Grey Area Drinker: finally, a label I related to!

2 minute read

When I read this checklist from acclaimed Sobriety Coach and author Sarah Rusbatch I realised I’d found my tribe – I was a Grey Area Drinker!

As with all grey areas of life, Grey Area Drinking isn’t clearly defined. It’s that confusing space between presenting like a ‘normal’ drinker to the outside world but constantly worrying and stressing about it, knowing that your thinking about booze is off key, wishing you could have more control, putting new rules in place and then breaking them, wanting to stop but terrified of what that means for the rest of your life.

If you recognise yourself in Sarah Rusbatch’s check list, there’s a good chance you are a Grey Area Drinker.

  • You drink more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week for women (around 6 medium glasses of wine a week).
  • You make ‘rules’ about your drinking (how many, how often, what type of drink, what time of day, what day of the week) but you often break them. You often drink more than you intend to.
  • You secretly worry about your drinking and often regret what you said or did when you drank.
  • You take breaks from alcohol, you may not drink every day, but you find it hard to stay ‘stopped’ and keep returning to old habits.
  • You aren’t always honest about how much you drink.
  • You use alcohol as your go-to coping strategy every time you experience any kind of adversity – stress, anger, overwhelm, boredom, loneliness. Your immediate thought is to have a drink to make it ‘disappear’.
  • On the outside, no one questions your drinking (you’re high functioning) and it certainly doesn’t appear you have a ‘problem’, but it’s becoming something you worry about.
  • You live with a constant internal ‘chatter’ about alcohol, always negotiating with yourself about when you will drink next.
  • You’re disappointed if you can’t drink at a social occasion, and you may have an attitude of, ‘There’s no point in going then.’
  • You’re a long way from rock bottom but alcohol feels like it’s robbing you of life. You’re starting to feel like it’s taking more than it’s giving but you don’t know what to do next.

Grey Area Drinking isn’t a medical diagnosis, and it is rarely talked about among friends, so it stays hidden which is a perfect ingredient for racking up the guilt and isolation.

I ticked every behaviour on Sarah’s list and, despite not liking the labels, it was good to know I wasn’t alone … I was one of millions of Grey Area Drinkers!