Image: Cathy sticking out her tongue Feeling like you can be who you means that, even if you’re drinking, you feel like yourself.

When you feel like you can be who you are, you feel like the person you are (even when drinking) is really you.

You know that you’re still being a good friend, a role model for your teammates or responsible to your family – whatever it is that is important to you.

What does it feel like?

You feel like yourself! You behave in ways that reflect who you are and what you value – regardless of how little or how much you drink. You know that you’re still making choices that reflect what you care about.

This can make you feel really good about yourself. And it’s great for self-confidence to know that you can go without drinking, or drink less, and still be totally yourself.

What do you mean, “feel like you can be who you are”?

Image: Guy and girl talking

Some people feel that they become more sociable or brave when they’ve had a bit to drink. It may seem like a good idea to have one or two drinks to loosen up, or to make sure you have a good time. But as young people said over and over again, you don’t need alcohol to be yourself.

Of course, right! But some of the young people we talked to wondered:

  • If I don’t need alcohol, then why do I bother drinking the way that I do?
  • Is the person I am when I’m drinking really me?
  • Am I making choices that reflect who I am, who I value in my life, and the things that are important to me?

They felt uncomfortable that the way they behaved didn’t match what they believed. They thought, “I only did that because I was drunk – I wouldn’t have done it sober.” One was frightened by falling into the road while messing around. Another just wondered if she would have said what she said to a guy she fancied – even the good stuff! – if she hadn’t been drinking

“My friends say to me that they wouldn’t want to meet the drunk version of themselves. I find that interesting. I don’t like the idea of there being a part of me that I wouldn’t want to know fully.”
Corrine, non-drinker

They didn’t necessarily think that they had a drinking problem – and they wouldn’t have liked it if someone had told them that they did. Sometimes they talked with trusted friends who they could count on to be supportive.

These young people felt that drinking wasn’t actually helping them in any meaningful way. So, they asked themselves: what’s the point of drinking that way, if you don’t end up feeling like yourself?

What works?

Image: Know that you're not alone

More than anything, know that you’re not alone: a lot of people question drinking but don’t talk about it. It doesn’t mean that you have a drinking problem if you want to think about the way you drink, how you behave if you’ve had a drink, or how you can go about not drinking too much.

Ask yourself: would I want to meet “drunk me”? Look at the decisions you make when you’re drinking. Would you make those same choices if you were sober? Is that how you see yourself, or how you want the people you care about to see you?

  • Learn from your past experiences
  • Talk to someone who knows you well, about the way you act when you drink
  • Be yourself – whether you’re sober or you’ve had a drink
Would I want to meet the drunk me?

Share your thoughts with a trusted friend. Talk to a supportive, non-judgemental friend or relative about what’s on your mind. Keep an open mind to learn from others’ experiences.

Look at whether you would have more money, time and energy to pursue your other interests if you changed the way you drink. Do you have enough money left over for guitar lessons? Do you never properly catch up with your friends because someone’s had a bit too much? Are you grumpy because you have a hangover?

  • Value friendships based on really knowing each other and liking each other
  • Value the trust that other people put in you