And that’s saying something when talking about hardened drinkers who simply can’t countenance a life without alcohol.
But trying to appear ‘normal’ instead of advertising the fact that drink is number one in your life, is what many shame-ridden boozers attempt with their euphemisms about ‘going for just the one’ followed by the automatic second and third drink, before optimistically ordering the fourth ‘for the road’.
But it’s a long road. It will require more than four drinks (a veritable binge according to the health police) before your average boozer will actually hit the road — maybe popping into a night club before finally giving up on the nocturnal shenanigans.
Yes, drink is a curse. So much so that anecdotally, I’ve noticed people in their 40s and 50s often drinking a lot less than they did in their younger years. Some even give it up — without declaring that they are alcoholics who are powerless in the face of drink.
I joined the non-drinking club 12 years ago and now just regard booze as something messy that slows you down and can make you awfully foolish, full of poor judgement.
I don’t miss it at all and the strange ‘drink dreams’ that I used to have in the early days of abstinence are well and truly gone. Not that I’m smug about my sobriety. I realise that mayhem is only one drink away. Which is why I and others like me keep it in the day. There’s no point in making claims that you’ll NEVER drink again. That’s the aim but if the thought of it is too overwhelming, then just take it a day at a time.
Worryingly, while there has been a decrease in alcohol treatment figures, the severity of abuse of alcohol is on the rise. According to the Health Research Board (HRB), growing numbers of people have developed a ‘severe’ alcohol problem by the time they seek treatment. The report also shows that women have similar rates of alcohol dependence as men.
There’s also an increase in cases among those who are employed and those who are homeless. One in five cases report polydrug use. The National Drug Treatment Reporting System report shows that there were a total of 55,675 cases involving alcohol treatment between 2011 and 2017. In that period, the number of cases has fallen but there has been a sharp increase in cases where the person is dependent on alcohol. In other words, it’s more than a habit. It’s an addiction.
In her book,, American author Annie Grace (who keeps popping up in my inbox and my Facebook page with her latest missives on drink) writes about her story of quitting alcohol, and uses psychology and neuroscience research in her exploration of this demonic substance.
Wouldn’t you love to be the type of person who could have two glasses of wine and leave it at that? But Annie (who grew up in the mountains of Colorado with non-drinking parents) only began to drink seriously when she had career success.
Being exposed to what she calls the ‘corporate drinking lifestyle’ in New York was the death knell for her. By the age of 26, she had become her foreign exchange company’s youngest vice-president. She was also regularly making herself throw up in the toilet during corporate drinking sessions — so that she could keep drinking.
She would also drink at home in the evenings, opening a bottle of wine, and then another one. During her pregnancies, she gave up alcohol but felt so deprived that when the babies were born, she resumed boozing with gusto. Sounds like an awful cycle. Realising something had to give, she took redundancy from her job and wrote her book. The research for it was a revelation to Annie and she stopped drinking.
Annie also has an online community. Through AlcoholExperiment.com, followers undergo 30 days of ‘tough love’ during which they take a break from drinking. During this time, Annie helps people to review the psychological evidence about their perceived need for alcohol.
I don’t agree with Annie’s contention that the option of moderate drinking always remains open to people. Clearly, there are people like me who can’t/won’t drink in a civilised way. The damned alcohol has a vice-like hold on us. Maybe we are soul-sick? Whatever the reason for over indulgence, it’s worth noting Annie’s observation that “everyone I drank with, wanted to change their drinking at some point to some degree. So you are not alone in wondering about this topic. You are in the vast majority.”
Tough love may be the answer.