Some recent bloodwork had come back with slightly alarming results, and I figured a 30-day drying out would do me some good. I almost caved after seven days and again at 14 but I made it through. I had the bloodwork redone and it came back much better. Despite the obvious connection between drinking and my blood work I started drinking again the next day. It was my birthday weekend and hell if I was going to spend it sober!


By Tanya Tiger

As someone who identified as “high-functioning” when I drank, I can safely say that I thought I had my shit together.

My drinking never interfered with work. I never got into trouble with the law. I always made sure that my family had their needs met and my kid never went without. Anyone observing me from the outside would see a well-educated, intelligent, pulled-together woman who happened to enjoy a good time. No one knew the real story unfolding within. That’s what makes identifying as “high-functioning” dangerous.

It let’s you prolong the lie.

Growing up I would see the stereotypical “drunk” or addict portrayed on TV and in the movies. They’d be passed out on the street, getting arrested, having their kids taken away or they’d be caught off guard for an intervention. I thought to myself, “How could they let that happen?”

When I got older, I would watch the show Intervention and think, “at least I’m not that bad. I’ve got nothing to worry about.” I was so deep in denial I had my self convinced that my drinking was normal. I could sit in judgment because I felt somehow above “all that.” I now realize that we’re all just one traumatic experience, poor decision, or case of wrong place-wrong time away from losing ourselves in addiction.

When pain gets bad enough, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes to make it stop.

A little perspective: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking in moderation consists of the following: “limiting intake to two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women, when alcohol is consumed. Drinking less is better for health than drinking more.”

The NIAAA defines binge drinking as, “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent—or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter—or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks (male), or four or more drinks (female), in about two hours.” Finally, the NIAAA defines heavy alcohol use as, “For men, consuming more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, consuming more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week.”

Any given weekend I was consuming 15 shots of whiskey, sometimes more. Add in the times when I drank during the week as well and you can see how unhealthy my “drinking pattern” really was.

The reason I was unable to see just how bad things had gotten was, in part, due to the fact that I never had any major consequences from my drinking.

I was never arrested. I showed up for work and did my job. Life was on track. Drinking was just something I did to cut loose, de-stress, and have a good time. It was my weekend habit and it seemed like everyone around me was doing the same thing.

I mean, in the beginning, drinking was a blast and it seemed the perfect cure for all that ailed me. Plus, I was able to stop drinking when I tried to get pregnant and stayed sober throughout both pregnancies as well as when I breastfeeding. So, see, I could stop whenever I wanted.

At least that’s what I told myself.

Being “high-functioning” could have cost me my life. It wasn’t until I realized that I didn’t need to wait for things to get “that bad.” I could choose a different path before the wheels fell completely off. The difficult part is that even when you recognize this on a rational level your addicted brain has a multitude of stories that convince you, you can keep going. You’ll be fine. You’re not like those people.

It didn’t click for me, at least not right away, that the blackouts, brain fog, headaches and frequent stomach aches were all warning signs that my body was screaming at me to stop. My “good time” was slowly killing me, and I was laughing all the way to an early grave.

That may sound a bit dramatic but, the World Health Organization, “estimates that alcohol kills three million people throughout the world every year. In other words, alcohol is the cause of 5.3% of all human deaths annually.” The National Institute of Health states that, “alcohol is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the United States behind tobacco, poor diet and physical inactivity, and illegal drugs.”

Okay, enough statistics. I just wanted to lend some gravity to the situation.

Alcohol kills, plain and simple. Now, not everyone falls down the rabbit hole of addiction. Some people can have just a drink or two and go with their lives. But, for people like me, having just a drink makes no sense. I don’t drink for the taste. I don’t drink because it helps me sleep (alcohol actually disrupts sleep).

I drink to get drunk. I drink to numb my feelings or to try and shake off a bad mood or the stress of the day. I drink to combat the boredom I feel because deep down I know I am not living up to my full potential. I am not able or willing to stop at just one drink. It seems pointless to me.

I first realized this in 2022 when I did “Dry January” and stopped drinking for the month.

Some recent bloodwork had come back with slightly alarming results, and I figured a 30-day drying out would do me some good. I almost caved after seven days and again at 14 but I made it through. I had the bloodwork redone and it came back much better. Despite the obvious connection between drinking and my blood work I started drinking again the next day. It was my birthday weekend and hell if I was going to spend it sober!

The gift in those 30 days was a chance to see and feel firsthand how much better I felt mentally, emotionally and physically. My headaches disappeared, along with my stomach aches. My mind felt sharper. My memory was better. I slept so much better! All good things.

So, why was I unable to stay stopped? Why was I so quick to return to drinking? I had a lot to think about and, after 6 months I decided to try again.

I did “Sober October” and it lasted into mid-November. I felt so good and then I decided to try and moderate my drinking.

I felt confident that I could just have a few on the weekends and be fine. I was wrong. I dove back in headfirst and stayed submerged until I found myself curled up on the bathroom floor begging God to make it stop. This was not the first time I had found myself in this position. Sadly, my bathroom floor had become a kind of church over the years. It’s where I met God the most often. I was beyond drunk, barely conscious, swaying back and forth with my head in my hands sobbing. This was in February of 2023. It took another two months before I finally said “enough” and meant it.

April 17, 2023 is my sober date. I am grateful that I finally chose myself and my life over alcohol.

Now I am doing the work… the really difficult, messy, and beautiful work of rediscovering who I am sober and rebuilding my life on a foundation of truth. See, alcohol is a liar, and it turns you into a liar. You tell yourself and other people that you’re okay when you’re really not. You bury hurt feelings, sadness, anger and disappointment with drinks, but those feelings don’t go away. They fester and turn to resentment.

You begin to hate yourself for not being stronger.

You begin to question everything.

And, when the answers that arise are answers you don’t like or want to face, you drink more and the cycle continues.

Alcohol took me away from my truth.

Drinking made my life thin and weak. Sobriety has forced me to save myself, to face the truth, and to choose authenticity over everything. I know, deep down, that this new life means people and things may fall away and that used to scare me. Now, I am learning to let it all go, knowing that what is meant for me will remain.

I’m glad I stopped when I did.

Every day is a new day that brings a choice, to drink or not to drink. Today I choose sobriety. Tomorrow I will wake up and make the choice again, and again, and again. That’s what it means to do the work. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it. I am waking up to myself and to my life. Some days are painful. Other days are glorious.

It’s all messy and beautiful and delicious. It’s life and I am going to live it to its fullest as the beautiful disaster that I am.


Photo: Pixabay


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