Here is a wishing all my blog readers a wonderful Christmas and New Year. This photo was taken on the Southbank a couple of weeks ago. It was great to touch some genuine Greenland ice and I would love to go there one day. This is the only ice I am likely to see apart from my drinks however as my wife prefers it hot, and we are spending some of the tons of money we have saved by not drinking on a holiday in Cost Rica over Christmas. All the best and God Bless. Until 2019, Julian
My wife spotted this wine advent calendar in John Lewis this week. I thought the chocolate filled advent calendars were a bad enough temptation but a wine filled one!
On investigation the calendar contains a small bottle for each day leading up to the obviously mega drunken event. The bottles contain just enough to leave you desperate for more and so are probably intended to send you scuttling off to the nearest Waitrose.
Whatever happened to the days when Christmas was all about baby Jesus, goodwill to all and a Satsuma in the Christmas stocking. Perhaps next year John Lewis will also do a vaping calendar with a different flavour for each day and even a cannabis one for their Canadian clientele.
I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful dinner last night in the Long Room at Lord's Cricket Ground - probably the most famous sporting venue to eat in world-wide.
One of the sponsors was Veuve Clicquot so as can be imagined, the champagne was flowing liberally from the outset. Then there were some fine wines with the excellent dinner, brandies, and then the Long Room bar was open afterwards for beers and more of whatever people fancied.
Fortunately this was a respectable event so although much alcohol was consumed there wasn't any roudy behaviour and much genial conversation and some amusing speeches instead.
Attending the entire thing with nothing stronger than water in my glass not only did I not feel at all left out and had at least as much fun as everyone else, I enjoyed the copious praise I received from my colleagues and their guests on our table once they spotted the fact I don't drink and could see how completely unfazed I was by this.
I never make a point of mentioning the fact I don't drink as I hate to preach or to have to explain my tale unless asked, but it is a nice endorsement of my life decision to remain sober when people appreciate the fact I have achieved something worthy and that is worth mentioning.
There is so much more to enjoy in life once you escape the alcohol habit, even the little moments like last night are worth remembering.
Think of the worst hangover you have ever had. You wake up with your head pounding, it hurts to open your eyes, your mouth feels dry and parched, you smell of sweat, your body feels like a damp rag, you alternately shiver and feel hot and you know you need to throw up. As you turn your head on the pillow the nausea sweeps over you and you feel you are going to be sick, but you don’t have the strength to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. You lay like this for what seems like ages, tossing your head from one side to the other, desperately hoping the desire to be sick will go away - It doesn’t. Then, you finally courage up the effort to go and be sick in the toilet. The vomit burns your throat and now you feel like fainting and the shivering gets worse. You crawl back to bed, cover yourself in the duvet and wish the pounding headache would stop. But you know it won’t stop for ages because you have been though all of this many times before, and last time, just like the other times, you vowed it would never happen again.
Now as you lay there feeling sorry for yourself you try to recall what happened the night before and you can remember snippets of what went on but by no means everything. Suddenly you are gripped with fear that you did or said something terrible. You sweat with the stress and worry. Will it matter? Was it job threatening? Wasn’t there something important you were supposed to do today? Is there someone you should apologise to?
‘I hate being like this’ you say to yourself. ‘I want my life to change.’ ‘I wish it was yesterday and I hadn’t had a drink.’
You are on the verge of making that momentous decision to quit alcohol forever. But this is perhaps the hardest part of all. How are you going to cope? Surely you can have just a few drinks and be more sensible next time, after all you really like the taste of wine even though the thought of having some now is repulsive. Your head continues to ache, and you feel too ill to argue with yourself. Better to try and sleep and let another day slip by, wasted and lost forever.
This is when my book ‘One Less for the Road’ can really help, or perhaps even better the audio version so you can lay in bed and listen to me talk you through my being in your exact same situation and what made me realise that I could face life without another glass of wine.
I read this article in last night’s Evening Standard about an insurance broker who, after spending the afternoon drinking with his City pals then got into a fight and will probably lose his livelihood because of it. The judge said at his trial that he needs to reassess his drinking.
I feel sorry for this chap. I too work in the same City insurance environment where lunchtime drinking is still considered the norm and drinking to excess with your business colleagues can be expected. But it doesn’t have to be.
I was nearly always to be found drinking at lunchtime and into the afternoon, and I used to convince myself this is what I needed to do. But the fact is, the people who really want to achieve are back at their desks doing deals rather than ‘talking business’ over yet more booze. In fact, if you listen to most of the conversations being held in afternoon bars and pubs you will hear nothing but drivel, sport and waffle.
I still have lunchtime meetings with people who might have a beer or a glass of wine. It doesn’t bother me, and it doesn’t bother them that I Don’t Drink. What I deliberately do however, is avoid the people who I know will drink to excess and end up achieving nothing of value. In other words, I avoid people like I used to be.
If this man quits alcohol and gets back on his feet he will look back in a few month’s time and rue the day he ever started drinking, realising how much it has damaged his life and for absolutely zero benefit. Pretending you need to drink as part of your job is simply that – a pretence, and an awful habit you get in to if you allow the peer pressure of the City to get to you.
Alcohol affects your brain and your thinking. It makes you feel free to do things you wouldn’t otherwise dream of doing, it numbs your reactions and it takes away all common sense. That is why you can’t drink and drive and why no-one would leave a drunk in charge of a baby.
I hope this chap seeks help, and if I see him in Lime Street I will give him a copy of my book. I have lost and messed up so many business opportunities in my life because of drink I know what he will be going through. I am so grateful I saw the light and that I will never have to suffer all that distress and misery again, and all because of some bloody fermented grape juice that was only destroying my health anyway.
If you are trying to quit alcohol. Make a written note of all those opportunities you have lost or messed you because of drink. There will be lots. Why risk doing the same again?
I was delighted to see the statistics this morning that seem to confirm that far less young people are being caught in the alcohol trap. The percentage of young people avoiding alcohol altogether was certainly impressive and hopefully it does show a new trend away from alcohol.
For anyone struggling to quit alcohol after many years of drinking, it should send messages of comfort. Firstly, that they are not alone in not wanting to drink and that being sober is becoming the new accepted norm. But also, it proves the point that alcohol is a habit, and that knowledge makes it far easier to give up. If alcohol addiction is an ‘illness’ or somehow ‘inherited’ as many will have you believe then how have all these young people avoided ‘catching it’ or being ‘born with it’ in their system? These are purely excuses to continue drinking or spending your money on expensive counselling sessions or putting the blame for your drink problem elsewhere.
Alcohol addiction is a habit. Huge swathes of the young generation are avoiding getting into that habit, and you can break that habit. Accepting it as a habit is the first step to quitting forever.
An autumn walk through our lovely local park this afternoon reminded me of when I was a small boy, and how after school I would play in the park with my mates until tea-time and then go home to a warm house, some hot crumpet and soup, and then a nice bath and a game with my brothers or read a book until bed-time. I never needed alcohol back then and I doubt for one moment you ever needed alcohol as a kid either.
My walk amidst all the beautiful trees also reminded me of the cottage I lived in until fairly recently and the woodland that surrounded our garden. I used to love sitting under the trees and listening to the sounds of nature, but somehow felt it necessary to have a bottle of wine or a flagon of cider with me. I would get steadily drunk to the point I wouldn't bother to eat, and then end up feeling too sloshed to do anything, only to discover that it was only eight o' clock and I had the whole night ahead of me, too drunk to achieve anything but to fall asleep listening to the radio as I didn't have a TV.
Now I am free of the alcohol trap I can enjoy the woodland walks, still sit under the trees if I want to contemplate life, but then return home sober, revitalised and ready to achieve something useful before bed-time.
If you are trying sober October I wish you luck. Make time to do things you wouldn't normally do when you are drinking. Go for a long walk if you can and think how you didn't need alcohol when you were a child and of all the enjoyable things you used to get up to back then. What makes you think you need alcohol now? You don't of course. It is just a bad habit you picked up and that you can easily break if you apply yourself.
It was a shame to read about Ben Affleck in the news this morning. I don't know who he is not having seen any of his movies, but to read that anyone is suffering due to alcoholism is always something I tend to spot and my hopes for a full recovery go out to him.
But reading these sort of news articles must make many people looking to quit alcohol despair. They can read that someone spending vast sums on rehab is unable to quit, even after having managed it before, so how can they possibly expect to be able to stay off booze forever themselves if someone like Ben can't.
The article then describes what Ben has as an illness and is that not perhaps where the problem lies, and why he has had to go back to rehab so many times?
Readers of my blogs will know that I follow a hard line and that I believe quitting alcohol has to be a 'forever' decision if you are to truly escape alcohol.
I never discussed my drink problem with an 'expert', but I know that if I had have done, and had been told I had an illness or that what I had was hereditary it would have given me the excuse I would have been craving to either not quit or to forgive myself if I was unable to stay off the booze. Coming home pissed after a year of not drinking I would have felt able to say 'oh dear, my illness is back, I will have to start again' or at least give myself the comfort that my drinking was not my fault and not something I could be blamed for.
My drinking was my fault, no-one else's. Yes, I was brought up in a world of drinking and encouraged to drink from an early age, and I still work in an environment where drinking is the norm, but that is why I got into the drinking habit which eventually became all consuming. My being an alcoholic was not an illness I caught, and because I didn't fall into that 'not my fault' trap is why I and so many others with that same mindset as me have found it so much easier to quit.
What Ben has is a habit. He needs to recognise that, accept he has to quit forever, and address the issues and circumstances that are stopping him break that habit. If he continues to be told he is ill and needs constant support he will never be able to truly escape the alcohol trap. I wish him well.
This is blunt advice, so please don’t take offence.
You need a strategy – without that you will fail
You need to want to quit alcohol – that might take some thinking about but hopefully you are already at that stage and are fed up with carrying on as you are. If you know you want to quit, then you are already nearly there!
You do have the strength of will because we all do. You have quit things before whether this be a bad habit, a bad relationship; you have got over the grief of losing someone or a broken relationship; and you might also have achieved something you thought you were too scared or unable to do e.g. learn to swim, learn to drive, pass an exam, get that job. There are countless examples of things you have been able to do and do well. Quitting alcohol is no different. If you have given up smoking successfully or if you know someone who has, then this is far far easier than that.
You need to set a date and that should be now or tomorrow morning. There is absolutely no point in putting it off as doubts will creep in. Waiting until after the next wedding or party listed in your diary ensures failure. Be strong and say now – today!
You must determine to quit alcohol forever. Nothing else guarantees success. So get over it. Say you are going to quit now and forever, and just do it.
Yours strategy should include writing down the one big reason you want to lose alcohol from your life. This must be some big reason that you can think about if you feel weak or are tempted by others to break your resolve. It might be for the sake of your partner, your children, your health, your life even. Write it down. Keep that reason with you and take strength from it. Let it constantly remind you.
It helps to also write down all the little reasons for quitting as well, even just so you can refer back and see how much you have achieved at various milestones.
You have to believe life without alcohol is going to be better, because it is a million times better. You will not miss alcohol. You might think about drink because it has become a massive habit, but you really will not miss it at all after a very short while.
You need a success star chart or a calendar to record your success every day and to be proud of the fantastic progress you are achieving. Use the spreadsheet on my website as an example to record how much you are saving as well. Add your weight now and weigh yourself weekly. You will lose loads of weight unless you replace the sugar in alcohol with sugar in fizzy drinks. Drink water instead. It is not called Adam’s ale for no reason. That is all early man and woman had available and they coped without booze!
You are not alone. Millions of others have been able to quit and are so amazingly delighted with the fact they would never ever go back to drinking. Countless millions more people in the World don’t take alcohol for religious reasons and they cope – and so can you!
You will be able to cope with so much more in your life without booze. All alcohol does is hide the pain, the stress, the grief, the burden or whatever ails you. The problem doesn’t go away, but without drink you will be able to resolve all your issues with a clear head, a fresh mind and clear good sense. You don’t need an escape and alcohol isn’t a solution, it just compounds the problem.
You need a strategy that will keep you busy for the next few weeks doing things with all that time you will have not drinking and to give you something else to think about. Hopefully this can include exercise if you are able, as you will be further helping your body renew itself after years of alcohol mis-use and ruination. Join a group to learn something new or take up a new hobby. The enjoyment from a walk in the park or country gives your brain the same lift that it gets from alcohol but with zero side effects.
Go for a drive if you feel tense, you wouldn’t be able to do that if you had been drinking – or at least not legally. That knowledge will help you realise you are doing things that you couldn’t do as a drinker.
Avoid friends and situations that might tempt you to drink if that concerns you. Some friends you might have to say goodbye to, at least for a while.
Share what you are doing to create yourself a fan club. Not only will this give you support but it will act as a blocker to thinking you might fail. You don’t want to let others down.
Believe in yourself. You are a strong person. Alcohol is no more than a habit despite what you might have read or have been told. Every habit can be got rid of or replaced with another habit. Your new habit will be not drinking, and you will be so proud of yourself you won’t believe the new you!
You CAN do this, but remember - it has to be forever. If that sounds too difficult then you don’t really want to quit at all and are only kidding yourself and playing with the idea. You will be stuck in a land of drink induced misery forever with only yourself to blame. How crap is that! So, DO IT and good luck! You can discover more free advice and videos at my website www.idontdrink.net
Gin was brought to mind by my seeing this famous Hogarth print at the Tate gallery last week. I recall seeing that same print many times in my youth in various books or periodicals and it always gave me a guilty feeling that I was drinking something evil. I have never seen any other spirit associated in this way and that is perhaps why.
I used to love gin and tonic. I loved the smoky blue colour of the drink, the refreshing smell and the exquisite taste. I especially liked to have a gin and tonic in hand when travelling by plane which I used to do weekly on business trips to Ireland. Even writing this paragraph I can taste the drink in my mind, but thankfully that doesn’t encourage me to actually want one, I am well past any such temptation.
As gin was the only spirit I regularly drank I was aware how quickly it could affect me and induce a drowsy and laid-back state. I also knew I had to try and limit the amount I was consuming or else I would get drunk too quickly, but I found this too hard to do, and so always ended up plastered. Things got especially bad if I mixed gin with wine and other drinks over the course of the lunchtime or evening.
I think that gin being called ‘mother’s ruin’ and the Hogarth print perhaps induced my feelings of guilt back then. I know for a fact that whenever I saw this print I would only give it a cursory glance, probably because I was too guilt wracked to want to explore the message the print was sending out, that the imbibing of cheap spirits leads to madness, disease, wantonness and disaster. It is actually a horrible print to really study with children being abused or killed, people being force fed the spirit, people having gone blind, dying and all other sorts of horrors envisaged through gin.
Now that gin seems to back in fashion as ‘the’ drink. What do you see in this print, and would it make you feel guilty if you were viewing it with a g&t in hand?