5 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink

I don’t drink.  When I say I don’t drink I mean I don’t drink alcohol.  When I say I don’t drink alcohol I mean I have maybe five drinks a year, spaced out between months, never more than one at a time.  Some years I’ll have less.

When I say I don’t drink, people assume I am in recovery. I don’t deserve that kind of respect. This is not a blog post about addiction.

I do have a sugar addiction, and if I treated an addiction to alcohol or drugs the way I treat my addiction to processed sugar, I would be in a gutter.

My respect for people in the recovery process is. . . . I just spent ten minutes trying to finish that sentence.  Anything I can write is too weak for the task of honoring people in recovery from alcohol.

My ability to take or leave alcohol is a gift. I know enough about addiction to know that my cavalier attitude is not a mark of moral fortitude, but a mark of luck in chemical make-up.

The fact remains that I do not drink. I am a mom who doesn’t drink wine. I have my reasons.

1. Drunk people get on my nerves.

I am not judging you if you are drunk. I am just annoyed by you. It’s better if I just leave the room until you feel better.

The first and last time I was drunk was on the New Year’s Eve after my twenty-first birthday. I had to leave an amazing party and go lie down. I annoyed myself.

2.  I want to support my friends in recovery.

Alcohol is of no consequence to me at all, but for some damn good people I know it’s a dragon lying in wait. If someone in the room is in recovery from drugs or alcohol, I want to align with that person.  I’m not as strong as that person, but I would like to sip ginger ale with that person.

3. I want my students to abstain.

Weed and alcohol are huge deterrents to a young person’s development into a human being. Whenever I say this, I get a lot of flack from people who claim they were drunk or high through their entire high school and college years and look, they turned out great.  To that I say, okay. You do you.  But I have fourteen years of experience listening to kids dancing on the edge of addictions, devastated by what happened to them when they were intoxicated, unable to move forward on their goals because their ambition has been sucked up by weed or beer.

It feels right to be able to look them in the face and say, here’s an adult who doesn’t partake. It’s possible.  It’s possible for you too.

4. I never started. 

I never drank or did drugs in high school.  I did very little in college. This was no sign of moral fortitude, believe me. The party scene was never a temptation. Sometimes I wished it was fun for me so that I could be a part of things, but it just never was. Small talk and yelling are bad enough for me separately. Combined they are too boring to survive.

It also hurts my feelings when someone makes an overture of friendship and forgets it the next time I see her because she was drunk when we had that conversation.

I love dancing and loud music. I don’t need alcohol to have dancing and loud music.

5. Alcohol is sugar and sugar makes me fat.

Notice I saved the vainest reason for last. Maybe I hope you got tired of reading and never made it this far down. Truth? This final reason is the most compelling most of the time. I have a genetic propensity towards obesity. If I have a drink tonight, I am not going to be strong in the gym tomorrow morning. My body is going to have to contend with the sugar. I’m going to wake up sluggish and craving sweets. My own sleeping dragon will be all stirred up and wanting a donut.

Sleeping dragon at Stirling Bridge
Shhh. The dragon is sleeping.

Maybe this is a blog post about addiction.

What do you think?

Maureen O’Leary Wanket is the author of How to Be Manly and The Arrow. Her work also appears in The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women and Gold Man Review Issue 5.

One Comment

  1. Another great piece. I’ve always been so afraid of high school students getting into drugs and alcohol exactly for the reasons you said…it so quickly consumes young people’s life and promise.


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