Updated: Apr 27, 2021
If you’ve found that your relationship with alcohol has become a complicated and difficult, you’re definitely not alone, although you might feel like you are. This is probably something that isn’t always easy to admit- even to yourself. Do you engage in secret drinking behaviours such as hiding your recycling bottles from the neighbours or lying to those around you about your consumption, then you will know deep down that that you have a problem?
Other signs might include; getting defensive if anyone expresses concern about your drinking, regular blackouts, drinking alone and drinking more than you used to. I know, it’s all pretty grim when you stare it in the face, but there is something you can do about it and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach. I am convinced that the thought of giving up drinking forever is what prevents many people from making changes.
In fact, you don’t even need to be drinking like a fish for alcohol to be having a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. There is a widely held misconception that you either have a problem with drinking or you don’t, when the reality is, as always, much more complicated. Another sign that you might want to make a change to your drinking habits is if you are spending a lot of time thinking about drinking. Or thinking about not drinking. Perhaps you’ve got to the point that you are actually fed up with even thinking about it, full stop. This may ring especially true if you’ve just had another failed attempt at abstinence or ‘moderation’, after a 'Dry January’ for example. We will explore moderation in another post.
It can be emotionally draining turning over the same questions again and again. ‘Why do I drink so much? Why can’t I stop? Why don’t I have any self-control? Am I an alcoholic?’ The list goes on and it can make you feel like you’re constantly failing when every morning you promise yourself you are not going to drink that day and yet you find yourself pouring a large glass the minute you finish work or once the clock hands hit ‘wine o’clock’. What it boils down to, is are we asking ourselves the right questions?
I personally knew that I had a drinking problem for a number of reasons. Wine had become a substitute for all my hobbies and my way of dealing with every positive and negative emotion that I had. The wine played such an increasing role in my life it was regularly replacing evening meals.
I’m still staggered now when I think I managed a successful teaching career for 20 years, for the most part with a mild to moderate hangover. And I’m not the only one. Of course, the another widely held misconception is that problem drinkers, or ‘alcoholics’ as they are unhelpfully labelled, are pouring their first drink the minute that they open their eyes and they are so addicted that they can’t hold down a job. The truth, more likely, is that it is the higher earning professionals that are regular, heavy drinkers than those of average incomes. (NHS Digital (England Only) and Office for National Statistics 2017).
That’s why Cate and I wrote ‘Alcohol Reconsidered’. We want to help people navigate their way out these drinking patterns in a supportive way. Our book has been written to help you explore your thoughts about your own drinking, enabling you to make safe, realistic and sustainable changes. We share our own stories about the role alcohol has played in our lives and we explore why exactly ‘we’ drink.
There are in fact logical reasons why we drink and they are unique and individual to each of us. Of course, it’s our responsibility to look after our own health, but we do have to question if we are shouldering a disproportionate amount of the blame here. Why is it so many of us lie to our GP’s about how much we drink, especially considering that they are just as likely as we are to have a drink problem?
Disclaimer: Remember you must consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle. Stopping drinking suddenly can be dangerous, and even fatal for some people. The blog and book are in no way substitutes for medical advice. The authors accept no liability with regard to this.