Well let me qualify that attention seeking title. Of course alcohol is a powerful, addictive psychoactive drug that can play havoc with minds and bodies and cause numerous problems for individuals and societies; but, if alcohol by itself was the problem, everyone who drank alcohol would be a problem drinker and that is again clearly not the case.
FINDING YOUR PLACE ON THE CONTINUUM
like most things, alcohol use and abuse is on a continuum. Obvious I know, but for me, I need to remind myself of that. I have enjoyed alcohol for many years and I’m already missing the thought of it three weeks before giving up. I am giving up because I’m rubbish at moderation and its impact on me means its time to choose- carry on with the alcohol with the negative impact it now has and risk early death and impaired living or give it up together and face the inevitable struggles and changes that go with abandoning a massively entrenched pattern of behaviour.
I’m recluctantly going for the second option. I say reluctantly because I would love to be able to be like my partner- a moderate, take it or leave it drinker. She can have a small glass of cider one day and then happily have no alcohol for weeks or months. She can enjoy A glass of wine and leave it there. I can’t. I have the cider, then want another, then maybe some wine and on and on it goes. I don’t get overly smashed because I have built up tolerance. I’m not at rock bottom,I don’t get aggressive but I know I can never be a moderate drinker. I have drunk heavily since college days, reining it in sometimes for work and family but drinking heavily to the point where I know it’s now doing me harm.
I’ve chosen to drink heavily over the years and the result is that I have lost the ability to control it when I do drink or I spend massive amounts of energy trying to control it in such a way that I do not enjoy myself. So there we have it, my partner and many friends are at the sensible end of the alcohol use spectrum and I’m going towards the other end.
Yep, tried the moderation bit. I was so reluctant to give up my lovely alcohol and it’s seductive sensations that I was determined to control and master it. I counted units, kept bar graphs, had reminders on my phone to keep track of my drinking but all to no avail. Once I was in the pub or opened that wine, felt that first pleasurable wave of comfort, little voices would start saying, “You deserve this Jim, don’t become a miserable bastard like those abstainers, enjoy yourself- go on – have a drink boy.!”
So what’s different about me?
Yes this is the crux? Why do some people develop a problematic relationship with alcohol whilst others are fine? It will be a different answer I suppose for each drinker who develops a problem although there will be many things in common. For me it was growing up in a drinking culture, being anxious around girls, having an addictive risk taking personality, lots of reasons. But the reasons are, in a way, not important – I am where I am. Knowing what I know, I can now safely say that I need and want to try giving up alcohol completely.
Abstinence is easier than moderation
In January I had to lower my cholesterol. My doctor was suggesting statins. I didn’t want that and said that I’m sure if I cut out booze I would lose weight and less weight and no booze would bring my cholesterol down. It worked. I gave myself three months and my cholesterol lowered. I went back to the doctor but she said risk was still there due to a family history of heart attacks. back to square one and I thought,”why did I bother?” and started drinking again. But during that three months I noticed some strange things and that is what helped me reach my conclusion to stop drinking in three weeks time. More of that next time. This post has gone on long enough!
Thanks for dropping by
Jim x PS any constructive criticism/advice on blog (layout/content/organisation what’s missing) gratefully received
Song to check out – “I drink” by Mary Gauthier. Now an ex drinker. Great song by a great lady- one day I shall attend one of her songwriting workshops!