Alcohol

This post is slightly fetishistic about booze later on, which if you’re a recovering alcoholic might be kind of annoying.

I like alcohol. I don’t get drunk very often, probably once a month on average, but I drink with an enthusiasm and regularity that makes me very conscious of one possible way this could go. I could become like a chocoholic, but for booze.

So every now and then, I give it up for a month – just to check I still can. I’m three weeks into one of these sobriety benders right now, so I thought I’d report on how it’s going, and what I’ve concluded from it.

Week 1

Was so easy that my impulse was to cancel the whole thing. I think I forgot I was even doing it, I just didn’t happen to think about or consume booze that week. Point proven – I am not remotely addicted to alcohol, might as well call it off.

Luckily, one part of my brain is actually smart, and it treated this line of reasoning with the deep suspicion it deserves. If you’re so fine with this, rest of my brain, why don’t we just ride it out for three more weeks?

Well maybe we should!

Well let’s do that then!

Good!

Good!

Week 2

Also easy. I really don’t appear to have any cravings at all for the stuff, it’s just a thing that makes me feel nice if I do it.

The only strange thing about Week 2 is that, with an almost total certainty, I come to believe it is Week 4. An easy four weeks! No warning signs! Let’s break out the booze!

Wait, I’ve got how long left?

Week 3

Maybe it’s like the old saying about tobacco – you don’t live longer without it, it just seems longer. This is seeming like a long goddamn time. I’m not remotely tempted to actually cave, and I have no specific desire for any specific drink, I’m just intensely, weirdly conscious of time. It honestly feels like two months. I feel like I’ve left alcoholic life behind, completely forgotten about the stuff, entered a new lifestyle without it. And while it’s not causing me any discomfort to do so, I would judge that my previous life was a little merrier.

What I have learned

The break has made me analyse the way I drank, and when it finally does end, six subjective years from now, I’ll change some things. First, though, here are the alcohol-related experiences I do miss, and look forward to having again:

A pint of beer and a fish sandwich. This is a bizarre longing. I have had this maybe two or three times in my life. Beer is not generally my poison, and fish is not generally my food, but I remember this particular combination as vividly hearty and comforting.

Spiced rum and jazz. Something absurdly chilled, like In A Sentimental Mood. This used to be my reward for finishing my daily to-do list for Gunpoint, and the thing I miss is that feeling of utter tranquility. Sober, my brain is hyper – it fills downtime with new ideas and plans. A thick-bottomed glass of gold rum, cold but burning warm, tasting of vanilla and easter spices, seduces it into submission.

Gin and tonic with my dad and sister (my mum doesn’t drink). My dad would always make one of these for his cousin Sarah at family gatherings, and my sister decided to join in, and I am easily swayed, cocktailwards. Now it’s become a tradition, for the first drink any time we’re all at my parents’ place – Anna suggests it might be “aperitif o’clock”, dad fetches the tonic from an outside workshop, so it’s freezing, and I usually make them, so they’re strong.

Bad day cider. I don’t actually have bad days, since I write about videogames, but this doesn’t seem to detract from the profound relief of escaping the office where you work with your friends to end the week by drinking with your friends.

What I don’t miss, and what I won’t resume, is the habitual drink. I was drinking wine with most evening meals, and now that I’ve stopped, I don’t know what I was getting out of it. It was something to do, particularly while cooking, and it seemed obviously superior to any other accompaniment to a meal. But it had ceased to be special, and at that point I don’t think it’s worth it.

The real point of giving up alcohol occasionally is to catch stuff like that, in the hope that if I do, I’ll never have to give it up for good.

9 Replies to “Alcohol”

  1. Just out of interest, do you have any tips for drinks with your evening meal instead?

    There doesn’t really seem to be anything that fits nicely in that niche of drink-you-can-nurse-for-ages.

    I’ve tried:
    – Tea (not good if it’s a late dinner)
    – Coffee (ha! HA! HA! HA!)
    – Fruit/Mint tea (OK, but gets a bit monotonous)
    – Water (OK, but I drink it all day in industrial quantities anyway)

  2. I used to drink a fair bit. I cut right down when I had kids but I know what your going through. Things get a lot easier when the people around you don’t drink much either.

  3. These days, I drink essentially on a daily basis – not very much, but very consistently. I like to have a glass of wine or two in the evening when I’m lying in bed reading or watching telly.

    There was a period where I was slightly concerned about turning into an addict, but at one point, I spent a long time unemployed – and I quit drinking cold turkey. I simply couldn’t afford it, so I didn’t do it.

    Now that I’ve got the money to spare, I’ve started drinking again, but I was relieved to find that it wasn’t particularly difficult to stop when I needed to.

  4. A very candid post. And a very intriguing method of self reflection. I work as a doctor in A+E and live in a state of almost paranoia that I am using alcohol as a crutch and that I am one personal crisis away from becoming one of my patients. It’s an odd notion and one that any moment of analysis can quickly dispel – I have good support networks, and don’t really drink to excess in either quantity nor frequency – and yet I still have these nagging doubts. It’s pleasantly refreshing to hear others have such moments and feel they have to stress-test themselves in the same manner that I sometimes do; turning down a glass of wine with the fiancee, purely to make sure that I can, secretly counting the days that I have gone without a drink. It’s all rather bizarre stuff, pre-emtively acting to prevent something taht

  5. [accidently posted too soon] hasn’t yet happened, based on worry about the future and regular exposure to worst case scenarios… That said, that’s the basis of most things that motivate people…

    Feel I should probably mention that I’m two beers down as I write this and am thinking about a third. S

  6. I don’t drink, but I am not a tee total person. What I do is when I want a drink, it’s usually something like a really nice bottle of red and I will drink 2 glasses from it and use the rest for cooking. OR I will make a classic cocktail and the missus and I will have a total of one glass each.

    This happens every few months or so and it’s akin to feeling the need to go to the cinema, or eating a Mars Bar. Every now and again it just happens.

    I haven’t posted here in a while :) but I visit often. I’m glad Gunpoint is still on!

  7. Why did you stop drinking? The story isnt’ describing you as an alcoholic. You aren’t dependant on it. So what made you do this? Next step is fast food or sigarettes or snacks in the evening? Just interested in your reasoning.

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