As we concluded our business from what would hopefully be the final meeting, somebody suggested “going out for a drink to celebrate”.
One lady, who’d been quite outspoken on a number of matters, very funny, and been interacting with all of us during the process replied, “I’m an alcoholic so I can’t drink, but I would love to come for a soft drink.”
Some dick-head said, “Oh, don’t be a spoil-sport you can have just one. What harm would that do? You don’t want to be boring, have one to loosen up. It’ll be a laugh.”
“Look,” she said across the table to his embarrassment, “I would prefer you to neither belittle me nor make assumptions about what is or is not boring with regard to me. You really don’t understand do you? I’m an alcoholic. I have been sober for sixteen years. I am so addicted to alcohol that just one drink is too much. Before I became sober I had lost my marriage, my children and my home. I had to climb out of the gutter and build myself back up from nothing to get to where I am today. Don’t you be telling me that one drink won’t do me any harm. Shame on you.”
The dick-head spluttered and apologised in mumbled tones.
I was extremely impressed with the lady and how she’d countered the dick-head. It also shocked me that even after sixteen years of being sober, she still announced herself as an alcoholic. In a way I’d assumed she would say “I used to be an alcoholic” or something like that.
Later, privately, I tackled her about this and she explained that part of the process is to acknowledge that alcoholism is forever, and even when you are not drinking you are still an alcoholic, as it never goes away. I asked her if she was ever tempted to drink or had relapsed. She said she had relapsed, but had been sober for the sixteen years as you count the time from the last time you drank. She also explained that she felt a constant craving and although she was more used to it these days and found it easier to ‘manage’, it was there with her forever, and had reared its head at various times of stress in her life and it had been very difficult to remain sober.
Things in this world are usually all about me, so I explained to her that I didn’t drink alcohol out of choice. I had tried it when a teenager but I hated the taste of alcohol, it’s like drinking poison, and getting drunk didn’t fit in with my lust to be in control and aware of everything. My brain was faster, I was more witty, and enjoyed daring to be different without alcohol or any drugs. I enjoy being me, and don’t want to be anybody different via drink or drugs. Hell, I write this entire blog sober and straight, mate. It is quite sad that I have to say when pressed to have an alcoholic drink, “No thanks. I don’t drink. I’ve never drunk, it disagrees with me. I’m not an alcoholic or anything.” I have to say all of that otherwise I get labelled as a recovering alcoholic, which always annoys me almost as much as people just not accepting that I want a soft drink, not an alcoholic one, in the first place. In their small minds I’m not allowed to just be a person who doesn’t drink out of choice. Very rarely do people ‘get’ this or accept it. Often people have asked others if I am an “Alcie or something”, or they assume I must be driving. They have no capacity in their minds for the concept of people not drinking alcohol.
So, the problem of alcohol use in this country is so vast that non-drinkers are assumed to be recovering alcoholics, and that non-drinkers are in some way boring. It’s only acceptable to be a designated driver or a recovering alcoholic to these drinkers, who usually are actually alcoholics without realising it. There are also cruel phrases people use like, “Never trust a man who doesn’t drink.” This is all an act of intimidation used by drinkers to try to make themselves feel better about themselves, I suppose. For some reason they think they aren’t boring, but a drunk repeating the same four or five lines of a conversation over and over again and not even hearing anything said in reply isn’t exactly rivetingly non-boring I can tell you. I guess when they are all drunk together and all shouting a rolling stream of the same sentences into each others mouths (mouths? why do they do that?) then none of them will notice that they’ve been having the same two minute conversation for over two hours. I’ve watched this and laughed out loud at how stupid it is and how stupid they all are, in fact, how boring they all are. They need to change into this bumbling incoherent idiot to cope with spending a few hours with their mates. Obviously they can’t stand them when they are sober.
Alcohol abuse is part of British culture, reflecting as being a given when people on TV or radio may comment about activities. The pressure on non-drinkers is immense. It’s probably worse than the pressure that used to be put on people to smoke. I can only assume that children are more or less forced to drink in order to be part of whatever college or university they attend. To not do drink or drugs is to isolate oneself or to align oneself with religious loonies, cast out from the social scene. Yet, it is the drink and drugs that are causing society so much pain and ruining so may lives.
Apart from drunks/dope heads/coke heads always appearing, without exception, as complete wankers, they are usually quite violent and aggressive, easily prone to hurting children or women for no reason, and causing long term health issues for themselves.
The alarming statistics surrounding alcohol and drug abuse and the cost to the taxpayers, the overburdening of the police and hospitals having to mop up after weekends out are only surpassed by one bit of good news – today’s alcohol and drug abusers are dying at remarkably young ages. Good for them, good riddance!
Most drug and alcohol abusers don’t actually recognise they have a problem. They will even lie to themselves about how much they have had, and how many nights they’ve been drinking for. Some will even ‘stay off the booze’ for 3 or maybe 4 days, in order to be able to justify drinking 5 or 6 times the weekly advised maximum, when the weekend hits.
The real problem is that so many people drink and to such huge excesses that there is nobody in the public eye able to make it fashionable to not get hammered. Now that the Government is trying to increase awareness of the problem, the drunks just see them as kill-joys and people who need to “learn to have fun”.
Well, as the lady I described explained to me, alcohol is rarely actually fun. The abusers are just too drunk to realise.