I am often asked by clients and in interviews, was I really that bad when I was drinking. Was it so desperate that I would do anything for a swig of alcohol?
Actually, it wasn’t bottom of the pile drinking, apart from the few mornings when to straighten myself out, and stop the very scary anxiety and building panic, I resorted to a quick couple of secret top ups in my bedroom. Up until 35, I really did have an excellent time with my drinking and the culture that surrounded it. I was never leery, just a happy lucky woman who lived my dream. Never ever did I feel ashamed or embarrassed. That came later. It came from having to hide, to keep secrets and to lie constantly to my husband and family. Because of that, I drank more and more. I didn’t feel addicted, I felt ashamed. So to stop feeling anything at all the booze worked. I could be shouted at, sworn at and argued with, and by being out of it, I could cope. I victimized myself.
So some of it was good, and if I had been able to handle it in the same way as I had done before having my child, and we had not had huge stresses with health and finance, then I am absolutely sure I would have carried on if I could have held the pattern. I still don’t see happy drinking as terrible, quite the reverse, I think it’s brilliant to have fun with it. That was the good bit.
Now, in this chapter of my life, there is so much good by not using booze, the list is too long to blog. Nothing is perfect, but for me certainly I think as good as it gets, I’m vintage and to be as sharp as I can be, getting pickled like an old gherkin is not an option.
The bad stemmed from the lies. Not the thought that I might be killing myself, didn’t occur to me, so any professional telling me that I could, was really barking up the wrong tree. All of them tried to, and actually it offended me. I found it incredibly patronising and hypocritical. For I had seen at least 2 doctors from my surgery knocking back pints in the pub, ask anyone who the hardest drinkers at Uni were, and most will say medical students. Nothing has changed in the last twenty odd years with this type of attitude. It’s just useless. To blandly tell a patient, ‘Just cut down’ or as was relayed back to me from a client last week ‘Have a gin, then a couple of tonics in-between’. If only it was that easy doesn’t any one of them think that we would?? The bad also stems from this, completely inappropriate care. Last week, Alcohol Concern came up with more stats about how much the UK is drinking, and government should be doing more to address this. What with? More money is pumped into illegal drug use than alcohol, getting celebrities to save us is a joke too, how on earth does a middle aged Mother of two relate to Russell Brand??
Nothing good will come unless the current Gold Standard of care is radically altered. If it had worked moderately well, we would not be seeing the bad outcomes that rise year on year.
The ugly truth is that none of the great and the good ever listen to evidence based front line knowledge. All mainstream agencies for alcohol misuse are the same. It’s a little like going to your GP and never being referred for any potentially life threatening illness. Each one has its own specialist consultant and team. So why isn’t the same common sense used with different alcohol problems? Just throwing a few more quid at it, and not changing any of the methodology or care is insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a change.
It’s ugly that the attitude to those of us who have overcome an issue that really worried us are treated like do gooders or worse weirdoes because we don’t use drugs. If you stop smoking there are huge slaps on the back, not so with stopping drinking. And yet, I suspect that boozing is killing just as many if not more people in this decade and well as harming millions of loved ones. This state of affairs is perpetuated by the current treatment that is we all apparently have to hide our wellness lest we be found out for once having had an issue with alcohol. If anyone can tell me why that should make us into high risk losers I would seriously love to debate it. The vast majority of my clients are now very content and reliable, as well as being ready given the chance to prove that life without caning the vino is wildly better than disappearing into the permanent brain fog it caused.
For once, I just wish that those who think they know what’s best would listen to the real facts. That is, never will current blanket coverage and out dated approaches work in these modern times. There should be consideration given to each individual rather than herding us all together like a weak minded flock of sheep.