The one about alcohol

This is the one about my thoughts on alcohol.  I thought it might be timely with many people celebrating going booze free for October.

alcohol, dry January

First of all I am going to nail my colours to the mast and say that I don’t really buy into the school of thought that thinks giving up booze and shouting about it for a month is a good idea.  Though to be fair it isn’t the fact people have given up alcohol it is that they will be counting down the days to being able to drink again and to some people posting pictures of them getting hammered this weekend.  All of which seems to defeat the whole point of giving up for a month.  Why did you give up?  To give your liver a cleanse?  Well you just buggered that up when you started binge drank.  Sorry that sounds harsh but I do think drinking / binge drinking / giving it up is something we all need to think about alot more.

I regularly give up alcohol.  With no build up, no set time, no notice.  I just stop every now and again.  It can be for a week, or it can be for three months.   I had one gin when we went out for dinner last weekend and haven’t had anything since.  Before that I can’t really think when I had the last one, probably the weekend before.

Every time I do abstain I am fairly certain nobody else really notices, I don’t talk about it, I just do it because I need to know I can.  It isn’t about the alcohol as such, it is about the being able to stop.

Maybe I should explain.

What you might not know about me is my back story, though it is only mine by a tenuous link and might be a shock to those of you that know my parents owned a vineyard where we holidayed for ten years and that I have a collection of over 90 bottles of gin.

You see on both sides of my family there are relatives who have struggled with alcohol.   Who would call themselves either an alcoholic, or in recovery.   Who have followed the 12 step programme.

It never really affected me, I didn’t live with any of them or see them regularly enough to witness anything like the behaviour many see on a daily basis.  There were one or two things I witnessed over the years, stories I heard recounted, but on the whole it wasn’t happening in front of me.  It did, however, give me a healthy respect for the stuff.

All of that coupled with losing a friend to a drunk driver I was fully aware of how destructive alcohol could be and how we should have a healthy regard for it.   How we should make sure the scales of control were always in our favour and not its.  I control it, it won’t control me sort of thing.

Which is why I find the giving up alcohol for a month followed by “it’s the weekend and I REALLY need a drink” thing so baffling.  If you need it so badly maybe that needs looking at for longer than a month?  And if you steadfastly believe you don’t have a problem with booze why did you give up in the first place?

It is because of this back story that I also struggle with people who give up booze referring to themselves as sober.  I don’t think they are, what I believe they are is tee total.   There is a subtle difference, with the dictionary definition of the latter being about choice: “choosing or characterised by abstinence from alcohol”.  The former is about being “affected by alcohol” and I feel that is a longer term affect brought about by drinking ie somebody who would reasonably be referred to as an alcoholic or regularly drunk.   For the most part people who have given up alcohol are now teetotal, they aren’t sober.   But it is semantics, I grant you.

What all of this waffling boils down to is me needing to know that I don’t need a drink.   That I don’t long for Friday and that “end of the week celebratory” drink.   Or that drink at 5pm on a Tuesday because it has been a really stressful day.   The celebration just “because it is Wednesday”.   Because we are out for dinner we should get aperitifs, a bottle of wine, digestifs with the bill etc.  We are out for Sunday brunch and so have an excuse to start on the Prosecco before 11am.

In fact when we are out the exact opposite is true for me.  I will always drive.  Always.  There is never any discussion.  No tossing of a coin.   There doesn’t need to be a decision made, I enjoy it and am happy to do it.   It is always me that drives home because I need to know that those I love will get home safely.   That I wont be a danger to other road users because I have had just one but it was a large one.

Don’t get me wrong, when we are away for the weekend, staying in a hotel or within walking distance of home I will more than make up for it.   A few weeks ago we were staying in a hotel in Henley where I spent all day drinking gin and loved it, we had a great time with friends putting the world to rights over the course of the afternoon.

Since then though I haven’t felt the need to drink that amount again, or found myself saying “I could really do with a drink”.  Which is just the way I think it should be.

I would love to hear your thoughts on it though, what’s your perspective on drinking?

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