Should You Quit Drinking?

It's OK to quit drinking. Nobody needs to drink.

My life would have been easier, and I would have come to the idea of sobriety much more quickly and with less angst, if I had found a stop-drinking questionnaire that said something like this:

  1. Do you drink more than you want to? It’s OK to stop.
  2. Do you think about drinking all the time? I did too until I stopped. I send out daily emails of support (anonymous).
  3. Do you find it hard to quit? I did too. All the more reason to stop now.
  4. Do you feel better when you don’t drink? Not at first, maybe, but later—after seven to nine days sober, once all the booze and bullshit is gone, once you’re hydrated again. Do you feel better then? Good. It’s OK to stop.
  5. Do you feel better sober than on a day with a hangover? Good. That’s enough of a reason. You can stop.
  6. Does your brain tell you to drink again to celebrate your sobriety? Mine too. It’s OK, you can stay stopped.
  7. Can you plan to drink again in some mysterious future time like 20 years from now if that’s what it takes? Yes, you can NOT drink NOW.
  8. Do you have to be an alcoholic to benefit from quitting drinking? No. Booze is an anaesthetic. It changes who we are. It numbs and dulls and ultimately poisons.
  9. Does anyone HAVE to drink? No.
  10. Do you maybe need some advice and help and support to stop and stay stopped? Yes, I did.

Note: If you score 1 out of 10 or higher, it’s OK to quit. Try it for 100 days. See how you feel.

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I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Love this questionnaire. Like you said, it’s not necessarily about the amount we drank each time we did, but whether it was more than we wanted to, more often than we wanted to, on days we intended not to and so on……

  • I am almost in tears realising I have done the right thing by leaving my partner. He finds an excuse every day to drink, says he hasn’t got a problem he just enjoys it. I got dragged in. I pleaded with him to cut back and help me cut back. But nothing changed. I left him yesterday and this article miraculously appeared on my feed this morning. Thank you for confirming this had to happen. Day 1!!

  • Does your brain tell you to drink again to celebrate your sobriety? Mine too. It’s OK, you can stay stopped.

    Oh my Gosh! This happened to me so many times! 7 days? Yay! Drink!
    19 days? Yay! Drink!
    1418 days? No fucking way am I going to drink!

  • Today is my day one, again! There is always some excuse to put off not drinking….I will do the 100 day challenge AFTER my son’s wedding, AFTER my first cruise, AFTER the holidays and the list goes on and on! I really am tired of being so consumed with the thought of drinking! Belle, I read your book quite a while back and am about to read it again! I also ordered the “It’s about time” bracelet as a reminder to stay AF. I am excited and will stay in touch about my progress! Thanks to everyone for sharing your ups and downs! I need more sober tools for sure!

  • Teri x. #8. Numbing the brain with poison. When I get stressed and pissed off Wolfie comes knocking and I let him. The temporary no pain, don’t give a shit attitude. Next day always guilt,feel like shit,go 3 days without then repeat. No more Wolfie, no more poison. X

  • This questionnaire is a lot nicer and inviting then the black and white ones out there. It’s ok and it will be ok and I like the whole ‘not now’ premise vs the daunting ‘forever’.

  • It’s crazy to live a life where your head and your heart battle EVERY.DAMN.DAY. I’m struggling but I won’t give up. I can’t wait until the battle ends and freedom begins. I love your blog and daily emails. I imagine the book is amazing as well. Thank you for being out there…

  • Amen Belle!
    Even so called “high bottom boozebags” like myself benefit greatly from the brighter, more fulfilling AF life!

  • Hi. I have been a lurker for a long time. So hi. I just can’t seem to get it. I was sober for 10 years and I did rehab and AA and i just can’t do that again. I can’t. I really can’t. I would rather just die than do that again. But I need to stop and I can’t understand why I can’t get more than a few days. I know everything about not drinking. I lived AA, I have read the books, I have seen the therapists, I have the support. I have been drinking again for two and a half years and I REALLY want to stop again. Why can’t I?

    Anyway, I just thought I would say hi and stop lurking.

  • It’s ok to not drink. Day 70 today. I never thought I could go 7 days never mind 70. I knew I had a problem when all the above questions/statements resonated with me. 100 days is around the corner!!

  • I appreciate this “is it okay to stop” quiz. Partly, it was like I needed permission to try it out, not-drinking. So far (day 24) t has not been easy, but to my surprise, I think I like it.

  • Great questionnaire. You don’t have to wait around until you have this huge problem to quit. People might assume that I had this massive problem because I don’t drink now and that’s okay. It was big enough , and my life is waaay better now. Thanks!

  • I lie the checklist, but I don’t know that I needed reassurance that it was ok to stop until after I had stopped. Stopping drinking was necessary for me because I was miserable. A few days in, once my head cleared, was when I needed to know that it was ok to stay stopped and that my life would be better for it.

  • I hear your voice in my head when there starts to be a lot of noise:. “drinking is not required.”. I repeat that to myself 🙂

  • I’ve cut way back but still haven’t quit. WHY?!?! Can’t I Just Do It? The message is obvious. The stuff is poison, yet I just keep having “one more”. I’ve been drinking for 45 years. Maybe the length of time makes it worse? all of you SMART people in your 20s 30s and 40s doing this!! Bravo – you inspire this old lady. I am still working toward zero.

    • you may find that you do better with more support. if what you’re trying isn’t working, then you add in more tools and more supports until you find out what’s right for you. hugs from me xo

  • Often when I tell someone I’m not drinking the response is, “Oh I didn’t know you had a problem.” Of course I did, but I find it amusing that the idea of not drinking just because you don’t want to is so foreign to people. I aborted many attempts to quit because it felt easier to accept the offered drink than to explain myself. I love this idea of having “permission” to stop, regardless of the reason!

  • I stopped going to AA meetings bc I just don’t feel comfortable calling myself an alcoholic – only bc I don’t believe that I am. Could I be fooling myself? possibly Or, it could just be that that “you don’t have to be an alcoholic to benefit from quitting drinking”

    • i think you can look at it like if you’re continuously sober, then what you’re doing is working. and if you aren’t, then you add in more tools and more supports, even if one tool (AA) only contributes 18% it’s still a tool in the toolbox. it’s possible to go to a meeting and not speak, just listen. it’s a tool … huglets xo

  • I tried to quite before I met Belle. I was able to keep drinking because I would succumb to the flimsiest of reasons. The house is clean now. The house is dirty. You completed that nasty spreadsheet. Someone pissed me off. Someone said something nice to me. Etc. Now I’m looking forward to Day 900 armed with all of my anti-Wolfie tools and techniques. Thank you Belle! **Sober is the new black.** **Sober is the new cool.** xoxo Rosemarie.

  • This is excellent!! I love number 8: “Booze is an anaesthetic. It changes who we are. It numbs and dulls and ultimately poisons.” Wow. That’s EXACTLY what it does. Thank you!

  • I remember reading this when I was trying to figure out if I should keep ” moderating” my drinking—( I wasn’t really moderating just hadn’t had a full blown melt down in a bit. So that’s what I would call it) or attempting to stop. I really didn’t think I totally “needed” to stop right then. After all, I was far away from my bottom ( and I got low) so that was progress….right? Then I read this quiz and it was a light in the dark room turned on! I was like–damn she’s right. I love this! I wish I could print it out and paste it to the foreheads of a lot of people!

  • It really does get easier and easier. It’s Friday today and I used to have this horrible anxiety about what I would do on a Friday night if I didn’t drink. Now it’s just another night and that’s ok. Saturdays are beautiful.

  • Belle, I am on day 34 today … I feel strong but I know I will not always feel this way and I would love to have an audio copy of your book that I could listen to while I take my dog on long walks! Thank you for being there.

  • So much grief could have been avoided if I had stumbled across these questions years ago… they aren’t threatening or scary or shaming… they actually made me laugh and would have a few years ago too… but now I can’t stress about wishing I had stopped sooner or “what if?”. Instead, I will be grateful that I did stop when I did and will diligently use my bag of tools (daily) to keep me here!

  • It’s OK to quit, if you have a serious problem, if you have a medium-sized problem or if you have a tiny inkling that drinking booze kind of sucks overall. Just because there are some select idiots that may give you a hard time about your AF life, if said idiots told you to jump off a bridge because it was cool, would you?? Negative! Alcohol is fine, until it’s not. But let’s not forget that it’s ‘positive’ effects are only an illusion, whilst it’s negative effects are legit, measurable and too numerous to write here!! I’m choosing the AF life and Belle is helping me to keep my sober car tooling down the highway. Beep Beep!!

  • “Does your brain tell you to drink again to celebrate your sobriety?’ Why yes Belle, it sure does! MY brain would celebrate daylight and the moon and dirt sightings if I let it. I love this blog, it is wonderful to know that I am not alone! 🙂

  • This is a perfect list to rate our booze barometer. Direct yet not threatening, it is a very appropriate guide for those needing help.

  • It’s so much more then OK for me!! It’s a new life that I am proud of. Thank you so much Belle, you have tought me so much 🙂

  • I answered ‘yes’ to most of those questions. I’m a failed quitter. A repeat offender. A too many ‘day oner’. I’ll stop. Then start. Then stop. The yo-yo is old. Have added more support this time. Turn 50 tomorrow. And will celebrate it sober. I’m on day 4 again. But it’s better than day 1 again. It’s just so worth it to stop. Day 4 feels so much better than hungover.

  • For the first time in 34 days I have thought about drinking. I recently got out of a stressful dead end job and into a new adventure of a job and felt I need to celebrate. Not going to happen. I love me now. No drinking.

  • Another day 2 today. Day 2s are just as bad as day 1s….because it has sunk in even more that I could have been so much further into my sobriety.

  • Just read the post from H20 Beth about putting her 4-year old to bed and reassuring her that the big bad wolf is not real. I raised three children, who are all adults now, with intermittent dips in and out of drinking. (that ‘high bottom’ thing). How I wish I could do it all over again without any alcohol. I can say now that I never let alcohol affect them, or my parenting, but I know that’s gotta be untrue. And now that I am 62, in my ’empty nest,’ I am finally kicking Wolfie the f*@! out of the house. Too late? That’s Wolfie talking. I have a one-year old grandson who is only ever going to know that Nana doesn’t drink. And is always ready to get down on the floor and play with him…and put on loud music and dance around the house with him. And be the first one out of bed in the morning to make pancakes. To run to the park and be the first one on the swings. I will always be present now. No looking back, no regrets.

  • Day 20, feeling so much better. I had gotten over 150 days 1 1/2 years ago, but Wolfie is sneaky and sly. Not this time, I’m learning his tricks and gathering more tools.

  • Best part of being sober is that I have rediscover laughter! My husband and I LAUGH together now- again! No more slightly mean drunken things veiled in humour from me. It feels so good to laugh. Day 11 for me. Happy Friday!!!

    • I used to think that because I am approaching 4 years sober that wolfie has left my house but not a chance! He forever lurks but like others, I have built my house of brick making it much more difficult for wolfie to find me or enter my sanctuary. Eff off asshole!

  • “Booze really fucks with your reasoning”…IN EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE!!! I wonder how thst would look as a tattoo…i do not want to lose that thought…thank you.

  • “Does your brain tell you to drink again to celebrate your sobriety? Mine too. It’s OK, you can stay stopped.” Love this, my brain has been suggesting this little celebration quite often lately. How ironic, right? I’m coming up on 18 months sober. Do folks smoke a cigarette to celebrate not smoking for 18 months? Booze really fucks with your reasoning.

    • I really relate to this one. I start getting traction then at the end of my work week, my brain gets hijacked by the very loud wine-bitch that literally screams at me: “Tonight you can reward yourself with a bottle of wine. It’s been xxxx amount of days without drinking, so you’re fine.” And because it’s easier to give in than to fight, I stupidly listen to the wine-bitch and off I go to buy my bottle. This morning I feel like shit on many levels. Back to day 1. BTW: when you relapse, I have noticed it gets harder and harder to stop. Duh…you’d think I’d have learned by now. Booze is so illogical.

  • I am so much happier now. It’s hard sometimes. But man, my life is blooming now that I’m sober! Plus. I still get chocolate..,,

  • Yep. It’s OK! One month today, ordered myself a little gift from your store to celebrate! Thanks for what you do!

    • The problem with the CAGE questionnaire is the mention of early morning drinking. I never did that. and it’s just not everyone’s experience. While i appreciate that the CAGE thing says if you have 2 or more, but seeing something like that on a questionnaire fucks with our brains and makes us say: “see, we’re not like THOSE people…”

      • That was exactly my experience with the CAGE questionare. I was yes on three out of the four, but because I didn’t do morning drinking, I used that as an excuse to discount the other questions.