Hey, it’s Anna. We’ve been talking about alcohol on Death, Sex & Money….what you like about having it in your life...and what you do when you don’t want to drink.
When I crave alcohol...
Uh...what else would you do? Uh…
First always think of water instead [laughs]
Sometimes I pray.
I cook. I cook. I’m a chef. That’s what I do.
Instead you should try for a dopamine rush, get a work out or eat some chocolate or something fun.
We asked these New Yorkers how they deal with the urge, along with you, our listeners, and we put together this little special audio extra.
Because this came up a lot when you shared your stories about alcohol: that you could use more tips about what to do instead of having booze...whether you’re sober or not.
Like Rachel, whom I talked to in our episode a few weeks ago. She’s a therapist who has two little kids, and a habit of relaxing with one or two drinks most nights. She told me that she wants to drink less, but is trying to figure out how she can still give herself a treat.
RACHEL: Chocolate works pretty well. I have definitely used that as a substitute sometimes. Um, sometimes though I will just try to kind of acknowledge the impulse and just like, yeah, like I really wanna, I really wanna mix that drink right now, but instead I'm gonna turn on this music really loud and sing ridiculously and dance around for five minutes and see if it passes. You know, it's like you have to kind of surf the urge.
When you all are surfing the urge…a lot of you skip alcohol by swapping in something else.
If the craving gets very intense I’ll usually splurge on something… like french fries.
I will instead choose Perrier or Pellegrino.
Sometimes I’ll stop by a store and get myself a bottle of Topo Chico which is the most bubbliest bubbliest bubbliest mineral water ever, which is really distracting!
I make myself a cup of tea, I go out on the balcony and I take some time to actually relax instead of just chemically relaxing.
I’ve gotten really into craft non-alcohol beer. It’s perfect because it can ship to your door and you don’t have to sign for it.
So what I like to do when I can’t have an alcoholic drink is I replace that craving with a Malta India. It comes in a container that is glass and it looks like a Corona bottle. So it looks like a beer and it even tastes like a beer too, you just don’t get a buzz.
The physical act of holding that beer bottle… or drinking out of a fancy glass… is something else we heard a lot about.
It’s amazing what can happen when you pour something non-alcoholic into a wine glass. All of a sudden you just feel that much more sophisticated.
So I just swap my G&T for a straight tonic but I ask the barman to make it look like a G&T. Put it into a gin glass…you know put all the various herbs or spices in it, fill it with ice and it’s a great way to be drinking without actually drinking.
But when you say no to a drink...a lot of you worry you’re saying no to other things, too. A listener named Abby really liked hanging out with coworkers at happy hour. But wanted to drink less, so…
ABBY: I joined a recreational soccer league! It’s a good excuse both to myself and to others to say no to happy hour when I have a soccer game on weeknights. And of course I still have a drink now and then but everything in moderation right?
How much you drink...is also connected to who’s in your life...and who’s not. Like for Brandon.
BRANDON: I recently ended a two year relationship with my boyfriend, and since I’ve moved out I’ve realized what a big of a role alcohol played with the two of us] Now that I’m on my own when I have a craving I find myself diving into a home improvement project. I'm in the process of reupholstering my dining room chairs, and my next project will be upholstering an old wingback chair.
So, a lot of you recommended distractions when you get the urge to drink….but there’s some feelings you can’t get away from.
CLAIRE: I noticed that I have an inner turmoil, tantrum like response to not having a drink.
This is a listener named Claire.
CLAIRE: Alcohol for me became this self medication and adult reward. So a few months ago I started really cutting down on alcohol, and I noticed that when I’m abstaining from drinking…even though I know I’m doing right by my body and I will see the benefits... I’ll end up eating like a whole bag of candy, or making an equally sweet mocktail and having this like, it really is like a small tantrum. As if I am a kid that can’t have this adult thing that I so associate with celebration and relaxing.
Relaxing. That’s really what you’re reaching for, when you go to pour that drink. And some of you told us, instead of drinking now…
I’ll smoke pot.
I will take some CBD.
Now I use a little bit of tincture in my tea at night and it’s been a really nice alternative.
So I don’t know if that’s replacing one vice with another but it seems to be working for me!
That is another episode.
Thanks to all of you who sent in your tips, and to intern Emily Nadal for taking to the streets of New York for us. Head on over to our Instagram to see some photos you sent us of what you do instead of drink...we’ve got a picture of Brandon’s reupholstered dining room chairs there...and they look great. And you can submit your own photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m Anna Sale, and this is Death, Sex & Money, from WNYC.