Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Alcohol wasn’t always an important part of my life. I was often the girl ordering pots of tea in a bar instead of beer or wine, and turning down a glass of wine with my mum because I just didn’t see the point. But at some point over the last two years, my relationship with alcohol began to change - taking a fast turn down hill.
I began drinking every weekend, always starting at 4pm on a Friday – pour at 4! I didn’t usually drink during the week, well perhaps now and again, but my drinking usually consisted of one heavy night each weekend.
Doesn’t sound so bad does it? Not like I'm pouring vodka on my cheerios!
Well, when it consists of getting so blackout drunk you don’t remember who you’ve screamed at, waking up in a pile of your own sick or a strangers bed, and spending the rest of the weekend crying – you start to realise it definitely isn’t good.
Binge drinking is normal, I told myself, everyone gets drunk on a Friday. It’s an accepted part of our culture that everyone counts down the hours till gin o’clock or toasts to the weekend with a glass of fizz.
But it was only when my binge drinking habit started to include other substances that I started to worry. As if my behavior while drinking wasn’t bad enough, suddenly the buzz of alcohol was only the starter, to an even more satisfying main.
I also noticed that drinking was no longer a calming, social activity. While drinking I would be seen smiling and talking with friends, but really my brain was fixated on the level of drink left in their glass, as I silently begrudged them for pouring themselves more than me. I would feel the heaviness of anxiety in my chest when I realised we were on the last drink of the bottle, and that no one else would want to open another.
It was similar to the come down I’d experienced with other substances; I felt a sudden fear of losing this feeling. Of coming back down to the gloomy, grey reality of life from my technicoloured cloud where everything was good.
I remember one night after having one mid-week drink with friends, instead of going home to cook myself dinner, I bought myself a bottle of Prosecco and carried on the party. I sat alone, drinking, and scrolling through Tinder.
Suddenly I was the party girl. The friend everyone could count on for wanting to get MESSY. And I had some really fun nights, don’t get me wrong. But I also became the liability. The friend that would argue drunkenly with you for no reason, shout at complete strangers, and cry at you as we walked home.
I started to do things that just weren’t me. Things that kept me awake for nights after, making me cringe with shame every time I thought about them.
Just drink a bit less, people would say. Easy, I thought. Just don’t drink quite as much this time.
But it wasn’t easy at all. Telling anyone who feels they need to drink less, to simply drink less, is like telling someone with an eating disorder to just eat. Well duh – that would be ideal wouldn’t it. But simply drinking less isn’t possible for someone who has already lost control over their drinking habit.
It's like trying to control a ball that's rolling down a hill - once it's started, there's only one direction it's going to go in.
Moderation was easy when I wasn't dependent on alcohol, as was not drinking altogether. But the further down the slope I fell the more impossible moderation felt. I’d watch other people have one glass of wine and turn down the next, and stare at them - eyes wide with both confusion and admiration.
I blamed myself. If others could do it so easily why couldn’t I. If others could have a couple without it getting so out of hand, why did I have to be the giant fuck up?
But I’ve realised now that I was pointing my finger at the wrong enemy. It wasn’t myself I should have been berating, it was alcohol.
Alcohol is an addictive substance, and has been proven to be more dangerous than any other drug, including cocaine and heroin. Yet we encourage it as a normal part of our lives, judge those who won’t drink with us, and then look down on anyone who becomes addicted, to an ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE.
This is why I’ve decided to quit alcohol for good.
I know how anxious and empty I feel with alcohol in my life, so it’s time to explore life without it.
I’ll be writing a lot about my experience here and sharing how I attempt to tame my brain throughout my journey.
Wish me luck x