Audio: Should I Quit or Cut Down?

This was audio #116 for my sober podcast subscribers sent out in October 2015.

I recorded this podcast with a live audience for the first time. There were a total of 19 people listening in and sending me messages on the chat. Totally different and fun. And the result? What was supposed to be a new 10 minute audio for you turned out to be over 20 minutes long.

This podcast deals with an email I received last week:

Hi there! I am a 46 year old mum of 2. Alcohol has always been in my life but increased after stepping back from my career and having children. I would say I noticed it was a real problem in the past 2 years. This is day 12  alcohol free for me, the longest time without alcohol in ten years.  I’d like to know lots of things! … Should I abstain completely or cut down?

The full audio podcast runs for over 20 minutes. Here’s an extract. It’s a 3 minute sample taken from about the half-way point.




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

  • I’m struggling. Carrying Wolfie on my back. I quit for over a year before, after signing up for the jumpstart, and using supports. Then I became overly confident and started up again during a vacation in 2017. I think I ordered a drink then because I still deep down didn’t believe that I have a drinking problem. I have been reading emails and thinking about a good time to stop, but of course, when is that? Yes I know. Today.

  • Moderation doesn’t work. Eventually I changed my mindset: I compare it to my adult son’s new nut allergy. With each exposure, he had a slightly worse reaction until, one time, he went into anaphylaxis. Now, he doesn’t ever eat nuts. He loved nuts, is quite a foodie and cook, so it was really sad to accept he can’t have them. But it would kill him, so not an option. I know my brain has changed its hardwiring to be addicted to alcohol. I imagine it is like being deathly allergic to it. I just can’t have it again–ever. Knowing it isn’t even an option, I don’t angst over it anymore–acceptance =freedom. I’ve been happily sober 3 1/2 years now. Life is so good! (Trust me–it gets easier!) P.s. Counseling has helped me a lot too–it’s been a lot of hard work, but worth it! I’ve learned new strategies to deal with things rather than checking out in a wine-numbing stupor every night.

  • There just is no such thing as moderation for me when it comes to drinking. I’m a “go big or go home” kind of person and when it comes to drinking, I just need to go home.

  • Day 18 – still here – cutting back is not what I want now. If looking at it from the question, is drinking alcohol affecting areas of my life that are important to me, then even in moderation the answer is always yes for me. Really looking forward to day 60, I know I can take a 30 day month challenge, get all high on the fact that I can quit and celebrate my goal achieved, and within a week I am back where I started. Not this time.

  • I’m on day 333 sober and feeling surprisingly strong my last target this year was to make it to 365 days I’ve done 1 month, 2 month’s and 100 days then 180 then sod it Im actually gonna make 1 year sober. Already in my head I’m planning a Feb holiday and see myself sober 😇 and it’s all thanks to you Belle so THANK YOU if can get through 2020 sober I can do anything! 🥰😊🥳🥳 xxx

  • 195 days and trying, to hold myself accountable by engaging 🙂
    I really don´t want to start from the beginning. I love the place I´m in right now. Cutting down didn´t work. Moderation did nothing for me except adding another stress – factor in my head.
    Now my depression is getting better since I´m actually learning to take care of myself and listen to my head and body.

  • “it’s actually easier to get the voice to stop than it is to try to manage it” – correct me, if I’m misquoting you here, but I wonder if this is also true for that (general) rumination voice up there?

    it was also fun to listen to you on your very first livestream 🙂 isn’t that also like being sober? hard to hold your head attached in the beginning and then it becomes sort of normal?

  • Boy I want the voice to be quiet coz it sure is fuckin with my head at the moment. I got to 5 years sober and yes the voice was silent for weeks at a time. I got to a place where the thought of drinking was abhorent to me, and then bam I relapsed. Not in a big way but I’ve now been doing intermittent drinking for 18months I want to stop, but after a few days sober the wolfie voice wins. Aargh.

    • hi you. you might find that you do better with more support. if what yo’ure trying now isn’t quite enough, it’s ok to add on more. hugs

  • Quiet is possible! I didn’t believe it, but I trusted and kept going….day 196 and I am a believer. It’s lovely 🙂

  • It does go quiet. I keep up some sober maintenance so it doesn’t get loud again but that’s a small price to pay for the freedom I gain every day.

  • Isn’t quiet wonderful? I am amazed at what I can hear now that the alcohol voice is gone, now that the static sound in my head achieved by drinking too much has been turned off.

  • I tried moderation after 3 months sober and it led to 3 more years of drinking. It became problematic for me as a Mom too. But now I know what it’s like to wake up happy and present every day.

  • I’m sober just over 4 years now and most days the radio is off in my head but there are those once in awhile days where the static clears up and I hear/think what harm would a drink or 2 do. It’s mostly when I’m home by myself. I play it out and the 2 drinks will not be 2 drinks. Maybe 2 bottles maybe days more worth of bottles. I don’t want to even think about that so I switch the station. There are lots of other stations to listen to that are more enjoyable and won’t drive my sober car off the road. Thank you Belle.

  • Day 33, Wolfe fairly silent but does raise his voice when I think about Christmas. Hubby promising to have a dry Jan, thoughts keep coming that if I break at Christmas I can restart in Jan although a large part of me knows if I break it’ll be several months before I start again. I’m avoiding saying I’ll keep going through Christmas alcohol free – … I really think I’m going to stick to my guns. I feel so much better without you in my life. I just can’t seem to say the words out loud in my head or to my family. One day at a time.

  • Day 137 and wolfie is very quiet most of the time. It took me around 1 year to get 40 consecutive days sober. I mainly don’t start drinking again because I hate hangovers and if I start again, then I have to quit again – and I have NO TIME FOR THAT BULLSHIT.

    Belle knows best I always say. 🙂

    • and you’re the winner of the prize 🙂 send me an email and i’ll send you a link to the longer one-hour audio about being sober at christmas. hugs, belle xo

  • I have gone AF 43 days, 30 days,12 days and sometimes I only manage 3 days. The radio station is always on but the messages sometimes change from “drink now/ don’t do it!” to “it doesn’t matter, why bother!” It is never off.

  • That’s the worry – that you get so comfortable in your sobriety that you take it for granted and think you can just step off the sober train and then get back on! But you step off, start down a comfortable incline, but the momentum to keep drinking is like falling into a black hole. Or quicksand. I don’t want to risk it.

  • My last drink was July 15th 2019 , I was so afraid at first to think that I would never drink again . My stomach churned and I felt so anxious . Yet I am now learning how much more peaceful my life is and I am a much nicer , calmer person to be around (even just with myself) . It’s still always one day at a time and there is always work to be done , but am so grateful I got to this point in my life .

  • I appreciate the affirmation of the voices going away or at least being quieter. The doubts do creep in and try to sabotage all the work. I’m ready to be confidently sober.

  • It’s so good not to think about drinking, I too started with the 100 day challenge and now I just want to keep going. I’m around 500 days now, I’ve gone from counting days when each day was a huge step to thinking in years. 16 months now, next goal is 2 years. Everything that you said would happen is happening and I’m excited to know how it will feel in another 8 months time!

  • For me that thought of “I’m feeling much better” and “I’m sure I can just have the odd one here and there”… happens still ; fairly frequently. Not quite sure if it’ll ever completely go as I live with people and in a world that tells me all the time that I should be able to enjoy drinking just like normal people can.
    I kind of have to trust what I’m told that it’s not a “given” that I can get back to where I am now if I pick up again… in fact there are lots of stories I hear of people who struggle really badly to get any sober momentum after relapsing – so it’s not something I want to mess about with EVEN when my head says it “won’t matter”.
    I suppose that’s why I’m almost scared of pulling away from ongoing support.
    And for me this is the same with my other addiction issues … once I start up again it’s really hard to stop.
    As far as the voice getting quieter- yes most definitely for alcohol… but for other things it’s not always been as simple or straightforward. Maybe that’s just me…
    Thanks for the topic belle…. far easier to have none ….

  • This is all so true what you say! Cutting down (if it works at all…) will never quieten that nasty howling wolf in the head.

  • I’m still trying to get a grip on this. 30 days sober last January and since then I’ve had weeks where I’ve stayed sober but usually only a day or two where I don’t have at least 1-2 drinks. A new excuse every time I drink. How can I keep coming up with new ones each time baffles me but I do. I’m reading your emails, listening to the radio show on days I don’t work and hoping something will click for me soon

  • Yes it’s definitely more difficult if you’ve done it once to start over. And there is no such thing as moderation for me. There just isn’t – fact!!

  • “The idea that somehow, someday we will control and enjoy our drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.” Letting go of the idea of moderation was freedom for me to choose lifetime sobriety … odaat.

  • I had the arrogance on day 65 to try a glas of wine just because I was on a vacation in Italy . And yes it is true that I didn’t hear the voice any longer at that stage and got lightheaded . Day 13 now. Glad to be back Sober.

  • I’d say try as much as you like to cut down, and see how miserable that is, and how you will fail. I’ve never heard of another problem drinker who was successful at being happy and cutting down. And it won’t last. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. The only path to happy is to stop entirely. Otherwise that voice in your head that demands you drink will never stop.

  • I just want to let you know I appreciate all of your emails, and I especially like the ones about baking or with recipes. Money is very tight this year, and I’ve never really had the time to bake in previous years. So this year I’m going to be spreading a bit of holiday cheer to family, friends, and neighbors with baked cookies or breads. In doing this I can give to even more people. And, with more time spent at home I have no excuses about getting it done.

  • We put our Christmas tree up last night. I feel like it is going to be a good year.
    I’m looking forward to being completely present for everything.

  • If you can cut down then do but if you are like me with an addictive drink now voice it’s simply not an option to cut down so best to try and quit and then spend the time and money not spent on alcohol on other enriching and fulfilling things

  • I want to be sober and for my drinking voice to stop again as I know it can when I went 180 days. I know that moderation is a constant battle for me and I’m tired of this war. I thought I would try again at New Year but now I’m thinking that this could be my time now to rid myself of that destructive inner voice, thanks Belle

  • I have heard that it gets better at 30 days. When I got to 30 days, the voice in my head said, see it’s not that much better, might as well drink. Now I know that it does definitely gets better, but it doesn’t magically happen on a specific day. Just because it’s not better on day 30, doesn’t mean it won’t be better on day 31, and I only need to be a little more patient to find out. I know it really doesn’t get better when I relapse.

  • Yeah I like the part where you say Friday is no longer a day that you drink…that’s true, now it’s a day I look forward to a nice bath after work and the latest novel I’m reading along with a nice snack or hot cocoa. I am now on day 144 and the drink now voice has gotten so much quieter. It’s a nice place to be.