Club Soda member Adrian talks about how hard it is to quit the booze in an alcocentric society, where we are encouraged to drink at every turn.
Through general conversation, I have noticed that those who choose not to drink are often viewed as ‘broken’. Of course, this is not everybody’s view, but it’s prevalent enough to notice that a considerable number of drinkers assume there is something fundamentally flawed in the makeup of somebody who chooses not to drink.
It’s only when you spend the time to break it all down you realize that the only conclusion lies on the other side of the opinion spectrum. Whilst in the minority, those who choose not to drink are some of the strongest people you will ever meet; fully in control of their lives and happier than they have ever been.
Anybody who has given Dry January a shot (no pun) will tell you that quitting alcohol in a culture so centred around consumption is no mean feat. It’s difficult for an abundance of reasons both physical and emotional. Those who participate will have no choice but alter their day-to-day routines to facilitate such change. When February 1st finally arrives, you can bet your life that some participants will have few personal reasons for returning to their drinking behaviours. Rather, it will be because of the sheer discomfort that comes with change. It’s only fitting that most non-drinkers will agree that committing to never again putting alcohol past the lips is the easy part; the dynamic is the tougher nut to crack albeit the most healing of processes.
The mass exodus from the dry valleys of January indicates the discomfort of change. Uprooting one’s life so drastically shines floodlights upon the cracks and lines of life a favourite Whiskey masks. These scars run long and deep across the foundations of our identities. If you want to see who you really are in the eyes of both the world and more importantly, yourself; becoming a non-drinker is a certain fast track to a very uncomfortable reality check. You are essentially stepping into the shadows of the minority, and you will be disowned and forgotten by many.
In an alcoholcentric society, if you don’t play ball it is incredibly difficult to join in. Spend three hours around a friend intent on getting drunk, and you will notice how antisocial the interaction is. It becomes a one-way conversation, where the drinker’s core priority is their next drink. You will find yourself discussing their life and their career (or lack thereof) on repeat. It’s all very narcissistic.
It is a very lonely place, and it’s hardly attractive. People who choose not to drink don’t do it for masochistic reasons. On the contrary, they embrace change because they understand that a life without alcohol is the genuine article, as it allows one the best possible opportunity to love one’s self and others: to truly live.
Anybody strong enough to choose to maintain a sober existence, against the tide, is anything but broken.