Am I anti-alcohol? Am I against drinking at all? For anyone? I get asked this sometimes.
The answer is No, I’m not anti-alcohol or anti-drinking. If you visit my house, I won’t offer you alcohol, but if you want to bring your own and drink it, that’s completely fine.
When I first quit, things were a little different.
I was angry. Angry at booze, angry at the Alcohol Industry and of course, angry at myself. If you read my early blog posts – you will sense the outrage.
I still do get angry at times, you may have read a recent post, when I do really have a rant- but my sense of perspective has returned, I have learned a lot, and I am (hopefully) a bit more self aware.
So, to clarify – this is what I am against:
Treating addiction as ONE definitive experience.
I believe that addiction is not one state. Addiction, I believe, is progressive. It’s different for everyone, and it changes for everyone, it doesn’t stay the same and is NOT dependent on the quantity of alcohol consumed. I believe that one person can be addicted if they drink one bottle of wine very Thursday, and no more – and another can be addicted if they drink one glass per night – I believe that the addicted state is more to do with how it makes you feel. If it makes you feel powerless, miserable, uneasy, if it affects your life in a negative, and you find it hard to stop – I believe that it is addictive behaviour and if you want to be happier or healthier, you should address the problem.
I believe that addiction is a combination of behaviour AND a physical reaction to alcohol. It’s both. For some people the combination may vary.
In order to get over the addiction, I believe that you have to treat both – recover from the physical addiction (which means stopping the consumption of alcohol) AND addressing the behaviour.
Now, we can debate the best ways to do this. But I strongly believe that you have to do both.
Marketing Alcohol as a Stress –Reliever.
It’s not the direct advertising I’m talking about here (although I am getting irritated at marketing campaigns that link booze to fitness), I am more referring to the indirect advertising, that I think has a more persuasive and insidious effect.
The portrayal of professional, sophisticate women – for example, running to uncork a bottle of wine everytime they face a crisis – popular shows such as The Good Wife, Scandal – all of this is a reassurance for conflicted people that drinking is a normal reaction to a crisis. Or that alcohol fuels creativity, or that booze reflects that you are a go-getter – I object to this kind of ‘reinforcement’ that booze and drinking is not an occasion al treat or celebration ( That I have NO objection to), but a prop that societ cannot function without.
The flip side of this, of course is that sobriety is seen as either ‘weird” or a response to a weakness.
The alternative facts. The pseudo-science. The stuff you see on facebook or whatever social media platform you may be on – the posts that claim that three glasses of champagne a day will keep dementia at bay, or that drinking a glass of wine is the same for your health as going to the gym.
I object to this crap.
Oh but it’s a bit of fun – no one takes it seriously – I hear you cry.
Well, not true.
When you are in the midst of denial about your dysfunctional drinking problem these articles can reinforce your behaviour – give you ‘permission to carry on”
Cognitive dissonance is the state where we feel uneasy or uncomfortable because we have been exposed to some facts that counter our beliefs. So, we drink, and then we hear the recent report from Canada Health say, that warns about the dangers of drinking and the increased risks of cancer – and that challenges our beliefs – makes us shine a bit of a light on our own behaviour – so we have two options to get rid of this nasty uncomfortable feeling – change our behaviour OR find another opinion or some more ‘evidence” to support our behaviour.
These fake reports – or articles like the one I strongly objected to recently that claimed that all you needed to get rid of your dependency was a bit more meditation and a cleanse – are the kind of stuff that people grab onto to like straws.
And people carry on drinking.
But lastly, I’m also against dogma and judgyness in the Sober Community. If you are listening to this on itunes, or reading it on your phone or pad or computer – it’s safe to say that you enjoy a fairly comfortable lifestyle. I’m not suggesting that only wealthy people listen to me – just that you have to be able to afford access to the internet and a device to connect to it.
I too, despite my financial concerns like everyone else – am able to get access to a wide range of resources.
So I had options when I quit.
I live in a community that has AA, has Smart Groups, has internet access – I could cherry pick, I do have a Kindle so I could download sober memoirs and next year, when I get a bit more cash – I will probably go to a retreat. I could take a yoga class.
I have the luxury of choosing to recover in my own way.
So many people ( and many women) do not have the same luxury. Poverty, abusive relationships, lack of local resources – mean that addiction goes untreated – or that options or limited.
So I don’t get to criticize.
I do have opinions about AA, I may not choose to attend, but I and everyone else does not get to judge people who do.
Some of us literally only have our own resilience and a copy of the bible to see us through. So I am against judgement – even ESPECIALLY from the sober community.
And I am FOR making this community as accessible as possible for everyone. Not sure how we can do that – but if we really believe that this is a movement, a quiet revolution – then it needs to reach everybody.