Thursday, 26 April 2012

March – A month off the booze.

Reflections on abstaining for a month

From 25th Feb until to 1st April I didn’t drink any alcohol. I won a speech contest and with it a bottle of wine but I didn’t drink that bottle until the 1st April. This has been the longest I haven’t drunk any alcohol for more than 20 years, possibly longer.

What I learnt!

• There’s always a reason to drink i.e. there’s never a good time to stop.
• It’s not that hard, once you get into it (though I’m a moderate drinker now)
• Drinking non-alcoholic beer has some benefits.
• People would benefit from the practice of Lent.

There’s always a reason (excuse) to drink – during my non-drinking time;<br />
• I won a speech contest.
• I came second in another speech contest.
• A ‘drinking’ friend came over from Taiwan.
• Helped out on a well-paid photographic project.
• Wales won the Glam Slam.

From when I was younger, even if I felt rough, there never seemed to be a good time to stop because there’s always someone’s birthday, someone leaving work, a party, etc. Reasons to drink seem to be non-stop. If you want to want to stop or have a break, don’t let ‘excuses’ like it’s so-so birthday, Liverpool are playing this weekend, it’ll be our Wedding anniversary next week get in the way. They’ll always be there.

It’s not that hard, once you get into it

Except for a few moments, like when my friend from Taiwan came over, it was very easy not to drink. It’s probably easier now than before because I usually only drink one or two glasses anyway.

Drinking non-alcoholic beer has some benefits

I’ve always thought drinking non-alcoholic beer was a con. Why drink it if it doesn’t have an effect! And why do I have to pay the same about of money for it.

The above says a lot – so I only drank beer for the effect? And it certainly seemed that I was willing to pay for the effect.

But not drinking non-alcoholic beer kind of limited my choice in pubs to soft drinks and I’m not that fond of them, especially in the evening. Now that I’ve accepted non-alcoholic beer as a legitimate drink, it gives me more choice going out.

A funny thing happened with non-alcoholic beer, I actually got quite into it. Some evenings I drunk six bottles in various ‘beer’ relax positions i.e. on the balcony looking out towards the river, on the sofa watching a film and in the kitchen chatting with my girlfriend. The most surprising thing was I actually enjoyed drinking ‘beer’ without getting the ‘effect’. It was liberating. I was drinking beer and it was enjoyable but without the effect, I felt more like my real self.

People would benefit from the practice of Lent.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Christian and when I was younger I used to argue against things Christian. But strong opinions can blind you. Religion has been around for 1,000s of years and they’ve gotten some things right. I believe Lent is one of them and it especially needed in our modern times.

And it’s not just Christians and religious group that recommend giving up something for a time. Seneca, the great Roman writer, practiced ‘poverty’ for short periods on a regular basis. He would eat the most basic foods or dress in rags for a week or so. He asked himself the question “Is this the condition I so feared?” The idea was to cut out what wasn’t needed in life and to experience your fears, so that you’re not paralysed by them.

That was a long time ago, why is Lent and ‘giving up’ things needed now?

We have everything we need and much more. But business must go on. So they ‘manufactured need’ to keep us buying and because of this we have become needy. We need a TV, we need to be connected, we need a scotch, we need an energy drink, we need something sugary, we need a Gucci top, etc. But the truth is we won’t die if we don’t have any of these things.

You don’t become a moderate drinker by abstaining

In a previous article I argued that you don’t become a moderate drinker by abstaining. I still stand by this but I now think that a period of abstaining can help in more ways.

If you still go to pubs and parties and get the chance to ‘practice’ saying no. This practice is important, especially if you don't want to give up on publife and parties.

Accept that non-alcoholic beer etc, is an acceptable alternative. It will give you more choice. Also you can discover what it’s like to drink ‘beer’ and still be you (i.e. sober). Perhaps you’ll also like it.

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