Sunday marked the end of Alcohol Awareness Week. Charities and health organisations across the country came up with a variety of interesting ways to try and raise awareness amongst drinkers in the UK. Because we at Soberistas were following a few alcohol-related organisations on Twitter in order to keep up-to-date with their news over the week, we noticed a number of people who, well let’s call them the anti-nanny-state brigade – people who felt that by attempting to raise awareness about alcohol abuse, they were in some way being persecuted because of their drinking habits.
I found this a little odd, I have to say. I was a hardened and enthusiastic binge drinker for about twenty years before I gave it up a couple of years ago. I found one of the hardest factors in making the decision to go teetotal to be the reaction of my erstwhile fellow pissheads and how they would now perceive me as a non-drinker. I was utterly convinced that I was, by giving up this stuff that had gradually but very determinedly eroded my personality and happiness, deliberately turning myself into a boring nothing of a person.
I now realise that this is utter rubbish, but the fear was very great at the time when I began to consider living without booze. And so last week, when I read these comments from people who were full of the ‘What am I doing in AAW mate? Getting shitfaced every night, that’s what!’ and ‘I’m sick of these people telling me what to do..’ and so on, I thought to myself that they too were acting a little on the defensive, a bit too bothered for me to believe that they aren’t just a little concerned about their alcohol consumption.
Defiance stems from vulnerability – I was exactly the same for years whenever anyone questioned my drinking (which wasn’t very often as nearly everyone in my life was also a heavy binge drinker). I would blow up, angry and accusatory, indignant that anybody would dare attempt to come between me and my Pinot. Obviously the only people who were attempting to come between me and wine were those who cared about me and who didn’t want me to harm myself any longer, but they soon learnt not to mention it again, fearful of being subjected to another tirade.
In the end, the only person who could make the decision to stop drinking was me. And likewise, those people who felt under attack by the very fact that AAW was going on last week should not have worried – people who deal with addictive behaviours are very aware that people need to want to change before they can begin to start on the road to recovery.
We have seen over the last few days on the chat room on Soberistas.com that everyone who has joined Soberistas had already taken that first step in recognising that they want to make a change, prior to finding our website – we would never try to alter someone’s drinking behaviour unless they felt the need to change it themselves, as it would be an utter waste of time.
Now that Alcohol Awareness Week is over, I really hope that the events and activities that ran over those seven days helped the people out there who had already felt that seed growing inside their consciousness, the one that told them what they had secretly feared for years; alcohol has begun to control them, and they need help with turning that control around; to enable them to control it, and to find a happier place.
As for the objectors on Twitter, I hope they had a lovely week getting really drunk and acting a bit silly.