Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Sober One

Today is my birthday! I’m in my mid-20s and ready to party! Woohoo!
First, we’ll have dinner and ...
Well, the weekend is coming up and it’s St. Patrick’s Day. So I’ll celebrate by going to dinner again, taking a hike somewhere, playing volleyball, watching a movie and ...
I don’t drink. 
I’ve been there and done that when I was in college and I left that behind me when I graduated. Bars and clubs lost their appeal very quickly. It was fun while it lasted, but then I saw how it’s really kind of useless and there’s really no need.

Why have a beer before you eat, you’re just adding more calories to your dinner?
Why have just one beer if you really can’t feel it.
Why pay $4 more dollars for a second beer and then end up paying $8 to $12 for drinks that you really don’t like?
Why pay all this money for drinks that don’t taste good? Often times, I don’t like the taste of alcohol, no mater how much sugar they put in it.
Why go to the bar, when you know you hate bars?
Why go to clubs when you know you loath clubs?
Why drink and then drive yourself home? Even if it is just one beer.

Sometime last year I decided to be sober. “Being sober” makes it sound like I was drunk for a few years, lost custody of my children, was abandoned by my family and was in jail for a while. No. I’m only 24 and I saw how alcohol can be damaging in many ways; my health, my wallet and to my culture. Not to mention, having alcohol in your system and acting a fool or killing someone would not be fun either. I wish so many people would realize that.

• My health. Lately I’ve become a calorie counter and a person who tries hard to watch what she eats. I’m trying to eat more vegetables, less breads and rice and trying to drink more water. I exercise regularly and am happy with the results I’m seeing. I have more energy and I just feel more healthy. Having alcohol, which is mostly 600+ calories per drink, just puts all that to waste. And with diabetes more common in Native Americans, I really don’t need that kind of sugar in my body because it can possibly lead to diabetes.
• My wallet. $4 for one beer?!?! No. I can drink Diet Coke all night with endless refills for $1.98. Something psychological happens to me where I feel really bad about spending more than $20 at a time (it comes from growing up on the rez in a really poor situation). I have to call my sister, my boyfriend and my mom and dad and get their opinion on if I should buy these shoes that are $40. I don’t need that kind of stress when I look at a receipt from a bar that says “you spent $30 on crappy drinks in a crappy setting and the feeling is totally over.” A couple of years ago, that always stressed me out and it bugged me all day until I finally had to tell myself, “f*ck it. I’m 21, let’s do it again next week.” Now, I’d rather spend my money in the movie theater, at the grocery store (I’m a foodie who loves to cook), on music, on clothes, on stuff for my apartment and at shows.
• My culture. I’m not another drunk Indian. There are statistics everywhere that prove Native Americans have a problem with alcohol. My family and community has been affected by alcohol in so many ways. Hell, there’s a liquor store just 15 miles from my hometown on the reservation where it’s illegal to have alcohol. Yet, there’s that single liquor store not 700 yards from the reservation border and no white people in site. Where does that liquor go? Right to the reservation where our roads are littered with beer boxes and vodka bottles. It’s sickening what it does to the whole community. I'm mad at alcohol because I’ve seen the utter hopelessness. And what does that say about my people when someone meets me for the first time and I’m drunk? What if they never see another Indian again? That’s just reaffirming the ugly stereotype that we’re redskins and drunks. Yes, "redskins" is a derogatory word.
I said it before: it’s hard to be Native and American. You have to be both, and for my Native side, I have to set a good example, otherwise, why bother calling myself Native and then trying to be proud of it? No, I’m not going to live the stereotype or be a statistic.

Also... regarding this weekend, St. Patrick’s Day. I bet the Irish think it’s offensive when we drink and get sh*tfaced on this day we’re supposed to be honoring this saint and their culture. It’s pretty much the only day we think about Ireland and Irish and when we associate it with drunk Irishmen and beer it’s not an accurate picture and it’s kind of offensive. I feel this way because I would not like people getting sh*tfaced on Native American Day and saying “we’re celebrating your culture, we’re getting drunk and wearing feathers.” I know the Irish and Natives have that stereotype and I imagine it hurts just as well.
It is hard to stay away from alcohol, especially at my age. I say “I’m sober” but not completely — I only drink during the rockabilly shows. This year I had one two weeks ago, two at the blues show a month ago. I really want to work on abstaining from it completely.

In closing: There’s so much socializing that goes on when there’s alcohol around and sometimes you feel like you’re missing out. Along the way I have lost friends. The kind of “friends” who only called on the weekends to go drinking. My dad, who has also been sober for almost a decade, has lost many friends too. One of my best friends has lost many friends when she stopped. My sister has fewer friends too. Funny how that happens.


  1. Nice article. A little bit hard to read with that background, but manageable. Stay strong, it dies feel better not drinking. More recent reports of alcohol being linked to cancer too. I mostly drink water.

  2. I am so proud of you. I chose to be alcohol free too at an early age. My family was the reason why. I love my family so much that I didn't want to do anything to hurt them. I lost friends but my family is so precious to me that I don't miss my friends. I also love my pets just like they are my kids. Who could ask for more?

  3. Anything that goes beyond moderation is related to addiction. We all know that this isn't something to be proud of; still, some people enjoy the nonsense. But that is their own call. I'm glad that you figured things out as early as now before you become regretful because of health complications due to the negative effects of too much alcohol in your body. It's alright to have a glass once in a while, but if you drink to get dead drunk, then that is a whole different story.

    Dinah Gerdts

  4. i like that i found your blog first thing when i googled native and sober. i sit at home with no social life as i am native and i too do not drink. i say sober because its what i am. i only wish i stopped drinking alcohol earlier. it put a stop to a lot of problems that seemed to keep recurring in my life but yet it has brought up new ones. i never understood why i would consume alcohol when i didn't like it either but it was the only way to stay connected. now that i refuse to drink, i am a loner and have been told im trying to be too good. my sons' dad left me as im too "boring" but no big deal as i am alive and living life raising my three sons. my mom quit drinking at an early age, i was 6 or 7 when she quit, now she is a workaholic and ready to retire. i witnessed her lonely life but she never complained as she had us kids. everybody else in her life drinks. i am proud of my mom for working hard to start breaking that cycle and now i am following her steps. its been 2 years and seven months since i quit. sometimes i feel like im missing out and get lonely as on this rez there is no support but thats what my mom and kids are for. i am still trying to fit in to this new life and glad i read your blog.thank you.

    1. I'm glad you took the initiative to become sober. You really find out who your real friends are when you make a choice like that and I'm sorry he left you because of that. People do treat you different and say you're boring, but I find it to be enlightening and liberating. I feel healthier and less weighed down. I even feel smarter when I know my peers are out risking their lives, getting DUIs and spending so much money to party every weekend. I also feel smarter because I'm watching movies more (which is my favorite), enjoying local events, spending more time and money on my hobbies, ect. But I live in a city and you live on the reservation. I come from the reservation and I know that there's nothing much for people to do. They tell us not to drink, don't become an alcoholic, but there is no support after we heed their words. On my reservation there are no weekend events, no live music, no movie theaters and no restaurants. You have to try extra hard to entertain yourself, which makes it so easy to fall (back) into alcohol because that's what everyone else does. Don't listen to those who think you're trying to be 'too good' or that you're boring. You're making a choice for yourself — your health and your children — and they shouldn't judge — shame on them. Keep up the good life. You'll find others like you. I have

  5. I love the article and comments and am young about to make a huge step in my life... be SOBER. For lots of reasons,..mainly my children but for my health and culture and the community I live. This article really touched my heart and comments really inspired me and I know I can do this! Words can't express how I feel...but there's a reason. I came across this and thank you all! Gunalcheesh (thank you in Tlingit) !! All the way from Alaska!

    1. Thank you for reading! I'm glad you found this useful. Life will be great. Keep it up :)

  6. Awesome post, Andi! It's nice to know that you've realized all of these during your younger years. You could have wasted more money and gained more weight if you continued your bar hopping. I'm sure you're supremely satisfied with your decision to live an alcohol-free life. You'll be able to find more activities that could help you forget about the bottle. Congratulations on your sober life! :D

    Donnie Benson @ Midwest Institute for Addiction