If you had told me in 2019 that by 2021 I would be sober, I would have laughed at you. If you had told me in 2019 that by 2021 I would be sober and loving it, I would probably have sworn at you and bought myself a bottle of wine to console myself about a potential future I didn’t want.

Although I knew I had a drinking problem, I had suspected it fleetingly over the past 7 years, I never envisioned a future where I didn’t drink. At some point I would simply get my act together and stop drinking as much and become a normal drinker, like everyone else. Magic!

When I finally admitted to myself that I was an alcoholic in 2020, I still had no intention of giving up forever. I thought I would quit for a while and once my addiction had dissipated (yes, I genuinely thought it would go), I could then become a normal drinker. My previous attempts at dry months (shortly followed by more drinking) had not dampened my enthusiasm for the elusive normal drinker status.

I now know that becoming a normal drinker is not possible for me, or any alcoholic, I believe. I would take on the role of a moderate drinker, which is a very different to being a normal drinker. 

Before the night out

Normal drinker thoughts: I’m really looking forward to this night out.

Moderate drinker thoughts: I’m really looking forward to this night. How many drinks am I going to allow myself? I think just one, or maybe two will be ok? But if I have two I’m much more likely to risk having more. I’ll just go with one I think and then maybe next time I can try two? Yes, let’s go with one.

Start of the night out

Normal drinker thoughts: This is such a great night!

Moderate drinker thoughts: OK, I’ve had one glass. It was so nice. I’m not allowed anymore. But I really want just one more. Perhaps I could have just one more and then move to soft drinks? No, I need to stick to just one. But everyone else is getting another drink. One really wouldn’t hurt. NO. You said one, lets just stick with that. Maybe make my next one a soft drink and have one more wine after I’ve had a soft drink? No. You said one drink. End of discussion.

End of the night out

Normal drinker thoughts: I’ve had enough to drink now, think I’ll get a lemonade. What a great night!

Moderate drinker thoughts: I’ve had a really good night, think I’ll head home. Everyone else is quite drunk and annoying. I’m really proud of myself for doing a night out only having one drink. I think I could have more than one, as I know I can do it now, I’ll try two next time.

Although the outcome of the night was the same, the thought processes throughout the night were very different.  As a moderate drinker you face a lifetime of decision making. A lifetime of internal thoughts over whether to have just one more. Normal drinkers rarely go through that process (granted, they have nights where they are deciding whether to stay out or not, but these are on occasion, not every time they drink).   

If you are looking to get back to that illusive normal drinker status make sure you understand, being a moderate drinker is not the same as being a normal drinker. With sobriety there is no indecision. There is no back and forth. I do not drink. End of. Life inside my mind is a much calmer place to be and I wouldn’t change that for the world.