Solidarity in Sobriety

Published on March 4th, 2020

Alcoholism played a catastrophic role in my family growing up. The number of times my parents were fighting while at least one of them was heavily intoxicated—maybe hundreds? It was like being in the movie Groundhog Day. However, instead of the hilarious antics of Bill Murray, my brothers and I had to always wonder and worry—was the times things really got out of hand?

It wasn’t just my immediate family. My grandfather (allegedly) could put down a fifth of vodka before noon. One of my uncles drove a tractor over a live bonfire. Some of my cousins got into hard drugs like heroin in high school. Most of my aunts and uncles could hold their liquor, whether or not they had a bona fide addiction or not.

This is why I never drank until I was 18. My very first beer was the summer after my senior year, and then I had a weekend binge with my best friends Rob and Jake. I then went back to not drinking for about a year in college. I was afraid. I was scared that if I became addicted in the same way as some of my family members, that I would lose control of my life in the very same ways they did. And having survived all the fights, I was a control freak.

I ended up developing a much more “healthy” relationship with alcohol than most. I could get drunk but never forget what happened or never blackout. I only once got past the point of no return and passed out, and I never did it again. The fear kept me far away from that ledge.

About a month ago, I noticed something I didn’t like. I consistently had 1 beer every few nights to counteract the ridiculous amounts of coffee I was drinking to power through my days. I wasn’t getting drunk, and I wasn’t out of control per se. I just didn’t like the feeling of feeling dependent on anything to change my mood. And with that one thought, I decided to stop outright. After all, I go to 12-step meetings to discuss how to live in harmony with friends and family members fighting with addiction. What if I just stopped and lived my life in solidarity with them?

Now I don’t plan on never drinking ever. For the right occasion, why not raise a glass to toast a special event like a wedding or an anniversary? But as an everyday default? I think I’m done with that for good.

Honestly, it’s helped me drop a few pounds, eat less, and overall feel better after going a full month without it. Best of all, I hardly miss it.

As a final thought, I love Ed Latimore’s comments about going sober. You don’t have to be a full-blown alcoholic and hit rock bottom to stop. That’s not the most useful measurement to use. Determine if drinking or anything is standing in the way of what’s most important to you. If it is, consider dropping it.

I value the health of myself and my family, above all else. So to me, it’s clear to avoid things that take me away from that goal. To that end, I’ve decided to go mostly sober by making each drink a rare exception versus a default habit. I now prefer to stand in solidarity with those walking the difficult path of sobriety.

PS. My decision is not an indictment on anyone else's choice. You do whatever makes the most sense for you.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.