The is a column entry from an anonymous contributor battling with alcohol dependency.
It’s true what they say. Alcohol starts out your best friend and ends up your worst enemy.
I didn’t really drink when I was younger. As a teen, I only had a rare glass of low alcohol dessert wine as a treat at home with a Sunday roast. I tried alcopops and spirits in my late teens but only on a handful of occasions. In my early twenties, as life took it’s twists and turns, I started turning to wine and beer to console myself. Unfortunately, this was something that my family did too and so every triumph or failure was accompanied by an alcoholic drink.
However, while they could stop, I could not.
Alcohol quietly eroded my life while I kept welcoming it into my home, grateful for the comfort it provided me. As it stole time and energy from me, my hobbies and interests became neglected and my passion for learning dwindled. This led to an unfulfilling life and that in itself drove me to drink more. Alcohol became the problem, not the solution.
And so here I am, 67 days sober. And my life is unrecognisable from what it was just over two months ago. Sure, I live in the same place and go to the same job but I love my daily life instead of wishing it away until ‘wine o’clock’. I have energy and time to actively pursue my interests and work on my hobbies, which I’ve found rewarding. I’ve been able to give time to friends and loved ones and provide quality social interaction that has nurtured new friendships. I no longer argue with my partner and our relationship is a happier, more loving one. I’ve taken up healthier eating and daily exercise and I can now take appropriate medications for an unrelated health condition that I otherwise couldn’t if I still drank alcohol. I’m actively pursuing new career and academic goals. My moods have stabilised; I don’t feel so down anymore and I genuinely enjoy my daily life and make the most of my time.
They say ‘make just one change’ and they are right. By eliminating alcohol, I have allowed myself to make a cascade of other, positive changes that have led to a happier, more fulfilling life. However, being sober is not always an easy choice.
Alcohol seems to be a big part of our culture. Being sober makes you different and when you refuse an alcoholic drink, people will start asking you about it but won’t necessarily like your answers. People tend to be dismissive of your reasoning unless you’re abstaining for a defined health reason (surgery, pregnancy) or because abstinence from alcohol is part of your religion. Some people may try to pressurise you into having a drink at a social occasion (‘go on, one won’t hurt’). When you refuse, you can be seen as an outsider or a party pooper.
I think when people drink, they know they may say or do things that they usually wouldn’t but they feel comfortable if surrounded by others who are equally inebriated. But if someone sober is present, they’re aware that they are fully in control of what they say and do – and worse, their memory won’t be impaired the next day. Alcohol is such a big part of every day life now that those who abstain are seen as abnormal and this is what results in us being quizzed so much about our reasons behind it.
One question I have been asked often is will I drink again in the future, or how long will I be abstaining for. My honest answer to that is: I don’t know. I definitely won’t be drinking anytime in the near future, it would be too easy for me to slip back into old bad habits and it isn’t something I’m willing to risk. I would like to think that in a few year’s time, I could have the odd glass of champagne to celebrate very special occasions. But then, is that me talking or is that my addiction portraying a romantic view of drinking to tempt me back to that bottle?
‘Resist’, says my heart. ‘I’ll try’, I reply.
– This post was submitted anonymously