alcohol awareness week woman with two wine glasses in front of her face looking sombre

Alcohol Awareness Week

Last week was Alcohol Awareness Week and I shared the video above on LinkedIn and received lots of great thoughts, feedback and comments from my network. So I’ve decided to share here too, in the hopes it might spark something for someone reading or watching.

I’m coming up on twelve years, two months, and three days of being completely alcohol-free. And free is definitely the keyword in that sentence. I was in a terrible state with alcohol and cannot imagine ever going anywhere near alcohol again, for me it’s been an incredible journey.

What is problem drinking and how do we identify it?

Here’s the thing I want to discuss today, how do we define problem drinking? What makes it a problem and beyond “social norms”? I think it’s easy to get a bit caught up with the idea of problem drinking and alcoholism. And this often starts with comparison and benchmarking statements, such as:

  • Do I drink too much?
  • I don’t drink as much as them
  • I never drink spirits
  • I never drink in the morning
  • I only have X glasses a night

All of these types of comparative questions and statements don’t take into account the different ways drinking can be problematic for some. I believe problem drinking comes in many forms.

  • It could be that you have three drinks, and lose your phone.
  • It could be that you have two drinks and text someone something you wish you hadn’t.
  • It could be that you have four drinks and you fall over and hurt your ankle.
  • It could be that you don’t turn into a nice person on the slightest sniff of alcohol.

I categorise all of that as problem drinking. Just as problematic in many ways as the type of drinking I was doing, which was a little bit beyond that.

So, alcohol awareness is about taking stock of where you are, I would encourage you to stop and think about the impact alcohol has. Think about where alcohol takes you. No matter how much you have, what type of alcohol you drink, and how often you drink it. Problem drinking is any situation in which you lose some semblance of control, or you don’t like the outcomes you get.

I believe Oscar Wilde said the first drink is the most dangerous, and that is definitely the case because the first one loosens up your inhibitions and makes it easy to make poor decisions from there on.

Create your own benchmark

You might think you have a drinking problem, and if you think you have, you probably have. It’s really important not to look to others to establish a benchmark of what is and isn’t a problem. But think about your own benchmark, alcohol awareness is about asking yourself:

  • Have you had enough?
  • Do you feel it’s no longer serving you?
  • Where is it taking you?
  • Do you like the outcomes after drinking?
  • How is it affecting your health?
  • How is it affecting your relationships and the community you’re in?

If you think there’s an issue, take action

Even if it’s a tiny action, even if it’s just looking to cut down a little bit, or committing to reading a book or listening to a podcast. There are tons of resources available about alcohol awareness and alcohol-free living. Rich Roll recently shared a podcast episode with Ruari Fairbairns ‘The Limitless Power of an Alcohol-Free Lifestyle’

So even if you commit to listening to a podcast tonight about alcohol, perhaps even whilst drinking an alcoholic drink, it would be something, because it is a journey. A small step or action like this can get you on that path.

And here’s what you’ve got to gain

Control

Not in manipulating and controlling every element of life and other people. Control over yourself, your impact, your actions. It’s a huge thing.

Autonomy

You are no longer dancing to somebody and something else’s tune. That’s also a massive one, and incredibly freeing. And finally…

Opportunity

Opportunities come to you when you’re in a good place to receive them.

I think a lot of us think I’m not an alcoholic. Therefore, those things don’t apply to me, but you might find if you think about it deeply, maybe they do. Even if you are an occasional drinker, but you don’t like where it takes you. Going alcohol-free can be a game changer.

I have had an incredible journey since I became sober, and I could not have done that without sobriety. So, give some thought to what I’ve said there’s a lot of opportunity out there that we can make the most of when we’re clear-headed and open.

If you are in a situation where you are questioning if alcohol is really serving you, I give you strength, get yourself out of it. Take one small action today.

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