My Bon Voyage to Booze

My name is Laura Youngs and I am an alcoholic. Well… that is stretching the truth a bit, however this is the year that I decided to stare my excessive drinking in the eye.

As a teenager the legal drinking age in Texas was eighteen. MAAD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) was still quite a few years from existence and if stopped for drinking and driving you would more often than not simply be told to get a ride home. Open keg parties in the backyards of my high school chums with parents at the helm were commonplace, and club owners were more than willing to overlook a fake drivers license in order to ring in a cover charge, sell a drink and bring in young girls with little to no repercussions if found out. I was one of those young girls and it was easy to get caught up in the allure of being an “adult”. Certainly an alcoholic beverage in my hand was a badge of womanhood! As years passed I became an actual adult but through the many changes in my life the beverage in my hand still remained. After all, we live in a society that promotes and celebrates this multi-billion dollar industry. How can you celebrate New Years Eve without champagne? What is football without beer or fine dining without a fine wine? And who can resist becoming the most interesting person in the world?

My story is similar to that of so many. As a single person, going to Happy Hour several times a week became the norm. Although “three for the price of one” is no longer legal it has been replaced with bartenders giving out free drinks in order to get large tips. And they are successful! Before one glass of wine is finished another one appears. Who can say no to that? Being an entertainer also has had its perks. Free flowing drinks and shots being sent to the stage definitely add to the frivolity of the evening. Band tours, vacations, parties, lunches – none would be complete without the ever-present beverage. It has become a ritual of sorts, woven into the fabric of my life’s activities. Yes, I have had a fall or two when over-served and driven when I should not have. For the most part, however, I blend in to the scenery amongst my friends. Our parties and shenanigans are forever emblazoned in pictures on social media capturing the laughter and big smiles that imbibing often brings.

I am not able to put a time stamp on when my drinking came became a concern for me. I do recall the moment this year when I walked into the bar to join my friends and thought “ I am one of THOSE! The person you can always count on seeing at the bar. A “regular”! It was a terrifying thought, to be honest, and a bit humiliating. Naturally I knew I was the social butterfly that can be counted on to make others have a good laugh, but I had never looked at myself in this light. And I did not like it.

It was soon after this epiphany that I found myself in the library in hopeful search of a diet book on “How to Drink Margaritas Every Day and Still Lose Weight”. Needless to say I did not find such a book but fate intervened in another way. On the next row of shelves a book title literally seemed to pop out at me – “30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home” by Jack Canfield and Dave Andrews. I am a believer that there are no coincidences in life so I checked the book out. That day, Saturday, August 26th 2017, was the day I quit drinking. The book challenged me to quit drinking for 30 days, which was something I had never done before. The format is based on a daily chapter and includes journaling and visualization. Simplistically it asked me to look at my past life in regards to lifestlyle, health, finances and relationships and how it would look in the future if I continued down the same path. There are no tales here of having to turn my life over to God or ask every one I know for forgiveness. That was not the focus of this tutelage and once I reached my 30-day goal I could not think of a sensible reason as to why I would have a drink again. I was personally amazed at how easy it has been for me to stay away from alcohol. I still enjoy myself when I go out, I am saving an insane amount of money and do not miss hangovers and morning grogginess in the least.

Telling others of my decision has been the most interesting part of this journey. My family, who has borne the brunt of late night calls and such, has been fully supportive. The reaction from my friends has been mixed. The initial reaction is generally one of almost shock, which I cannot help but find amusing. A few responses are the obligatory “Good for you!” with several people asking me for the name of the book. Others ask me why I have stopped, sure in their suspicions that I must have liver disease or gotten a DUI. Most, however, feel the need to justify their own drinking to me. I am told how they only drink when they go out or don’t drink hard liquor or only drink at home, and the like. As someone who has been a lifetime drinker I pass judgment on no one and honestly do not care who drinks and who doesn’t. Will I ever have another drink? I do not know the answer to that. For sure I am enjoying a life filled with more energy, time and a clear head. I am still that same social butterfly. Just one who has finally fully emerged from her cocoon. It’s a good thing.