Monthly Archives: April 2014

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  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:


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?


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.


More sober role-modelling on TV! (updated)

More sober role-modelling on TV! I’m a fan of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and so was delighted when their series ‘The Trip to Italy’ started having watched ‘The Trip’ back in 2010.  Like Steve I was still caught in active addiction back then ….

steve cooganThis is the BBC’s synopsis of the first episode:

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are asked by The Observer to do another series of restaurant reviews. The pair have six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy.

They begin in Piemonte at the Trattoria Della Posta before stopping at Byron’s house in Genova on their way to the Cenobio dei Dogi in Camogli. Steve is on hiatus from his American series and isn’t drinking, while Rob is looking to unwind during his time away from his young family.

In the opening restaurant scene when the waitress goes to pour him wine, after serving Rob, Steve shares that he won’t be drinking on the trip as he gave up drinking 9 months ago!  I was really pleased by this change to the story line and Rob is suitably surprised by this disclosure.

It is very funny and if you’d like to watch it you can do so here.

The only downside is that it is Steve’s on-screen persona that has given up not him in real life as in an interview with the Huffington Post it is reported that:

Rob Brydon admits that he and Steve Coogan were “completely p***ed” for quite a bit of time on the idyllic set of the second series of The Trip

Edited to add: 17/04/2014 Bugger – just watching second episode in which he starts drinking alcohol again at lunchtime.  Oh well – it lasted one episode sigh

Edited to add: 07/10/2015 Steve Coogan interview here quoted saying:

Is life without alcohol as shit as it looks? (John Higgins)

No. I’ve got to the stage now where I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to make small talk when I’m completely sober. What happens is, everyone’s fun until about 11 o clock, wherever you are, and when they start to get boring and repetitive because they’re getting progressively more drunk and that’s when you go. I go home early now. I don’t think, ‘This is really rubbish,’ I’m just thinking, ‘I want to go home. I like the idea of going home.’ If you’ve got a drink in your hand, even boring people can be somewhat interesting. As long as you find interesting people, you don’t need a drink.

Read further excerpts from his new autobiography, Easily Distracted here:

Steve Coogan: ‘It took me a long time to face up to my addiction’

Edited to add: 7th April 2017

The 3rd series has now been launched on Sky Atlantic, not the BBC sadly, but available to watch online as box set.

This was one of the reviews in The Guardian which discussed Steve’s once again sober status (yay!!)

Since last year, Coogan has been teetotal, and it’s hard not to wonder if this has detracted from the pleasure of making this season of The Trip – as Brydon has merrily sipped away at the finest albarinos and tempranillos, he has stuck resolutely to Diet Coke and water.

“Let me say he’s a much nicer person to be around because he’s not drinking,” Brydon says. “Well,” Coogan says, “I did drugs too, and the thing is between getting – how shall we put it? – ‘off one’s tits’, it’s how you are in the refrain from it. It’s about not liking yourself, and if you like yourself you like other people as well. And when I was drinking … I wouldn’t say I didn’t like myself completely …”

“No, you were quite fond of yourself,” Brydon interjects. “From where I was standing you were quite enamoured …” Coogan laughs. “I wouldn’t say enamoured,” he says. “I wouldn’t say I liked myself, I’d say I disapproved of other people more.” Brydon nods. “That’s very true. Very true.” “But now,” Coogan continues, “I am just … happier.” He says the word in a small way. Brydon glances at him. “I don’t like the upward inflection there,” he says sternly. “I’m just happier,” Coogan says again, this time more resoundingly. “Thank you,” Brydon says. “You’re better than that. We are not upward inflectors.”

And for those after a clip where his Diet Coke can be clearly seen.  Who says you need booze to enjoy good food and good company? 😉

Thrive beyond addiction

I’ve nicked the title from that which Mastin Kipp on The Daily Love listed it under.

Although this video is called ‘9 ways to become more spiritual’ I read this in a wider sense of the meaning of the word spirituality – not the narrow religious meaning, and the Youtube description supports this.  It says ‘you don’t need to be religious to live a more spiritual life. Watch as up-and-coming spiritual teachers Gabrielle Bernstein, Mastin Kipp and Marie Forleo each give three simple ways to enlighten your life today’.

It’s really good and only 5 1/2 minutes long and the Gabrielle Bernstein segment is the reason it’s here on a sober blog as she talks specifically about addiction.

You’re reading this blog so: are you more willing to paying attention to your drinking and ready to do something about it or have you already? If you would like to share below I’d love that 🙂

PS Day 200 today!

PPS This blog is my bliss 😉


Heavy drinkers to be considered for NHS liver transplants

This was the title of a news piece in the Guardian featured a couple of days ago which you can read here

Why am I mentioning it in my blog?  Because our society and Govt is trying to ignore the fact that alcohol is a problem.  As a reader Kim shared with me recently, our UK Govt feel that the Home Office is the appropriate department to oversea alcohol as an issue from a law and order perspective.  I feel that this is hugely inappropriate and this article reminds us that it is primarily a health issue and should be managed by the Department of Health accordingly.

The patients the doctors are looking to treat in the pilot scheme must be relatively young – between 18 and 40 – seeing a doctor for the first time with liver disease, and being diagnosed with a drink problem for the first time.

The move comes amid mounting concern over rises in deaths from alcohol-related liver disease.  Liver disease of all kinds is going up steadily, the only major disease category in which premature mortality is increasing in Britain while falling elsewhere in Europe, a trend that will mean steeply increased demand for replacement organs.

Already about a fifth of liver transplants involve patients whose liver condition has been linked to their drinking, including the late footballer George Best.

The fact that the pilot is looking for people between the age of 18 and 40 tells us that there is a need.  That people of this young age are dying because of alcohol related diseases and requiring transplantation is in itself deeply worrying. The fact that the Govt fail to acknowledge alcohol as a primarily health issue is both disingenuous and misleading.   It leads my cynical mind to conclude that outside influences are at play.

An email from Alcohol Policy UK yesterday also commented on the liver disease issue saying:

The all-party Parliamentary Hepatology Group says deaths from liver diseasee in England have risen 40% between 2001-2012, and that the lack of Government action to tackle it is ‘scandalous’, reports the BBC and the Guardian.

Where are you Public Health England on this issue?