The A Word (my blog, my thoughts, my words)
I didn’t realise how controversial these two subjects are until I quit the big bad booze. Since I’ve started writing this blog I’ve been referred to as a “recovering alcoholic”, “former alcoholic” and plain boring “alcoholic”. I don’t think of myself as an alcoholic but I don’t really mind if someone refers to me like that. There’s a massive stigma towards the word and when you tell someone you’re an alcoholic or have a drink problem the reactions can be very different. It’s because people have extreme definitions of an alcoholic. What even is an alcoholic anyway? The online dictionary I’ve just checked says “a person suffering from alcoholism“. I’m no clearer. What’s alcoholism? “addiction to the consumption of alcoholic drink; alcohol dependency.” What’s alcohol dependency? You could go on forever! Most people I’ve come across say it’s someone who wakes up and drinks every morning. Others have said it’s someone who relies on drink to get through the day. I hear a lot of people saying “you can’t be an alcoholic because you don’t crave drink or wake up wanting a drink every morning”. This makes me want to ask two questions.
A: What do you class as an alcoholic?
B: How do you know if I wake up wanting a drink every morning or not?
A lot of people with a drink problem keep it to themselves. There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t told anyone about situations I’ve got myself into through drinking and I certainly don’t discuss when and how I have cravings. If anything I felt ashamed that I craved alcohol. That brings me to another question. What is craving alcohol? I remember when I used to get really excited for going out on Thursday night because it was the beginning of the weekend. The thought of that first drink going down … I couldn’t get home, ready and out the door quick enough. If I really think about it I was more excited about getting wasted and the feeling of being drunk than anything else. I know a lot of other people feel the same way. Doctors, teachers, dentists, solicitors who are all keeping a really good career going have drink problems; are they alcoholics? Just because someone doesn’t look like they have a drink problem doesn’t mean they haven’t. Not all alcoholics sit on park benches with a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag. If someone goes to work every day, then the pub every night but keeps a steady job going are they alcoholics? A lot of people will say no but I think they are. People say all the time “I can’t wait to have a glass of wine when I get home”. Does that make them a craver? Does that mean they have a drink problem? I don’t think so but it’s an extremely grey area.
Look at celebrities who’ve had problems with drink:-
Ewan MgGregor, Davina McCall, Andrew Flintoff, Denise Welch, Jon Thomson, Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diana Ross, Elton John, the list goes on and you wouldn’t look at some of them and think ‘alcoholic’. I did put Russell Brand in there but took him out, haha!
Here’s what I think. When the drink starts affecting you making important decisions, your mental health and you’re ability to get through normal, every day situations then you have a problem. I know I keep banging on about it but the effect it had on my mental health was unbelievable and I was in denial for so long. If you’re young and suffer with anxiety, please please be warned. I feel like it multiplied my anxiety by about 10 times. You also have a problem if you can’t stop at whatever you’ve limited yourself to. Whenever I had ‘a couple’ it usually meant a couple of bottles. I guess that makes me an alcoholic but I’ll stick to other terms for now 😉
Alcohol free drinks (my blog, my thoughts, my words)
Another reason I’m still sober is alcohol free drinks. Christmas Day I was at the worst point I’ve been in my recovery and extremely close to caving in. Don’t get me wrong I love Pepsi Max but even I have my limitations! Alcohol free drinks don’t taste like **** anymore. Either that or I can’t remember what ‘the real thing’ tastes like. I tried some alcohol free wine and it’s pretty bad but the beers have been absolutely fine. I’ve tried loads of them and haven’t found one that I don’t like. Anyway, Christmas Day started off a bit awkward. I’ve read stories about people trying alcohol free drinks and it leading to relapse so I’d already been put off them. I just wanted to enjoy the festive period like everyone else and that wasn’t going to happen drinking Pepsi Max or orange juice. I mentioned to my mum about going getting some alcohol free beers to try and if I had any feeling of wanting the real thing I would get rid of them. Her reply was “anything to stop you having alcohol!”. So off to the shop I went. I tried them when I got home and I had a feeling of relief. I instantly knew that if I could have them I’d be absolutely fine. I went to my brothers for the evening and took 8 bottles with me and a bottle of alochol free wine (awful but I drank it). After a fantastic night I came home at 2am with 4 bottles of beer left! If they were the real thing I’d have drunk them all and been back to the shop for another 10. I guess there’s a lot more to my situation than just not drinking alcohol. When you have an alcohol free beer in your hand you don’t get questioned on why you’re not drinking because people see a beer bottle and think nothing of it. I don’t feel comfortable discussing my drink problem with strangers and I shouldn’t have to explain why I’m not drinking to anyone. I know I could just say I’m driving or it’s for health reasons but it’s makes me uncomfortable so I like to take myself out the equation. I also like the taste of beer and I don’t want to drink ‘pop’ on a night out. Everyone deserves a treat now and again.
When I put a photo of my alcohol free beer on Sober Grid I didn’t expect to receive the response I did. Quite a few people are really against the idea of them because they’re not actually alcohol free but neither are a lot of things we have every day. The drinks I have contain 0.05% alcohol and this got me wondering if I’d relapsed without even knowing.
I did some Googling …
The terms used to describe drinks in which the alcohol has been extracted are controlled by government regulations.
In the UK these types of drinks are split into the following categories:
Alcohol-free: Contains 0.05% alcohol or less
De-alcoholised: Contains 0.5% alcohol or less
Low-alcohol: contains more than 0.5% but no more than 1.2%
And, of course, we have non-alcoholic drinks, ie drinks that contain no alcohol at all (0%).
In most of Europe the situation is less complicated. Drinks containing up to 0.5 per cent alcohol are classed simply as alcohol-free and they do not use the ugly word de-alcoholised.
Some of our drinks contain up to 0.5% of alcohol by volume. To put this into context, a normal glass of fresh orange juice can naturally contain up to 0.5% alcohol. Malt vinegar you put on your chips is about 0.2% alcohol.
So, Sober Gridders, if you’re still strongely against the idea of alcohol free drinks you better stop drinking orange juice and putting vinegar on your chips/fries.
Enjoy the rest of your evening. I’m going for a bath with an alcohol free beer! 😂
I’m also on countdown to going home for a week. I fly on Wednesday!
Thanks for reading.