agree with Purple's post yesterday, particularly this:

My life is very much simpler and immeasurably better. I don't have to give it head space. I cannot recommend being teetotal, or sober highly enough. I think UK society sells alcohol (and particularly this whole wine drinking mothers shite) for lots of reasons, none of which are good. I now see it wine/alcohol for what it is - an addictive poison.

No-one's life is ever worse for not drinking.

BrightBagLady Tue 23-Feb-16 14:46:44

This is interesting. I am considering similar - not because I drink particularly large amounts. Or frequently. anymore A glass or two once a fortnight. Maybe a bottle on a night out of every couple of months. (btw no angel - used to drink copious amounts in my 20s)

My issue is the fall out afterwards. No particularly hangover the next day (never really suffered from them even in my heavy drinking days). But Oh Fuck - the depression/misery of my mood for 24-48 hours after a drink. Urghh. I am ratty, moody, picky and miserable. For 2 days after a couple of drinks. More and more I am coming to question why bother in the first place - it simply isn't worth it for me.

PurpleHairAndPearls Tue 23-Feb-16 15:25:34

Hmc it's a good point you make about the DC and setting an example, some of my DC are similar ages and I really don't want them to see alcohol being "normalised" for want of a better word - someone drinking wine etc every evening. Neither though, do I want to set an example of just saying it should be forbidden for everyone. I know full well at some point they will want to try alcohol and I would rather they see it as an indulgence that can have "fun" effects when you are young like getting off your face when you're 19 and dancing til 5am and a "toy" rather than a habit. Actually, I said the same on a thread about make up interestingly!

Without wishing to derail the thread, it pisses me off that alcohol is (literally) shoved down society's throats, whilst drugs are regarded with horror. I'm actually in favour of decriminalising drugs and young people being able to discuss and learn about the risks and be educated, much as they should be about alcohol. It always makes me a bit hmm when you see (for example) posts on here from parents looking for advice when a substance is found in a teens room, or suspicious that a DC's friends might be peddling weed, and they don't know anything at all about drugs - parents don't need to be experts but I think if you have DC you have to be acquainted with at least the basic facts and know what you're talking about.

We have a responsibility to our DC, and just like I don't want them to see me skinning up every night or tripping in the back garden, I don't want them to see me having wine/gin every night. I know this is expressed very simplistically and lots will disagree but I feel comfortable with this, and with my older teens it seems to have worked ok so far.

PurpleHairAndPearls Tue 23-Feb-16 15:26:27

Another long post! I shall go and clutch my pearls grin

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