Why People Will THINK You Were An Alcoholic If You Quit Drinking

To others, you had to be close to rock bottom to quit.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“Sometimes what we see in our judgment to other individuals are the things that we are trying to hide.”
― Jestoni Sacay

After over two years of alcohol-consciousness, I have actually gotten pretty used to the questions I get about the reasons I quit drinking.

“Were you drinking like every day?”

“Were you getting to the point that you could not control yourself?”

“How bad did it get?”

At first, I must admit, I was a bit concerned by them and sometimes somewhat offended that I would get them.

However, as time has passed and I’ve gotten much more mature and educated in my alcohol-conscious journey, I now realize that these questions are not a judgment on me as much as they are a sense of validation for the asker.

Don’t get mad or upset if/when you get this from others. Just realize that there are several reasons others will suspect this for your decision.

The thought of giving up something one enjoys so much seems drastic

This is pretty clear as most people enjoying drinking immensely.

As shared in Life is NOT More Exciting Sober, alcohol does make life a bit more exciting with it than without it. Exciting in that anything can happen (good or bad) and, for many people, a life of excitement is enjoyable.

Therefore to give this option up and to resign to live a life that doesn’t involve nights out until 2 am or drinking all day at the beach seems like a prison sentence.

For that reason, individuals will automatically assume that you had a major problem with drinking and were faced with a quit or die/face life ruin scenario.

The thought that you could’ve decided to give up drinking because it just wasn’t healthy for you or holding you back from achieving lofty goals seems to be far-fetched.

They will automatically assume that something terrible happened to you and you woke up one day and made the decision to quit because you were afraid of something worse happening in the future.

I have even made this mistake myself as I would run into a few co-workers in the past who didn’t drink. For the ones who never liked to drink or drank very sparingly as it was, I wouldn’t consider their situation much more than that moment of interaction.

However, for those who said that they used to drink heavily or a fair amount but decided that it just wasn’t serving them anymore, I remember having visions of what they must have been like while drinking and how they were probably a wild animal as compared to their calm and collective self now.

This would often bring a smile to my face, as it would usually involve them dancing on a table and yelling at the top of their lungs. Not sure why, but that was just my go-to image of anyone on a binge, a hilarious thought when you compare it to the person I saw in front of me today.

You seemed perfectly fine to them

While in your mind, you saw drinking as something that was holding you back and keeping you from doing all the things you desire, from the outside looking in others probably didn’t see it that way.

Some may have seen you as the party gal/guy who lived a life of work hard / play hard that looked exciting. You may be in good shape, have a budding career, and seem to have it all as it relates to success and family.

Therefore, it’s going to be challenging for others to understand why you felt it made sense to make such a drastic decision.

For them, if you didn’t appear to have any problems on the outside, then that must surely mean that you were having MAJOR issues that you had been hiding for some time.

Just like my mind used to go to all of these scenarios in which I could picture the person in front of me behaving in a way that was outside of what I was used to, these individuals will also begin to imagine you in a dilapidated state or being so out of control that you were forced to quit or risk it spilling over into your work life.

They will think that if you were able to hide your “problem” from them for so long, then it must have escalated to the point that you felt the need to quit or risk it taking over your life completely.

The thought that you weren’t that bad of a drinker and just made this decision because you came to the conclusion that it was just wasn’t in your best interest long term seems unfathomable to them.

There is no way that you could have NOT been in a state of despair, as to make such a dramatic decision had to mean you were on the precipice of disaster.

Regardless of what you say, this will usually be the lens through which they will view you because they couldn’t see anything wrong with you before.

They don’t want to think they drink too much

And of course, this is the biggest one for most people.

From the outside looking in, you probably appear to be a success in a number of different ways. Therefore, it will be challenging for them to accept that you did not have any underlying and deep demons that were slowly eating away at your soul for THEM to feel comfortable accepting your decision.

The reason for this is that if you as a well put together, high-achiever and an overall successful person would think that you were drinking too much, could there be a small possibility that they also may be imbibing a bit excessively as well?

As with a number of things in life, others will often not like a decision that you make for your life because of what it may indicate about their own. As shared in Why Some People Will HATE That You Don’t Drink, this is one of the main reasons that many people will question your decision and even encourage you to go back to drinking.

For them, to think that you had a problem or that you decided that drinking was not something that was helping you in life may indicate that they should also revisit their relationship with alcohol.

And as with anything that could potentially threaten our brain’s ability to consistently get the dopamine hits that it has become accustomed to, there is a “Danger, Will Robinson” sign that goes off in our brain any time something that could disrupt this habit comes into play.

Your brain will begin reasoning why this thought is completely absurd and rationalize why either this person is completely ridiculous or you are nothing like this person.

This process is exactly what happens when many people digest other’s decisions to not drink, and they have to figure out a way to ensure they don’t lump themselves into this same category because they have no desire to give it up.

And, of course, to do this, they have to tell themselves that this person had a MUCH bigger problem than they are letting on and had to be at or close to rock bottom to have made this decision.

Therefore, they HAD to be an alcoholic, right?

It makes them feel better and keeps you in a box that makes sense to them.

As you get further from your alcohol-consciousness date, this view from others will seem to lessen a bit, but be prepared.

The questions will come about how “bad” it was, so know that it’s not you that’s bringing up these questions but their concern for themselves.

By telling them you weren’t an alcoholic, you can possibly plant those first seeds that maybe an alcohol-free lifestyle is something that they should consider as well.

And then you both can laugh at how others think you were a couple of alcoholics together.