An interesting read from The Independent
I read this interesting article from The Independent this week, called “Let’s try ‘Dry Covid’ – lockdown is the time to kick our national alcohol habit for good.”
I’ve often struggled with the advertising and easy availability of alcohol in our country. It’s one of the many reasons I struggled both to identify my drinking problem, but also to do anything about it. Seeing so many other people enjoy a drink and use alcohol for such a variety of reasons, like socialising or relaxing, it is easy to think it is a normal thing to do. Once you’re on the slippery slope you can struggle to see the blurry line between what a ‘normal’ drinker is and what a ‘problem’ drinker is. If you’re like I was, you’ll also look for any excuse to make yourself feel normal.
Once you’ve identified that problem and you choose to do something about it, you find your perspective changing. While you might not change yourself, your outlook certainly will. For someone who relied on alcohol on a daily basis for many years, once I removed it from my life, I had this great big gap that needed filling. I needed to relearn a lot of things, from talking to people to how I behaved in certain situations. It was much harder than I thought it would be.
In the background is the little voice that tells you that you are missing out if you don’t drink, that everyone else drinks, that it is normal to drink and so much fun, and to be honest, what else will you do with your time? I really struggled with that. I felt abnormal from the minute I stopped drinking. I felt like people would notice, like I had a neon sign above my head making me stand out from the crowd. I didn’t know how to ‘be’ anymore and I didn’t like not fitting in. I didn’t know how to socialise, and didn’t want to, but more importantly because most of the drinking I had done had been at home, I didn’t know how to be at home either. I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t focus for a long time. If I had gone through this lockdown when I was drinking I would have been unbearable. There is no way I could have bought enough wine to have lasted me, even for one week I would have needed over 14 bottles. I would have been visiting the shops everyday, and it would have been essential travel for me to do that. I am so thankful that I am not like that anymore.
Hamilton, the author of this article states that sales of alcohol during this crisis have already risen by 50%, a figure I had previously heard on the news. While I suppose some of it can be justified, for example, if we are unable to go to restaurants, it is likely that some of the expense is due to food and drink being purchased at home to replace what would have been eaten out. It is also possible that some has been bought in bulk in order to stock pile for the future, and therefore sales will even out as people are able to get back to normal. However, as Hamilton also says, the World Health Organisation also advises that drinking should not be used as a coping mechanism throughout this time. I would argue that we shouldn’t be using it as a coping mechanism at any time, but that is probably the benefit of hindsight talking.
Perhaps now would be a good time to try going without, to slow down and take the time to abstain? I’ve read other articles that suggest lockdown isn’t so different from the early days of recovery so it might be a good time to start. For me I always found that despite my good thoughts and efforts, it was near impossible to not stop at a shop on the way home for a few bottles if I didn’t have much at home. Not being able to shop removes one argument, although I know it would have been very difficult for me, and probably made me quite bad tempered. On the good side, I did go into social hibernation for much of the first three years of my sobriety. I didn’t want to go out and look different, or feel different, or be questioned, the list was endless really, so it was easier to stay at home. Our lockdown provides much the same basis, but without the need to make excuses. It’s just a chance to batten down the hatches and see how things are when we come out the other side.
Of course, like I did, many people will probably question whether they even have a problem. I’d say this. If you can’t do lockdown without drinking then maybe, just maybe you should have a closer look. Maybe this is the opportunity to stop something before it runs away with you.
Take care everyone, thank you for reading.
Here’s the link to the article.