Dec. 2021 – Over the past year, I slowly but radically changed my mind about alcohol’s place in my life, ultimately deciding to become a non-drinker. This was an unexpected development to both myself and the people around me ― not because I had a drinking problem, but because I didn’t.

My belief that only alcoholics need to quit drinking was the barrier that kept me from ever analyzing my relationship with alcohol. Instead, I drank socially for more than a decade, bolstered by everyone around me doing the exact same thing.

I never questioned the strong drinks (more vodka than cranberry) that my older boyfriend would ply me with in college. I never questioned the fact that all of the worst fights I had with loved ones were preceded by drinking. I speculated that my health was being affected by some undiagnosed condition ― PCOS, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression ― and not the very normal drinking habits that I saw reflected in my friends and family and in the media I consumed. “Drink responsibly,” we’re told. Like many others, I took that as a reassurance that moderate drinking wouldn’t hurt me.

Also like many others, my alcohol intake increased during the pandemic. A glass or two of red wine, previously a bright spot at the end of the occasional hard day, suddenly became the only bright spot in a life that had become extremely small, stressful and dull. 

Then three things happened at once: …