Monthly Archives: December 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful …..

So a whole year has passed alcohol free from start to finish.  Wow 🙂

For some reason the Ian Dury and the Blockheads tune popped in to my head!

It seems fitting to end the year by counting my blessings and expressing gratitude for all that I have in my life and all the improvements I have noticed since taking that one simple,  yet incredibly hard at times, step of putting down the drink.  As we count down to the strike of midnight tonight here are the 12 ways my life has been totally transformed:

  1. Better Sleep.  Man oh man I love my sleep and when I drank it was my biggest battle.  I would sleep but not feel rested.  Now I sleep like a baby and wake feeling refreshed and re-invigorated.  This is the single biggest change that makes everything else seem doable and more manageable.  Oh yeah and the best sex life I have ever had 😉
  2. Money Saved.  Me and Mr HOF have saved over £6,000 since we stopped!!  What could you do with that additional stash of cash?
  3. Weight Loss.  I’ve lost over 12lbs despite treating myself regularly with chocolate, sweets and cakes.  No other changes needed, just no booze.
  4. No hangovers.  YEEHAW!!  Hated them, love life without them.  Nuff said 😉
  5. Improved skin and hair.  Yes!! Nails are incredibly long and strong.  Hair only needs washing once every 3 days now (used to be daily) and it feels like when I was pregnant and it was all thick and lush.  Wowzers, added benefits I didn’t even expect!
  6. Lower stress levels. Completely.  This is the calmest and happiest this household  has ever been and each day it gets better as my patience, listening and communicating skills improve.  I was a hag with a hangover and not enough decent sleep!
  7. Lower blood pressure.  Less stress = lower blood pressure.   No alcohol = lower blood pressure.  My ticker is loving it 🙂
  8. More energy.  Running 3 times a week – 5k each time and run times just keep getting better as my energy and fitness level improves.
  9. Feeling healthier.  Very little illness in the HOF household this year and I do GENUINELY feel better.  Who knew that not poisoning myself on a daily basis would boost my immune system so radically?
  10. Feeling my feelings and it not being a bad thing!  Life has it’s ups and downs and now I experience them without feeling like I am going to drown in my own emotions.  Emotionally I am far more balanced and can actually tell you what feeling I am experiencing rather than just numbing the sh*t out of everything good or bad …..
  11. Achieving more.  In the time since I’ve stopped I’ve changed jobs, started a Masters, created my e-book and online course, and met so many lovely sober people in real life.
  12. I like myself more.  No more crippling guilt and shame because of my drinking antics and through the love and understanding I have experienced here within the sober online community.  Thank you to each and every one of you.  Here’s wishing you the Happiest of New Year’s and I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

Survey to reveal Scottish drink and drug use

“The problem with alcohol guidelines is they do not let you get drunk, or not very often, and therefore people dismiss them.”

This comment was made in a Herald Scotland news article in November this year.  The rest of the article reads:

Scots are being asked to reveal their drink and drug use habits to show how the country compares to other parts of the world.

Researchers are hoping the survey will paint a ­realistic picture of the way people indulge in alcohol and other intoxicating substances. The study poses a number of questions, including asking drinkers how much they need in order to feel tipsy.

The Global Drug Survey, which is the largest of its kind, has taken place over the next month in 20 different countries. Last year it found a third of the working Scottish population had turned up to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Scotland was also one of the worst three countries when it came to the number of people hooked on alcohol – but many of these problem drinkers thought their habits were normal.

This year’s survey aims to tease out how much people think they need to drink to enjoy themselves. It will also probe how drugs are used in a number of other ways, from legal highs to substances which are believed to aid slimming, athletic performance and cramming for exams.

Adam Winstock, a consultant psychiatrist, lecturer at King’s College London and the founder of the Global Drugs Survey, said: “I think some Scottish people may take comfort in the perception that everyone drinks, but actually the picture isn’t as bad as they think. Not everyone does go out and get bladdered.

If you’re a Scots reading this and would like to complete the survey go to: www.globaldrugsurvey.com/GDS2015

I so admire what Scotland is doing – challenging MUP, looking at alcohol availability (as discussed here yesterday) and its impact on health, reducing the drink driving limit.  They recognise they have a problem and are working to improve the health and well-being of it’s people and it’s working too – as alcohol consumption in Scotland is falling as reported  here

Alcohol consumption in Scotland has fallen by the equivalent of 38 million pints of beer a year since 2009.  An NHS Health Scotland report said much of this could be attributed to the economy crashing and the scrapping of multi-buy deals.  There were also a third fewer alcohol-related deaths last year than a decade ago, and a 25% drop in alcohol related hospital admissions since 2007/08.  However, alcohol sales remain 17% higher than in England and Wales.  This was said to mainly be due to higher sales through supermarkets and off-licences in Scotland, particularly of lower-priced spirits.

This is a huge decrease in deaths and hospital admissions which I would consider a huge success for the people of Scotland 🙂  Maybe one day our leaders will show the same level of concern for our health and well-being?  Even being involved in this survey would be a start ……….

New research probes links between alcohol availability and harm in Scotland

From Alcohol Policy UK

In October the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health (CRESH), in collaboration with Alcohol Focus Scotland, published Alcohol outlets and health in Scotland [pdf] from their research on the relationship between the number of alcohol outlets, and alcohol-related illness and death in Scottish neighbourhoods. See a blog post by CRESH on the research.

Key findings were:

  • There are large variations in numbers of alcohol outlets within neighbourhoods across Scotland.
  • Across the whole of Scotland, neighbourhoods with higher numbers of alcohol outlets had significantly higher alcohol-related death rates.
  • Across the whole of Scotland, alcohol-related hospitalisation rates were
    significantly higher in neighbourhoods with the most alcohol outlets.

The authors do not make any claims for a causal relationship between the density of alcohol outlets and alcohol-related illness and death, but note that the relationship is strongest for off-sales outlets, saying:

Comparing our results for on-sales and off-sales outlets should be done with caution, but we suggest that the relationships found were stronger for off-sales outlets. This supports claims that off-sales outlets have the greatest potential for alcohol-related harm, due to their cheaper product, large volumes obtainable, accessibility for under-age drinkers, and the absence of control over the final recipient.

In conclusion, the authors suggest that reducing the neighbourhood availability of alcohol outlets, particularly in areas with the highest densities of outlets, could have significant health benefits for the Scottish population.

In 2011 Alcohol Concern published a report stating a link between the density of off-licensed premises and harm from alcohol in underage drinkers. See the IAS paper Licensing legislation and alcohol availability for a round up of licensing law as it relates to outlet density in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England & Wales. See here for a Findings Bank analysis on a US review of limiting licensed premises density to curb alcohol-related harm.

No causal relationship but the co-incidence of it can not be denied can it? ……..

Edited to add more research 11/11/2015

Quarter of Scots hospital trauma cases have alcohol link

Alcohol is linked to a quarter of all trauma cases seen by Scotland’s hospitals, statistics show | Scotsman, UK

Paying the price of alcohol

paying the price image

paying-the-price-of-alcohol (click to open full pdf)

I’ve attached a brilliant infographic entitled ‘paying the price of alcohol’ and produced by Alcohol Concern and Public Health England that summarises the impact of alcohol.  It looks at all categories including:

  • Impact on the UK
  • Impact on the NHS
  • Impact on health
  • Impact on mortality

And then offers the benefits of cutting down and guidance on the recommended units per day and information on weight implications in terms of calories content of alcohol.

It’s a good overview and snapshot and it would be great if these were displayed in all GP surgery waiting rooms with signposting of where to go if you need help or support with alcohol.  A girl can dream ……. 🙂

Alcohol is far more deadly than cannabis

And these words were said by? ………..

Former UK minister Norman Baker in an interview with The Independent which you can read fully here.

These are my edited highlights:

Alcohol is a much greater threat to people’s health than cannabis, former Home Office minister Norman Baker has warned, saying its dangers are being underplayed.

Pointing to figures that show there were only 13 deaths related to cannabis use last year compared with more than 7,000 caused by alcohol, the Lib Dem MP says there is “hysteria” over drug use in the UK.

Mr Baker, who resigned from the Home Office after saying that the experience of working with Theresa May was like “walking through mud”, said he had been shocked to learn of the extent of Britain’s drinking culture during his year as Crime Prevention Minister.

His battles included trying to shut down a JD Wetherspoon motorway pub on the M40 which public health experts and charities say offers a “ deadly temptation” to motorway users (read the full story about this pub here) a move allegedly blocked by Number 10 and calling on shops to stop “irresponsible” alcoholic drinks promotions.  “I’m in favour of evidence-based policy, and we underplay the dangers of alcohol. Politicians need to reflect that society has changed since the 1970s, so the rhetoric should change.”

In response, Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone said: “The Government currently has no plans to legalise cannabis or to change our approach to its use as a medicine. However, the Government takes all harms caused by alcohol and drugs seriously and will keep an open mind as evidence evolves on this complex issue.”

I heard Lynne Featherstone speak at the Alcohol Concern conference in November and she left after her speech and was therefore unable to take any questions.  Pity as I’m sure there were plenty of delegates that day who would have liked to ask some tough questions about the issue of alcohol in this country ……

Veronica Valli and I (7) discuss Step 2

So today is Boxing Day in the UK – another bank holiday so in the past this meant spending the day recovering from a hangover or sod it – let’s start early and skip the hangover by getting drunk again!  Boxing Day races was always a big thing when I was growing up.  Mulled wine and watching the jee jee’s with a punt on the side.  For many it is now associated with the Boxing Day sales so a bit like Black Friday in the US.

Veronica and I met once more to chat on Skype and continued our series about the 12 steps.  Today we discuss Step 2 which reads: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  Veronica does an excellent job of exploring exactly what Step 2 means and how you apply it to your life.

I am so enjoying these discussions, and I hope you are too?   As I say at the end it is encouraging me to re-evaluate my beliefs about things.  Open-mindedness is key 🙂

We’ll be back in the New Year discussing the remainder of the steps.

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop: http://www.amazon.com/Why-You-Drink-H…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280

Need to borrow some strength today?

Well firstly Happy Christmas to you from me 🙂

Up early with the kids for presents and no hangover – that never gets old!

Today can be a really tough day for us alcohol free folks and I thought I’d share this with you in case it might help.  I’ve subscribed to Tim Ferriss for a good while after reading his book The 4 Hour Workweek (a girl can dream)  and he shared an email back in November of his 5 Most-Shared Posts of All Time.

On his list was this one:

Need to Borrow Some Strength Today? Watch This.

This is what Tim wrote to accompany this video

How do you face the challenges no one thinks you can?

Life can be overwhelming. Hope can be lost. Whether you’re facing a little self-doubt, an extended depression, or the darkest of thoughts, I suggest you watch the above video.  Damn, it’s powerful stuff.

Good luck, everyone, with whatever battles you’re fighting inside or outside of you.

You are not alone.

So if you’re struggling or wavering today think of Kyle, or me, or any of the many other sober folks you know out here and KNOW that you are not alone.  I promise if you go to bed sober tonight you will feel like you can take on the world 🙂

And this is our drink selection for today 🙂  Who says boozers get all the choice 😉

IMG_0464

Also I’m playing booze points-make-prizes bingo today.  Care to join me?

The rules of the game:  Every time someone offers you an alcoholic drink you get awarded points for declining/dodging that you can then convert into a sober treat in lieu.  You could give the points a monetary value say £5 each time and you can add them all up and buy yourself something nice in the Boxing Day Sales tomorrow perhaps?  This is my anti-feeling deprived strategy which can trip me up still 😉 Be strong sober warriors – we got this 😀

 

12 sober treat Days of Christmas – Day 12

Twelve Drummers Drumming.  Well my daughter has a drum kit and I used to hate it when I was hungover – now not so much 😉

For me I’m drumming up cash and fellow sober treat hedonists for this the final treat of this series.  It’s a biggie and I’m hoping to enlist the company of some of my sober friends to accompany me!

A chocolate, yoga and meditation week-end retreat in May!!

Yoga-Class-2014-300x182

There is no reason to ever ‘give-up’ chocolate, but make sure you eat the right kind though!!

This weekend is an education into raw chocolate, yoga and meditation. You will learn how to make Inner Guidance’s infamous Raw Chocolate Fudge, Raw Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream and of course a range of Raw Chocolates.
Enjoy our Five Star service and accommodation, all set in our stunning location just outside Lavenham in Suffolk.

Oh my goodness, that sounds lush!!  It’s not cheap but it is an awesome sober treat that hits sweet, inspiring, supporting, pampering, nourishing and surprising all at once! Who’s with me 😉

What other sober treat ideas are there for twelve drummers drumming?  A drumming class?

Merry Christmas all my lovely sober peeps and if you’re thinking about stopping drinking maybe this retreat in May is something to aim for and you’d be welcome to join us 🙂

PS Prim recently shared a Swedish alcohol awareness advert in the comments section and it got some good responses so I thought I’d share two here now.   The first is the Swedish campaign for Christmas and New Year (which shows lots of drinking so could be triggery) and the second is a feature advert on the new alcohol free nightclub in Sweden called Sober.  There’s a killer line in the second one ‘Flirting with guys or girls, be a king on the dance-floor or make lots of jokes when you are drunk. Any amateur can do that, but when you do it sober, that’s when you are cool for real!‘  LOVE this 😉

The 12 sober treat Days of Christmas – Day 11

Eleven Pipers Piping – hmmm, well I am piping up about this awesome meal I had recently!  So I met my London Marathon running partner for a catch up and we decided to treat ourselves to a culinary delight.

We went for a pub lunch – but not any old pub lunch, a Christmas Lunch at The Hinds Head in Bray, owned by none other than the world famous chef Heston Blumenthal.  He also owns The Fat Duck in Bray, a 3 Michelin star restaurant, which was budget busting for us at £220 per head taster menu and requires 4 1/2 hours of dining time ……

Heston Blumenthal

Ours was a Michelin star lunch and oh my goodness, it was divine!  To see the full menu we could chose from – go here.  I can safely say it was the best Christmas lunch I’ve ever had!

This was pudding that arrived after I’d been presented with a note explaining what a Christmas Quaking Pudding was 🙂

christmas quaking pudding

And here’s the accompanying note:

IMG_0459

As my friend, who’s a ‘normie’ said, we celebrate Christmas together with her raising a glass of Argentinian Malbec and me raising a glass of a gorgeous green elderflower based mocktail 😉  Hell for me food is perfect sober treat territory and this meal was both nourishing and inspiring.

What restaurant have you been dying to try and you could treat yourself too?  Maybe the pipers piping could be a piping hot cup of hot chocolate instead?  Let your imagination run riot about how you could spend the money you’ve been saving by not drinking alcohol 🙂

 

The 12 sober treat Days of Christmas – Day 10

Ten Lords A Leaping – well the only place this sober treat has me leaping is into bed!  I struggle with self-care around the soft and cosy suggestion.  Do I not think I’m worth soft and cosy things?  Maybe.  I did a big sober treat splurge last New Year in the sales and bought myself a beautiful shirt and trousers – which I have yet to wear.  What’s that about?   Am I saving it for a special occasion?  Maybe.  I need to wonder on this one some more ……

But I did buy myself a little sober treat earlier this month.  It’s winter here and getting cold and I love my bed so yes I bought myself some beautifully fluffy and warm bed socks!!  How glamorous for a 46 year old women 😉  But you know what I LOVE them!!  I love to have a deep bath with bubbles and candles early on in the evening, get into my pj’s and socks and sup on my herbal tea in front of the fire whilst nibbling on chocolate and watching Breaking Bad.  My new decadence! 🙂

soft and cosy socks

What soft and cosy sober treat could you get for yourself?  Maybe you want to follow the tradition and get yourself something to do with lords a leaping – a Lord of the Dance DVD, or a Lord of the Rings DVD or a copy of the book Lord of the Flies?  I shall be looking out for more soft and cosy things to buy from here on in – that’s for sure!