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Mostly Clean and Mostly Sober

This article was written by in Career and Work. 16 comments.

If I were to tell you that I think I drink too much liquor, you’d likely conjure up some images of alcoholics you’ve seen, maybe picturing some guy falling down, abusing the people he loves, making terrible decisions and driving like an idiot. So I want to be clear right from the start that I am not a drunk, nor has anyone accused me of even coming close. I sympathize with those who suffer from real alcoholism, and I hope they all get help.

The truth of the matter is that while I don’t have an addictive personality, I do have A.D.D., and I’d been self-medicating without knowing it for the first thirty years of my life. Sometimes with sugar, sometimes with caffeine, and sometimes with liquor. But since I got diagnosed, I’ve been watching my behavior much more closely, and acting self-aware more often. I usually know just how much caffeine to take, and when to take it.

However, I think I’ve been overdoing it on the wine lately. Every so often some receptionist will ask me to fill out a form that asks, among other things, how much alcohol I drink. And I find that the answer I give – 1 glass a day on average – is becoming less true. It’s almost always at least two. More worryingly, some days I’ll come home and pour a glass as soon as the chores are done, which is before 5 PM. There have even been days when I want a drink before I even think about taking the garbage out.

Red wineI’m what you might call a quiet drunk, at least when I do it properly. Mostly, I just feel a lot less nervous and a lot more comfortable, as if I don’t have A.D.D. So, I’m not looking forward to losing that comfort, but I recognize that it’s artificial, and I don’t really want that for myself.

Why am I writing about this here? Well, because I’m the one who takes the garbage out, I see how many bottles of wine we go through. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, plenty of bottles. Let’s say there are ten glasses’ worth in each bottle (that’s a 1.5 liter bottle, you know, the big one), and my wife and I both have two glasses a day, and three each on Saturday and Sunday. This is a conservative estimate. That’s one bottle for the work week and just over half of another for the weekend.

In a month, that’s 68 glasses, or almost 7 bottles. Assuming we buy the cheap stuff every time, that’s about $70 a month. (Coincidentally, that’s the same amount we’re saving by switching off the cable TV.) Granted, sometimes I will want a glass of wine, and I’m not about to try banning it from the house. I’m not a prude, and I don’t seek frugality at the cost of comfort. But for myself, I’m going to try drinking less.

I’ll still have wine sometimes, but not every day as a matter of course. Like a visit to Starbucks, I think I’ll treat it like a reward for doing something I wanted to get done. And in 2010, I expect to get a lot of things done.

Photo credit delphaber.

Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published December 29, 2009.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

It doesn’t hurt any of us to think about 1 things we could do less of in 2010.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Good for you.

I personally enjoy a good glass of wine or a cold beer as a reward after a long or difficult day at work, or just to help get to sleep (perfect antidote to drinking caffeine all day).

Moderation in all things is good. Sounds like you are spending about $10 per bottle of wine. If you want to spend less, “two buck chuck” at Trader Joe’s (well, normally it’s now $3) is a great frugal alternative… tastes pretty good.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

To me, that’s a lot of wine! I don’t mind a glass here and there, but I’m not a during-the-week drinker. I might have a glass or two on the weekend, if that. Although your wine habit is cheaper than my husband’s two-pack-a-day cigarette habit — that’s about $300 a month. Would love to get him to quit for both his health and our bank account!

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I commend you for not only noticing the trend, but deciding to take action to bring it back in line.

I can fully relate to your entire story, except exchange “wine” for “pot”. I only drink casually. But I always go back and forth in my head on the severity or merits of being worried about my consumption.

Everything in moderation. If it isn’t harming your health or your life, just scale it back a bit, make it an event. Or set a limit, so you say “If I have my one glass right now, then I can’t have one with dinner” etc.

All the best in 2010. If this is the thing about your life that bothers you, you are doing great. Keep positive.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

The AA solution is prayer and meditation.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Wow, that’s a lot of wine Smithee! You should move out to the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re only a 45 minute drive from Napa and Sonoma, and you can really go crazy there! Best time is during September, right before they crush the grapes.

Good stuff being cognizant of your consumption, and cutting down. But, I say, if it ain’t hurting your body, and your wallet, do what you enjoy doing! Moderation is key, however when it comes to your hobbies, do it without restraint.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

I agree w/ Financial Samurai

Moderation is better. We all have our habits. I don’t drink unless it’s Moscato :)

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I’m glad that you have realized that your wine drinking may not exactly be considered “social drinking.” That’s a good first step in realizing that things may not be right between you and alcohol.

As someone who went to AA 15 years ago and broke the addiction, I can see that you need to update some of your thinking regarding what alcoholism is. Most folks thinks alcoholics are the sort that you describe in the beginning of your blog. That description certainly fits in many instances. However, many, if not most alcoholics, in my opinion, are “functional alcoholics.” FA’s are very oridnary people going about their daily lives without much difficulty at all. They have jobs, families and lead rather normal lives. I started a new business while I was drinking and was successful at it too.

So, just because you or any other heavy hitter with alcohol is not a falling down drunk, does not mean that you are not an alcoholic.

Secondly, your title “Mostly clean and mostly sober” is disturbing to me. Alcoholics always rationalize their excessive drinking by making a point of the few times in which they show some restraint in consumption. For example, I don’t say “I didn’t eat any mustard today.” Why? Because I don’t have a problem with eating mustard. People that do not have issues with alcohol don’t count their drinks or their empty bottles. When you start counting your drinks and making promises to not drink tomorrow or until Saturday…you have a problem!

Food for thought…Good luck!

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