You do NOT have to hit rock bottom

12-step sobriety programs insist you MUST hit bottom in order to be willing to do the work to recover from your addiction. 

The authors of the book Alcoholics Anonymous insist that until you admit complete defeat you will not be desperate enough to take the tough steps like seeing your part in your problems and setting things right with people you have harmed.

But here’s the REAL truth… You can choose to declare yourself AF (alcohol-free) at any point. And you can choose to use your drinking issue as a ticket to personal growth, rock bottom or not.

When I was in business school, I learned a tool called a Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA). In it, not surprisingly, you list all of the benefits of making a decision and then all of the possible costs of that decision.

This CBA tool also works when it comes to reviewing your relationship with alcohol.

The benefit of drinking for me was fundamentally to get numb. As a single parent, I was exhausted and scared pretty much all of the time. I had a Pavlovian response to the sound of a cork being pulled from the throat of a bottle of wine. I instantly felt a bit more relaxed. The edge was immediately taken off. The intensity of my feelings abated, and I felt like I could go on.

However, drinking cost me quite a bit, too.

  1. I was hungover about 50% of the time. I realized this when my 40th birthday was soon upon me. I figured that if I lived another 50 years, 25 of them were going to be spent hungover. 25 years of hangovers? Yikes! That sounded (and still sounds) awful.
  2. While I drank to function through exhaustion, drinking made me exhausted. Sleeping poorly, staying up too late, and eating crappy food late at night all ultimately contributed to my overwhelming exhaustion.
  3. Drinking increased my anxiety. I pretended so hard that I had everything under control. And yet I knew people sensed that something was off. I was scared that they’d realize that I was hiding the truth of what was going on in my world.
  4. I lost my self-respect. I had moral standards, and yet I seemed to forget about them when I’d been drinking. And those standards slipped. Slipped. And slipped enough that my behavior became untenable.
  5. I didn’t look good. I was developing a drinker’s face, with flushed cheeks, broken capillaries, and lines running vertically next to my nose. This was unacceptable. (Thank God for vanity, right?!?)

Oh, plus I endangered myself. Probably my kids, too. Lost friendships because of things I did while drinking. Behaved inappropriately at work events and that probably cost me promotions and opportunities.


I’m glad I decided to be AF when I did. I had custody of my beloved children, a great job, friends, a home, and a nice car. I did NOT have to go to jail. Get a DUI. Develop cirrhosis of the liver.

The CBA of being AF is revealing as well.

Being AF cost me giving up alcohol. Some of my drinking buddies.

But the benefits?

  • FINALLY feeling comfortable in my own skin! 
  • An amazing marriage to a guy who is also AF. (We don’t have drama and chaos, and each of us is a whole individual committed to each other. It’s heaven.)
  • I have an immense amount of energy. 
  • I am no longer exhausted, despite being 23+ years older. 
  • Plus, I’m in the best shape of my life.

What about you? What is your CBA for drinking? What is your CBA for being AF?


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Juicy AF is an expression of how I’ve helped countless women transform from being hopeless, anxious, and ashamed into living vibrant, meaningful, laughter-filled lives.

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