Published On: October 4, 20211220 words6.1 min read


Have you been going back and forth about whether you should take a break from drinking but don’t check all the boxes for a person who had a “real problem” with alcohol?

That’s the case for a lot of high-achieving women.

You probably work hard every day to accomplish a lot. You’re smart, capable, and productive. You manage work deadlines and finances, business trips and family vacations, school conferences and daycare pickups.

And you love to drink. It’s your favorite thing.

You don’t check the boxes that categorize you as an “alcoholic” but you’re also worried that you might have a problem with alcohol.

  • Maybe you think about drinking a lot and get irritated if you can’t drink for an evening.
  • Maybe you have a glass of wine and immediately want a second or a third.
  • Maybe you leave the office and wonder if you have “enough” wine at home.
  • And maybe you tell yourself you’re going to take a break from alcohol for a ‘reset’ but have trouble making it more than a few nights.

We think that having a problem with alcohol is black or white. Either you fall into the category of someone who is an alcoholic or has a drinking problem, or you don’t.

And heavy drinking is so normalized that it’s easy to dismiss any worries you have about your alcohol consumption by looking at friends and family members who drink like you do.

You don’t have to have a drinking problem to have a problematic relationship with alcohol. 

A lot of women fall into the category of “gray area drinking”, between the extremes of having negative consequences from alcohol consumption and being able to take it or leave it on occasion.

For women, there are a number of early, subtle signs that signal you should take a break from alcohol.

They’re different from what you might see if you google “Am I an Alcoholic?”. I’m betting you don’t drink in the morning. Your hands don’t shake. Friends and family haven’t said they’re concerned about your drinking. You haven’t missed work because of drinking. You don’t need to detox from alcohol. You haven’t gotten a DUI. You’re not an alcoholic. That’s awesome!

You don’t need to be an alcoholic to decide that drinking isn’t helping you be your best self.

My guest today is Janet Gourand, the founder of Tribe Sober. Janet and I are going to dig into 30 early signs you can pick up on – things you might think, feel or do – that signal it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with drinking.

Here are 30 signs you should take a break from alcohol

  1. You make rules for yourself about when you’ll drink or how much you’ll drink and have trouble sticking with them
  2. You wake up at 2 am or 3 am with a racing mind or anxiety or find it hard to sleep
  3. You feel less energetic than you used to, mentally sluggish or less effective at work
  4. Other people make comments or joke about your drinking. You get birthday gifts with a ‘wine theme’
  5. You only do part of your drinking with others. You have a glass of wine before you go out or pour another drink after you get home
  6. You’re touchy and defensive about your drinking and downplay how much or how often you drink when talking to other people 
  7. You drink more days of the week than you don’t
  8. You use drinking as a coping mechanism. If you have a horrible day at work, or get some bad news and your immediate reaction is, “I need a drink” …
  9. You feel like you’ve got it all together, but alcohol is the one thing you don’t have a handle on.
  10. Most of your social activities revolve around drinking and you can’t imagine your life without wine
  11. You wake up and regret how much you drank the night before
  12. You downplay how much you drink when asked by your doctor or therapist (“I drink a few drinks, a few nights a week…”) 
  13. You don’t have an off switch. Once you start drinking you always want more
  14. You’ve always got one eye on the booze (at restaurants, how much wine is in the bottle on the dinner table, how much other people are drinking or not drinking…) 
  15. You’re embarrassed by your recycling
  16. When checking out at the grocery or liquor store you mention that you’re “having a party” because of the number of bottles you’re buying
  17. You’re annoyed if you have to go to events that don’t serve alcohol
  18.  You don’t remember the end of shows or conversations you’ve had after drinking
  19. You wake up and check your texts and social media posts in case you wrote something you don’t remember or regret
  20. You find bruises you don’t remember getting, are clumsy or trip after a few glasses of wine
  21. You wake up feeling sick from drinking with a headache or a hangover
  22. Your serving sizes have increased and you’re pouring bigger glasses of wine
  23. You’ve tried to switch what kind of alcohol you drink so that you’ll drink less
  24. You have a lingering feeling of fear, unease or doom
  25. You engineer occasions to drink with colleagues, friends or your partner
  26. You’ve wondered if you have “enough” alcohol at home or if you should run out for a bottle of wine 
  27. You feel an increase in anxiety or stress
  28. Your eyes are watery or bloodshot in the morning
  29. You find yourself outpacing other people when drinking together
  30. You’re reading this list 


More about Janet Gourand

Janet is the founder of Tribe Sober. She lives in South Africa and has spent many years as a corporate working mom, in both Europe and South Africa, where she came home at the end of the day and drank a bottle of wine or more a night.

When she decided to stop drinking alcohol, she could find very little available support in South Africa. She knew she did not want to go into rehab and decided that AA was not for her. Janet got sober by her own efforts and by attending a workshop in London. As her journey continued, she decided to use her professional background in training and development to design and facilitate her own workshops in order to support people who wish to moderate or quit drinking alcohol.

Janet runs a membership program for women and men. She holds workshops via Zoom which are attended by people from all over the world.   If you want more details on membership or workshops just drop her a mail

She is married with one son and a chihuahua called June.  Originally from London, Janet relocated to Cape Town in 2001.

Listen, follow, and leave a review for Janet’s podcast, Tribe Sober

Head over to Tribe Sober: Help for people struggling with alcohol dependency to find out more information on how Janet can support you on your alcohol-free journey.

Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page:

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