I've Fallen Out of Love with Alcohol and So Should You

Tom Stevenson

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Recently, I have begun to question my relationship with alcohol.

This is not new.

Throughout my life, I have experienced a love/hate relationship with alcohol.

There are times when I would love nothing more than to drink myself silly and do stupid shit.

While there were times when the thought of drinking alcohol repulsed me.

This internal struggle has played out for a number of years now. Neither side has managed to deal a decisive blow.

Until now, perhaps.

My first experiment with abstaining

“The reward for total abstinence from alcohol seems, illogically enough, to be the capacity for becoming intoxicated without it.” — Rebecca West

The first time I gave up drinking alcohol was when I was 18. I had only been drinking for 1 or 2 years, yet, I was already discontented.

The taste of alcohol didn’t appeal to me. Neither did the roaring hangovers that accompanied a heavy drinking session.

I decided there and then that I would quit alcohol for good. At 18, when you’re supposed to enjoy drinking and being rowdy, I was ready to commit to life of abstinence.

As you can imagine, it didn’t last. I certainly wouldn’t writing this post if it did.

I lasted six months before I was tempted to have a drink, and fell back into old ways.

Looking back, I’m immensely proud I lasted six months without touching a drink. Even then, I had a willpower that I would only realise later in my life.

I managed to abstain from alcohol during a boozy, lads holiday to Greece, and throughout Freshers week at university.

I’m still unsure how I managed to do either!

During those six months, I never missed drinking. My life continued on as normal. Cravings to drink alcohol never appeared.

I could happily survive without drinking alcohol, so why was I drawn back to it?

Societal pressure to drink

“I don’t judge you for drinking, so don’t judge me for not drinking.” — Unknown

If I had to pinpoint the exact reason why I slipped back into old habits and started drinking alcohol again, I would say it was due to peer pressure.

When I quit alcohol, everyone else seemed to be more concerned over this then I was.

Friends would constantly question why I wouldn’t drink. People would look at me funny when I said I didn’t drink alcohol.

When I asked the same people why they drank alcohol, none of them could offer a reasonable explanation.

Alcohol is a social juice, especially in the Western world.

Whenever we gather with friends, the event inevitably revolves around alcohol.

Because of this, we subconsciously associate alcohol with socialising. Anyone that goes against societal norms, is, wrongly, seen as antisocial.

Once I slipped back into the routine of going out and drinking. No one batted an eyelid.

There was the odd joke about that time I stopped drinking, and how stupid it was, but that was it.

I was no longer the black sheep, I was part of the herd again.

Why do we drink?

“Drinking alcohol takes you into a lower state of mind. If you drink a lot of it, things get very fuzzy and they are not very sharp or defined. This brings you into a lower state of attention.” — Frederick Lenz

I’ve often found myself pondering this question. I could never find a satisfactory answer.

Whenever I ask myself why I drink alcohol, all I can come up with is I don’t know.

Drinking is so firmly entrenched in our culture that those who question it are looked upon with trepidation.

However, this is a fundamental question that needs to be asked.

Why do we drink?

Is it because we are forced compelled to by society?

Is it to escape from reality?

We drink for various reasons, but do we ever stop to consider whether we truly want to drink!

Would you willingly drink alcohol if it was not used as a loosener in social situations?

The raging hangovers that accompany a heavy night of drinking are simply not worth it.

What have you gained from drinking yourself silly?

A raging headache, a lighter wallet, nagging doubts in the back of your mind.

When you look at it objectively, drinking alcohol makes little sense.

Whenever I have drunk alcohol recently, I have woken up the next day feeling lazy and terrible.

My productivity levels deteriorate. I want to procrastinate, I have little desire to accomplish anything.

The reality is, when you drink alcohol, you become a lesser version of yourself.

And yet, we carry on drinking either blissfully, or willingly, ignorant of these facts.

How to say no

Saying no is hard.

When we say no, we feel like we are letting people down.

Disappointing them.

We place the reaction of others, above what we truly want to do.

You have to remove yourself from this mindset.

Saying no may be difficult, it may be uncomfortable, but, sometimes, it is also necessary.

When it comes to alcohol, if you feel it’s impacting on your ability to perform at your best, you’re well within your rights to say no.

It can be scary to go against societal norms at first, but when you do it, and you realise it’s not the end of the world, it’s incredibly freeing.

Worrying about other people perceptions of ourselves is what holds us back. Alcohol can be incredibly hard to turn down. It’s intertwined with socialising. Just remember, your ability to say no to alcohol does not impact on our ability to socialise.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Me and alcohol

I’m not sure what the future holds in this regard. The thought of drinking alcohol on a regular basis is not something I relish.

Right now, investing time and money into a substance which provides me with no practical benefit is not what I’m looking for.

I’m at a stage in my life where I want to push on and achieve goals I’ve held for a while.

Will alcohol help me achieve those goals?

No.

I may rekindle my affection for alcohol, but for now, we’re going our separate ways.

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