Nick is not drinking

As part of a recent Independent news piece about key GP questions to aid identification of alcohol issues was a London Live discussion about Alcohol Abuse where they interviewed a panel including a journalist who has given up alcohol for the year.  It was an interesting discussion but I found myself becoming quite annoyed as Nick Wallis (said journalist) described not drinking as boring.  He’s writing a blog for the year recording his experience and this passage is taken from a recent entry:

The overriding sensation I have experienced through staying dry over the last six months is one of boredom. People said I would feel much better. I don’t feel any better. I don’t feel any worse. That’s what teetotalism does – iron out the extremes of experience so that the best you feel is okay, or possibly chipper.

He goes on to say:

I have to be careful here, because there are people reading this blog who have been through the mill with alcohol, and feeling “okay” or “chipper” is akin to a state of grace. If alcohol was such a problem that abstention is the only answer – more power to you.

Now I appreciate that this is his opinion but it feels really unhelpful.  If not drinking is viewed and expressed this way in the media then it runs counter to my experience and wouldn’t encourage me to even try it as an option if I heard it and was still drinking.

What’s your thoughts?

63 days to go


23 thoughts on “Nick is not drinking

  1. Based on the excerpts it sounds at best glib and at worst dangerously irresponsible. Despite his proclamation there is nothing careful about his frivolous opining on the issue. People die of this disease sometimes simply for fear of being boring if they quit.

    1. Chris that was my worry when I saw the news piece. His blog is more considered but the ‘sound byte’ he presented about his experience of giving up drinking on the tv panel interview felt minimising of the issue.

  2. I think the experience of giving up drinking for a year might be very different if you are doing it because you have a serious problem with drink versus doing it just to see how it goes. But I took a look at Nick’s blog, and I kind of like it, to tell the truth. In the linked post he says “Alcohol needs way more cultural voodoo around it” and I think he’s right about that. And I don’t think he has to be promoting the booze free life. It can be dull. It’s more of an effort to do social things with people. I find it’s well worth it, but I do think the open discussion is worthwhile. Thanks for providing a good forum for that! xo

    1. I agree thirstystill and my issue wasn’t necessarily with his blog but with the view he presented on the tv panel interview. If people didn’t take the time to check out his blog and took him at his word as seen they might not have formed such a balanced opinion as you have. Different opinions are good they just need to be presented responsibly about this subject 🙂

  3. I was thinking about this last night in fact. about how I perceived being sober. and the fact is, being sober is whatever you think it is.

    an impossible challenge which you will inevitably fail. an unending drudgery. an unnecessary abegnation? well, it will be if that is what you believe.


    a life changing opportunity. a new start. an escape from a near death experience? ditto!

    as ever, do love your posts. always something to get the mental cogs grinding! xx

    1. Morning Prim! For some reason the Talk Talk song ‘Life’s what you make it’ popped into my head when I was reading your comment 🙂 And you are right it is what you want it to be. Maybe Nick needs to come and hang out with us for a bit? 😉 xx

  4. I agree with prim. I think he started out with the mindset that this is only a year not a life change and that it was forced on him as his job not a personal choice. I think this drastically changes how you approach the whole task as it’s not a permenant change. I agree it can be boring but that just means what you were doing when drinking possibly wasn’t stimulating in the first place so it’s not the alcohol alone it’s the activity as well that needs looking at. Or am I over analysing this?

    1. Not over-analysing at all Faith. I read a book by someone who also gave up for a year and raised money for charity (Last Orders – A Drinkers Guide to Sobriety by Andy McIntyre) who didn’t find the task as onerous because he replaced drinking with other things, which is effectively what you are saying 🙂

  5. It’s an interesting perspective. This goes against my belief that by simply putting down alcohol, everything gets better/clearer/more interesting. There are a lot of other things going on behind the scenes for most of us, though. We didn’t just quit but found enriching hobbies and interests to fill that gap. Anyway, I heard someone say long ago if you say you’re bored, you’re boring. It strikes me sad that someone would announce they need a drink to make their own life interesting again.

    1. True Kristen and the bored = boring thing is something we often say to our kids as a hint to go find something interesting to do! 😉

  6. I think inevitably there is going to be a different mindset when you’re quitting for a year versus stopping forever. He’s getting a bit of publicity with the blog, and doubtless his experiences over the year and his research will be out as a book in due course. And it’s a topic worth looking at, so fair enough. His motivations are different, and what he wants to get out of it are different, so his experience of it are bound to be different. I went and had a look at the blog and felt a bit irritated by it, and had to remind myself that he’s coming at this from a different stance. In one of his blog posts, he talks about the drudgery of looking after three small children sober for the weekend (OK, this was where I got irritated!) and then ended it with, “I am counting the hours till 1 Jan 2015.” For me personally, this outlook is never going to help, give me Mrs D’s I-am-going-to-quit-and-be-bloody-happy-about-it approach any day! xxx

    1. Hey MTM That’s the bit that I find irritating too. It’s just not a very good advertisement for not drinking is it, whether you are stopping for a year or stopping for good. Thing is for me as a drinker I would have seen his news piece and thought God I’m not doing that and might have ended up in a worse pickle than I did. None of the nuances of his situation were really part of the news piece and that snap shot is not helpful, or statements like ‘I am counting the hours’!! xx

  7. From what I read here it sounds like this guy is getting paid to conduct an experiment, while we are quitting to save our lives. I would like to think that someone who truly needs help would look further than his sound byte and blog to find the resources available to them. xx

  8. I think he is being honest about his experience….maybe not the most helpful thing for people who need help with alcohol, but is that his responsibility or intention? I agree that reading or hearing his story when I was contemplating quitting wouldn’t have helped me, but I used every excuse in the book to keep drinking. Any studies about red wine being good for your health? Those kept me drinking, too. In the end it is our responsibility to look at what works in our lives and make the best decisions for us and those around us. I think it is great when public figures choose to be good role models, but they have the freedom to live their lives as they choose just like everyone else, and many are not good role models. Thank goodness there are so many wonderful sober people (like all of you) to emulate once you begin looking for them!

    1. True Jen he is being honest about his experience and as you say is it his responsibility to think of everyone else’s situation? Maybe it’s my public health role that has me conflicted about it but that is my perspective not his! xx

  9. This is an interesting discussion. The first thing I thought of when I read his quote about being bored without drinking, is that this must have been written by someone who has a problem with drinking himself. I don’t know him, and only took a brief glance at his blog, but my impression is…if someone puts that much stake in drinking to have an ‘interesting or enriched’ life, or craves it when taking care of the children, etc…seems like some red flags to me. Maybe this is his own anonymous way of staying sober?

    1. You could be right mallards4us – the expression I think he ‘doth protest too much, methinks’ springs to mind 😉

      1. Hi Lucy. Please do post my response in a separate blog post if you feel it is something you would like to do. Thanks for reading. N

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