Some ads and labels that make you go mmmhhh…

I’m doing some research on alcohol marketing and came across these gems…

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Make mine a sparkling water, thanks!

Happy friday sober peeps.

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Am I doing recovery wrong?

Sobermummy’s latest post really got me thinking about this topic in earnest.

The issue discussed is that she doesn’t identify with the word alcoholic. She would rather call herself an alcohol addict. A friend of hers pointed out that this may sound like the lesser of two evils.

Let’s think about this for a second…

I don’t particularly identify with the word either. I have gone to AA meetings and said it but I would rather say I am addicted to alcohol. It’s the same thing but in my mind the term ‘alcohol addict’ puts the onus on the drug whereas alcoholic means the drug is fine and I have a disease. (I know my brain pathways have been changed but I still don’t like the word ‘disease’)

This brings me to my second point. There are so many people who are struggling with addiction to alcohol to various degrees. Back in the day the view was that there are 1) normal drinkers 2) alcoholics. These days it is widely accepted that there is wide spectrum in between these two.

The reason people especially women aren’t seeking help for addiction earlier is that the stereotypical idea of an alcoholic is a down and out bum on a park bench. We cant be alcoholics because we are ‘high functioning’ mothers, with jobs and responsibilities.

People aren’t seeking help until they are almost on that park bench due to the stigma and fear of being judged! I have many friends that are still drinking the volumes I used to drink and they won’t classify themselves as alcoholics, they are just having a good time.

Alcohol is a highly addictive drug. This is a fact but its not very well known. Professor nut conducted a study that found that Heroin, crack and crystal meth were deemed worst for individuals, with alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine worst for society, and alcohol worst overall. Read full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11660210

Cigarette packets have massive warning labels printed all over them to warn people of the dangers of smoking yet alcohol seems to have a free pass. In the UK we have a massive drinking culture, it permeates through everything we do and you are considered really weird if you don’t drink.

It can takes years of sustained drinking to become addicted to alcohol. Yes some people fall faster down the rabbit hole than other due to a myriad of reasons but make no mistake they are falling if they are regularly drinking to de-stress or to change their emotional state. Factors that contribute to how quickly you become addicted: Your parents, your peers, how old you were when you started drinking, being a non-conformist etc. etc

My recovery really began when I had my ‘moment of realisation’.

This is when I hit the first step of AA hard.

  • We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable – (I did this step on my hands and knees)

I am also completely and utterly convinced that I can never return to ‘normal drinking’ (whatever that means.)

I have done the steps in my own way, each and every one of them. Not in a formal AA setting mind you and this is what I am questioning.

The steps of AA, the CBT of smart recovery, the community of the sober blogs and Eckhard Tolle & Bryon Katie all have a place in my recovery.

Just because I am not doing this in a formal setting, in other word going to meetings regularly (I’m going every now and then) and using the words like ‘disease’ and ‘God’ and ‘alcoholic’, does that mean I’m doing it wrong?

I am sober and it’s taken me a very long time to get to this point of absolute acceptance. We are multi faceted human beings with different personalities so one method of recovery and one way of talking about addiction, with words that are set in stone surely isn’t helpful but rather harmful.

Shouldn’t this be an inclusive community that embraces all ways to freedom and abstinence? If the conversation and words could be inclusive and embrace the wide range of people stuck in addiction won’t more people be motivated to stop drinking earlier on?

There is a whole new thing happening out there, Annie Grace, Holly Whitaker, Laura Mackowen all paving the way for a new conversation around addiction to booze. I resonate very strongly with these women and what they have to say.

I am sober today and so happy to be, that’s a good result I think!

The greatest pleasure in life…

cognitivedissonance

I was listening to an interview Belle did with BBC Three counties radio, you can listen to it here: http://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/2017/07/15/sp195/

The interview was supposed to be about young people and how there is a trend where they seem to be disenchanted with alcohol. The presenter was a drinker (very much in love with alcohol) and was totally gobsmacked by Belle suggestion that alcohol wasn’t required to have a good time!

How very dare she suggest such an outrageous thing! We need booze to feel good in this culture. We need booze when we feel good and we need booze when we feel bad, which pretty much means that we need booze all the time!

The part of the interview that really got me was when he said: “Surely there is no greater pleasure in life than a gorgeous glass of wine on a sunny afternoon!” Isn’t that a tragic statement?

This was my reality for many years. Alcohol was the easy sparkling route to nirvana. What could be easier than opening a bottle of wine and drinking it to change how you feel? It never in a million years dawned on me that was I was actually enjoying was sitting down at the end of a long day and just chilling out. It didn’t occur to me that this ‘liquid magic’ I was drinking was slowly destroying me and would turn out to be my greatest source of pain.

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feelings of discomfort that result from holding two conflicting beliefs. One of the core beliefs I held was that alcohol was necessary to have a good time. The conflicting evidence that I experienced in my life like horrendous hangovers, drunken fights, blackouts, falling over was pushed to the back to the far recesses of my mind so that I could hold on to my first belief.

We will do anything and everything to protect the precious substance and let ourselves hang out to dry! These days I can have a great time without alcohol in fact I have a better time because I can remember everything. I am free and clear and I truly connect with people when I’m out. I’ve learned to let go and dance sober, which was a massive step for me.

I went to my first sober concert to watch one of my favourite bands Guns and Roses, I had a blast, I sang and danced like a maniac, all sober! Yes sometimes I will leave a party early but the only reason is that when people start repeating themselves it can get quite tedious. I don’t leave early because I am boring now that I am sober. I’m much more outgoing now that I have found my sober feet. Towards the end of my drinking I was the most boring drunk, I would just sit in corner and go all-quiet. Lordy! Do you call that having a good time?

There is no greater pleasure in life than being able to find pleasure and contentment from within and not to be dependant on an outside source/substance.

 

 

 

Taking the power back

WE-CAN-DO-IT

Drinking has always been a big part of my feminist identity. (Yes I’m a feminist AND I still cook my husband’s dinner, these things can coexist) I am a modern a woman after all and we are allowed to drink now.  Thank god! I used to say. We’re not restricted to the side entrances of ‘ladies’ bars anymore. We can go into any establishment and get just as shitfaced as men, we’ve earned the right Goddamnit!

We work, we raise families we balance the budget and whilst doing all of this we are flagellating ourselves for not looking like a 16 year old model on the cover of Vogue who eats one piece of celery per year and then sticks her fingers down her throat afterwards.

I used to think my drunken exploits were a big middle finger to the patriarchal establishment. “Take that!: —As I’m downing garish neon coloured shots. “I’ll show you!”—As I’m getting sick round the side of the club.

However misplaced this notion was, I wasn’t alone in this thinking. I was part of the ‘ladette’ culture and not surprisingly this coincided with alcohol marketing massively pushing towards the female market.

Recent years have seen profound changes in women’s drinking habits. Part of being a modern woman is ‘doing it all’, and part of ‘doing it all’ means WINE. This idea that alcohol is somehow an inevitable part of being an empowered woman is keeping a lot of women stuck in the no mans land of problem drinking.

When I relate this to my own life I can see so clearly that alcohol has been nothing but disempowering. To a painfully awkward and slightly depressed teenager, alcohol was a quick fix to numb out all the anxiety I felt about myself, my body and about life. It helped drown out the critical voices. It helped me be more outgoing.

Of course if you start binge drinking at aged 13 the chances of you experiencing violence and or assault is increased dramatically.

The Centre of Addiction states: “Although drinking does not cause sexual assault, there is evidence that alcohol use creates an environment in which sexual assaults are more likely to occur. Studies show that 50% to 75% of all sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol.”

https://www.centeronaddiction.org/the-buzz-blog/addressing-sexual-assault-and-ignoring-binge-drinking

When I became a mother the disempowerment was compounded by the fact that I gave up full time work to look after the children. At the time I didn’t realise how much that choice would influence my sense of self worth. I went from freelancing in London and earning the same amount as my husband to staying/working from home earning a fraction of what I used to.

The drinking escalated at home, being a stay at home mom is NOT for the faint of heart. Nothing can prepare you for the isolation, monotony and relentlessness of it all. The sea of nappies, bottles, tantrums. The PND with both children made it gruelling instead of joyful. I felt guilty for not being the glowy mom you see in the Johnson and Johnson’s ads and so I self medicated with wine. This was a lethal combination. Trying to soothe the guilt you feel over being a shitty mom with alcohol is like pouring a massive can of petrol on a raging fire.

The disempowerment that goes hand and hand with alcohol abuse is far reaching and undoubtedly affected all the areas of my life. Drinking led to a myriad of bad choices, flaky goals and generally just coasting around looking for my next fix.

The most insidious way alcohol disempowers us is that a life fuelled by addiction will most likely lead to many unfulfilled goals and dreams. Passions are put on the back burner in favour drinking. The more the drinking escalates the more you are just playing catch up. You are functioning with a handicap, dealing with drinking time and hangover time. This really doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about addiction in her book – Women who run with the wolves:

“The instinctual nature tells us when enough is enough. It is prudent and life preserving. A woman cannot make up for a lifetime of betrayal and wounding through the excesses of pleasure, rage or denial.

Sometimes is it difficult for us for us to realise that we are losing our instincts, for it is often an insidious process that does not occur all in one day, but rather over a long period of time. Too, the loss or deadening of instinct is often entirely supported by the surrounding culture, and sometimes even by other women who endure the loss of instinct as a way of achieving belonging in a culture that keeps no nourishing habitat for the natural woman.”

At age 39 I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat for the first time in my life. I am now actively pursuing goals that have been gathering dust for years. Yes, it is scary and sure, I may fail but you know what, I’m doing it anyway.

Taking the power back baby!