I recently noticed that I have inadvertently spent the past year abstaining from any alcohol, and today marks exactly one year since my last drink (thanks, Google Photos, for the reminder). This was not a deliberate choice. This time last year, there definitely wasn’t any formal “I’m quitting” decision. But a year later, here we are.
Rather, I have just low-key decided that I’m not drinking “right now.” When presented with a drink, I’d simply respond with “no thank you” or “no thanks, I’m good” or “a water would be great.” That “right now” turned into a year and counting.
I’m not here to convince anyone that alcohol is bad. Sure, I could very easily cite some research that states how alcohol affects your sleep, how it often derails weight loss efforts, or *insert statistic here.*
But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because I know there might be someone reading this that has contemplated at some point in their life what positive, credible role drinking serves in their life right now or for their fitness and health goals. And maybe that person has thought that choosing not to drink at all is reserved only for people with severe, life-threatening dependency issues with alcohol. For the rest of us, “moderation” is the one-size-fits-all answer.
We’ve been told this by beer commercials and health magazines alike. So sweeping is this prescription of “moderation” we hardly question it.
My only goal here is to say that moderation can also mean a year and counting without drinking. Moderate drinking is often defined as 1 to 2 drinks per day. I guess I’m in the “zero” drinks category, but that still feels unfair to people like my partner, who has not had a drop of alcohol in eight years and whose sobriety is very much a part of his identity. His decision to not drink is final, forever, case closed. Mine is… open. It seems that neither decision is wrong, but we just don’t have the language to define the differences. As a society, we’ve grown to accept sobriety as a necessary decision in order to combat the unrelenting forces of addiction, and in only the rarest of cases. But we seem to have a much harder time accepting sobriety as an unfixed lifestyle choice in the absence of alcoholism. It’s… uncomfortable. Kind of a downer. Lame. Have a little fun, would ya?
As of now, I’m not sure when my next glass of red wine or NorCal margarita will be. It could be a month from now or ten years from now or never. All I know is that, for me, right now, I am enjoying alcohol not being a part of my equation. So, I’m not drinking right now.
Moderation does not have to mean “I only drink on special occasions,” “only in social situations” or “only when I’m realllllly stressed out.” The truth is, I no longer associate alcohol with having fun, being social, or with relaxation. So for me, moderate drinking actually means that I don’t drink unless I see it fitting in with my life and what’s important to me. Right now, a drink is just not jiving with that.
There aren’t many resources for people for whom “moderation” looks a lot like sobriety. Rightfully so, there are many resources dedicated to addiction and recovery. There could always be more. But it’s my inkling that people who just “aren’t drinking right now” may need some level of support and to know that they, too, are not alone in their decision, either.
So, let me know in the comments: are you in the “zero drinks” category? If so, let’s bust that vague designation wide open. I’m sure we all have different stories and perspectives to tell. If you’re not in that category, have you ever thought about deliberately not drinking, for any length of time and for any reason? If so, what kinds of resources would you need to feel supported in that decision? Let’s talk about it.