CARI: I always wondered when I was going to get my adult card, you know, you think it’s going to be 18, and then at 21, and really now I’m thinking maybe 34 is when I got my adult card and drinking on a Thursday night makes Friday morning not so pleasurable.
ANNA SALE: Your adult card comes in the form of just a hangover. Feeling crappy. That’s what adulthood feels like! (Laughter)
C: It’s not fair! They don’t tell you that!
This is Death, Sex & Money.
VOICE MEMO: Let's talk about alcohol!
The show from WNYC about the things we think about a lot…
VOICE MEMO: Not drinking definitely did not solve my problems.
...and need to talk about more.
VOICE MEMO: Oh, this is what a hangover is? Oh my god, it's the WORST!
I’m Anna Sale.
Cari is a listener in her mid-thirties. She lives in Indianapolis...and she got in touch with us when we asked you to tell us about your relationships with alcohol.
AS: What are like when you’re a little buzzed?
C: I’m giggly. And my face usually gets a little more pink. Uh, and I lose my volume control to some degree.
C: And if there’s a microphone, I might pick it up and sing something. You just never know (laughter).
Cari told me that drinking is a part of her daily routine. She likes having a glass of wine with her husband after work during the week...and then, on the weekends…
C: I have a pretty core group of girlfriends and if we’re getting together, there’s definitely going to be alcohol there, so we’ll have, usually if it’s the ladies, some wine. Or, we’re really into the, like, spiked sparkling waters right now. Probably because those don’t have a lot of carbs and we’re all very, you know, carb-conscious, and we’re trying to be healthy and it transitions into drinking those instead of Bud Light (laughter).
AS: And how many of those will you have when you’re with your girlfriends?
C: Um, three or four. If it’s a night where we’re trying to hang out and party, you know, maybe five. Maybe.
But as she’s getting older, Cari is noticing that all that alcohol...doesn’t go down as easily as it used to. And she’s starting to wonder what it would be like to cut back a little.
C: It’s been a piece of everything since we’ve turned 21, or 18, that we have, you know, always had a drink or been drinking when we’ve been at parties, and it is a fundamental shift, and I just don’t want that to enter into the dynamic.
AS: Would it be a big deal if you were with the group of women that you hang out with on a weekend and they’re all getting ready to crack open their spiked seltzers and you’re like, I’m just going to have plain seltzer.
C: Um, it’s funny that you’re hitting on this because summertime just came around here in Indy, and we’re probably all going to be getting together soon, and I have had that conversation in my mind. I definitely think that at least someone in the group would say what’s up or, how come you’re not drinking? Or—
AS: Are you pregnant?
C: You hit on that.
AS: That's what they will say. (Laughter).
C: I know. Every time! I just don’t want anybody to think that if I’m not drinking and they are, that I would be judging. And I still want them to come over to my house (laughs). And I still want them to hang out with me (laughter). And it’s so funny that I’m 34, and, that is a worry. That if I weren’t drinking, that maybe the party would move to someone else’s house.
When we asked about the role alcohol plays in your life...we heard that, for a lot of you, drinking is about more than getting a buzz.
I enjoy the taste of beer, having a glass of wine.
It helps me to relax when I go on dates with my husband.
I enjoy being loud and rude and whatnot.
There’s so much of adult life that’s built around alcohol.
Just try to go to a picnic with friends and not have a drink.
They think I’m being like a buzzkill.
And then the scary part is is that you've become so conditioned to this is what I need to have fun. This is what I need to go on dates. This is what I need to to have a great night out with my friends. And now all of a sudden you're 31, and you're thinking if I was to stop drinking, how do I even exist?
It’s easy to think of drinking in black and white: either you do it, or you don’t. But the thing we heard from you...is that in the middle, there’s a big, confusing gray area.
You know am I having a drink because I need a drink, or because I want a drink, or is it...who’s in control?
I don’t know that I would identify as sober, but I’m not NOT sober.
I'm trying to quit drinking, but I drink once a week, you know, it would feel weird to show up to a recovery group in that stage.
There have been times--not a lot! But a couple of times where I like go into the fridge, I grab a beer, I go into the bathroom, I lock the door, I crack it, and I drink it.
I don’t get drunk, but it has become a ritual for me that I rarely forego.
More than 70 percent of American adults drink alcohol. And the number of binge drinkers has been increasing dramatically the last 15 years across demographics, but especially for women, of all ages, and older adults. According to the CDC, binge drinking means 5 or more drinks per day for men, or 4 or more drinks per day for women...at least once a week. But you don’t have to drink that much in one sitting...to raise red flags.
RACHEL: I am very aware that the amount I currently drink would be considered a problem by say a doctor.
This is voice memo we got from a listener named Rachel. She told me she drinks pretty much every day...one or two drinks at a time. And for women, the CDC calls that “heavy drinking,” because it’s 8 or more drinks a week. Rachel knows those statistics because she’s a therapist, who’s counseled people struggling with addiction.
R: You know, I don't have conflict with my spouse or my kids. I don't neglect household chores or drink during the day. But I do look forward to it, and I sometimes will do things like have one drink before my husband gets home. So that after he gets home, I can have another one and he won't suspect that I've had two.
Rachel lives in the Midwest with her husband and two young kids. When I got on the phone with her, she told me that at the end of a long day of seeing clients and parenting, drinking...helps. And she’s not sure how to feel about that.
R: When I get to a place where I realize that like that is becoming my shortcut to self-care, that that's--
AS: Uh huh.
R: --like the only thing that I'm doing--like if feeling buzzed at the end of the day is only way that I'm achieving that, that's personal space for myself? Like that's a problem, I think.
AS: And what's the drink you start with, when it's like time to have a drink and unwind?
R: I either will, you know, open a bottle of wine or you know, one that's already open or a gin and tonic. Usually those are my two go-tos.
AS: Do you feel like-- I sort of feel like pop culture in this moment is... definitely encourages me as a young mom to drink and indulge. Like, the idea that like, that we need this or we, we, you know, at the end of a long day, this is the way that we can like get in a bubble bath with dove bars and a glass of white wine. Like that's what, that's what we're supposed to do to take care of ourselves.
R: Yeah. Yeah. And it's just so easy to just pour a glass of wine and call it good. You know, like I checked the self care box for the day. Um, I think it was, it might've been my husband who he was, we were having a conversation about, about my drinking and like my desire to just like check out at the end of the day and, and he was like, well, but like you deserve more though. He's like you like you deserve that, yes, and more like you deserve to leave this house. He was like challenge yourself to like think of something else. And like when he said that I think I was kind of defensive and I'm like, well, like, you think of something else! Like, this works for me!
R: --good. You know, like who are you to tell me I have to do something else? But, but the more I thought about it and what he really meant, I was like, yeah, that like that's, that's true. And it's work to find it, which sucks and I don't like doing that work. But it's something I'm really, really pushing myself to do right now is like, yes, you can have your glass of wine, but like then what else are you going to do? And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. There have honestly been days where I decided I wasn't going to and I got home and I was dealing with a potty training disaster and I was like, screw that. I'm having a drink anyway.
A lot of you wrote in about drinking to take the edge off parenting… and some of you wrote in about watching your parents drink.
AS: Does your Dad know you call him an alcoholic?
HORATIO: He does. He does. He’s not--he doesn’t really like that.
A listener we’re calling Horatio told us he worries about how much his dad drinks. And has for years.
H: He doesn’t admit to it being like an addiction of alcohol, but he does consume a lot of it every night. He was in the military and uh, got injured doing his work, and uh, it’s really just a big coping mechanism for his pain.
AS: You’ve talked about his drinking with him?
H: Yeah, yeah, because uh, sometimes he travels for work, he’s a, usually he’s a construction supervisor. And so he hasn’t had a DUI, but he’s been at risk of one at certain times. And I—that worried me. I—I’ve gone off and on about, hey Dad. Let’s, let’s be sober together. Um, so that we can become, like, better together. I want you to be healthy with me.
AS: And what will he say when you ask him not to drink?
H: Sometimes I've just, like, okay, I’ll keep it in mind. Thank you for being honest with me, but also like, well, it’s not that much of a problem.
Horatio is 22 now. He’s living away from home for the first time...and thinking about how much he wants to drink.
H: I go through processes of, should I just quit and because I don’t want my family to be affected if I do have this addictive lifestyle? But uh, I don’t know.
AS: Are you currently drinking alcohol?
H: I am. I do. I still have Mike’s Hard Lemonade in my, uh, fridge at home and I’ll have a Mike’s Hard with my dinner and watch shows.
AS: By yourself?
H: Yeah. Mostly by myself. Sometimes with roommates.
AS: When you reach for that Mike’s Hard Lemonade um sounds like there’s a, you know, there’s a heaviness that comes with alcohol. Um, having kind of seen what your Dad’s going through, um, what is it you’re reaching for?
H: I guess it's just reaching for--I guess it is a little bit of a release from like an 8-hour shift of, like, being all gussied up in business casual clothes and I can get home and uh, make my own food and be in control of my own environment that I can’t necessarily like do that in an office always. I mean, like, just kind of relaxing. And I guess alcohol is a little bit of my relaxer at a certain point.
You know in my 20s I drank a lot, but so was pretty much everyone in my life around me.
I imagined that anyone and everyone around me holding a beer was also a binge drinker.
My mom was in rehab when I turned 21, so there’s always been this weird kind of dichotomy of, this is the substance she had been using to try and kill herself, and this is the substance that all of my friends had been using to have fun and dance and flirt.
JEAN: I mean, I'm pretty good at chugging beers. I can a pint in probably less than four seconds. I've beat a lot of boys doing that. I'm really good at keg stands.
AS: How old were you when you did your last keg stand?
J: I was 24.
A listener we’re calling Jean is 32 now, but back in her twenties, she drank a lot….for work. Her job was being a “beer girl,” as she calls it-- working in kitchens and bars and finally in marketing for a microbrewery in the Pacific Northwest. She spent a lot of time at beer competitions and festivals.
J: You know at one event I might have five to six beers in one night. And yeah, I loved it. I met a lot of people had a lot of friends people loved me. So every time I showed up everyone was excited to see me and that felt good.
AS: Were there ever stretches during that time where you thought, I don't really feel like drinking beer this month, I'm going to take a break?
J: I wouldn't say this month. It was more like I don't feel like drinking beer today. I'm going to take a break. But by the by the time by the time it started-- I mean it really hit me that, that I couldn't keep doing it forever. I started to feel the toll on my body and and there was a time clearly while I was like this is not sustainable.
AS: When you were noticing that drinking was starting to be a little harder on your body, what did you notice first?
J: I threw up a lot. It was like I would drink all night and go to bed. And I the first thing that would happen is I'd wake up in the morning and I'd have to throw up and so a lot of times I'd spend my mornings just being ridiculously hungover and puking for hours upon hours upon hours. I remember a specific time where I was judging a beer festival and we had been drinking all night long and then we had to judge beer the next day and I just could not take another sip of beer and I felt so bad because as I as I'm judging these breweries beers in between, type, you know styles of beer, I was going to the bathroom silently puking in the bathroom and then coming back to judge the next round of beer.
Jean left that job about five years ago. A big reason was that she realized while she was working… she was driving drunk.
J: There would be days where I would drink eight nine ten beers and then have to drive home from a festival in the next city over and you know, I had a 300 mile drive to get home after drinking all day long. And it's crazy because I never got pulled over. I never got in an accident and I never got a DUI.
AS: when you left the brewery and when it was no longer your job to be the fun woman passing out beer, like when you went out, did you have to figure out how to be in a different way when you were drinking?
J: Yeah, most certainly. I, I still I still feel right? 32 years old now, and I still struggle with knowing how to be out and about when I'm drinking because you know, more so than being addicted to alcohol or being addicted to beer, I was addicted to the attention that I was given because of that environment. And when got out of that environment, more so than missing the beer, I missed all that attention. And I had to really--I had to really redefine myself so that I felt valuable because I, I definitely felt like I didn't have anything to offer if I--if I wasn't that happy flirty beer girl.
Coming up…strategies from those of you who decided to cut back on your drinking...and stories those of you who know you need to.
It’s getting to the point where I think I might need help, um and it’s scary to even say that out loud. And look at myself. [sigh] I don’t know.
Working on this episode started a lot of conversations among the Death, Sex & Money team about how we drink. Most of us really enjoy a nice cocktail from time to time...but sometimes, for whatever reason, we want to hold off.
But it can be hard to figure out what to do instead!
Anabel goes to a store and spends too much money on a fancy kombucha. Xandra says she exercises when she wants a drink, but doesn’t want to drink...and afterwards, she’s so dehydrated that alcohol seems totally gross.
And when I was pregnant…out at a nice place with my husband...I would sidle up to the bartender and ask for the best mocktail they can make. I'd say, "Nothing too sweet...but otherwise, surprise me." It made it feel like a fun adventure.
We want to hear what you do instead, too. Send us a voice memo, to email@example.com. In 30 seconds or less, tell us what you’ve done -- instead of drink -- when you get that craving for alcohol. And we’ll share those tips with all of you.
On the next episode...we keep talking about alcohol, with writer Michael Arceneaux. He grew up in a household with a lot of drinking and violence. And he’s noticed, when he drinks... it can also get dangerous.
MICHAEL ARCENEAUX: I was drunk and I became incredibly angry at somebody. I am kicking over trash cans. I'm pushing like the newspaper stands down. And it scared me because it reminded me that no matter what particularly what I tell myself, I am still human and thus susceptible to falling into patterns of those who have come before me.
This is Death, Sex & Money from WNYC. I’m Anna Sale.
There are a lot of things that make you change the way you drink.
I have had a DUI.
I converted to the Mormon church.
I was more of someone who just couldn't stop once they got started.
MARVA: That shit is too damn expensive and ain’t nobody got time for that.
This is a voice memo we got from a listener named Marva in New York City. She's 29 and works in tech. And before she moved to New York, she lived abroad... in South Africa, and in France.
M: I got very, very, very, used to drinking quality alcohol that was also extremely cheap.
But when she got back to the U.S.…she had sticker shock when it came time to buy drinks. So, she told me, she made a rule for herself.
M: I sat down and I was really into budgeting at that time and I looked at, I looked at how much I was making, which I was working in a non-profit so it was not a lot of money, um and I looked at what I wanted to be spending money on um and in order to be able to spend money on the things that I like most wanted to, I knew that I had to let certain things go and not buying alcohol, or being intentional about the way that I buy alcohol, just seemed kind of like an easy way to to manage that, if that makes sense.
AS: Yeah, so you're like looking at a spreadsheet and you're deciding, here's my new rule about alcohol.
M: Yeah, yeah, um cause, so for example, like I, a lot of my money goes to like traveling. Um so I’d I’d prefer to like put my money into that for example um as opposed to like a $15 dollar drink.
For the most part, Marva tries not to spend any money at all on alcohol...but when the booze is free, she indulges.
M: So I was at a a wedding this past weekend and there was an open bar, which was great.
AS: Uh huh.
M: But I ended up drinking more than I should have, um and I I knew it. Like I I knew as I was drinking that last glass of wine, I knew that I didn't need that. But I did it, I did it anyway. And I was really disappointed in myself the day after. Like when when I have it, like I must consume it all, or as much as I can.
AS: Do you ever have a special occasion where you buy yourself a bottle of wine?
M: No, nothing, nothing has come up. But I will say, I just started a new job within the last um three or four months and we do have like our Friday happy hour which is free. But in addition to that--I hope nobody from work hears this!-- if you stay till the end, I know it's a common thing, people might take like a bottle of whatever is left over. So I have stayed till the end quite a few times, um and I do have, I do have two bottles that I've taken from work. And I have not opened them yet. I don't know what I'm waiting for. I don't know if I'm waiting for a special occasion or if I'm waiting for like someone else to hit me up and say hey, I'm having a party and then I can just like reach for that and bring it, but I, I do have those on standby uh just in case.
A listener named Meredith also wrote in about finding a creative way to monitor her alcohol consumption. She’s never wanted to give it up completely-- she grew up in an Irish and Scottish family... and for her, drinking brings up a lot of nice memories.
MEREDITH: Even when we were kids, we would have family happy hour. Um, so of course the kids would have like a Shirley temple or a ginger ale or something. Um, but my parents would always use it as a time to catch up and connect with each other. Um, so we got included too.
AS: And so in your mind, like what, what are some words that you think of when you, to describe like what it's like when your family's all drinking together?
M: It's a little silly. We're all really loud. Um [laughs]. Uh, yeah. And then we're generous. I think, um, hospitality is really important to my family too. So, um, you know, even if you're drinking or not drinking, you know, um, we want you to come in, we want you to have a beverage, you know, soda water or a glass of wine and, um, be comfortable in our house.
And that’s how Meredith approached drinking as an adult, too. She got a job in politics, moved to D.C., and alcohol remained a part of her life.
In her mid-twenties, though, she started a new tradition...
M: So the real origin story of sober September is that I had to be in a pink bridesmaid’s dress on October 1st for a wedding. And so I made a bet with myself that I was gonna give up drinking for the month of September and go to the gym a couple of times a week. Like nothing crazy on the workout side, but it was, it was a big step to not drink, you know, for a whole month. And I invented the excuse, right? I just made it up. I said, oh, it's sober September, and everybody I'd tell was like, oh, that's kinda cool. Did you, and now that I do it, every September, people are like, oh, you do that every year? Like, yeah!
AS: How many sober Septembers have there been?
M: The first one was in 2012.
AS: A lot of them!
M: A lot. Yeah. And now I've moved to, er, I don't drink during Lent either. Um, and that has a little bit more spiritual component of course. Uh, so yeah, sober September has, um, been like a really great practice.
AS: Has it ever felt like you're testing yourself to make sure you can stop completely?
M: Oh, definitely. Yeah. That's why I describe it as like a light switch, right? Like, I, I, like one of the, in the first couple of days I'm always like, do I have a headache? Do I feel weird? Does my body feel deprived? And if I can say no, I feel great.
Still, when September is over...Meredith loves getting back to drinking...with her family, and now with her boyfriend’s too.
M: So my boyfriend's parents are Peruvian Americans and so over like a really fun night is we'll go over to their house, and uh, my boyfriend's father will make Pisco sours, um, and he just like takes so much pride in making them, you know, like he like hand squeezes all the lime juice. And so like we'll have like a round of Pisco sours to like kick it off and then we'll barbecue and then no one else in the house drinks like dry white wine. And that's my thing. So, you know, um, my boyfriend's mom will be like, hey, hey, we, we remembered that you like this! You know, and so like--
M: --then I'll have a couple of glasses of that while we're like sitting around and talking and, um, that's a really fun night.
Marva used her budget to cut down on her drinking. Meredith used the calendar. And Drew… a 35-year-old listener in Texas...used a pill.
When he was young, Drew watched his dad struggle with alcohol abuse. And about a year ago, felt like he was drinking more than he wanted. So he asked his doctor to prescribe him Antabuse--a drug that makes you violently sick if you drink while it’s in your system.
At first...Drew’s doctor suggested more traditional approaches, like counseling... or rehab. But Drew just wanted a little help cutting back. He didn’t want to get completely sober.
DREW: And so I've kind of explained it to him that, hey, I don't have a huge alcohol problem, but you know, every third night I get that little voice saying, hey, you know what would be great is a beer and a cigarette, and this just takes that temptation away completely. Um, and he was, he was very cool about it and wrote me a prescription for it. Um, and that's still what I do. I take one either every day or every third day. And then, you know, if the weekend's coming and there's like, you know, a gathering where I might want to have a couple of beers at, you know, I'll make sure I don't take one for the five days leading into that. So I can have a couple of beers that, you know, at party or what have you.
AS: Have you ever had alcohol after taking Antabuse?
D: Um, I have. I've mistimed that once or twice and, uh, you figure it out really quickly. It hits you--
AS: What happens?
D: Oh God. Um, you can really figure it out within half a beer, um, your skin will flush bright red. Um, your heart will start palpitating, shortness of breath. Um, you'll start to get a headache. Uh, your eyes have trouble focusing. It's hard to think. And this was this is from about half a beer, so it's, it hits you really hard really quickly.
AS: When you do drink, when you cycle off, when you plan ahead and don't take the pill for a few days, do you feel guilty? Do you feel like you're giving yourself a treat? How do you think about it?
D: Uh, it's, it's really like giving myself a treat. Um, but if it's just three or four beers, uh, you know, then it's, uh, or you know, a bottle of wine with my significant other than it's like, oh, hey, this is, this is a nice thing and I know I'm not gonna do it again tomorrow, so I'm just going to enjoy this while uh the evening lasts. And I’m not- I'm not an alcoholic. I don't consider myself an alcoholic. I like to abuse alcohol, but I don't have all the crazy symptoms of, of alcoholism and drinking to a bottom. Um, you know, every, everything that's associated with that.
AS: How do you, how do you think about that distinction? Having seen alcoholism up close in your home growing up?
D: Um, man, that's a, that's a heavy question. Um, I guess I, I never got quite to the point of, you know, um I was able, you know, on multiple points to just kind of stopped drinking when I, when I wanted to. Just through force of will and to me, I think that's, um, a big part of the distinction is that if you can make a, a choice to not drink, um, then you are, you know, maybe not as down that path of addiction. That, that to me is the marker of an alcoholic. Or that's, that's where I'd, you know, draw the distinction.
I have a very clear memory of the exact moment in my life when I thought to myself, I really just want to have 3 gin and tonics and feel completely removed from my life.
I was using drinking to mask some pretty serious PTSD.
To sort of run away from my own issues with my career and job stuff and finances and relationships and men and I was definitely using it to avoid my life.
I believe that I was always very very uncomfortable in my own skin. At dis-ease with being me. And drinking helped me feel a little bit more comfortable a little less raw. It worked for a long time and then it didn't anymore.
One night I drank too much and it pretty much ended my job.
I hurt myself, I gashed my leg, I still have a scar.
I got rushed to the emergency room because I woke up puking up blood and pooing out blood.
The last time I blacked out I woke up in a hotel room with a man that I don’t even know where the heck I connected with him.
And that was kind of it. That was the death knell of me drinking.
Just like this is over. I’m done. I’m done.
I chose to go into a 12 step program.
I admitted into detox and I've never looked back.
I haven’t had a drink in over three months.
It’s about 12:30 on a Thursday night and it just so happens to be my one year anniversary of quitting drinking.
And now I have 16 years of sobriety.
And I am 2 years 7 month 16 days sober.
My sobriety date is May 5 1978.
Two years without alcohol. Here I am. Happy birthday to me.
One listener--who wanted to be called Jackie--sent us a voice memo..because she wants to change the way she’s drinking.
JACKIE: It's gotten to the point where I can't function without it.
Jackie just turned 21 last month, but she’s been drinking since she was 18. She’s worked a lot in restaurants, and just recently, got a new office job in customer service.
J: I mean I can go through my work day. But the whole workday I'm just counting down the hours to when I can drink when it's the evening and it's acceptable for me to have a drink. Um I consider myself a very outgoing and fun person and I used to be able to be that without alcohol. But at this point I need alcohol to just be myself or at least that's what I what it feels like. And it's scary like I'm scared and I don't feel like I can talk to anyone about it.
AS: What do you drink?
J: Um, I drink a lot of beers and I take a lot of shots of vodka mainly. Mainly vodka. I drink almost every day.
AS: And when you drink everyday, where do you drink?
J: Just at home. My kitchen is kind of hidden from the rest of the apartment, so if you take a few steps into—towards the back of the kitchen, no one can see you. And so, something that I’ve noticed I do a lot is I, I take shots without other people like, even on nights when we’re all taking shots, I’ll like, go into the kitchen, and just take a few more. I don’t know why I do that.
AS: They don’t know. It’s a secret.
J: Yeah, and I mean, I’ve kind of, I’ve kind of said, you know, passing things, like, okay, I need to stop, I’ve been drinking so much, but I’ve never used the word alcoholic. I’ve never said that word out loud to the people in my life before.
AS: Mm-hmmm. Do you think you have a problem with alcoholism?
J: I think I, I think I do, yeah. I think, I think I depend on it. Like, it’s, I’m obsessed with it. I don’t know.
Jackie didn’t want to say exactly where she lives--but it’s in a big city. She shares a two-bedroom apartment with a friend and her boyfriend. She knows he’s noticed the problem too.
J: He’s like a little bit older than me, just by a couple of years, but, he doesn’t, he doesn’t drink like I do, and it definitely comes off like I’m out of control, it’s obnoxious, like, you know, it’s not a good look. It’s not a good look to get absolutely shitfaced and embarrass yourself. And I’ve embarrassed him a few times. There’s nothing—it’s never too bad but just me acting crazy. And then like, one time at a party I tried to take a shot but my body rejected it and I like spit it all over his friends, and that sucked really bad. Um, just things like that, I know that, he just, he has to roll his eyes, he rolls his eyes at me all the time because of the things that I do.
AS: Has your drinking affected you at work, do you think?
J: Yeah, a little bit, I think, because, I, like I wake up late all the time. I mean I’ve—I haven’t I’ve only been late to work once, but I have had to spend so much money on calling a Lyft because I—I’m like really, really pushing it, like, I will call the Lyft at 7:50, and I need to be there at 8. I would be saving so much money if I was just taking the train like I should. And also, it, it does make me feel sick, like I have headaches so much. Like I can feel my body like, like I’m really young, I’m 21! I can feel my body just slowing down and being affected by it. But the only thing that makes it feel better is drinking more.
AS: You have cravings.
AS: And when you picked up your phone to record a voice memo for us, why did you want to--why did you want to talk about your drinking?
J: Well because I think I knew that I was starting--I knew deep down that I was starting to have a problem and I was starting to get scared, and I’m so embarrassed, like, I'm SO embarrassed about it. I don’t like—I don’t want to talk to anyone about it, but something--I needed to do something? And like when you guys are like, hey, call us like, when I heard that first, like, when I heard it for the first time in the episode, I like, I felt like I just got punched in my stomach. I was like, ugh, you have, you have to do that. Because that’s all you can do right now. Like this is, this is the control that you can take.
AS: That’s something that felt, within reach.
AS: Um... what would be the next thing that you could do?
J: I, I think the next thing I would do is I would have to put it in the hands of someone else. I’d have to say, hey like, don’t let me drink, like, don’t, just don’t let me. Because I can’t do it myself, I, I’m—I’m just so not ready to confront it, I guess. Yeah.
AS: Can you explain that to me? Because we’re talking about it and you’re, you’re confronting it, you’re admitting it.
J: Yeah, that’s true.
AS: So what is the thing you don’t want to do?
J: I don’t want to, I don’t want to stop, like, I want to but I don’t want to, like I—I’m not ready to stop. I don’t want to go to like a, I don’t want to go to, like Alcoholics Anonymous, I don’t want to be in rehab, I don’t want to do any of that, I would just—I just want to get a little bit better.
AS: A little better.
JACKIE: Hey Death Sex, and Money. Here’s a little update for ya.
At the end of our conversation...I asked Jackie to keep in touch…and a couple weeks after we talked....she sent a voice memo.
J: Um just to keep it short and brief--I got way too drunk a couple weekends ago and don’t remember how I got back upstairs--I was at my apartment’s pool--and I just woke up in my bed. And speaking gibberish to my boyfriend. And my roommate came in and I told her what has been going on and that I’m struggling. And I cried to them. And he actually started recording me on his phone so that I could listen to it later and see how I wasn’t making any sense. And once I realized he was recording me I just started sobbing and saying I don’t want to do this anymore, I don’t want to drink like that anymore, and he said OK. Well say it, say it to my phone so you can listen to it and hear yourself. And I did.
That’s a listener we’re calling Jackie. And right before we put out this episode, she wrote to say she’s decided to quit drinking for a month...and says so far, it’s going well.
If you are struggling with your alcohol use, or wondering if the way your drinking is problem, we have a list of resources on our website at deathsexmoney.org.
Death, Sex & Money is a listener-supported production of WNYC Studios in New York. Our team includes Katie Bishop, Anabel Bacon, Xandra Ellin, Emily Botein, and Andrew Dunn. Christina Djossa helped us out with this episode, and our intern is Emily Nadal. The Reverend John Delore and Steve Lewis wrote our theme music. And thanks to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, for the use of their studio.
I’m on twitter @annasale, the show is @deathsexmoney on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories about drinking...here’s one of mine.
AS: My daughter was not yet three when my parents were visiting and they sat down and she said, do you want an old fashioned? [laughs]
AS: I was like, ahhhh!
R: That's really funny.
I’m Anna Sale and this is Death, Sex & Money, from WNYC.