The Euphoric Gap

Socialising sober. We all know it can be tricky. Awkward at times. Over a year off the sauce and I have really hit my straps and have no issues going out for dinner, going to events, parties, or chatting to new people.

However there’s a feeling that has crept in over the last couple of months. One that I didn’t notice at first, maybe because I was so focused on being sober. That feeling is what I can only describe as missing the high. Going out, enjoying an amazing dinner, but becoming aware of the fact that I am not hitting that euphoric high that I used to when drinking. The little thought in my head “yes that long lunch with my mates was beautiful, but…” and the but is, it wasn’t as exciting/hilarious/AMAZING as it was when I was 2 bottles of red in.

I had been noticing this for some time now and although it’s far from ruining social occasions or driving me back to alcohol, I have been spending a fair bit of time mulling it over, trying to understand why the high’s aren’t feeling quite so high right now. Why, despite everything I know about alcohol and the damage those highs caused me is this feeling getting to me?

So to get to the bottom of it, I raised it with my psychologist. And everything she said made perfect sense. So I thought it only fair to share it with you all. Turns out, that high that I feel like I’m missing is actually not a high at all (the actual chemical high from alcohol only last approx. 20mins, after that you’re just chasing) and is more to do with being constantly cognisant.

Without the booze hitting the ‘shut down’ button on your brain, you’re there, experiencing everything, fully present whilst still having your busy brain buzz going on. You’re never fully losing yourself in the moment because you are not using a chemical that by it’s nature disinhibits, relaxes and distracts you. You don’t have the freedom of letting the prosecco do it’s thing and hitting the off button on your frontal cortex. Those high’s were never really a high, but more of a mini-break from reality. When you put it like that, maybe the FOMO isn’t so real. We all know the trade off of said mini-break and the real downside of taking that mini-break, unfortunately reality always catches up with you!

So what to do then?

These are the strategies that I’ll be working on moving forward:

  • Accept the trade off; know that the high that I am sometimes craving was never real or worth it
  • Before heading out to socialise, find some zen. Take a minute in the car to myself, do some breathing and try and bring myself into the moment, rather than letting the busyness of the day dominate thoughts
  • Find alternate activities/opportunities that provide that ‘lose yourself in the moment’ feel. For me painting, sewing and a good cooking session all provide me the opportunities to disengage my brain for a while and just DO. Netflix and chill has it’s place but this is not it!
  • Be GRATEFUL. Grateful that I’ve moved past that shit and my life is so much better for it, grateful that I have the emotional intelligence to be aware of these things and deal with them rather than sledgehammering myself.

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