How To Get Sober When You Still Love Drinking

The unique difficulties of quitting alcohol without a dramatic rock bottom, and how to overcome them.

Chelsey Flood
7 min readOct 28, 2020


Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

It’s easy enough to let go of headaches, nausea and shame, but what about that first pint in a sunny beer garden? What about those daft nights in with friends? What about that heavy drinking boyfriend? When you’re contemplating life without alcohol, the potential losses can seem to outweigh the gains.

This is one of the things that makes it so hard to even consider quitting for good. (This and the fact that it’s one of the most addictive substances on the planet.)

It’s especially hard to consider when everyone you know loves to drink. Wednesday night catch up, dinner with friends, wedding or funeral, your pals will be on the sauce.

At first, naturally, you want to join them. After all, it’s a social occasion, you feel a bit awkward and everyone is drinking. Because drinking is the best.

This is why it’s important that you find people who understand your particular quandary — i.e. that you love drinking so much you need to stop drinking — and can help you stick to your decision.

If you’re very fortunate, the people immediately surrounding you when you decide to get sober might already be those people. But they might not.

Unhelpful things people say when you stop drinking

My boyfriend Joe* was unsettled when it became clear I wasn’t joking about total abstinence. For years I had tried unsuccessfully to help him moderate — You need to choose between me and alcohol — in a dynamic that was boring and painful for both of us.

And now, I was embarking on a new plan that didn’t involve him at all: I wouldn’t drink, no matter what, a day at a time.

I’d failed to quit enough times to know I needed help if I was going to have a chance at succeeding, and so I joined an alcohol support group. This time things would be different.

Joe didn’t think I had enough of a problem to seek help, an opinion that triggered the cripplingly low self-esteem which was inextricably tied to my booze habit.



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