Introducing SBGC’s Contributing Writer: Ashley

Who am I?

My name is Ashley  and I am a practicing sobriety. My decision to practice sobriety was influenced by many things, but not by the belief that I am an alcoholic. Here’s an abbreviated version of my story, as I continue to write here I will dig deeper into specific events and experiences.

My relationship with alcohol began at parties my freshman year of college. I loved feeling social, disinhibited and outgoing. For a few years my drinking, while not exactly healthy, was not problematic to me. Sure, I binged with my friends on the weekends, but I never drank at inappropriate times and it never affected my grades so I didn’t see it as a problem. However, after several traumatic experiences on campus I began drinking to cope with negative emotions. By the time I reached 21 I began to question how I used alcohol and the effect that it had on me. At the time, the only language I had to discuss these concerns was centered on alcoholism and alcohol dependence. This framework didn’t resonate with me and the prospect of never drinking again seemed unbearable, so I pushed my concerns to my core and decided that I’d overreacted.

When college ended my relationship with alcohol wasn’t perfect, but my drinking slowed down tremendously. I drank alcohol mostly responsibly for many years, however, as life got more complicated and stressful situations because more common, I again used alcohol to cope.  Though I never binged like back in college, I found myself drinking daily.

It was then that I became deeply conflicted about my drinking. In addition to knowing that coping with alcohol was not a suitable long-term strategy, l was also haunted by my earlier struggles. I again began to wonder – should I be drinking?  Which was really a coded way of asking – am I an alcoholic?

Finally, in late 2018 I decided to do something about my drinking and did one of those 30 day sober challenges. During this month of sobriety I learned how much better my life could be without alcohol and the questions I asked myself began to change. I now wondered– do I want to keep drinking? What does alcohol add to my life? What does it take away?

After the questions changed, the decision to remain sober was an easy one. I stopped seeing alcohol as something I needed or deserved and realized that it was preventing me from being my best self. I also realized that the question of sobriety does not have to be linked to the question of alcohol dependence—sobriety was a valid chose for anyone.

What do I believe?

It’s ok to question your drinking without taking on the label “alcoholic”.

It’s ok for anyone to choose sobriety for any reason.

The term “alcoholic” obscures the fact that alcohol is addictive to everyone, not just a subset of people who are “genetically predisposed” to alcohol addiction.

Why am I here?

I am here for a few reasons, but mostly because I want to participate in and further the discussion of black women and alcohol abuse. Over the next months and years I will contribute content including but not limited to: stories of my personal journey to sobriety; interviews with other sober black women; research on the link between alcohol consumption and cancer, anxiety, depression and other illnesses; and research on alcohol use and abuse in our culture.

I also want to make it ok for you to question your own drinking and decide if sobriety is a valid choice for you. You don’t have to be an “alcoholic” or have A Problem in order to decide that alcohol is not adding to your life. I want this to be a safe place to ask the questions – do I want to keep drinking? What does alcohol add to my life? What does it take away?

I look forward to sharing my journey!