Let’s have a drink because...
It’s been a bad day at the office
It’s been a good day at the office
The kids have driven me up the wall
It’s time to wet the baby’s head
I’m commiserating so and so’s passing
I’m celebrating my promotion
Sorrows need to be drowned
There’s a sporting event to watch
I need some Dutch courage before going on a date
I’m bored, lonely and depressed
Just a few common excuses as to why we have a drink straight off the bat. They literally rolled off my tongue, one after another in quick succession. Give me a minute or two longer and I could have just as easily made it 20.
We exist in a society where there is a plausible excuse to have a drink for just about every given occasion. And, even then if we can’t think of an excuse, the mentality in the UK is to say “fuck it, we only live once” make mine a...(fill in the blank)
The most popular alcohol related web searches include:
Do I drink too much?
Am I an alcoholic?
Do I have a drinking problem?
How much alcohol does the average person consume per week?
How many calories does beer/wine have?
Can alcohol cause depression/anxiety?
Does alcohol affect your mood?
What’s the healthiest alcohol to drink?
Can alcohol cause weight gain?
Can you drink whilst on....(enter medication)?
And yet, the most ironic thing is, the vast majority of people that have searched the internet for the answers to these questions, actually already know the answer themselves.
That’s the thing with alcohol, it plays with your mind, confuses you, and if consumed regularly over a period of time, can change your cognitive functionality.
The biggest issue we face is that it’s so widely available and accepted that it’s the societal norm to drink. Pubs in every town, off licenses, shops and supermarkets on every corner, cold beers and wine in the majority of people’s fridges and you can even get booze delivered right to your door.
Alcohol kills more people than every other drug on the planet - heroin, crack, meth, cocaine and ecstasy. And guess what... alcohol kills more people each year than all of the before mentioned drugs combined.
Shocking but true
Yet, facts like the one I’ve just mentioned, fall on deaf ears of alcohol consumers. The typical average middle class consumer fools themselves into thinking they don’t have a drink problem because they don’t wake up and have a drink in the morning, don’t sit on the street corner and sup from a fosters can, or get legless and end up fighting in the local Weatherspoons.
Don’t fool yourself people
Alcohol is the only drug I know that you have to make an excuse why you don’t want to consume it…
“Go on just have the one”
“You’ll feel better after a drink”
“Have a drink to calm your nerves”
I even had a mate, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, comment that we wouldn’t have much of a night out if I wasn’t drinking. So much for my conversation.
Unlike other drugs, such as heroin, crack and meth, alcohol will kill you slowly. It’s starts by killing your aspirations and dreams. Then it kills your motivation and energy. And then your confidence.
Do I have a problem with alcohol?
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you don’t, just because you don’t drink in the morning or until you pass out. This is where the typical drinker fools themselves into believing they are causal, responsible and moderate drinkers.
Here’s one for you...
Are you in your 30’ or 40’s maybe even your 50’s and trying to lose weight? Conscious that you’re putting on a bit of timber and you want to do something about it?
So you take up jogging or maybe even join the gym. You adjust your diet and start to eat more healthy. A step in the right direction you might think. You wake up and eat a healthy breakfast, follow up with a nutritious lunch. You complete your daily exercise and feel good. You’re on the right track and in your mind, your on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Would you then sit down after dinner and eat a bar of chocolate, donut or polish off a pack of biscuits and still feel healthy?
I’d hazard a guess that you wouldn’t.
But the majority of people wouldn’t think twice about having a respectable beer or glass of wine to relax of an evening. In their mind it’s still inline with their new healthy regime.
Check these facts out
Now do you feel like you’re adhering to a healthy lifestyle if you polished of a bag of sweets, a couple of donuts or a couple of ice creams at the end of the day? Especially after you’ve been exercising and eating healthy? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Look, I’m not condemning you or vilifying you. I’m simply trying to outline and explain the common misconceptions of alcohol. How our minds trick us into making excuse after excuse as to why we drink.
Alcohol and Mental Health
Take Mike (he’s actually a fictional person). He goes to the doctor because he is suffering with depression. Mike consumes alcohol several time a week by the way. He doesn’t have a drink problem. He merely has a couple of drinks to relax after work and then socially with friends of a weekend.
The doctor prescribes Mike antidepressants, a mind altering drug that changes his brain neurones and internal chemistry in order for him to feel happier.
Fact - antidepressants don’t fix the problem they merely mask the problem.
But here is where the problem lies, Mike is already consuming a mind altering drug regularly, one that is proven to cause low mood and depression. It’s called alcohol.
So now Mike’s brain doesn’t know if it’s coming or going. He gets snappy, short tempered, unpredictable and generally a bit of an arse to be around. Yet Mike can come up with a hundred reasons why it’s OK to drink.
Surly it would be common sense to stop consuming a drug that cause depression first, before going to the doctor to get a prescription to stop depression.
Common sense analogy
It’s kind of like taking a diet pill or medication for diabetes and washing it down with a double chocolate frappachino from Starbucks, right?
But when alcohol is concerned, common sense often evades.
If you went to the dentist and had a filling would you walk straight out and devour a bag of toffees and expect no repercussions?
Or fracture your leg and continue to do squats in the gym and wonder why your leg doesn’t heal.
Johan Hari’s book Lost Connections is a must read if you suffer with depression as it comprehensively explains the true cause of depression.
I don’t state any of these obvious facts to mock or patronise anyone, far from it. I’m simply trying to provide insight and clarity into a topic and social issue that plagues so many people I know.
The middle class drinker test
This one is for all the mums who lunch, husbands who hold down respectable jobs, and generally people who are decent, work hard, pay their taxes and bring up their family in the right way.
See if you can go 30 days without a drink
If you can’t, then the reality is you have an issue with alcohol. It needs no more explanation. That’s not me telling you this, it’s proven clinical research studies. If you can’t have a hard day in the office without reaching for a beer when you get home, then your coping mechanisms are in need of attention.
Kids being little shits all day and you can’t relax of an evening without a glass of wine? Again, this habit needs to be addressed. The same goes for social gatherings. If you can’t enjoy yourself without a drink then you might want to address why.
Then again, you might not want to and that’s perfectly fine also. It’s your life. I’m not telling you how to live it. I’m merely writing from experience and not good experiences, I might add. But, I assume that if you clicked on the link to this article and read up to this point, then your relationship with alcohol might have come into question. In which case, I hope this has helped clarify somewhat.