I believe the hardest part about getting sober is the decision to know when. If you’re anything like I was, you’ve gone over this question thousands of times in your mind, when is enough, enough? When is your drinking not normal anymore? How many times can you sweep what happened under the rug? How much justification comes with your actions?
I spent many years of my life thinking my drinking behavior and the consequences associated with it were pretty normal. I went to great lengths to prove this to myself. I surrounded myself with people who drank and used like I did. I immersed myself in the binge drinking culture on my college campus and was convinced that everyone blacked out just like me. I was too afraid to truly look at the fact that blacking out wasn’t normal and the situations I so often found myself in were dangerous.
Maybe you’ve had these feelings deep down in your soul. Maybe you’ve also wondered when is enough, enough? Here are 7 signs that enough is enough with your drug and alcohol use.
1. Your life is planned around drug or alcohol use.
If you think hard about it, you’ve probably planned many trips, events, and times of the year around your alcohol use. It’s easy to think, what drink will go with this holiday, this birthday, this party, this season? We’re conditioned to think that we need to celebrate, grieve, cope, and navigate our world using alcohol as a crutch. Looking back, I realize I planned most of my life around going out, imbibing, and socializing. I picked where I lived on my college campus because it was said to be the best party zone. Before reserving trips, I looked up bars and nightclubs first. I wanted to be in and around the party all the time. Was I near a liquor store? Even better. If you take an honest look at your own life, I’m sure you can see if you’ve used this same tactic or not.
2. You’ve experienced nasty hangovers.
Let me be clear – even if you haven’t experienced hangovers, it’s still possible to have an alcohol use disorder. In my situation I covered up the severity of my own hangovers because I figured everyone else felt as badly as I did. It took me years to be honest and say that most people do not vomit green bile and have a headache for 3 days following their drinking and drug use. I had to come to terms with the fact that my body was trying to tell me something and it was rejecting this harmful substance. Maybe it will help you to think about it in biological terms, if your body is having an adverse reaction to alcohol, it’s because you’ve consumed too much.
3. You’ve questioned how much of a negative event was due to your alcohol use.
We’ve all had bad nights out where we cross the line and things were said and did that are out of the ordinary for us. Maybe you lost a purse, lost your wallet, or got behind the wheel intoxicated. Maybe you injured yourself or got in a fight with your significant other. If you think back to these times, how much of these times were due to the fact that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs? I can honestly say that 99 percent of those times for me were directly caused by the substances I used. What an honest look at the negative consequences in your life reveal?
4. You’ve felt like an emotional mess the day after drinking.
When to know enough is enough isn’t only determined how you feel physically after drinking. It’s also how you feel emotionally. In my case, it was frequent that I would have episodes of deep depression and crying following days of drinking and taking drugs. I felt hopeless and helpless. It took me a long time to connect the dots that alcohol is a depressant and there was a reason I felt so devastatingly low the days after drinking. If you feel this way, it’s possible alcohol is contributing to your inability to cope with extreme feelings.
5. You feel pressured into drinking.
Of course, you’ll say the drinking was your fault or your idea, but let me ask you this, have you ever been in a situation where the plan was to not drink and you ended up drinking anyway? I can think of so many times when I truly did not want to partake in drinking and I couldn’t help but follow the crowd when I was asked. Friends can have the best intentions, but it’s always going to be someone’s birthday, or some event that requires you to make the decision to drink or not. If you can’t stick to a decision you’ve made, your relationship with alcohol might need to be looked at.
6. You go beyond a limit you set for yourself.
If you’ve surpassed a limit with your drinking it’s probable you’ve tried to regulate your own drinking. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to moderate or played silly games like, only 2 beers, no shots, no dark liquor, vodka only, etc. They never worked. Then I was mad at myself and more frustrated for going beyond a simple limit I had set for myself. I felt stupid for not being able to stick to a self-imposed limit. I kept looking for that on/off switch when it came to my drinking and I found that it didn’t exist.
7. Your life seems to have gotten away from you.
There came a point and time in my life when I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I felt like I was “going with the flow,” but in reality, drinking had become my number one priority and I didn’t care about much else. I finally had to ask myself, what does Kelly want out of life? What are my hopes and dreams? What do I need to do to dictate the course of my own life? The answers to these questions had become lost.
All of these points are things I personally experienced when I knew enough was enough for me and my relationship to drugs and alcohol. I hope these points can help guide you and your experience. Listen to the signs, listen to yourself, and don’t be afraid to make new choices for your life.
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterParty Magazine. She is currently writing a memoir.