Nearly a Year- But Sorry, no thanks to the “Give up the Booze” evangelists

In two days time it will be one whole year since I stopped drinking alcohol. I was always looking forward to that anniversary and planning the big, one year anniversary post and yet here I am, on the cusp and I haven’t got a clue what I am going to say- I’ll probably do something on what I personally have learned over this last year in the faint hope that others may find something useful in that to help them as they attempt to move away from alcohol. But I’m not at that point- yet- a couple more days should do it and I do feel incredibly proud of myself in achieving what will be something I never really thought I could do. Support, of course, is crucial but I wanted to say something today about something that perversely I have not found supportive; and that is the evangelical tone of many of those who write books on giving up alcohol.

Like everyone in the position of contemplating giving up alcohol I read some of the books aimed at kick starting a new life free of booze. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty that is good within those books but they are written ultimately to sell, to make money for the authors and to do that you need an unequivocal voice. That voice, that message is usually, “alcohol is a dangerous toxic drug, we have been manipulated into wanting it and it’s no fault of ours if we get hooked.” For me that was a real turn off. I drank because I liked it. Yes it’s a drug, but that’s the whole point of it. If I’m thirsty I drink water. I drank alcohol because i wanted the effect it gave me. Being a drug it then becomes hard to moderate especially in a culture where it is so freely and cheaply available, but that’s not alcohol’s fault, lay that one on society, business and government.

The evangelicals try to make out that developing a problem with alcohol is not a failure of individuals and again I don’t agree. I tried many times to moderate and despite some success I realised that when I did drink I often drank far too much- because I’m like that. Many of my friends do know how to enjoy alcohol moderately but I am not one of them. If I could drink moderately I would not have given up alcohol. It’s that simple. So my pride in giving up is tempered by a sadness that I couldn’t get to a point where alcohol was just a small pleasure in my life and not the dominating presence it became. But I am OK with that. I do not need to demonise drink in order to be OK with not drinking. As time has gone on I’m getting to like not drinking but the truth is it would be nice to think I could have the odd glass of champagne at a wedding or a glass of wine with a meal. That won’t happen because I’ve worked hard at giving up and I’m not a moderation type person.

The evangelicals talking about toxins and all the rest really have missed the point that humans have always imbibed toxic substances to alter consciousness. Alcohol, weed, peyote, tobacco, you name it we humans have tried it. Even in the Amazon rainforest they lick the backs of certain frogs to get a psychedelic hit. It’s universal but the thing that marks traditional cultures is that taking such substances was always associated with ritual which meant taking such drugs was limited and done in a revered, constrained manner. The problem with alcohol in our societies is that it’s been made into this readily available commodity that we are encouraged to drink at parties, weddings, celebrations, work dos, days out, days in, meals out, meals in, when cooking, when watching films, when friends come round, when meeting friends , new job, leave job, BBQs, when stressed, when relaxing, basically all the bloody time. That is why it becomes hard to moderate and bloody hard to give up.

So there we have it the evangelicals didn’t do it for me with thier black and white thinking. The support for me, as I have said before, has come from fellow bloggers both on line and sometimes in private off -post communications. The messy, confused, contradictory world of blogging showing that giving up is a struggle, that people do miss their booze sometimes but carry on because it is the best way forward for them. Acknowledging that we miss the crutch of alcohol sometimes but also knowing that mutual support from fellow bloggers is a much more consistent and longer lasting support than any drink could ever be.

So the evangelical “Give up the Booze” writers carry on. You have helped many people I know and you don’t sell books by saying giving up booze is complex, full of grey and with contradictory feelings. You sell those books by giving a nice, clear, missionary style message that’s full of can do and ” see the beast for what he is.” But it’s not for me. Give me the messy, anguished, nuanced and human world of the blogger any day. Nearly there.

Rant over. Jim X

21 thoughts on “Nearly a Year- But Sorry, no thanks to the “Give up the Booze” evangelists

  1. clairei47

    I feel the same way about sobriety. I feel sadness that I won’t ever have that glass of wine with a friend or the bubbly to celebrate a really special occasion. I can’t take the risk that it wouldn’t end up a bottle or more. Sobriety actually means seeing life without the fuzzy need of booze which can be a real positive but also not so lovely too. Facing it sober, warts and all, is hard bloody work some days. I would love to take the edge of occasionally, but for me it is never occasional. And therein lies the rub. So, no it’s isn’t alcohol’s fault. I don’t believe anyone can become addicted. It is inherently part of me. My all or nothing nature. Nice post, good to have an honest point of view on sobriety. I look forward to reading the 1 year post from Jim the Soberista x

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Claire, funnily enough being honest about the mixed feelings as you and I seem to share, has helped rather than hindered me in giving. up booze. If I had believed it would be all positive feelings about how great life is without alcohol , I think I’d be feeling that I’ve failed somehow to reach that point of total conversion to sobriety. This way, facing the ambivalent feelings, makes me confront things like a bereavement. It’s gone, I know that but it doesn’t stop me having some positive as well as some horrendous memories. Does that make sense? X

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      1. clairei47

        Yep. It does. It would have been my downfall to have not witnessed how others struggle with sobriety. The thing about blogging is that you have the reality which helps me immensely. I feel I fail at many things but I don’t feel I have failed in this because even though I still miss it I know that ok. X

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Well you haven’t failed, you’ve succeeded and yes knowing that it’s OK to miss it is important. As for “I feel I fail at many things” what about all the things you’ve succeeded in!😀 X

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  2. Sober Veg Mama

    Truth. I don’t see the harm of using substances sometimes, for whatever reasons. It’s just that for this crowd of us it’s way more than “sometimes” and we need to wipe the slate clean.

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  3. Dana

    Your honestly, dead on realization of what so many of us drinkers keep doing wrong or right, is dead on…how I wish not wanting to change my mind set with alcohol, is a never ending battle for me. Knowing so many have beaten the battle, and do what is needed to stay sober, is my ultimate goal. You are my hero for your perspective. You stay strong; and congratulations to one year strong!! I so admire you.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Dana, in truth, the strength you talk about is actually me facing up to my weakness. Knowing I could never really moderate, in fact, not liking moderation, meant that there was only one course of action for me. That has meant giving up a lot (despite what those quit drinking books say) but gaining so much more. Rationality won out in the end for me- very unlike me! X

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  4. drgettingsober

    Totally with you Jim – it’s messy and complicated in real life! I too would love the odd one on a special occasion but I’m fearful I won’t stop at that and don’t want to risk what I’ve gained. C my partner was abstinent for 35 years then did manage moderate drinking for several years but happily gave up with me – he says if you heal your attachment wounds then you no longer need your addiction of choice in the same way? Read an interesting article about what heavy drinking does to our brain chemistry that I’ll try to share (tech crapness getting in the way!) so I do think if you drink enough for long enough addiction is unavoidable but most people stop before that whereas we didn’t – congrats on a year it really is an achievement! Xx💞💞👏👏⭐️⭐️

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks and I have to say that your voice on here has been one of those, and I mean it in a nice way, messy ones showing the often tortuous and complicated relationships we have with various drugs including alcohol. Love to read that article, maybe send it direct as I think you have my email address. Thanks for your support and good luck to you too. X

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  5. Addy

    Congratulations on your first anniversary. That is amazing. You clearly have very strong willpower. Perhaps it has something to do with your lack of moderation. It’s all or nothing. Well done, whatever the reason.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks and I think so – I do tend to be an all or nothing sort of person but it’s also timing. I knew instinctively that this was The time to do and it and I felt ready and motivated, which doesn’t always happen. X

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