I Know I'm An Alcoholic, But I'm Afraid To Be Sober In A Culture So Focused On Drinking

Although I technically live in New York, I’m not there much lately. I sublet my apartment to travel half the year. In many ways this is heartbreaking, because New York is the love of my life. But in other ways, it’s good for me; it certainly gives my liver a well-deserved break. I have struggled with alcohol abuse since my mid-20s, and although I started drinking before that, it didn’t become a problem — a real problem — until I moved to New York.


It’s not as though the city drives one to dri- OK, sometimes it does. But the bigger factor for me is that drinking is such an inherent part of the culture here. Sure, other cities have Happy Hour, and maybe even bottomless mimosas at brunch. But to get drunk almost every night of the week, to go to Boozy Brunch on both Saturday and Sunday, to practice the time-honored activity of getting Day Drunk when the weather is nice, isn’t taken as a sign that you have a problem in New York — it’s seen as a sign that you’re fun. Every office I have ever worked in here had alcohol in it — not for decoration or special celebrations, but simply to be consumed on a slow afternoon, when we all indulged. And we didn’t feel guilty about it. There was something glamorous about it, drinking at work, like a Mad Men meets Sex and the City scenario. Those are shows where characters were rarely without a drink in their hand.


For a very long time, I was the last one to go home, unaware that the party was over and I had no one left with whom I could drink. But that didn’t stop me from drinking more.

Of course, the drinking culture is alive and well outside of New York, too. When I’m at my parents’ for the holidays and meet up with old college classmates, we don’t meet for dinner; we meet for drinks. Everyone stays for “just one more round,” and even after that, we often stumble onto another bar, then another. Who wants to be that first person to go home at night? Not me. Continue…

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