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 Post subject: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Veg_Eric is inspiring!

OK. I've been thinking about this for a while and there's no way I'm talking it over with my family and though I could talk it over with friends I don't really want to because - well - I don't know why. So, here goes. Apologies in advance for being rambly. And apologies too if this is in the wrong forum.

I have 3 - 4 drinks 3-4 times a week. Now that I live alone I don't drink at home, only in my local bar, which to me is like Cheers - everybody knows my name, and everyone looks out for one another. I drink because it gives me the ability to talk to people. My friends don't believe me when I tell them I'm horribly shy, but it's the truth. A drink makes me not shy.
FYI, every relationship I've had - and every one-night-stand - has started in a pub. Ridiculous, eh?

I'm not the dance on the table type, nor do I get into arguments or say mean things to people. But still, I don't feel good about what I'm doing. I wake up and think Why? Why didn't I just have that one glass of wine then come home? Why? Because I was enjoying myself at the time! But the guilt and angst the next day is just too much. I comb through every word I said throughout the evening and cringe. And most of the time it's over things that I don't think anyone else would think twice about.

Example. Last night I swung through the bar on the way home from work for an Irish coffee. It was cold and I was missing family and feeling crappy and self-pitying and wanted some warmth and company. That's my excuse, anyway. I took a seat at the other end of the bar to my usual spot (yes, I have a usual spot) and - after the requisite 3/4 of a drink had been consumed - started chatting to the guys sitting next to me about Scotland and single malt. Then we decided to split a malt, then another. So - 3-ish drinks down. We talked for a couple of hours then they left. I really liked one of them so asked my buddy the bartender to put in a good word for me should the topic every arise. He said he would.

So I woke up this morning in a blind panic, yelling mentally at myself because I was so dumb and desperate as to ask the bartender to do that. I know how stupid this sounds - it's not like I told him to tell the guy I wanted to shag his brains out - and I know that by tomorrow I'll be less freaked out and I'll be over it by the end of next week, but I can't deal with feeling like this any more.

I want to quit, but I'm so afraid that if I do I'll stop being the funny extrovert that most people over here know me as and revert to the Billy No-Mates outsider I was in high school. I didn't like that me. (Hell, I don't even know if the real me really is the shy introvert or if the booze relaxes me enough to bring out the 'real me'). (I'm also afraid I'll never get laid again. Seriously.)

Ugh. What a self-absorbed whiner... The only thing I can do it try it, right? Right.

So, PPK'ers, have you been through this and if so, do you have any advice? Cos I could really use some right now.
And thanks for listening.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:24 pm 
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Wow. Your story is exactly like mine, although I drink maybe 5 days a week. Usually 3-4, although I'm known (to myself, I hope) that I overdo it. I have a bar, hang out with the other barflies, have my regular spot, my regular drink, and everyone knows me. We all look out for each other. I've had plenty of one night stands as a result of my drinking (and bipolar II includes reckless sex).

When I wasn't drinking, I'd still hang out at the bar because that's where my friends were. But I struggled with fitting in and being fun, so I started to drink again. I wasn't ready to be completely sober, anyway.

Like you, I'm not an angry drunk. I'm fun and happy. If I go in there in a bad mood, I leave in a good mood.

I have also made a fool of myself with a couple of the bartenders.

I guess I don't have any advice, but wanted to jump in and say that you're not the only one. I'm glad to know I am not, either. I'm curious to see what kind of advice comes out of this. It may help me, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:30 pm 
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Phew, thanks Walrus, I just let out all my breath and I didn't even realize I was holding it!
I wonder all the time if it's my / our own perception that's skewed.
I just dunno.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:30 pm 
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I've never liked bars myself but I also stopped drinking around the time it became legal for me to drink.

My biggest problem initially was my family because we would drink socially with eachother. I would just drink something else and say I didn't feel like drinking. After a while, they stopped bothering me about it. My only piece of advice is it become easier with time.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:44 pm 
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Thanks Linalil. My family (with the exception of my brother, who likes his nightly brew) don't drink much at all - mainly only on special occasions. It was only when I moved out, then came over the pond, that I started to drink regularly. Maybe I should move back home ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:52 pm 
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Can you think of non-drinking activities you can do in the evenings?

Going to yoga class frequently has helped me cut down on drinking, simply because I'm doing something where I can't drink, and also it has a billion other benefits.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:58 pm 
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SR you read my mind!
I've just decided to visit my local gym this afternoon. I figure the amount of $$ I'll save at the pub will cover the monthly fees. I'm a little freaked out at the thought of maybe meeting people I know there but I call shenanigans on myself for using that as a pathetic excuse.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:02 pm 
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as far as being the 'funny extrovert' goes, my cousin got sober a couple of years ago. he considered it all a huge core of his personality, and admits he's definitely had to re-assess what that means to him as a result. he's totally still the same guy, but now he's actually forming better connections with people - instead of coming across as mildly insecure ('HEY YOU GUYS STILL LIKE ME RIGHT? LOOK I'M HILARIOUS' 'haha, yes, now go home, you're drunk'). for him it's been massively positive without much sacrifice

and I'll mention it, simply because I'm a huge fan of peer support: have you looked into AA at all? it seems kinda creepy with religious undertones, but having broz that have your back is amazingly empowering. maybe there are alternate groups that do similar but less..intense?

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:03 pm 
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Wallace22 wrote:
SR you read my mind!
I've just decided to visit my local gym this afternoon. I figure the amount of $$ I'll save at the pub will cover the monthly fees. I'm a little freaked out at the thought of maybe meeting people I know there but I call shenanigans on myself for using that as a pathetic excuse.

Yay! That's great!

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:04 pm 
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In my research when I was "taking a break", I found these website helpful:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/alcohol_abuse_alcoholism_help_treatment_prevention.htm

http://www.moderation.org/natlf2f.shtml

http://lifering.ning.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:14 pm 
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wallace- that was my life in Japan. I had my local(s), my drinking buddies, and my life would not have been the same without it. Except I think I drank a hell of a lot more, since my buddies were mostly functional alcoholics or very close to it.
I moved, that was the only way that it could stop. I also made myself some new support groups with some charity work that I really loved, and got involved with new things (natural since I moved).
I think the gym is a great idea. But i wanted you to know, it ain't just you.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:25 pm 
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As mentioned in the truth and lie thread, I did actually apply for a job in L.A. I'm hoping that a move to another city (even if it's not L.A.) would do me some good.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:26 pm 
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Ah - Thanks for posting this. The situation is probably more common than anyone realizes yet it's so isolating at the same time. I get in social situations where sometimes I have to run home and have a few quick drinks and run back so that I can actually socialize. Congrats on your gym membership! That seems like a positive step.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:32 pm 
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Thanks guys, this is all great stuff.

Joshua, that's a great way of looking at things. Your cousin sounds - familiar! Re. AA - I did Al-Anon for a while when I was leaving my STBX-husband and I felt like a total fraud, maybe because there *was* that emphasis on the religious aspect in that group. It put me off a bit. OK if I'm being honest, it totally put me off. I'll ask around about some alternatives.

Torque - thank you! I def need to get out of this rut...

Walrus - thanks for these links, I'll be checking them out when I get back from walking the pupmeister.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:37 pm 
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Ooh, good luck with the LA app Walrus! I do think a change of scene can be really good. Particularly to a place where no-one has any preconceptions that have to be lived up to!
Totally hear you Fetalexplosion - I downed a double just to get my asparagus into a birthday party last week.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:40 pm 
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Wallace22, I was a bartender for 17 years, & a 4-5 nights a-week-drinker for maybe 5 of those years. My MIL is an alcoholic who has been in and out of recovery, and just recently was taken by police escort to a psyche ward. Which does not by any means make me an expert,-I'm not!-but I've had a few different perspectives on booze through the years- my own personal view, a bartenders view, and the struggle and acceptance of my MIL's alcoholism.

My two cents, Wallace22, is that if you are feeling weird about your time spent at the bar at this point, it's time to cut back. Not giving up that part of your life completely, but as strawberry rock commented, cultivating other activities that don't involve booze to round out your time spent at the bar.

I certainly see the pub as a great place to make social connections, but when you find you make all of your social connections there, it's healthy to branch out. There are clubs and groups for so many things. (Right now, I'm thinking of taking mountain school to learn mountaineering safely, with a great instructors, and getting involved in a feral cat group. Both are places I hope to meet folks that might become friends).

In my bartending experience, I've seen customers stop by for "just one drink", and then 5 hours later, finally make it home to their family. 4 or 5 days a week. I don't think all drinkers necessarily head down that road, for sure. But I've also sat in on enough open AA meetings and Al-anon meetings to scare the crepe out of me.

I commend you for thoughtfully asking yourself these questions. Part of me wishes I would have been more productive with the years I spent primarily frequenting bars and getting drunk. I probably would have saved some brain cells/liver cells, and a whole lot of cash! I do like who I am today, so I guess that part of my life helped form who've I become, so it's not all bad. But some people have more addictive personalities than others, so I feel in that respect I'm VERY lucky that drinking didn't take over my life totally. I still drink socially with friends once every week or two, but actually only go to a bar once every month or once every two months. It's still fun when I go, it's just not the center of my social life anymore.

Good luck with your journey.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:50 pm 
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torque wrote:
wallace- that was my life in Japan. I had my local(s), my drinking buddies, and my life would not have been the same without it. Except I think I drank a hell of a lot more, since my buddies were mostly functional alcoholics or very close to it.
I moved, that was the only way that it could stop. I also made myself some new support groups with some charity work that I really loved, and got involved with new things (natural since I moved).
I think the gym is a great idea. But i wanted you to know, it ain't just you.


Ha- this is almost exactly my story, too. I drank so much in Korea, especially once Wally had moved here and I hadn't yet. I was unhappy, in a work hard, party harder type of job, in a country with a terrifying drinking culture (see http://blackoutkorea.blogspot.com ...) I drank most nights, either with other "I am not an alcoholic, it's just Korea" friends or by myself. And for me too the only way to quit was to leave that environment and those people.

I quit all hard liquor this summer. I only drink beer or wine. I don't want to be completely dry, I enjoy some social drinking, as well as oenology and beerology. But I don't want my drinking to creep back up on me either. I'm still trying to figure out a healthy balance.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:35 pm 
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Wallace22 wrote:

Joshua, that's a great way of looking at things. Your cousin sounds - familiar! Re. AA - I did Al-Anon for a while when I was leaving my STBX-husband and I felt like a total fraud, maybe because there *was* that emphasis on the religious aspect in that group. It put me off a bit. OK if I'm being honest, it totally put me off. I'll ask around about some alternatives.



You could try out another AA meeting - another group of people or in another town. Maybe even IOP meetings. I know a lot of people in AA focus on God as their higher power, but that's never a requirement. Your "higher power" can mean anything. The second I started to think "hey, my higher power is allowed to be science and then I can still make sense of the world while accepting that my brain works in a way that might be different than most people's" instead of "oh I can't work this program because I'm atheist" it really turned it all around to be something completely different and doable. But I totally understand how isolating that feeling would be in a room full of people talking about god or spirits or the devil and that even if you do believe in god, that kind of treatment doesn't work for everyone.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:39 pm 
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Fee wrote:
You could try out another AA meeting - another group of people or in another town. Maybe even IOP meetings. I know a lot of people in AA focus on God as their higher power, but that's never a requirement. Your "higher power" can mean anything. The second I started to think "hey, my higher power is allowed to be science and then I can still make sense of the world while accepting that my brain works in a way that might be different than most people's" instead of "oh I can't work this program because I'm atheist" it really turned it all around to be something completely different and doable. But I totally understand how isolating that feeling would be in a room full of people talking about god or spirits or the devil and that even if you do believe in god, that kind of treatment doesn't work for everyone.


I had a hard time at my AA meetings. Plus, this town is so small that I saw people I knew. :ashamed:

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:06 pm 
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Is counseling an option for you? Seems to me working on strategies and tools for you to feel comfortable socializing when sober and/or learning to accept that you sober are not as outgoing as you'd like to be could be really helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:10 pm 
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I love the idea of a gym membership, however I'd take it one step farther. Sign up for a class at the gym. It's a great way to get to know people and you can't be out drinking late at a bar if you have an early am workout where friends are expecting you!


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:34 pm 
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Thank you all so much for your feedback and perspectives, you've no idea how much it's helping. I don't feel like such an eejit now!

I'll def look into counseling if I find I'm having a hard time and retreating into a hole. Walrus - yeah, same situation here. It's a friggin small sandbar...

I JOINED THE GYM TODAY! So I can no longer actually afford to go to the bar ;) And on your collective wise advice I'm making a list of all those things that I've always wanted to learn/do and am checking out classes/groups etc.

Thanks PPK. I <3 U.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Rohai - genius!


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:22 pm 
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fork. Me.
There's no doubt that I've been partying it up a lot, particularly in the last couple of months, but I am SO disgusted with myself.
I've spent - no joke - about $600 in the pub in 6 weeks. No wonder I'm for forking broke right now. Holy shiitake. I could have spent that on doing something really nice for my family. Instead I'm scraping around to get gifts that aren't too crappy to send to them for Christmas. Gads, another couple of weeks and I could have paid for my flight home for the holidays.
Wow. What a crasshole.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting down/out the booze
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:41 pm 
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I don't have any advice, but I've recently found this forum and think you may be able to find some great support here: http://forums.psychcentral.com/

Best wishes! <3

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