Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heavy to Moderate Drinker - Thoughts

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One for the road, yet you don't get on the road until three or four later. Sounds familiar? It is to me. Whilst I'm a different drinker to when I was twenty and probably a more controlled one, I still advance from one or two drinks to five or six without thinking or even with any resistance. When I'm sober, I can cringe at my lack of control but as soon as I start I want to get happy (pissed).

Why can't my sober self moderate my drinking? Well, I've been thinking about this a lot over the pass couple of months.

First I think a lot of it has to do with how you perceived drinking as a child and how you started drinking.

When I was a kid, most of the adults in the house drank (I live with my grandparents, their friend and my dad). They drank to relax after a day's work. Guinness was their favourite and they drank in moderation. We were allowed to try and I enjoyed the fact that the head on Guinness made me sneeze. Anyway, I'm getting away from the point, to me, drinking booze meant that you were an adult. This was very strong in my mind and as I think most people can remember, every kid wants to grow up (that's until they've grown up and then many want to regress). So I think drinking is a very adult thing to do.

I drank some drink throughout my childhood but it wasn't until I was fifteen, coming on sixteen, that I really started to drink. It was very much an escape into another world. We had 'Mad' nights, where the intention was to drink as much as possible and go mad. Drinking gave us excitement and release as well as stories. Getting sick and nursing handovers didn't really matter that much, when you were telling a friend an anecdote from the night before.

The believes behind our drinking;

• The more, the better.
• It's cool to drink.
• Getting wasted gives experiences.
• Getting drunk is the point.
• Drink and be happy.

This basically drove my drinking habits through till I my thirties. In fact, moving to London added some new believes like

• Eating is cheating
• Halves are for 'poofs' (Well, I think this one is throughout the UK).
• Cheer up, have a beer/drink!

I do drink differently now to when I was in my early twenties. Then I just drank to get drunk (I fooled myself I was socialising) and achieved it 100% of the time, sometimes I ended up being sick. As I’ve got older I’ve cut back a little on drinking, I definitely drink less often and to a lesser extent. I still drink fast and without pause between drinks, though I now occasionally drink water with alcohol.

How to change to be a moderate drinker?

I need to disassociate ‘the more the better’ with ‘some is good but a lot is bad’. In an academic sense I know this to be true but when I’m in a bar, this is not what I think. I kinda go on autopilot, drink a drink, finish, get a new drink. Repeat until I feel tired (which I do now I’m older) or drunk.

I can work harder on replacing the thinking ‘the more the better’, with ‘some alcohol for a good time but a lot makes me feel bad.’ Perhaps, I can put this message in my wallet to remind me when I'm drinking.

I’m not sure why I drink so fast, perhaps it’s to get that ‘goodness’ from feeling tipsy. And I haven't come up with a way to try and tackle this yet.

I believe the area where I can make the biggest different at the moment is to wait between drinks. This is part of my drinking pattern that I believe is the easiest to break. There’s no need to get another drink straight away. Perhaps, I can set a stopwatch for 30 minutes so that I get a break between drinks or I just replace a ‘drink’ with water. I think if I wait, I'll feel anxious at first but it's a point in my habit that can be changed. If I wait it out enough times, it'll become a new habit.

I think working on these two points will help me moderate my drinking, once I’ve started. From my experience so far, I’ve found it easier not to drink than to drink a little. Now I want to solve that problem, by changing the habit of my drinking.

Are you in a similar position? Do you want to moderate your drinking? Do you have any suggestions on how to moderate (not give up!)?

Thanks for reading.

From a sober Chris - good night.

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