News and Booze – Our Alcohol-Soaked Culture, And Six Years This Month Of Not Drinking…

My local post office closed down a few weeks ago and the service moved to the newsagents next door. The newsagents has a large sign in the window reading News & Booze and inside, the split of the two is approximately 90% Booze and 10% News.

When I was little, I loved going to the newsagents close to where I lived to spend my pocket money. I’d buy magazines and My Little Ponies, chocolate and stationery items. The shop was about a ten-minute walk from my house, and when my friends and I made the (what seemed like) long trek up there to purchase our weekend goodies, we all felt very grown up.

The News and Booze shop is very different to my childhood newsagents. As I stood in there the other day waiting to post a parcel, I gazed around at the three out of four walls filled with bottle after bottle of alcohol; vodka, wine and whiskey take precedence – I estimated there were at least fifteen different types of vodka on display. As I stood there, a man shuffled in with an empty carrier bag in his hand, embarrassment and shame inherent in his downward gaze. He asked the shopkeeper for a half-bottle of whiskey, and slid it quickly into his bag before paying and swiftly turning on his heel to head out of the door. It was about 11am. I guessed he had been waiting until a ‘reasonable’ time to go out and pick up his morning fix.

Today when I was in the same shop, a woman came in with her two young children. The smaller one, a little girl aged about two, repeatedly wandered to the bottles on the shelf, drawn by the colours on the labels and the shiny glass. She kept reaching out to touch them, entranced by the display that must have stretched up to the sky in her baby eyes. The mother repeatedly drew her back to her side as she tried to work through everything she had come into the shop to do. From behind the counter, the staff member joked to the toddler, “Don’t look at those! You’re not old enough for all that yet”.

And I observed both of these things like an outsider. Alcohol is a strange beast to those of us who used to drink too much of it but now don’t allow it anywhere close. When I drank, I never saw the harm in booze, despite the fact that my life was an alcohol-induced car crash mess – my crap job, my crap relationships, my zero self-esteem, my crap outlook, my crap depression, my crap life. It was all down to drinking too much, too regularly.

But alcohol to me back then was my highly defended best friend – I never blamed it for anything.

Nowadays, when I see alcohol encroach on people’s lives in such negative ways; now, when I see the blanket denial that exists across the board in relation to alcohol and how it never does any harm when we all know it does; now, when I see an alcohol-addicted man shuffle into a post office at 11am on a Monday morning to buy a half-bottle of whiskey; now, when I see toddlers being drawn into jokes about a damaging addictive drug, as if it were no more harmful than lemonade; now, when I see all these things, I feel like an alien. I wonder how those blinkers can be drawn so tightly that people see nothing wrong with alcohol. And yet when I look, I see a poison that nearly killed me and destroyed all my chances at being me, for over twenty years.

We live in a society so awash with booze that it is entirely normal to nip into your local post office to send a parcel, only to be greeted with three-quarters of the wall space filled with vodka and wine. Alcohol is ingrained into the fabric of western society, so entrenched that it can be virtually impossible to imagine living in a world without its omnipresence. And this is, of course, one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to imagine not drinking alcohol – at all, ever again.

More than anything else, the thing that has helped me adjust to being a non-drinker in a world apparently in love with alcohol, is belonging to Soberistas; knowing there are others who share my view of the world makes me feel like I’m not the only one – I’m not fighting this fight alone. Knowing this helps me to see our alcohol-obsessed culture for what it is; the sad outcome of profits over public health, the emergence of alcohol over the last few decades as an incredibly lucrative industry set firmly against the backdrop of capitalist society and a modern world in which lots of people want to escape the daily grind – and are encouraged relentlessly to do so through excessive drinking by alcohol manufacturers.

I am, however, comforted by the knowledge that I’m not the only person to recognise this truth. And I am so very grateful, every day, that I saw the light and waved goodbye to alcohol forever six years ago this month.


16 thoughts on “News and Booze – Our Alcohol-Soaked Culture, And Six Years This Month Of Not Drinking…

  1. I never noticed how insane we are about alcohol until o quit drinking.

    The level of obsession should be a red flag, for me it was a green light.

    Thanks for posting and congratulations on six months!

  2. I feel so blessed to find the Soberistas website. I am still in denial with my alcohol abuse and I so much want to become the healthy person that I deserve to be. Thanks so much for your inspiration…

  3. liz Bracegirdle says:

    Wow, 6 years Lucy, that’s amazing. You are obviously doing it correctly and reaping the benefits xxx

  4. Well done Lucy, 6 years, that’s awesome! You were my inspiration to stop drinking and I devoured all your books in 2014, the 6 week plan was a vital part of staying with it in the early days. Now nearly 1000 days on I am so happy to be free from addiction.

  5. The Activist says:

    We’ve cut our drinking down to a bare minimum and can’t even handle half what we used too. Many times we’ve started only to stop after a couple and to be honest I can’t say I miss it that much 😊

  6. So I’m not the only one who saw no harm in booze – as it slowly wrecked my ambitions, relationships and personality and then convinced me it was my best friend!
    Soberistas is a wonderful support in so many ways. Full of great observations and inspiration. Your own contributions are always full of insight. I look forward to reading them whenever I see the soberistas logo. Thank You

  7. Paul parsons says:

    I retired at 64 and decided after a short bout of flu and not drinking alcohol during my illness I decided not to take alcohol for a while that was 2yrs ago definetly won’t be making a return to it I feel so much more alert and have more surplus cash .Very pleased for the lady that has done in this article and anybody else who has beat this horrific adiction

  8. You are a brilliant inspiration to thousands, Lucy. So grateful to have been so personally touched my your remarkable journey. Not a day goes by that I do not feel the gratitude for you and Soberistas and my miraculous life. XX

  9. Roller Jo says:

    Well done for highlighting this. I am 1 year free this month but clearly see all the things you mention every day. It’s difficult to watch loved ones still drawn into this culture

  10. Loved this post. It really is insane how it’s everywhere and so accepted and celebrated – rather than treated with caution more in keeping with the mental and physical poison it is.
    We are not alone. I wish this sober sisters (and brothers!) club wasn’t so small, and like a secret society, but I feel so unbelievably grateful to be a part of it.
    Congrats! Xx

  11. Anneliese Kiely says:

    Amazing stuff Lucy !! It’s definitely in part to Soberistas and reading a few books, one of which was yours, that I decided to stop drinking. Such a hard decision to make but so worth it!! My life has changed in ways that I couldn’t have imagined in the last 2 years, 4 months. I agree about the obsession. Luckily the younger generation are cooler and not so addicted to booze. They’ve seen their parents get it wrong. With any luck one day we’ll see a new and wonderful type of corner shop to surprise and delight our senses.

  12. Hi! I have myself been trying to quit for a while now, although I am more decided than ever. For some reason I started a blog today just to let it out, and maybe find people like you who can inspire me. I think its so great that you have been sober for so long and I really hope to follow your steps!!! I have the fact the we ARE in a alcohol driven society. But I know im not alone in this war and Im planning on winning it. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jo says:

    I have just 11 days after signing on the 100 day AF pledge, and have just started telling a few close friends. It was interesting today to have a friend tell me that I should not be “too rigid” and allow myself a drink from time to time, at parties, out to dinner, etc…as if FOR ME that was consistently possible. Anyway, so far so good; the cravings have been twinges, and I find things to fill the time in the evenings now with writing a little, short meditations…it is interesting how this revelation does trigger in some folks the urge to reassure that some amount of alcohol is somehow necessary. The power of marketing is monumental.
    Keeping myself safe,

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