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The Prevailing Social Narrative Around Alcohol is Wrong

Maybe It's Time to Stop Asking If We Have a Drinking Problem

Originally posted Jan 16, 2024 On The Ultimate Mom Challenge

I think one of the greatest disservices of our times is the notion that a person either has a drinking problem or doesn’t.

For most people, a drinking problem does not flick on like a light switch. It is a slow accumulation of years of growing tolerance in addition to life circumstances.

I spent years doing mental gymnastics over whether I was in control of my drinking. I believed I was. But during those years, my tolerance grew and grew until I could consume a bottle of wine without feeling drunk. Combine that with an environment where moms are encouraged to drink to cope. And a social narrative that if you haven’t lost everything due to heavy drinking, you are probably fine.

Mixed with my generalized anxiety and depressive episodes, alcohol, marketing, and the social narrative all played a part in me believing alcohol made things better when, in reality, it made me feel a thousand times worse.

I remember telling this to someone shortly before I quit drinking. I told him the headaches, the foggy brain, and the energy drain was just too much. Maybe I needed to stop drinking altogether. In all seriousness, the man nodded in understanding before suggesting I slip just a tinge of Tuaca in my morning coffee. And if that isn’t the perfect metaphor for how our alcohol-heavy culture assures us that the problem is we need to drink more, not less — then I don’t know what to say.

The “problem” isn’t whether or not someone is genetically dispositioned to be an alcoholic, although genetics play a part. The problem is alcohol is addictive and we need to continue to drink more in order to feel the same effects we used to. It’s often a slow burn that takes us years to realize the house is, in fact, on fire.

Maybe it’s time to stop asking if we have a drinking problem and start asking if drinking is causing a problem. Not wait for the house to burn down but listen for the smoke alarms. And if the alarms go off? You don’t ignore the smoke and go back to bed. You get the heck out of the house.

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