Opting out of alcohol

I only pine for booze a little on the holidays. Not because booze is suddenly a different, less sinister, less addictive drug, or because my sober life is suddenly less healthy, less meaningful and rewarding. No, it’s not that, nor any particular nostalgia of holidays past, either, because before I quit drinking I was too woozy to remember the finer details of holidays.

Rather, it’s the way alcohol advertising, which was already everywhere, is EVERYWHERE. And that EVERYWHERE isn’t just the ads and pop-ups on the internet, it’s the serious articles on The New York Times…


Fifteen years after first wondering about my relationship with alcohol, I finally stopped drinking in May of 2018.

During those 15 years of private alarm and “moderate, socially acceptable” nightly drinking, I explored an array of views about addiction and recovery, learning something from each, but I didn’t stop drinking. Instead, I watered my seeds of concern with alcohol, and I hid.

I hid by dating people who drank more than me. I hid by sharing alcohol memes, by laughing at how grateful I was for alcohol. I hid by repeatedly asking friends, therapists, and family to reassure me that…


On the outside, I look pretty much the same, but inside, I’m evolving in ways I never expected

Photo: KrakenPlaces/iStock/Getty Images Plus

It’s 4 a.m., and I’m wide awake—not with dread or shame, or even an alcohol-induced dry mouth or headache. I stay in bed a bit. It’s winter here and warm beneath the heavy blankets, but eventually, I decide to get up and write this piece.

Last year, I finally stopped drinking alcohol. Even as Christmas approached, I was mostly indifferent toward the booze around me. Holidays used to be carte blanche for my heaviest drinking. This past year, they were an opportunity to see loved ones, enjoy good food, and get extra sleep. …


It was only after I walked away from alcohol that people thought I needed help

Photo by magnezis magnestic on Unsplash

I finally stopped using the addictive, carcinogenic drug ethanol, known by its street name alcohol, three months ago (May 2018).

I’m not counting the days anymore. Not really. Because that would be the same as counting the days of the rest of my life. But still, I know it’s been three months, and I’m ready to start talking about it.

I don’t expect a congratulations, at least not from people who still drink regularly. When I was drinking I wouldn’t have congratulated you, either.

I expect something more like crickets. Crickets, plus awkward silence. …


Of marriage, the philosopher Alan de Botton has written, “Marriage: a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully omitted to investigate.”

My husband and I were married four months ago on a farm with our closest people watching. “Your vows were real,” they told us afterward as they smiled and swarmed. It was a perfect day I would relive again and again, and with same man, too.

The days that came before and…


A Way Out

This week, I came across several statements in the professional counseling literature that said, in the simplest terms, that therapists should be free of psychological distress and not let our own issues or struggles come into our work with clients.

On one level, these guidelines make perfect sense. Clients don’t come to therapy to hear our stories, carry our pain. They need that service from us, and to provide it, counselors must be emotionally and intellectually available. There may indeed be times when we aren’t able to adequately care for others and need to step back until we’re ready again.


A response to Gary Greenberg’s op-ed, Should Therapists Write About Patients?

In an op-ed for the New York Times, psychotherapist and author Gary Greenberg recounts a recent mishap in writing about his patients. After obtaining consent and/or taking elaborate attorney-approved steps to render his patients’ stories unrecognizable even to themselves, Greenberg published about some of his work with patients. Despite his meticulous efforts, one patient identified himself in the book — not in any obvious characteristics but in the story’s essence. The patient felt violated, and the therapeutic relationship never recovered.

In addition to honoring patient confidentiality, therapists have an ethical aspiration to do no harm. Although Greenberg did his due…


Prior to leaving town for the Thanksgiving holiday, I felt profoundly lonely. Then I went away, visited with my brother, sister-in-law, and my nephews over the holiday, and didn’t feel lonely. When I got back home, the loneliness was waiting for me.

Science tells us that loneliness is toxic to our health and our sense of well-being. People who are lonely have more mental and physical health challenges. They get sick and die more often than people who are connected to each other. Lonely people are also more likely to feel suicidal and end their lives.

Loneliness kills.

Given how…


Dear Starting_Over, WorknPlay_247, and the obscurely named Celiac_Trunk,

This month I turn 35. As you can see from my photos and specs, I’m a red-headed woman of petite build and average height who has never been married and who may or may not want children.

Should you go on to read my profile, thank you, because there you’ll learn that I am other than the girl, gurl, lady, woman, girlfriend, cutie, hottie, or sweetiepie you saw in your list of potential matches this morning and decided to contact.

In fact, if you read my profile, you will see that I…

Sara Nash, PhD, LMHC

Sara Nash is a mom, therapist, painter, and writer who has been happily sober since May 2018. Find her at thecounselorasaperson.com and saranash.com.

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