Ep #128: When Visiting Family Increases Your Drinking

By: Dr. Sherry Price

Drink Less Lifestyle with Dr. Sherry Price | When Visiting Family Increases Your Drinking

Is visiting family a trigger for your drinking?

I know this is the case for many of you listening.

After a long trip, tensions can run high, and your first reaction might be to pour a drink to make yourself feel better.

But how do you want to react in these moments?

If you’ve noticed that you drink more, eat more, or feel more uncomfortable emotions when visiting family, this episode is for you.

You’ll learn how to create a happy, healthy environment around your family, without needing anyone else to change, and without turning to alcohol to feel better.


By popular demand, my one-on-one coaching program is BACK! I only take a few clients per quarter, so if you want to work deeply to change your drinking patterns, and find peace, confidence, and a healthy relationship with yourself in the process, this is your chance. Click here for all the details and to apply.


What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • An example from my own life of experiencing heightened discomfort around my family.
  • What changes when you don’t rely on alcohol to deal with uncomfortable emotions.
  • How to discover the real reason why you overdrink around your family, and one simple thing you can do about it.


Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 128.

Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.

Well, hello my beautiful podcast listener, how are you today? I am recovering from the stomach virus, oh my gosh that was huge. That took me down like I haven’t been taken down in a long time. But I’m glad to be through it and glad that it’s kind of given me a nice reset where I can focus on building back my microbiome and my health and getting back to my health goals.

So before we dive into today’s podcast, I just want to share something that touched me so much inside of our private Facebook page. Now, I opened up a private Facebook group because I noticed people are not willing to post about alcohol and stories and their struggles out there for everyone to see. So I wanted to create this private group and it’s called Stop the Over-drinking Habit. You are more than welcome and I’d be delighted if you came in and joined us.

But I want to read what Kara wrote in here. Now, I remember speaking with Kara a few years ago and I was so delighted to see her post recently. She said, “Hi, everyone, I haven’t posted in a super long time because I have kicked my over-drinking habit to the curb. Yes, I still drink although it no longer controls me. It’s been almost a year of not over-drinking and not obsessing about drinking. It has been an enormous sense of freedom.

Last year I took Sherry’s idea of choosing a word of the year of something that I wanted to work on for the year. I picked ‘growth’ and amazingly I had an abundance of growth throughout last year and still do. I just remembered this idea tonight and decided to pick a new word for the year. I thought I’d share the concept with you all and I’m so grateful for Sherry’s podcast and everything I’ve learned about why we overdrink. Thank you, Sherry. The podcast that had really turned my thought process around was Willpower vs. Brain Power.”

And we’ll put a link to that episode in the show notes for you. And she goes on to say that, “All of the podcasts are fantastic although this particular podcast gave me the tools I needed to change my habit of overdrinking because honestly that’s basically all it was, a habit.” I love that she wrote this because it really shows that when you implement these tools, when you start making these changes to how you think and how you feel and what to do with your feelings that you’re not taking it out to alcohol and creating more problems in our life.

And I want to free you from that so I’m so excited when I hear that these podcasts are helping you. I also want to mention another post that was just posted yesterday which blew my mind. It was an anonymous post and she mentioned that she is now down 75 pounds and just 10 pounds away from her personal goal and she’s never felt better in her entire adult life. So she’s drinking a lot less. She’s changed up her diet and she’s making these fabulous changes that make her feel epic. And my heart just melts when I read this because this is the impact I want this podcast to have in people’s lives.

I want them to uplevel, to feel better, to get better health, to be more confident around food and around alcohol so that we are not overdoing it, that we don’t feel powerless to it, that we can be confident and empowered when we are around food and alcohol because we know that any time we overindulge, whether it be on food, whether it be on alcohol we don’t feel better. we feel worse. Not only that, we get further away from our health goals and from living the life we truly love.

So I just want to say congratulations to these ladies, man, to put in this work, to put in this effort and to get these kinds of results is truly kudos to you and I’m so fortunate and so honored to be on this journey with you. Now, I want to ask others who are listening to this podcast, I really want to help inspire more women to uplevel their life. And one way that we can do this collectively is allowing other people to find this podcast. So if you have friends, please share it with them if you think they would benefit.

And another way you can do that is also by leaving a review. It doesn’t have to be long and lengthy. It could be just quick and short but by leaving a review for this podcast it helps lift this podcast up and shows it to other people searching. It just helps the algorithm webs of how they say it. I’m not sure of these algorithms but I hear they work. And so to get it up there and to be seen for more people to find, I need more reviews. So I’m asking please, please, please for you to write a review if you are enjoying this podcast.

So one more thing I want to mention before we dive into today’s topic is that back by popular demand my one-on-one coaching program is back. Now, I know I stopped doing one-on-one coaching for a period of time while I was building EpicYOU and pouring all my resources and energy into making that product, yes, epic. So now I know a few of you have been reaching out to me really wanting to work with me one-on-one and I want you to know that that opportunity now exists again.

And I only have limited spots. I only take a few clients per quarter where I work with you deeply on how to change your drinking patterns so that you can find peace, confidence and a healthy relationship with yourself and with alcohol and/or food or whatever other overing that you may be doing. Now, this is an application only process so you can go to my website at www.epicyou.com and you can learn more and you can apply there. And I’ll tell you, we work together over three to four months.

And just the few women I have been helping recently have dramatically changed their lives within the first month. Your life will forever be changed. So if that is something that interests you, again you can go to my website to learn more. Alright, so I think I’ve caught you up on all of the announcements.

And as I dive into today’s topic I want you to know that this topic came as a request from one of the women inside of EpicYOU. We were talking about how many of us were recently traveling and a lot of us were visiting family, including myself and how visiting family can be a trigger for people. It can be a reason why their drinking creeps up or the reason their drinking increases. And in my case I’ll be sharing it was something that actually I did while I was visiting my family that I wasn’t proud of.

So how this came to be is I was sharing how my daughter and I, recently we went to visit my mom and dad in Pennsylvania and then we also visited my sister and her family while we were there. So flying from the West Coast to the East Coast takes all day. We get to Newark. We’ve got a rent-a-car, we’ve got to drive, typically it takes two hours but that evening it took three because of construction at the Delaware Water Gap and we had multiple delays for various reasons so it was a long day.

And by the time we got to my parents’ house it was pretty late but we were just all excited to see each other. So as customary for my mom she starts offering us all the things that are food related. “Here have some pizza, have some cookies, have some cake.” Anything in the house, you name it, she’s offering it to us. So of course we’d been traveling all day, we were pretty hungry. My daughter starts eating and she starts saying thank you for things. And well, within 15 to 20 minutes later she does something that I don’t like.

She was asked a question by my mom and she didn’t answer it the way I wanted her to. She didn’t look grandma in the eye and I didn’t hear her say thank you after she was offered something else. And so what did I do? I responded in a way that I wasn’t proud of. I criticized her and I told her to look at grandma when she’s talking to her and to always say thank you. And of course when my daughter heard that, that didn’t go over so well. She got up, she walked out of the kitchen and I could see tears starting to come down her eyes.

And I felt lousy inside. I knew I had blew it in the way I chastised her, in the way I criticized her and what I said. But in the moment I really wasn’t sure exactly why I did that. I just knew inside I felt pretty lousy about what had just happened and I knew I handled it wrong. Now, I tell this story because I want you to know, in the past my immediate reaction to this would have been to pour a drink. It would have been, I’m feeling uncomfortable, I did something wrong. Oh my gosh, I can’t please all the people and so I go into woe is me and let me just pour a drink to make myself feel better.

But I also want to share with you that alcohol didn’t even cross my mind. It wasn’t even on the table. It wasn’t even a thought in the ethers for me which I have to tell you is so much progress. I mean in just five years, I don’t even think of alcohol as ‘a solution’ to my emotional problem. Crazy. Crazy. So the fact that I’m no longer triggered to have a drink, I’ve totally deconditioned that response in me.

Now, notice, my daughter didn’t change, even me, I was acting in a way that wasn’t great but even I didn’t trigger myself to drink and nothing about the situation triggered me because I have deconditioned that. So I wanted to point that out because that is huge, and that’s a huge win. Now, I’m not saying what I did was good. So since I knew I felt awful inside me, I didn’t like the way I acted. I didn’t like the way I made my daughter cry. I didn’t like the tension that now I brought to the household. So of course I go and I apologize and I said, “I don’t know why I did what I did.”

And I smoothed things out for the night and so everything was calm and cool but it was still bothering me inside. And so two days later we were flying home and on the plane it’s still gnawing at me. Do you ever have that where you did something and even though you apologized for it or you tried to make amends it’s still eating at you? And so I know I needed to do some more self-reflection, why is this still eating at me and why did I chastise her for that?

And so when we were flying back I had this great heart to heart with her. We were both crying on the plane, it probably made the other passengers uncomfortable listening to us but I was just saying, “I really don’t understand what I did. I’m going to explore this more but it wasn’t right what I did and I’m so sorry for the way I acted.” And so she felt relieved hearing that. She felt comforted by that. I felt, wow, I just got this off, this burden off of my soul and I just wanted to have her feel like I still love her, it’s still safe to be her and that I shouldn’t have done what I did.

So luckily for me the next day when we were here in California I had a meeting with my coach, Shelley, who she’s absolutely wonderful. Oh my gosh, I love her as my coach and I wanted to let her know it was still bothering me. And so I told her what was happening and how horrible I felt because I felt I criticized her and I didn’t want to criticize her but I didn’t know how to handle it in the moment. And so we dug a little deeper because oftentimes you can do some digging on your own but you can’t see things the way somebody else can.

So what I realized is I acted that way to get my daughter to act differently because I wanted my parents to see that I was raising her right, I was raising her good and I wanted to kind of show off how mannerly and how good of a kid I have. So what I was doing was, is I was using her as a pawn to make me feel good. And boy, when I realized that, gosh, that felt so gross, using my child as a pawn to make my feelings better. That’s horrific. I never want to do that. That was so not my intent.

Now, Shelley, even helped me process this deeper by saying, “Wow, it’s like we throw our kids under the bus for the approval of others such as your parents.” And, wow, that’s exactly what I did. And that is not the way I want to parent my child. I do not want to throw her under the bus so I get the approval from other people regardless of who they are.

And so my coach also helped me see that instead of creating the safe space where my daughter can be seen as she is and she doesn’t have to be perfect and she doesn’t have to act a certain way to get love and to receive love and to express herself. That I made this unsafe place for her where she shut down and she immediately shut down because she left the room and she was hurt. And now I see that that is not the way to create a happy healthy child who grows into a happy healthy adult.

You don’t do that by finding fault with them and critiquing them and criticizing them. It just lowers their self-esteem, their self-worth, their self-image and it doesn’t help them blossom into the humans that they are. So I’m sharing this with you because I am so thankful to have somebody where I can be myself and evaluate my actions and my thoughts so that when they don’t feel aligned I can figure out exactly what I was doing and how to act differently in the future so that I am aligned with my beliefs.

And that I am aligned with the results that I want. And the result that I want is to create a happy safe loved child. That matters way more to me than approval from anyone. And now that I see it and now that my brain sees it I can’t unsee it and that’s the beauty of this work is because once you see it you can’t unsee it. So you no longer want to go back because you realize who you were was not who you wanted to be. And so when I learn to be better I do better. And when I learn to change my thinking to be better the actions that flow from that, that whole think, feel, and act cycle, the actions just flow from that being.

So as I was sharing this with the ladies, I would say, “Gosh, I’m just so thankful for my coach. I’m just so thankful I’m willing to reflect on things and not live in fear of oh my gosh, I’ll never change. Oh my gosh, why do I keep doing this?” I don’t spin out in those negative cycles and those disempowering questions which don’t lead me to the person that I want to be, they actually keep me stuck.

I was also sharing how I would have stormed the fridge in the past in that moment and just poured gobs amount of chardonnay to feel better. Because now what I see more clearly is that even just a couple of days ago I needed my daughter to show up a certain way for my own happiness. That is not true. That is not a belief I want to live by. And that is not a belief that serves her or that serves me or that serves our relationship. And now that I see that I was living by that belief my coach helped me eliminate that belief and reprogram my brain.

Ladies, this is the process and it works beautifully, magically and quickly. The power of using your awareness and using your brain for you is the most powerful resource you have. And it quickly, do you see how quickly I’m able to let go of that pain and just move beyond it? And not move beyond it and forget it, move beyond it and learn from it, that it makes me better. I’m a better mom now than I was five days ago. Crazy, love this.

And this parlays so well into the work that we do inside of EpicYOU, a lot of it hinges upon Ben Hardy’s work on being your future self. And I’m always looking to that future self of me that wants to be better, that wants growth, that wants to continue to get better at parenting, at living and at eliminating things and beliefs that no longer serve me. And letting go when things don’t serve me, not hanging on to them, not saying, “Wow, I don’t know why I keep doing what I do 20 years later.” No, it’s letting go.

And I’ll tell you ladies, if I was drinking I would not have seen that problem as clearly as I saw it. First of all, alcohol doesn’t let you feel it, you just numb it. So I would have been running to the fridge pouring the glass so I didn’t have to feel my negative feelings of going, “What did I just do in that moment? How did I just kill this relationship that was going between the three of us and I just put it down and put it out with just some harsh words.” Alcohol would have prevented me from seeing that and feeling that.

And once I started drinking all is my brain would say, that felt so good, just have some more, just have some more, just have some more, just have some more. and then I’d get up the next day and instead of feeling awful about the way I treated my daughter, I would feel awful for the way I treated myself. I would feel awful because I probably would have drank a whole bottle. And then I’d be nursing my woe me attitude. And I’d be self-berating and I wouldn’t have the proper perspective. I’d start blaming the alcohol rather than seeing how did you not show up the way you wanted to?

Where were you off and where could you course correct? So when we were discussing this many felt like, wow, now that you mention it, I notice when I visit my family my drinking increases or when their family comes to their house their drinking increases. And this is funny. It’s mentioned here in EpicYOU in our groups and in our chats and when we talk to one another.

And literally just yesterday my mom called and she says, “Do you realize, when you come to visit I don’t go out and buy chardonnay anymore? I used to go buy bottles of that stuff for you and I used to call your sister and I was asking your sister how many bottles should I get?” And my sister would be buying bottles of chardonnay all to prepare for my trip to Pennsylvania. And now they were commenting after my visit. They were just shocked. They don’t buy bottles of chardonnay and there are no chardonnay bottles that were opened during the entire trip, what happened? Who is this Sherry?

And so I just want to paint a picture of what could be possible for you. We are always changing and I say, embrace that change, don’t fight it. So I want to ask you, does your drinking change when you visit your family? Do you tend to overdrink or drink more? Or how about when certain family come to visit you, does your drinking patterns change then? So usually that’s a yes no answer. and then I want to ask a deeper one. If it does change, why? Why is it that you drink more? Why is it that you overdrink when you visit your family?

And let me tell you, that answer that you come up with will start to free you. Now, don’t say, “It’s because it’s just what we do, when my mom comes over we just drink together.” No, everyone inside of EpicYOU knows that that is an answer that is not allowed. That statement is never allowed, why? Because it prevents us from really seeing what’s going on. And it’s also saying that your past dictates what you do in your present. So if that answer prevents us from seeing the real answer, we just don’t allow it because it’s not helpful.

So I want to help you get to the real reason so you can start solving the real issue. The real reason will provide you with the real issue and that’s critical. That’s the piece we need to know so we can start rectifying it. And I know for many women that I work with one of the big reasons they overdrink when their parents come or when they visit parents is because they want to control everyone’s feelings. They want to control the happiness in the room. They want to control their parents and that used to be me as well.

I wanted everybody to be happy. I wanted everything to go smoothly or I wanted my parents to take an action and maybe they weren’t doing it like helping them downsize when they’re not ready to downsize. But here’s what I want you to know. Whatever family member triggers you, most likely they’re an adult. And adults get to choose the life they want to live and you can’t control that. You can influence it but you can’t directly control it because it’s their life, it’s their adult life. And they get to live the life that they want to live just like you get to live the life that you want to live.

And when you realize this and when you release control and focus instead on how you best can help them and how you best can love them and how you best can support them. It’s no longer about control and it’s no longer about you having suffering and creating your own suffering because you think you need to control everything. So notice, if your drinking does increase when you visit family is it because you become controlling? Is it because you want them to be happy and you’re trying to control the emotional state of everybody?

Well, that is out of your control my friends. And the quicker you can realize that and the quicker you can shift your belief around that the freer you will be. Now, I may not like all the choices my parents make but I’m not here to control them, it’s their life. And if I try to control them and they’re not listening, what am I doing? I’m setting myself up for more suffering, more stress and a whole lot less love happening in that relationship. And I’m just not willing to do that because that’s not the result I want.

I am a results oriented person so if you want less suffering, less stress and more love in your relationships you will do what it takes to get that and stop setting yourself up for more suffering, more stress and less love in relationships. Now, how do you know when you’re trying to be controlling? You’ll often hear in the back of your head say, “I don’t know why my parents set me off so much. I don’t know why I get so bent out of shape when I visit family.”

And I just want to remind you they don’t set you off, you are setting yourself off by having a defined agenda that everybody has to follow the way you think things should go and by being critical and judgmental. Now, that’s not to say you can’t have opinions. And that’s not to say that you don’t try to influence out of love, meaning that wow, you really think that this would benefit somebody and so you advocate for that. That is different my friends than controlling somebody. That is acting with love. That is not acting with judgment and criticism like I was doing with my daughter.

So the other main piece I also see that can come up that leads to someone wanting to increase their drinking around family is that they don’t have their own boundary set. And this is a topic we were talking about a ton inside of EpicYOU. Because this piece is so easy and is so a necessary part for healthy relationships to flourish. And maybe you have boundaries but you just haven’t taken the one step and that’s to communicate them. Maybe you know what your boundaries are but you just haven’t communicated them in a loving firm way to other people.

And I will tell you that this one piece can solve so many family drama problems because when you don’t have boundaries you’re like, “Well, this person wants this and this person wants this and then your brain starts getting overwhelmed with everybody’s opinions, everybody’s agenda but guess what? None of that is going to solve the real issue because you have to take in everybody else’s opinions but what are your boundaries? Where do you start? Where do you stop? Who else comes into the picture?

And so when you have appropriately set boundaries that are communicated in a loving fashion, everybody wins, everybody flourishes, everybody feels taken care of. And this means that you go and you let people know what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do because you don’t have the bandwidth or you don’t have what x, y and z. You let others know what you want to do and you communicate it in a loving, firm, powerful manner.

I’ll tell you the first thing I hear when people don’t have their boundaries set is this, they’re thinking the entire burden falls on them to take care of everybody in their family. Well, my brother’s not going to do it. Well, my sister’s not going to do it. Well, I don’t have siblings, the whole burden falls on me. And this type of thinking my friends will crush your spirit, it will crush your soul and it will make you bitter for all the days that you are caring for or being with your family. You will become resentful, bitter and you will feel like you are trapped and don’t get to live your life.

Because the truth is you don’t have to do it all. There are hundreds of resources and ways to get people’s needs met. I did a quick Google search just for my parents and there are hundreds of organizations, churches, groups, resources out there where they live where they could get support and help. And many of those resources do not cost a lot of money. So it doesn’t have to fall all on you if you don’t want it to.

I know that serving my parents in their golden years, I know that responsibility is largely looked to me in the family. I am the one with healthcare knowledge. I am the one who problem solves. I am the one who gets things done. These are my strengths, these are my superpowers. But I don’t feel exploited. I don’t feel like woe is me. I don’t feel like I don’t want to do this. I don’t feel like it’s a burden. I feel it’s an honor. I feel well equipped to take on this and I want to do it. I want to serve them in a loving way.

And I have my boundaries. I have my boundaries for what I need and for my time and for what I need to stay mentally sane, physically healthy emotionally well and my physical, emotional, mental health is just as important if not more important if I’m taking care of multiple people. If you’ve got a mother hen and all these little babies you’ve got to keep the mother hen going.

But you see, I’ve defined for myself what I’m willing to do and what I’m willing not to do. And if you don’t do this for you, you get stuck in that woe is me attitude, you feel stuck, trapped and mad at life. And that’s not an epic feeling my friends. And that’s when you turn to alcohol to feel better, and one drink becomes another, becomes another, becomes another. And now you’re just stuck and drunk. So instead of one problem of being stuck now you have two, stuck and drunk. And then you start to gain weight so now you add a third problem and now you don’t like yourself.

You can’t look at yourself in the mirror because you’re like, “I don’t like the way I’m acting. I’m not liking the way I’m feeling. So now you have four problems because you’re mentally not well. And then it just keeps adding up, that one problem becomes two, becomes three, becomes four. So notice when you drink more it adds more problems. So one of the solutions needs to be to drink less so you can see the real cause of the problem and fix the real cause of the problem.

Because I want you to get to the root of the problem which is never the drinking my friends. The drinking is always the solution, at least that’s what our brain tells us. So if your drinking increases around your family what do they trigger inside of you? What comes up for you? Get a coach, discover what’s going on for you and figure that out so you can solve it, so you can release it, so you can let it go.

That’s why the doors of EpicYOU are always open, open to any woman who wants to come in and figure this out for good so that they could stop getting on and off and being on and off the wagon, relying on alcohol, not relying on alcohol, taking a break, back on, drinking. I don’t want you there. that doesn’t feel good. I have been there. I know what that feels like. It’s agony. And for me I’m so thankful to have a coach in my life who can show me where I’ve gone off track and what I can do differently so I can be the mother, the spouse and the human I want to be on this planet.

And that to me is how I create my epic life and I invite you to get your epic life. Alright, my beautiful friend, that’s what I have for you today. I love you and I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now, check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Over-drinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.

Enjoy the Show?

Reclaim Your Control and Confidence Over Alcohol

If you like it, share it!

You may also like

Scroll to Top

Unlock the power to
overcome setbacks

Click below to learn the KEY steps towards unstoppable resilience. 

Complete 50%

Enter your name and email to get instant access to the guide now

Please note that by providing your email address to us, you are agreeing to receive other communications from us from time to time and to the terms of our Privacy Policy.