Off the Drink? Shocking!

‘Only heavy drinkers go off the drink for Lent,’ said my brother when I told him I gave up alcohol for Lent. I’m not surprised to hear this though. It’s one of the myths about alcohol that we Irish people like to believe. We also like to believe that our reputation for loving the drink is an honour. Proud to be able to drink yer man under the table! Proud to be able to hold our drink! So I’m thinking some of us might be disappointed to learn that Ireland is only in eight place on the list of countries that consume the most alcohol (according to The World health Organisation). At least once a year I go off alcohol for a month or two. Sometimes I just cut down. By cutting down I mean only at the weekends, and sticking to one or two on a night out. I find it relatively easy to do this, but there are obstacles.

Here’s why it’s easy (for me);
  • I’m not dependent on alcohol.
I’ve never craved alcohol, but I’ve been in the habit of drinking on certain days of the week, or with particular types of food. I’m not comfortable with this habit. I don’t care if it’s someone else’s habit, I just don’t want it to be mine. Besides, a glass of wine is no longer a treat when I have too many too often.
  • When I make up my mind about doing something, I usually follow through.
This may have something to do with my stubborn streak. I don’t apologise for that wee streak in me, it’s got me places where I want to be in the past!
  • I don’t like the drunk feeling too much alcohol gives me.
This might be the main reason why many people drink alcohol, to feel drunk. I used to like it, but for the wrong reasons. This is an interesting article on alcohol and mood.
  • I don’t like having to think about taxis on a night out, or worry about having to walk home.
This is  something I hate about going out drinking. Fear of being stuck somewhere and not being able to get home – safely! It has happened to me in the past, and the outcome was often undesirable. There’s nothing I love more than having my car sitting outside, when I’m on a night out.
  • I have more energy when I’m not drinking.
Even one glass of wine depletes my energy; mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s harder to get out of bed, harder to go for that walk, all I want is coffee. Hate it!
  • I’m more positive when I’m not drinking.
This may be my biggest reason for eliminating alcohol from my diet. My thoughts and feelings. I don’t feel too bad after one or two, but when I go over my limit, it takes me days to feel good again. Down in the dumps, negative thinking, unmotivated, embarrassment by things I might have said. Ugh… I prefer to spend my days in a happy mood, comfortable with my thoughts, and I like to achieve something good every day. Alcohol stands in my way of having a good day. It’s a no brainer really. Here’s why giving up alcohol is hard;
  • Habits can be hard to break.
The easiest way to break a habit, is to change it . Find a more positive substitute. It doesn’t have to be that hard. Just because I’m off alcohol, it doesn’t mean I’ve broken my habit of having a nice drink with my dinner; instead I’ve changed it to a different type of drink. So my habit of having a glass of wine turns into my habit of having a nice drink. I decided to give de-alcoholised red wine a go. I must admit I wasn’t mad about it at first, but when I poured a glass on the second day, I enjoyed it more.

De-alcoholised Red Wine

Supervalu sells a huge range of delicious alcohol-free drinks. I choose sparkling Apple and Pear Pressé because I love apple flavoured anything.

Sparkling Apple and Pear Alcohol Free Presse

I’ve discovered that pineapple juice mixed with this is divine. The only thing that’s missing from these tasty drinks is the alcohol. I can live with that!
Pineapple juice in a wine glass.
Look at the head on that!
  • Alcohol is everywhere these days.
Almost every supermarket and petrol station shop has an alcohol aisle. Special offers, your favourite red only half price. *Was €16.99…Now Only €8.99* Ignore – ignore – ignore. This is the most painful part. Hands up…I’ve been that drinker who rolled my eyes at the non-drinkers. Sorry! But I’ve copped on over the years…as you do!

People’s reactions are strange sometimes. For example: When a smoker gives up smoking they get a clap on the back. When an overweight person quits the cream buns and loses weight, they get support and encouragement. When a drug addict gives up the use of narcotics, they get praised for their courage and determination. When an alcoholic gives up drinking they get praised to high heaven. What an achievement! But…when a social drinker gives up drinking… they get the third degree, and treated like they have a contagious disease. ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you off it? Seriously?’ Eyes roll…tut tut tut…’No craic anymore!’ Then they try their best to make you drink anyway. ‘Sure ya’ll have the one…go on, relax.’

Why is this their reaction? Is it because drinkers need to be among other drinkers in order to enjoy it better? Is it them who can’t relax in the company of a non-drinker, rather than the other way round? Is it true that the sober person is the most dangerous one at the party? Not the person who might fall and break their neck on their way out the door, or the person who has so much to drink they’re at risk of getting alcohol poisoning? Or maybe the ticking time bomb in the corner who thinks his girlfriend is being chatted up by a hottie at the bar, and starts a fight? Not that kind of dangerous though! Here’s the thing, people who gossip about what goes on at the party will do it whether they’re drunk or sober. A gossiper is a gossiper. So don’t look towards the mineral drinkers if you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. Lizzy at the bar with her gin and tonic, is watching every move you make, and she can’t wait for work on Monday!

Let’s move on……. There’s very little I miss about drinking alcohol. Each time I give it up, I miss it less and less. I might have a glass of wine again sometime, I don’t know. But if and when I do, it will be for myself, not to please others. But guess what! They love the teetotallers at kicking out time when they can’t get a taxi home!! For a tongue-in-cheek run down on the myths attached to the practice of sobriety, pop over to Tasheenga. She’s gets annoyed when this blog gets more visitors than hers. 

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