“But you never drank very much.”
”I only ever saw you with a half.”
”How long, three weeks? Tell me again in three months!”
Alcohol is the drug of choice in the UK. It’s available everywhere and is part of most people’s social life. But to tell someone you’ve given it up often seems to them like a confrontation.
So rather than the supportive reactions you might expect, or hope for, from your so-called friends, like “oh, well done, you” or “I wondered why you look so much healthier/lost so much weight/seem happier!”, you are more likely to get disbelief and defensiveness as if you are trying to pick a fight.
If you have had enthusiastic support from your family and friends, you can count yourself very lucky. This all-pervasive attitude that everyone drinks so the person who gives it up must be an oddball, is a major reason why the journey to sobriety can take so long.
To add to the obvious side-effects of alcohol like the damage to your physical and mental health, the loss of your reasoning and reaction time, there’s also the dreaded “three Ps” – the piss-artists, parasites, and predators that surround you. It takes a long time to break free.
In my case, the journey took the best part of 50 years. I got my taste for alcohol as a very young child, when my mother used me as a taster for her home-made wine. Alcohol, the great comforter, took me by the hand and led me to the darkest places you can go – to psychiatric hospital, to drink-driving, to domestic violence, insolvency, to being at the mercy of all of the above-mentioned “three Ps”.
I tried many times to escape from the cycle of alcoholism. I asked my GP for help, tried AA (briefly), an addiction clinic, reading about the health impacts of booze, and watching videos of other people who had beaten it.
I knew I really needed to give it up. But the disbelief of “friends” who told me I wasn’t really an alcoholic, (an attitude I found at AA too), was an insidious one. It made me doubt my own memory. Did I REALLY drink-drive every day? Did I REALLY lose four years of my life to domestic violence? Was I REALLY financially ruined by the parasites who were my drinking buddies? Maybe I dreamt it all?
This gas-lighting by society of the alcoholic who is struggling to give up is very real. And unfortunately, some of the organisations supposedly dedicated to helping are part of the problem. Almost as if they have been funded by the drinks industry to perpetuate addiction – surely not!
I finally achieved sobriety at the age of 58 using the Allen Carr method, which enables you to kick it for good, rather than tying you to their organisation as a lifelong, helpless victim. So if nothing else, at least I’m proof that it’s never too late!
I’ve used some of my darker science fiction/fantasy artwork to illustrate stages in my journey to an alcohol free life. In this video on my new YouTube channel, Radical Cartoons, you can find useful links in the description and find out more about my journey to alcohol free.