Britain’s Binge Drinkers

This programme was aired on ITV on Thursday 17th April at 19.30 as the Easter Bank Holiday kicked off here in the UK.  This used to be a drinking fest for me as you could drink from the eve of Good Friday all the way to the end of Easter Monday if you wanted to.  One of our locals holds an Easter Beer Festival Week-end with bands and guest beers running and I’m sure they are not the only one.

Jonathan Maitland takes a look at Britain’s binge drinking culture and the impact it is having on the health of young people including premature liver disease.  If you would like to watch it you can find it here:

https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/tonight

It makes grim viewing particularly the group of 4 students who are followed before and after a regular night where they are seen pre-loading (or prinking as my neice informed me) and then out on the town consuming anywhere between 26 and 48 units in one night!  It also covers the stories of one teenagers death from alcohol poisoning in one night, a teenager who is now a recovering alcoholic and a man in his early twenties who died of liver failure caused by drinking.  Plus plenty of experts sharing their opinions and views.

Easter hiatus

Apologies folks for the interruption in service over this week-end.  As I mentioned in a previous post I am doing some work to my blog which involved moving servers and so some functionality was lost for a few days.  Thank you to those of you who emailed me to let me know about the 404 error messages and those who sent text messages to make sure I hadn’t drowned in a vat of wine,  you know who you are  ;)  It hadn’t gone dark because I was off drinking – more like tearing my hair out as my luddite technology skills were severely challenged!!

Anyway I am happy to say that the normal daily blog service is now resumed :)

And with some news too.  In a couple of weeks I am going to do a Skype interview with Veronica Valli from Recovery Rocks.  If anyone would like to submit a question for Veronica then please let me know on email in the next two weeks.  I am planning on posting the interview up on Monday 12th May.

Here is her bio:

Veronica has worked as a therapist and life coach specialising in addiction for over ten years; her experience includes working with young people in the criminal justice system, primary care adult treatment, outreach services and private practice. Veronica has also worked in local government, delivering local drug and alcohol strategies.

As a recovered alcoholic, she has personal experience of what it takes to recover. Veronica struggled with alcoholism through most of her twenties. Never a daily drinker but a binge drinker, she was aware for some time that something was wrong but was unable to define what it was; a chance meeting led to her finally getting help and turning her life around.

At the height of her drink problem, Veronica was unable to go to work without the aid of a drink; her life and confidence were in tatters. She got sober in 2000 at the age of twenty-seven. She now uses this experience to help and inspire others. She fully believes that all alcoholics and addicts can recover if they have access to the right kind of help, and that they can then go on to live life to the full.

She is committed to educating and informing the public on problem drinking and addiction and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire as a specialist guest. She has also appeared on the Lorraine Kelly show on ITV, and an ITV programme entitled The Truth About Binge Drinking; she has also appeared in national magazines and publications, discussing recovery from alcoholism.

Her book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom’ is available on Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-you-drink-How-stop-ebook/dp/B00EGD8T3M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382014004&sr=8-1&keywords=veronica+valli

Veronica is married with a young son and is currently working in private practice.

http://veronicavalli.com

http://twitter.com/veronicavalli

https://www.facebook.com/addictionexpert

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280

If you have a question you would like to ask an addictions specialist then drop me an email.  Or maybe you’d like to ask a question of me as a nurse?  Whatever we’ll try to accommodate and are really looking forward to it!

Pregnant pause

Maybe it’s just me but since I stopped drinking I find myself reflecting on my past and what bought me to the here and now.  Everything happens for a reason right?

And whenever I reflect I wonder about times that my drinking wasn’t a problem – like when I was pregnant.  Now I’m not saying this as a joke because in the UK you can still have a drink during pregnancy whereas in many other countries they recommend not to.

pregnant1

So why is it, this wasn’t difficult for me?  Was it because during the first three months you feel sick and the thought of wine makes you want to vomit?  Did that 3 months almost count as a 100 day challenge and I just got used to it?  Why could I have my one glass of wine on a Saturday night and not want to inhale the whole bottle?  Was it because I knew that drinking more would be harmful to my on-board passenger?  I do remember in my first pregnancy being very vigilant but with my second was a little more laissez-faire and I found it more difficult to give up the booze but of course I did.

I guess if I’m honest part of me is still wrestling with the idea of ‘forever’ and looking for chinks of hope to draw from in the past.  Wolfie whispering ‘see you did it then and it wasn’t a problem.  You could go a whole week and only have one glass on a Saturday night and that was fine’.  I do remember being resentful that I could only have one, second pregnancy round.

I appreciate that this is a post of more questions than answers and maybe you want to chime in too?  What’s your recollections and thoughts?  I’d love to know :)

 

UK has the most delusional drinkers

A couple of days ago the Guardian covered the news story regarding the publishing of the 2014 Global Drug Survey (GDS) and you can read the full article here.  The title of this blog post is taken from the Independent’s coverage of the survey which also said that ‘one in three dependent drinkers in the UK thinks they consume less than the average amount’.

The 2014 GDS questioned almost 80,000 drug users from 43 countries, and is the largest research of its kin.  It found that alcohol was the most common drug taken, followed by tobacco and cannabis.

Winstock described the extent of alcohol abuse in the UK as “very worrying”. “Many countries are clueless about alcohol, but the UK and Ireland are the most clueless, ” he said. “People just have no idea when they are drinking at very dangerous levels.” According to the survey, 60% of respondents demonstrated a medium, high or dependent level of alcohol problems. Just below 15% said they could not stop drinking once they had started at least monthly , while 17% reported feelings of guilt or regret after drinking at least monthly over the last year. Of the 7% who demonstrated dependency levels, only 39% recognised their drinking was dangerous, while 34.5% thought they drank an average or below-average amount.

John, whose answers suggested “dependency” or a high level of alcohol problems, said he didn’t feel his drinking had much of an impact on his life. “It’s just part of the culture,” the 40-year-old PR manager said. He described various drinking mishaps, including seeing his ex-boss try to have a fight with a double-decker bus. “You drink with clients and there are events with free alcohol almost every night. Drink, drink, drink – it’s just normal.”After looking at his consumption on the GDS drinksmeter, he said the results were “terrifying”, adding: “Maybe I need to calm down.”

If you would like anonymous, personalised feedback on your drinking then go to http://www.drinksmeter.com/.  The drinks meter app provides you with instant feedback on your drinking. It compares your drinking against the Drinks Meter community to give unbiased, anonymous feedback.

Alright,  move on, nothing to see here ……. ;)

 

 

 

 

What does hangover free look like?

Now this isn’t some philosophical question, more of a visual representation question.  I’ve been thinking about changing my blog a bit and was trying to think of what ‘a hangover free life’ looks like visually.

I suspect for all of us this will look different but for me this is what I see in the daytime:

Girl_on_Beach_Hammock_Maldives

And this is what I see come evening time:

bubble bath and candles

Why?  Well we honeymooned in the Maldives and at the time I described it as being what I imagined heaven on earth would be like.  Just looking at these picture makes me happy, optimistic and inspired, plus candles and bubbles in a bath are part of my sober treats already ;)

All those pennies and pounds I’ve been saving need to be put to good use for a BIG sober treat in the future.  When I was training to run the London Marathon I used a similar image on the wall next to my running machine to keep me motivated and it’s no different now.

Plus I have this dream of one day in the future running sober celebratory retreats where all us cool sober people hang out, catch some rays and generally live the good life for a week or so to remind us why we started on this journey and to reward our hard work and continued growth.

If you had to visualise what it means to you what would it look like?  Could you email me with an image that most represents the goal of sobriety for you and I’ll post them all up and we can have a poll to decide which one goes on the top of my blog (or maybe more than one image who knows!)  Send them in over the next two weeks and I’ll share them all after that :)

Can’t wait x

Edited to add: 22/04/14 Was so excited to be able to change the header on my blog after the site being down all Easter week-end that I couldn’t hold off putting a new image up temporarily.  I will share all the other images you suggested on 2nd May as promised and we’ll change it again then :) xx

A river of tears

So last week-end I started on some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with an experienced senior practitioner.

Why?  Because I have this tiny little voice in my head that say’s ‘if I could get to the bottom of what my thinking around my drinking was and could fix it then all would be well and I could drink socially again’.  I know, I know – sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing right?

But this wolf/sheep is still struggling with how the rest of the flock get to drink and she doesn’t.  ‘Sheeple‘ is an oft used derogatory term for a person who follows the herd without thinking about their actions and this is part of my struggle too.  Am I wanting to drink again so that I fit in or is this just wolfie words to keep me struggling?  If the attitude towards drinking had changed as it has towards smoking, so that it was considered a more anti-social than social habit, would this decision be so hard?

These are all unanswered questions that I continue to struggle with.  I hate being a sheeple and feeling like one and usually rejoice in going against the flow so why is this issue different?  I struggle with the question of ‘am I an alcoholic?’ and that my inability to control my drinking isn’t a failing in me but a reflection of an addictive substance.  I know this isn’t new to any of you but that is what was going through my head when they asked me the question.

Then they asked me to scale/rate how hard this was for me to unpick and manage and that was a resounding 10.  This is some of the hardest shit I have ever done, and I’m doing it sober, and I am crying a river of tears.  It’s like a wine bottle cork was plugging the dam of tears that have been building up and been kept in check for as long as I can remember.   The no booze and tricky therapeutic conversations has finally forced the cork out of the hole and the full force of my tear ducts had been released.  As the lovely Mrs D would say ‘water keeps falling from my eyes’ and I feel unable, and unwilling, to control it like I did in the past.

I will share how the CBT goes and what I learn because I wonder if I am not alone in how I think and how it relates to my drinking and I find this therapeutic in itself.  I sense I know the answer to the question already but I’m just not yet ready to accept it and this is my way of delaying the inevitable.  But what a fantastic learning opportunity too and what doesn’t break us makes us stronger right?

Awakenings

Gotta love me a bit of Oprah! ;)

Another short clip of an interview with Eckhart Tolle about ‘Aha’ moments – something that I’ve experienced quite a lot since I quit drinking.  You know, those ‘light bulb’ moments of recognition?  Well he explains them :)

Killer lines for me:  ‘It awakens and it grows.  It comes to the surface more and the more you hear the more open you are and you begin to live it in your life’.  And that’s how this journey started.  An awareness that I was sick and tired of being hungover, of feeling like shit, of treating others badly because I was trapped in the boozer’s cycle of buy, consume, recover and couldn’t see a way out and was scared of changing.  But we always have a choice.

Mastin Kipp at The Daily Love also recently used an Eckhart Tolle quote which really resonated for me so thought I’d share it here (thanks Mastin!)

Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”

 

If only ….

I have often been guilty of, and still am really, of ‘if only’ or wishful thinking.

You know, the if only I was thinner/prettier/smarter/richer then I would be happier/less stressed and things would be easier/better.  Such a dangerous game to play and it isn’t really living in the moment but wishing away time.  Deadly.

And being able to manage my drinking/being sober fitted this way of thinking too.  I believed that when I stopped drinking that everything else that wasn’t quite how I wanted it to be would miraculously improve.  Now don’t get me wrong many of those things have happened as a by-product of stopping  – I’ve lost 7lbs, my face is less ravaged by booze fugliness when I look in the mirror in the morning and I have more money in my pocket.  But initially I wasn’t less happy or stressed and things felt harder and worse not the opposite.  But the pain in the early days is worth the pay-offs in the longer term.

I guess my point is just don’t expect miracles.  I am less moody and generally easier to be around, now that I’m not permanently hungover, but if you had relationships that you struggled with this change in you will not necessarily improve things with them in the short term.

It makes me think of Tuckman’s stages of group development: ‘forming, norming, storming, performing.’  This change is like any other and when you stop drinking it changes the dynamic with others that you relate to, and with, so these stages come into play.  I think at almost 7 months I’ve done the forming new ways of relating and it has become more normal but now we’ve hit the storming phase.  But as always I suspect, this too shall pass.

I’ll revisit this post in a few months time and see if we’ve got over this bump in the road.  Those of you further ahead than me in the journey – what is your experience as I’d love to have some re-assurance? :)

Tortured by the past?

God I so love the internet!  Not only do I get to hang out with all you really cool people but there are so many endlessly brilliant resources.

I saw this video and thought oh god that was me and wolfie?!  So if it helped me maybe it might help you?

If you are torturing  yourself about things that you did in the past and feel guilt then Eckhart Tolle‘s conversation with Oprah might really help.

Killer line for me: ‘The awareness was not there to act differently’ and that is it in a nutshell.  It’s only when I stopped drinking that I had the awareness to act differently but also equally when I was drinking the booze removed awareness and made it difficult to sometimes act differently.