I was a Problem Social Drinker
This could never happen to me? A responsible mother of four, healthy living surely a drink or two when I catch up with friends for a few drinks wasn't a problem. Or was it?
We live very close to the Byron Shire and there is a ‘Project Turn Around’ program busy fundraising to purchasing the Alcolizer machine.
“Byron Shire has consistently had the highest DUI rate in all of NSW for more years than not over the last 20 years. Using these machines gives us a very visual way to show people what their BAC levels are, and when people can actually see their blood alcohol level they often decide they will not drive and instead make safer choices,” BUDDI’ CDAT’s Nicqui Yazdi said. “We ask them to turn around and wait or make alternative transport arrangements if they are over the limit. If they decide to wait, we can advise them to eat food, drink water and come back to and re-test before attempting to drive again. This service is often the very first time that people have had the opportunity to test their alcohol levels, outside of potentially having been pulled up by Police, so it is a very positive activity.”
This topic is very close to my heart. My family is renowned for alcoholism, my father in fact nearly died from liver disease and was on the liver transplant waiting list. I have people I surround myself with that are regular drinkers and then I simply started.
Living a healthy lifestyle has given me such a gift, I am full of life and energy, I have four healthy and beautiful babies but the hang overs are no longer welcome in my life. In fact I was never a drinker and I used to amaze myself why I would even bother with one drink. So I had to have two and then the two didn't give me that buzz so it would be a bottle of champagne, wine or vodka. It was wrong town!!!!
My light bulb moment was when I wasn't making good choices (in fact, without freaking you out too much I felt my "future self" say;
"Why did you do this?"
The icing on the cake was my kids when they constantly gave me feedback and of course it took me a few days to get over the binge weekend or midweek celebrations. So I simply decided NO MORE! It wasn't getting me anywhere, I was wasting money but most importantly my health and the role model I am in my children's eyes.
I wanted to share my story because "I got sucked in!" but I am truly grateful I was able to get out of it. I see so many people getting tipsy and/or drunk that they even convince themselves that they're not drunk after 3-4 or 5 wine glasses, beers or whatever their poison of choice may be.
I'll never forget someone tellng me they didn't have a drinking problem when they woke up in their very own vomit bed, or when stumbling home and falling wondering what their bruises were from in the morning. One night I went out and my girlfriend had her wine spilt by accident and she was ready for a fist fight!
Too many stories to share and different folks with different strokes living life on their terms, unfortunately we simply need to support them however if they get out of hand, intervention is a must!
We can't forget we are all part of the same world and lifestyle upbringing that teaches us alcohol is okay to drink. Paul Churchill nails it in his TED talk when he was told not to take drugs, crack, cocaine or meth at college but he never got told not to drink alcohol.
He highlights in his talk how his life turns into a Total Shit Show when he drank alcohol!!!
Problem Drinker vs a Social Drinker
- I usually drink too much - I know when I should stop drinking.
- I can drive myself home - I find a sober driver if I drink too much.
- I make time in my daily or weekly schedule to drink - I drink only a few times each month.
- I often drink when I’m alone - I sometimes drink when I catch up with friends
- I usually drink too much - When I drink, I try not to get drunk
- I turn to alcohol when I’m bored - I never drink when I am bored or alone
In Australia 5,500 people die from alcohol related injuries, illness and accidents. A whopping 157,000 people are hospitalised due to alcohol. The cost to the community from alcohol-related harm is estimated to exceed $15.3 billion.
That's huge and so disturbing for something that we think is just a drink here and there but never realise it's damaging our lifestyle. Potentially killing us slowly and effecting loved ones around us.
Of course the "problems" and reason why people turn to the bottle are the usual suspects. Let it be a sense of disconnection, unemployment, abuse or trauma, poor mental health, or a feeling of having no clear future – combine this with availability (it's right next door to our local supermarkets every day!) and not to mention the social circle we associate ourselves with, are all strong risk factors for harm due to alcohol.
How can we overcome this need to drink alcohol or minimise it?
- Drink water or other non-alcohol beverages between alcoholic drinks
- Avoid drinking in rounds with friends, as you may end up drinking more than planned
- Order smaller serves of beer, cider and spirits; rather than pints or double serves
- Don’t allow others to top up your glass if you’re sharing a bottle of wine as you may lose track of how many drinks you’ve consumed
- Avoid high-alcohol content beverages, such as stronger beers or wines, and spirits
- Eat some food before and while drinking, to slow your drinking pace and slow the absorption of alcohol
- Occupy yourself while drinking to reduce the amount you’re consuming: play pool, sing karaoke, dance, talk to friends.
If you know anyone in your circle of friends or family members that have a regular habit of drinking and you feel concerned, reach out to Alcohol and Drug Foundation or google for alcohol support in your local city and country.
For me, I am totally going off alcohol. No more entertaining the thought it's cool to catch up over a vino or celebrate success with a bottle of champagne. I am doing a detox December challenge if you would like to join me (Dani & Co. Facebook group page) if you would like to ease yourself in and prepare for this week.
I know, I know it's the festive season and there will be Christmas parties and events galore but hey! then there's New Years, Australia Day weekend, someone's birthday, wedding, bbq the list goes on......
It’s important that we as health advocates and role models not only set an example but most important be outspoken about the way “ we are encouraged to drink, to celebrate it all with alcohol?! Life is about living, being present and becoming, alcohol dims all of that and more. It creates a dependency and makes people do and say things that they often regret or worse, don’t remember. It’s time to stand up and say it like it is, a crutch , an excuse and it is detrimental to one’s health and well being. Enough said🙏