Not All Drinkers Are the Same

I know it’s an obvious fact that not all drinkers are the same, but it needs restating, for me anyway, because I do not want to retreat into a black and white dichotomy where non drinkers are enlightened beings but drinkers are poor deluded souls needing to be shown the true path.

It’s just not that simple. Yesterday was a great example on a small scale of the complexities of why and how people drink. Me, yep I have a problem with drink. I also approach other things in life like I approach drink, I do them to excess. I used to smoke a lot, I eat a lot, I talk a lot, I drink a lot. Why? Who knows; pleasure, filling a void, social pressures, biology, trauma, they all play a part but I don’t see much point in trying to unpick those elements. Bottom line, I drink too much, I plan things around alcohol, It’s hard for me to moderate, I have to stop.

So back to yesterday, I went for lunch with a good friend who is about to start work as a headteacher in a new school in ten days time. I drove and took her and her children to the home of a mutual friend who lives in a beautiful thatched cottage. I was driving, so I arrived and had three small glasses of wine knowing that the amount I had drunk was about 4 units (the legal limit in the UK) and that when we left I should be completely alohol free (not perfect I admit but legal and I didn’t drive until 4 hours later). I envied the other two as they drank glass after glass of cold Italian wine. My headteacher friend drank a fair bit but had her children there so kept it under control. Now she is a controlled drinker who likes the ocassional binge. When she got home she told me that she wouldn’t have any more and that would be her last drink until she started her new job in ten days time. She has a lovely marriage, great kids, likes a drink but has it under control. She knows that alcohol is a potentially dangerous and powerful drug as her brother died 4 years ago from liver failure due to excessive drinking. She is fully aware of where uncontrolled drinking can lead.

My friend’s lovely thatched cottage and look, blue cloudless sky- and yes it’s England!

The friend who was hosting is a completely different type of drinker. She drinks by her own admission to subdue the pain of lonliness and grief. Her daughter died 20 years ago and around the same time her husband ran off with a younger woman. She lives on her own in the coutryside and drink and fags are her companions. She’s tried giving up but couldnt face what life was like without them. It was too bleak. They provided solace. She knows drinking and smoking will likely kill her but she is OK with that. Take them away and I’m not sure she would survive anyway.

I went home and to make up for having not been able to drink much in the afternoon, I opened a bottle and got to work. My partner joined me. Now she’s yet a completely different type of drinker to myself and the other two. She had one small glass of wine and stopped. Just like that. I don’t know how she does it. That is my hell, one glass and stop, I’d rather have nothing. But it’s what drinking should look like I suppose. A powerful drug and poison is something that if consumed should only be consumed sparingly and in moderation. She can do that effortlessly. She probably will not have another drink for weeks.

I on the other hand finished the bottle and had a couple more beers. I sat alone in the garden watching the sun set and despite the alcohol trying it’s best to relax me I could feel something I can only describe as unease and emptiness seeping into my soul.

Last night’s sunset at home

Two posts in one go is a bit excessive but it helps me clarify many things prior to giving up. I am so looking forward to being able to focus on things other than alcohol.

Thanks for stopping by

Jim x

6 thoughts on “Not All Drinkers Are the Same

  1. Addy

    Everyone is different, so their reasons for drinking alcohol to excess will also be different, as will be their reasons for stopping. In my opinion, it is when that excess drinking becomes harmful to relationships or health, or a danger to others, that it needs to be reined in. I was rather shocked that you think 4 units is acceptable (and legal) to drink and drive. Much will depend on body weight and how large those units are, but a unit is a lot smaller than you think. I personally would always stop at one average glass of wine, or in extremis two tiny ones, as my fear of killing someone on the road would far outweigh any pleasure I might get from the drink. There is always water and soft drinks, if you are just thirsty! But it is never about thirst, is it? Sorry to sound like a goody goody, but denial plays a large part in alcoholism and excuses or ways round the problem will often be trotted out.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      You are right and normally my rule is when driving no alcohol at all, but the legal limit is 4 units or two pints of weak lager or about 300ml of weakish wine. There was also a 4 hour gap between last drink and driving and with the body able to process 1 unit per hour I reckon I was alcohol free when I drove, but I know what you’re saying. I agree about denial but I think I’m usually pretty honest with myself about my issues around alcohol and a key reason I want to stop is to not have to constantly be thinking and planning around alcohol. And you carry on being the goody goody, I need it! 🙂

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  2. ceponatia

    I read an interesting book while I was still trying to get sober called “Get Sober the Easy Way”. It wasn’t the easy way because I continued to drink after I read it, but in it, he suggested that everybody who drinks is an alcoholic on some level, because if you tell even a moderate drinker that they can never have a drink again, they’ll get angry. That always stuck with me. I don’t know if it’s true (probably not, people get cranky whenever you tell them they can’t do anything), but it was something that made me think.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Yes I’m not sure about that either, the people I know who are moderate drinkers would get angry but only in the same way if you told them they can never have cheese again or anything else they enjoy. For me it’s simple, there’s something in my makeup, personality, biology or biography that means I’ve got a problem with alcohol. I’d rather carry on drinking moderately but I can’t but good luck and a little envy for those that can.

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  3. Stacy

    Yes! You pegged it. I say I drink to relax, but I believe it might be much more than that. I have been unconsciously hoping it will bring me peace. It never does. In fact, it has done the opposite. Thank you for sharing that.

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