I’ve never been a problem drinker. I stop drinking if I feel a buzz, I don’t ever drink hard liquor, and I don’t drive if I’ve had more than one glass of wine. I just REALLY like a glass (or two) of Sauvignon Blanc at the end of the day to signal that the day is done and it’s time to relax.
So there’s no problem, right?
However, as I looked back over the last year, I realized that it was a rare night indeed when I didn’t have at least one glass of wine. And, in fact, most nights I drank 1½ to 2 glasses.
After reading Ashley Sakker’s article in Oprah about her experiences cutting back on drinking, I ordered a copy of Frederick Rotgers’ Responsible Drinking. Apparently there’s a whole movement of folks who want to reduce the amount they’re drinking, and this is their bible.
The book recommends you get on the road to moderation by stopping drinking entirely for 30 days. My first (and second and third) reactions to the idea of doing “The Thirty” were not positive. Surely I didn’t have to do something as drastic as giving up wine for a whole month! But after weeks of soul-searching and realizing that just telling myself to drink less each night wasn’t working, I finally decided to give it a try.
The first few days were rough. I’m hypoglycemic, and I’ve learned to rely on the quick sugar hit I get from wine in the early evening. But whenever I started trying to convince myself how nice a glass of wine would taste, I’d ask myself “are you so weak you can’t even keep a promise to yourself?”
Once I had a week without wine under my belt, I realized that I was sleeping a lot better than I had in years. I’ve known for a long time that if I had a second glass of wine in the evening, I would wake up at 2:00 and toss and turn for several hours. All of a sudden, I was consistently sleeping through the night.
After 2½ weeks of abstinence, I realized that the way I was spending the hours after dinner had changed drastically. Instead of crawling into bed at 8:30 or 9:00, picking up a novel with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and falling asleep quickly, I was enjoying my late evenings again.
I started reading thought-provoking books such as the Exodus (about the founding of Israel) and business books full of great ideas for my new business. And I started to write again, both on business topics and for personal pleasure.
So what am I doing now that my thirty days are up? I’ve decided I don’t want to forbid myself the pleasure of an occasional glass of wine, but I also don’t want to lose the energy I’ve gained in the evenings. So I’m going to limit myself to drinking no more than two glasses of wine per week and see how that goes.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from other non-alcoholics who’ve contemplated or succeeded in stopping drinking for at least a month about what the experience was like for you. Did you reach the same conclusions? Have you given up alcohol entirely?