Have you got a drinking problem?

I was talking to a journalist yesterday about the Soberistas project and she asked me the following question; “What is the difference between the way you used to drink, and the way I drink (i.e. having a gin and tonic in the evening to relax – just the one, drinking responsibly?).”

John Lewis, Sheffield – a truly wonderful place in which to purchase

I told her that when I used to drink I never opened a bottle of wine without knowing that I would finish it, I always did a recce upon arriving at an event in order to establish how much booze would be made available to me, and the phrase ‘drinking responsibly’ – well that was left wide open to my interpretation. I did a lot of denial back then; I had a few tricks up my addict’s sleeve which I called upon to cushion the knowledge that my alcohol intake had reached epic proportions.

Drinking responsibly was something that middle class people did. If I bought my wine from Waitrose and it was a ten quid bottle of Chablis or a twenty quid bottle of Barolo, that was drinking responsibly. Forget the fact that I drank two or three of them, amounting to roughly three times my weekly safe limit in one night. When I carefully placed my rinsed bottles in to my Heal’s recycling bin, that was drinking responsibly. Dropping those bottles off at the Waitrose recycling bin was drinking responsibly. Meeting friends for a glass of fizz in the nice Italian bar down the road, sitting outside in the sun all dressed up and feeling sophisticated, that was drinking responsibly. And drinking a juicy Rioja with a steaming bowl of pasta, candlelit table, romance all around – that was drinking responsibly.

Human powers of denial are tenacious, as was my inability to recognise that booze, dressed up however, is booze. With each tenner I spent in Waitrose’s wine section (can I just point out that I love Waitrose and John Lewis, really I do. Definitely my supermarket/department store of choice – this is purely to illustrate my point that I was truly gifted at kidding myself for a fifth of a century with regards to my alcohol addiction), I was slowly poisoning myself. Further to my point that I love the John Lewis partnership, I do still enjoy parting with my money in their stores, but now it goes on food, perfume, nice vases, cushions, lovely clothes and pleasing bath products.

Anyway – is your drinking problematic? Are you a responsible drinker or an irresponsible drinker? As an aside, when you type the word ‘responsibly‘ in to Google, the top suggestions that appear are ‘beer,’ ‘vodka’ and ‘brewery’….Interesting.

To help us at Soberistas in our quest to determine how many people are ‘irresponsible’ drinkers (I say this with tongue firmly in cheek) please would you be so kind as to fill in our little survey? And even better, if you could pass it on to anyone who you think might also fill it in for us, that would be wonderful. We are passionate about turning the logic around that tells us a small amount of this drug we call alcohol is good, but if you drink a little bit more than that, it’s bad, as is the person who drinks it. So please help. Thank you.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RH37MXR

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4 thoughts on “Have you got a drinking problem?

  1. Caroline says:

    Hi. I have been reading your blogs this morning as I saw you on calendar and it made me think about my drinking. I can drink a bottle of wine in a night and this seems to happen at least 5 nights a week. I just need the help and guidance as I want to stop but by the time it gets to 6 pm I’m opening the bottle of red! How did you do it?

  2. Hi there,

    Thanks for getting in touch. It’s difficult to put in to a short message what exactly got me from drinking between five and ten bottles of wine a week (and a few beers thrown in for good measure), to being teetotal and a million times happier, but I will try. I had been experiencing much self hatred for many years with regards to my drinking habits, and that was part of the reason why I gave up. I just couldn’t keep on taking that much of a battering any longer. A few things came together in my life and I began to wonder if all the negativity (lack of energy, no passion for anything except drinking, mood swings, and living a life that felt very static – I never seemed to move forward with anything) in my life was down to the booze. I also had a couple of experiences late on in my drinking days that made me worry about my safety, should I carry on drinking. I used to black out a lot. Basically I got scared.
    I spent the first few months feeling quite sorry for myself about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to drink again and often I wondered how long I would keep it up for. But whenever I thought about it, I would remember how I could never stop at one glass, and how every time I had a drink it would always lead to carnage. That kept me going.
    Then I read Jason Vale’s book, Kick the Drink…Easily! and that really changed my perception. I now see that I escaped from a miserable trap (drinking) and that in doing so, I liberated myself. I would never go back to drinking, for anything – I am so much happier now. I would definitely recommend reading that book and then just trust your instincts; if you worry about your drinking then you are probably drinking too much. Also, when our website launches in November, join up and talk to others who will be feeling the same as you do. I think sharing the ups and downs of drinking/sobriety is a very positive thing. It’s important to stop beating yourself up and recognise that you are just the victim of an addiction – the same as everyone who drinks alcohol regularly and to excess (although most are in denial!).
    I wish you well, and keep following the blog for info on the website.
    Thanks for getting in touch, Lucy x

  3. CeliaB says:

    I have reached a point were I feel my relationship with alcohol has become ruinous to my life. For so long I have been in denial about the impact it has had on my health and relationships, blaming other events for a crippling, suicidal depression.
    Like many, I felt that buying that fabulous Pinot from Waitrose meant that my alchohol consumption was “acceptable”, and nights out with friends would always lead to debilitating hangovers the following day.
    However I have strayed to drinking a bottle alone-at the very least- 7 days a week for some time. Debts are mounting, and I have buried my head in Sauvignon to avoid dealing with the issues in a healthy responsible manner. The relationships I have embarked on are unhealthy, my closest intimate at present is alcohol.
    What the future holds is uncertain, but what I am sure of is that things cannot continue as they are. Fear of change and a terror of a life without that “crutch” to give me confidence I lack. My family are fairly judgemental about the issues of alcohol addiction, so I am unsure as to how I will deal with that.
    Thank you for your blog. It’s only been brought to my attention recently, but it has helped so far..I look forward to your website.

  4. Hi there, thanks for your message. It could have been written by me a couple of years ago – rings so many bells. Ultimately you have to reach a point where you feel able to make the leap, and leave the booze behind you, but I would point out a couple of things that may help you get there. First, I cannot stress to you enough how all the things that you think booze does for you (self-confidence, courage, making you more sociable, helping you cope with stress, etc), it doesn’t; it is causing those problems in the first place. I used to be such a bag of nerves – everything stressed me out. I remember crying and crying like a toddler having a tantrum over things like an unexpectedly high gas bill or vet’s bill. I just couldn’t cope with life. Those things still crop up but I am an adult now, I just deal with them, and they aren’t half as scary as they were when I was pissed/hungover all the time. Secondly, making the decision to give up booze is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but once it is out of your life, it’s a bit like walking free from a prison that you’ve been in all your life, and from where you had no idea that there was another life on the outside, that was a million times better. You just have to have faith and make that leap.
    I hope you can find happiness, and I really hope that our website will help you and others like you. I think there are a lot of us out there!
    Good luck and take care of yourself – you can do it, you just need to believe in a better life.
    Lucy x

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