‘But why can’t you just drink in moderation?’

In Alcohol, Drink, Drinking, health, mental health, Sobriety, Student, University on April 25, 2012 at 3:49 am

Last night an old friend rang me up (slightly drunk) and decided she needed a very deep and meaningful conversation.

This old friend is definitely not your average childhood friend. Our mothers have known each other since they were 14 and I have known my friend since the day she was born.

We’ve been through a lot together and shared a lot of information that would be hard for anyone else to understand. She suffers from depression and has had tendencies to use drugs and drink heavily from time to time. On one particular occasion (her rock bottom) she overdosed and I drove her to the hospital and escorted her to rehab.

For a while I found it hard to connect with her; university meant we had less time to see each other and there was a distance; a distance that never got in the way of us still meaning the same to each other, but it got in the way of actually being there for each other.

I felt like she never knew what was going on with me and I had to assume she was getting better and her depression was more controllable.

After talking to her tonight, and despite her latest drama’s, I felt reassured. Reassured that she was, at this point in time, stable. She told me how she had stopped drinking for two months in January and that it had made her re-learn how to drink and she now drinks in moderation. When she occasionally does get drunk (tonight) she was in a good mood and didn’t have the usual feelings of being out of control and guilt ridden the next day.

She said she had heard that I was ‘off the sauce’ and that maybe I should start drinking again after a month, in moderation, to keep from me having a blow out episode and end up going back to square one.

I told her again, that I was not drinking and like most people she didnt  quite grasp this concept. I think maybe its because I am at university or because its still very early days. (Or my infamous reputation for being ‘on the sauce’)

Her words resonated with me. I thought about drinking again and it made me feel deeply uneasy. Almost slightly panicked. Last week when I drank, it felt wrong. I felt like I could feel all my hard work, all my restraint was slipping away down my esophagus. Also, the reason I used to drink was to get drunk (in social situations) so only having one drink doesn’t make sense to me. I am very much an all or nothing person, which makes it hard to explain to everyone who says ‘but why cant you drink in moderation?’

If I knew the answer to that I would never have contemplated giving up.

Constantly over thinking may be a bad thing, but for once in my life my brain has stopped over thinking on this particular subject. I feel secure and sure that I don’t want to drink. I know that I cannot trust myself to drink in moderation, hence the drastic need for action.  One thing my friend had said she has learnt from going through her experiences was to do exactly what you feel is right and shut off what anyone else tells you. (Simple words of advice; yet as usual, its always comforting to hear them from someone else!)

My theory is that when you are not sure you are making the right decision, you listen to other people, in hope they can convince you that the decision you have made, is a bad one. Sometimes its easier to go along with what other people say than being true to yourself and going against the grain.

One thing that I will say now, is even the people who think they are giving you their best advice do not know what you need sometimes. They will try and convince you to do things a certain way, but you should only do what you feel is right for yourself.

I also know that these individuals will change their mind when you prove them you were right. Its not that they are trying to disrupt you or they are trying to be malicious (hopefully not) but they just do not fully understand and perhaps never will. Unless a human can directly relate, they may never be fully appreciative of a situation and its seriousness.

The only reason I can now acknowledge how valuable my friends piece of advice is, is by following the advice. And the reason I followed the advice and am still following the advice is because I wanted to do it. I saw the potential in myself and I decided to change.

Last night my flat mates went out to a nightclub and I still had the essay to finish. I got ‘Oh, Abi’s being boring again’ from one of them. Usually, I would be worried. worried that I am going to be out the loop, that people will forget about me, that I am a nobody if I am not drunk, dancing, causing some drama. But now I simply don’t care anymore. I’d feel frustrated about being left behind. But I felt calm and I enjoyed my own company for a while.

They arrived home as I was finishing off my essay. They told me about who they had seen, the drunken antics and I saw them go off to bed. I hadn’t missed out on anything major. I woke up with no hangover, no guilt and I still had a laugh with everyone. I secretly breathed a sigh of relief that it was possible to not feel like my whole social life revolved around going out and getting drunk. This evening we went to see a movie and tomorrow we are going to a theme park. Yet again, no drinking needed.

I went home for 5 weeks at Easter back to my parents to detox and do exactly what I wanted to do. I purposely kept myself away from my usual social spots; the two local pubs. At first I was scared I would be missing out, but I kept myself away because I was determined to get better. Even though at first you may feel you have dropped off the scene and maybe not many people ( except only real friends) bother with you but you discover that nothing in the usual places change too much and you’re not actually missing out.

I have also noticed that since telling my friends about not drinking, I have experienced three different types of reactions; 1. Fully accepting and understanding of my reasons. They have been supportive and very pleased for me. Or 2. They kind of understand but don’t understand the ‘not drinking again’ part. They try to preach about moderate drinking and that you’re still young etc. but they don’t put up too much of a fuss, and finally 3. They think its absurd and make a real fuss.

It makes me wonder whether it is a real test as to who is actually my friend or whether some people simply cannot comprehend a life without alcohol. To each person I have tried to rationalise the dangers of my drinking and what I am preventing by being sober; but each person sees the situation differently. Should you judge your friends for reacting in a certain way? I don’t know. The only thing I know is I like it when I know I have support for doing something that feels right for me and when friends try and understand my situation.

I am a great believer in honesty and everyone being able to offer their opinions on what life decisions a friend makes but I do know that a little support and encouragement can go a long way. I wish more of my friends could fully understand this.


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