Dryathlon, yes or no?

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I recently posted this photo on Twitter, saying ‘why not give it a go?’ – but I’ve thought about it more, discussed it with a few people and I am getting less sure.

Possible positive outcomes might be that someone who has an issue with drinking gets an excuse to try to stop. They can say that it’s for this but then carry on. Or someone else who doesn’t have much of a problem might find they just prefer not drinking, and this will accidentally help them to stop.

But for any (borderline) alcoholics who haven’t come to terms with their powerlessness, something like this could be really badly damaging. For a start, there’s not going to be any proper mental preparation, or support. It’s likely that anyone trying to go the month without tools is going to fail – and that may make them feel they can’t do it, that it’s hopeless.  Even more worrying to me, from my own experience of stopping and starting, is the old adage about the ‘progressive disease’. Now, I’m not totally comfortable with the ‘disease’ label – I think it’s more a syndrome comprised of a lot of different factors (environmental and simply mental, as much as physical) – but I do have personal evidence that if you stop and start again it gets a quantum leap worse.

How many people will dry-knuckle to the end of the month to find they are deeper in than ever,when they get to that thirsted for, stared-down pint?

I don’t think the ‘Dryathlon’ is comparable to ‘Stoptober’, then. Smoking is something people really want to stop, and it is now extremely socially unacceptable.  Smoking is a terrible chemical dependency but it doesn’t permeate your life and sense of self the way drink does. Overall, I think that this scheme may be misguided and even dangerous.

What do you think?

The sugar monster strikes again

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The sugar monster.

Just read back over this  brilliant post from the soberjournalist and also note the very insightful comments. The great thing about these blogs is that they consistently stop you feeling alone and like a loser freak. The sugar monster is real! My weight has crept up and up since I stopped drinking 17 months ago. I am totally hooked on caffeine, sugar and bread as emotional crutches to the point where 8 shots of coffee and 2 or 3 sweet treats a day has become quite normal.

So I am going to give up coffee, refined sugar and bread/cake things on Jan 10th (when I get back from the in-laws. They already have to cope with me not drinking or eating meat. And did I mention they’re Scottish?)

It’s absolutely a sobriety thing. I’m dreading it but it’s got to be done, it will be done. I have some trepidation about where the whack a mole of my addictions/crazy will pop up next but whatever, these thighs cannot stand. 

Charity shop finds

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This is a great little book from 1986, that I found recently in a charity (goodwill) shop. The advice comes from an old school British journalist, and there’s some lovely social history in it, particularly in relation to gender:

“Once only groups of men were found drinking in pubs. Women only went in with a husband or boyfriend. Some bars were for men only. Now young women are becoming pub regulars” (p. 19)

Oh Keith, didn’t we just?

I was 15 in 1986, and had just started drinking in earnest. My mum went to the pub every day (as often as her own mum went to church) and she started taking me with her from about 14 or so. We’d get me a pint of lemonade and a pint of lager both, so I could pretend to drink the lemonade when the landlord came through. We were always in the snug, with the darts. By 15 I’d had my first blackout (Pernod, say no more). By 17 I was blacking out most weekends. I started trying to stop 20 years later and in these terms, I got (t)here just now.

Well, despite the time warp, this is still a clever little book full of great advice.

Chapters are:

How not to give up
Look in the Mirror
The Pub
Drinking at Home
The Party
The Restaurant
Sex
No Hangovers
Talk about it
Getting help from others
The Future
The Ten Commandments of Not Drinking
The Test

It ends with a section on mocktails.

The more things change, the more they stay the same –  I think a large amount of material in here is very similar to what we talk about all the time in the blogs. It’s a lovely book from a very sensible and committed ‘high bottom’.

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I love little documentary windows into the past like these. It’s fascinating to track similarities and changes in society as it exists through time.

The author’s blurb at the back of this book says he ‘had encountered at first hand the problems of being teetotal in a world constantly pressurizing people to drink’ which certainly is my experience in the UK today.

Hopefully we can keep changing things so that it is different for the non-drinkers of the future.

(Post script: there are quite a few ex librio copies on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0859695158)

Gratitude

A lot of great sobriety things have happened this last week. Mostly, I found the blogs and finally have those stories and people to check in with every day. Thanks to Belle I realised  I’d hit 500 days (I have never counted days before). I posted this milestone on Facebook and got around 50 likes and lots of well dones. A couple of people I’ve not seen for years joined in to tell me they had done a year, or a day, or in one case 12 years! These were some serious reprobates back in the day, too. I guess we are the people you better hope have sobered up by now. Anyway, it certainly warmed my cockles and brought a tear to my eye.

So I have been thinking what to blog and I decided to do some gratitude. I don’t go with AA any more, but they have a lot of stuff right. Being thankful is surely one of those things.

So:

I am grateful to AA for having so much amazing stuff in the Big Book – the sneakiness of alcohol, the impossibility of moderation, gratitude, responsibility, keeping it in the day, keeping my side of the street clean.

I am grateful to my friend, who was the first I knew who escaped and who inspires me every day, though I don’t see enough of him.

I am grateful to my first and only sponsor, for listening and believing. I couldn’t take the steps but she remains a beacon of possibility and strength.

I am grateful to another friend for being the first sober friend ‘on the outside’ and for being from the same place of loopy chaotic pursuit as I (if he can do it, so can I).

I am grateful to my amazing non alcoholic husband who can take it or leave it but mainly leaves it, without complaint, to stand by me. I might have been able to do this without him, but without the changes he has made with me, we couldn’t have done it together. My rock, my heroine, my sweetest and best friend.

And lastly for today I am grateful for all the amazing people I have found through these blogs. Hilarious, cheerful, realistic, optimistic, brave and thrilling souls that have collectively made my last week or so just that much brighter and more hopeful. I realise now I have never been alone, just hiding.

Thank you universe, you are full of shit but also diamonds! Tiaras all round!!