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    28 People Who Have Given Up Alcohol Are Describing The Moment That Led Them To That Decision

    "I was screwing up all my relationships. It cost me way too much, and it definitely wasn't worth it.”

    Note: This post contains mentions of alcoholism, addiction, and overdosing.

    The holiday season can be a tough time for many — including those who have made the decision to give up alcohol. Recently, u/Vaginachina asked sober people what was the moment in their life that motivated them to stop drinking. Here are some of the responses.

    1. "A family emergency happened and I was too drunk and high to drive or be useful at all. I hate that feeling — of being needed and dropping the ball. So, I quit everything and I won't ever go back."

    Man behind the wheel of a car at night
    Adam Hester / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

    2. "I realized that I was never satisfied with how drunk I was. I always felt that I wanted to be one-more-drink drunker. It's like having an insect bite: the urge to scratch is there and if you scratch it, it goes away for a bit before coming back stronger. A few decades of this got tiring, so I did Dry January, then kept it going. I haven't drank for two years now and am very happy with the choice to stop. I still want to be one-more-drink drunker than I am now, but I realize that it's always going to be like that. The itch is easier to ignore if I don't scratch it."


    3. "For me, high-functioning alcoholism started to get out of hand and quitting alcohol was supposed to make everything better. It later turned out that alcoholism (and previously smoking) were coping methods for untreated mental health issues. I am slowly getting those treated, but it's one hell of a slow going."

    Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon drinks a bottle of beer in "The Queen's Gambit"

    4. "Anyone that I've ever been close to is gone, from middle school on up. I've lost 11 people in the first year of the pandemic due to overdoses. I was just as bad or worse than those falling around me. I don't fully understand what has made me change. All I know is that I wake up everyday wanting more for myself now. I didn't even get clean when I had my daughter 14 years ago. I hate saying this but my kids came second and that made me feel like I had no emotion."

    "Children, significant others, money — in my experience, none of that will make you sober. The potential you have now is being limited. We were being stunted by our use. It blocks our way from being our best selves. It took me a long time to realize not only was I capable of so much more, but I also deserved more. I'm not sure what made me finally turn that page, but I'm so grateful I did. Life is so wild. I'm sober going on five years."


    5. "I used to be a social drinker. I'm not social anymore."


    6. "I woke up laying on my back on a gurney, being rolled down the hallway of a hospital. They asked me if I knew where I was, and I had to tell them 'No.' The last memory I had before that instant, I was smiling and dancing and having a fabulous time. They said, "You've been in a car accident. There was alcohol found in your system." I knew had driven myself to the party that night, so they didn't have to say anything else. I could fill in the blanks. I lost my truck, my left eye, and pretty much every shred of my self-respect that night. I've been sober since."

    Empty hospital hallway
    Dny59 / Getty Images

    "I asked them the first question that came to my mind:

    'Did I hurt anybody else?'

    'No, we don't think so.'

    And then they took me to the recovery room. I would eventually find out that — mercifully — they were right. The only things involved in the accident were me, my vehicle, and the very stubborn concrete barrier. I had to call a friend to take me home when I was discharged the next day. Don't drink and drive. It's never worth it." —u/devonull42

    7. "When the drinking and getting drunk itself started to become a hobby, I knew I had to knock it on the head. Also, I started suffering really badly with 'hangxiety' which is a horrible feeling, and one I don’t really want to encourage."

    Man sleeping in bed, with hand on head, under a window with blinds drawn
    Tim Kitchen / Getty Images


    "Hangxiety could be regret of what you did or said the night before, or maybe forgot what you did so you start worrying. Or it could be a chemical reaction. Your fight-or-flight response is suppressed from all the drinking, so when you sober up the next morning it kicks into overdrive. It could be mild or extreme. 

    This is what happened to me and I would just have this impending doom feeling like I was about to have a heart attack pretty much constantly throughout the day." —u/qwors

    8. "I was out of options. I flunked out of college three times, moved home, and kept drinking around the clock. One day, I fell down a flight of stairs at 7 a.m. Mom came up crying and said, "I can't do this anymore." She gave me the push I needed and I've been sober ever since through the help of a fellowship. It was the best decision I've ever made and I couldn't have done it without her. Been sober five and a half years. My life is beyond my wildest dreams. I've no desire to ever drink or drug again, because I know where it brought me and where it will inevitably bring me back to."

    Julia Roberts as Holly helps her son Ben, played by Lucas Hedges, pick out clothes in "Ben in Back"
    LD Entertainment

    9. "Just had enough. Woke up one day feeling like crap and had spent a shit load of money the night before on booze — and it was an everyday occurrence. Decided I didn't want to live like that anymore. About six years clean now. Wish I had done it 20 years ago."


    10. "Waking up in a jail cell to the sound of a dude pissing on a wall will really make you question your life’s decisions and how you got there. I've been sober a little over seven and a half years now."

    Jail cells on the left in the hallway of a state prison
    Mivpiv / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    11. "After someone head-butted me in the jaw, I lost my cool and almost murdered him. Whatever people do to me, I should never lose my calm — I'm a huge guy who can handle it. Great men walk away, and being sober can help a lot. Violence should be used only when other people are in distress and want assistance. So, I've been sober for almost a year."


    12. "My girlfriend at the time believed in reincarnation and wanted me to go with her to get a past life regression. Long story short, one of the 'lives' I remembered was in Wales: I drank too much and died from it. So, I quit drinking."


    13. "It became more essential to me to feel productive and ready to do things early in the mornings than it was to stay out and party late at night. Going out on an alcoholic binge doesn't only take up an evening. You usually have to sacrifice the next morning as well, whether it's to sleep in, puke, or lounge around feeling like shit. That is something I no longer wish to do. I enjoy getting up early and doing things that make me feel better in my body rather than worse."

    Young woman taking a water break from jogging in nature during sunrise
    Nastasic / Getty Images

    14. "I stopped drinking after I got blackout drunk while hanging out with some guy and couldn’t remember if we had sex or not."


    15. "I was unemployed and unemployable. Depressed. My wife left me. Had a complete mental breakdown. A good psychiatrist got me into Alcoholics Anonymous more than 30 years ago and I've been clean ever since. It has saved my life."

    Alcoholics Anonymous participants in discussion while in chairs in a circle
    Tempura / Getty Images

    "Oh, and for people saying AA forces you to believe in God, that's not true. I'm Buddhist, and my wife, who's been sober 26 years, is agnostic." —u/unreliablememory

    16. "I don't like how drinking makes me feel. Or the taste. Or the price. Or drunk people."


    17. "I self-medicated for an old injury for over 20 years, mainly with alcohol. It also helped take that constant stress and anxiety down from my stressful line of work. After so many years doing this and continuing to struggle with chronic pain, I started to realize that the temporary relief booze provided in the evening just didn't outweigh the magnified pain and hangover every morning. I was just intentionally adding to my own misery. Dramatically 'scaling back' has made my life exponentially easier, especially in regard to relationships. I'm not as much 'fun' as I used to be. But I'm clearer, kinder, more thoughtful of others, and so much less likely to screw stuff up when I'm not racing to feed that demon."

    "I'm not entirely sober today, and realistically, I probably never will be, but I'm confident I can enjoy a few bumps with friends and family and not drink my pain away until the small hours of morning. I simply DON'T want that hangover anymore — ever again." —u/Lutefiskaficionado

    18. "I suffered an acquired brain injury in 1999, pedestrian vs. car, and for some reason since then, alcohol makes me feel nauseous and very itchy. Also, because of the the brain injury, I don't like being around drunk people. They're loud and unpredictable. It was very easy for me to give up drinking since there was nothing enjoyable about it anymore."

    Drunk people outside a club in Snakehips's "All My Friends" music video
    Sony UK / Via

    "I very occasionally crave a cold beer on a hot summer day but non-alcoholic beer doesn't hit the spot so I don't bother." —u/PovoRetare

    19. "I had gotten into an argument with my fiancé at the time, and it almost became physical. If I had been sober, we wouldn't have gotten into the argument at all, let alone me almost harming her."


    20. "I’m three weeks sober today. I hadn’t eaten or drank water in four days and couldn't even even hold down alcohol at that point. I started to go into withdrawal and knew I needed fluids, so I went to the ER. Once I was mostly detoxed, I had the choice of going to rehab (where I currently am) or go back to drinking and die. I don’t wanna die."


    21. "For me, it's seeing how my parents haven’t slowed down in their drinking — at all. They slowly became heavy drinkers in my teens. I always hated it, but thought I would never be that bad. Every night after work, no matter what, they would knock back several whiskeys and sodas like it was a normal thing. I thought every grownup drank like that. As I got older and started working, I also started having a few each night. Then a few became more. I ended up spending a good few months with a slight constant hangover each day. I liked to blame my shitty job at the time, but it was wearing me down. My parents moved away and I only get to see them once a year now. The moment my mom walked through the door after the seven hour drive to get here she said, 'Hi, hun. Pour me a whiskey would ya?' It was 3 p.m. and it hit me that that is literally what they are always like. They’re approaching their 60s now, and it’s incredibly depressing."

    Pouring whiskey into a glass with ice
    Gmvozd / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    "They'd say, 'It’s been a long day, I need a drink' or 'This is reason to celebrate, let’s have a drink' or “You’re so stressed out, have a drink.' That’s all they do to relax and it almost turned me into an alcoholic. I’m not completely sober, but I rarely have a drink now. It may be one or two when out for dinner with friends. I don’t drink around my parents at all anymore. It disgusts me and I can’t ever tell them either." —u/Soggy-Feature-7365

    22. "I just loved getting hammered too much. I was screwing up all my relationships, including with my daughter, girlfriend and mother of my child. It cost me way too much, and it definitely wasn't worth it. Being sober, I'm not that careless, wild, spontaneous guy. But every minute is worth it. I'm way better sober and a bit depressive than when I'm manic and drunk."


    23. "I have anxiety problems and realized that I wasn't drinking because I was excited or interested in what I was getting. I was just sort of keeping the ritual up. As I stopped drinking, I realized just how much of my mental energy is spent on booze. It's not just drinking. It's remembering the closing times, or sometimes opening times, of all the liquor stores and grocery stores. It's keeping inventories of the booze in your house and being anxious about whether you should go get something. I made a lot of trips for booze solely, but things like cheese, bread, or milk, I'm like, 'Eh, I'll get it next time I'm at the store.' I realized that was a problem and I should rein it in. One thing that's helped a lot for me is that in the past year, near-beers have really exploded in variety and quantity, so I can still have a beer that I honestly like, but now if I don't have any, I'm find with about anything else."


    24. "My mom's history of alcohol abuse turned me away for good. Having to go through paperwork to place someone on a psychiatric hold will change your perspective on a lot in life."

    Marielle Heller as Alma Wheatley pours herself a drink in front of her daughter in "The Queen's Gambit"

    25. "I hate the way drinking makes me feel the next day, even if I’m not hungover. I feel tainted and gross. My liver feels like it’s being slowly churned. And the price — what the actual fuck? You can spend a weeks-worth of groceries in one night if you’re out with friends. And Ubers are expensive too. No matter how I try to control myself, I’m always embarrassed the next day by something I said or did. Now that I stopped drinking, my skin is always clear. Like, always. Not sacrificing that."

    Woman in the backseat of a car in motion at night
    Goodlifestudio / Getty Images

    26. "I was drinking heavily every night and driving home. My health was poor, I was massively overweight, I was always angry about some bullshit, I hated the way I looked and felt, I was snoring keeping my girlfriend up, and I had terrible heartburn. Clearly it was depression, but the booze was preventing me from getting better. For me, sobriety from alcohol has been like steroids for my life."

    Man runs across a bridge during sunset
    Zf L / Getty Images

    27. "If I'm being honest at six months sober? I miss it. I miss the initial reaction my body has to that first sip. The literal feeling of every muscle in my body relaxing. I miss it a lot. But I love my family more than I miss it. I came from a home broken by alcoholic parents and I have to stop that cycle for my son. I want him to be better, so I have to be better."


    28. "My breaking point was when my now ex-husband found a garbage bag full of empty liquor bottles hidden in my walk-in closet. He dumped the bag out right in front of me on our porch, so basically our neighbors could see everything. It was beyond humiliating and made me look deep into myself as to why I was drinking so much and doing it secretly. In highsight, it was the best thing that's ever happened to me. I stopped drinking — and realized that I was drinking to numb the pain of a failing marriage that I was too afraid to leave. That was 10 years ago now, and I've been divorced for almost nine years. I'm much happier without alcohol in my life."

    Bride figurine on the top of a cake, next to an upside down groom figure with head in the cake
    Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

    If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.