3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Attempting To Drink In Moderation
Have you ever looked at that one friend of yours who seems to have alcohol totally under control and thought if you could just drink in moderation, like her, things would be so perfect?
She really has the one or two drinks you plan to have all night, has a blast, never embarrasses herself, always remembers the events of the night before and never seems to be too hungover. And she makes it look so easy. If she can do it, you can too, right?
By the end of my drinking career I was able to (mostly) successfully drink in moderation like my dear BFF, but it took lots of trial and error to get there.
I did ultimately choose to quit drinking for good, but I still think moderation is a great option for those who want to reap some of the benefits of reduced alcohol intake without quitting completely right off the bat.
That said, looking back, there are a few things I wish I knew before attempting to drink in moderation that may have helped me make sense of it all just that much faster. In this article, I want to share some of these revelations with you. Maybe they can help make your journey that much easier, too!
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Most “Normal” Drinkers Don’t Have To Try So Hard
That friend of yours we talked about earlier? Chances are she doesn’t struggle to drink in moderation– she does so naturally.
I don’t have scientific evidence to back me up on this, so your observation may vary. But in my experience even though some occasionally go overboard, if you pay close attention most people who do drink do so very moderately.
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Since getting sober and engaging in conversation with current drinkers, I’ve begun asking direct questions about their habits. I have yet to talk to anyone in my own life who does not have a serious issue with drinking, who says they share issues like what I experienced. They don’t feel compelled to keep going at all costs once they get started. They have a drink or two, feel the effects, and there’s a natural “off” switch that (usually) prevents them from going overboard.
Those who forcefully drink in moderation are in the minority. And that’s okay, but it’s important to realize that before you make an attempt.
Knowing this, in the beginning, may have saved me a bit of stress and heartbreak. I didn’t really see myself as “different” at the time. I just thought something was “wrong” with me, that I was “weak” or even “stupid”.
When I’d fail at some of my early attempts to drink in moderation it was so confusing because I was always the only one in my group who just went too far so often. I don’t want that to happen to you.
If you’ve come to a point where you know you must consciously moderate, accept that you are already different and that’s okay.
The Threshold For Moderate Drinking Is Pretty Darn Low
If you think drinking in moderation includes having a few glasses of wine with dinner, or maybe three cocktails over the course of a night, think again. The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women or two for men.
Yes. More than one drink and you’ve already tiptoed out of moderate drinking territory, girlfriend.
This is important because while you need to define what level of drinking would be “goals” for you, you should also be informed of the facts.
We receive conflicting information everywhere about how moderate alcohol use is good for our health.
It’s easy to take this at face value because drinkers want to believe there is something good about drinking. But it is only wise to gather as much information as possible before making decisions, right?
I’ll be honest, I just stumbled upon these drinking guidelines myself, long after having decided to quit completely.
My personal goal was actually nothing but – however – it worked for me, and I still believe drinking less over time was better than what I was doing before. Had I really looked at what it really meant to drink in moderation, however, it may have given me pause when observing those “lucky” friends of mine. Though they drank less than me, it wasn’t exactly moderate.
At least I wouldn’t have been so jealous?
But that also brings me to my final point…
Moderate Drinking Is Harder Than Sobriety
Having tried and had some success with both — and especially after knowing the true threshold for moderate drinking – I can say with full confidence that it is far easier to abstain than to drink in moderation.
Knowing this, in the beginning, may have made the decision to fully commit to sobriety come a lot faster and easier, or it may have made the process of moderation a bit more intentional.
Because let’s face it. When problem drinkers drink, we drink to get drunk. We drink for that high that takes us out of whatever moment we’re in. That feeling doesn’t come after just one drink, even if that one drink is a shot of Bacardi 151.
There is a saying that floats around the sober blogosphere and online recovery forums that says something like “one drink is never enough so I’ll have none” (don’t quote me, please), and that rings so true at this point.
My idea of moderation was planned drinking dates with several weeks or months in between, but on those drinking dates all bets were off – there were no limits. I rarely binged because I’d grown so averse to the nasty side-effects of doing so, but still. I can’t imagine if I adhered to real moderation guidelines on those drinking days and had just one drink. Being limited to even two or three would make me irritated – one would be torture.
Consider this when you build your moderation plan and see how close you can come to meeting real moderation standards. How does that make you feel? Is drinking so dear to you that you’d choose one drink every blue moon over none at all?
Drinking Less Alcohol – Is It Right For You?
Choosing to drink in moderation is an excellent way to reduce the harmful physical and mental side effects of drinking to excess for those who aren’t yet ready to quit full stop. But before you make a moderation plan, it might be worth considering a few key points.
It is always best to be as informed as possible before making any decisions. I hope this article has given you at least a little bit of insight to alcohol moderation. Whatever plan you choose to follow, please be gentle with yourself, aware of the facts and open to flexibility and change as you go.