Julian Kirkman-Page is an old friend of Club Soda and the author of many books, including I Don’t Drink! How to Quit Alcohol and One Less for the Road – Is there Life after Alcohol? Today, he shares his thoughts on excessive drinking habits. This article originally appeared on Julian’s I Don’t Drink website.
In developing more material for the workshop which builds on my book ‘I Don’t Drink!’, David Bond and I have been discussing habits and have concluded that excessive drinking is actually a habit. As far as habits go something you love doing is called an addiction and something you hate doing is called a phobia. In our view alcoholism is not a disease, and the alcohol monster isn’t something that lurks mysteriously behind you waiting to swoop once you have quit, and consequently you have to spend the rest of your life avoiding going anywhere near the stuff as AA would have you believe. Instead, the habit that is drinking can be replaced by the habit of not drinking, which is what I have very effectively managed to do.
I thought about this (and the reason for the awful picture is there to support the fact), and when I was about sixteen years old, I would go to the local pub every night (I never did homework), drink three pints of Worthington E (a beer I loved the taste of), stagger home about ten o’ clock and go to bed. As I lay down in bed the room would start to spin, I would come out in a muck sweat, and lay there in misery for at least two hours. I would then summon the willpower to go and throw up in the toilet, after which I felt well enough to fall asleep and the spinning would slow down.
Why did I do this every single night? I have no idea. Was I escaping from being at home and having to do homework? Was I doing it because I could get away with it as my parents were always away on business and so I effectively lived alone? I certainly loved the taste of the beer although I couldn’t afford to buy it so had to steal the money from Mum’s hoard of cash. Was it because I had nothing else constructive to do and so it became a habit? I had no friends where I lived as my school was two hours away by train, I didn’t belong to any clubs or anything, so maybe I was seeking solace with the old guys who would play darts with me. Maybe I was just lonely. Whatever the reason, why did I always drink too much knowing that I would be sick later – I hated being sick.
I know I have been a heavy drinker ever since those days (until I quit in 2012) although I gave up on the Worthington E, and looking back on it I suppose drinking just became something I did because I had always done it. Just like I always smoked back then as well, but then everyone seemed to in the 1970’s.
I can certainly relate to the fact that if something else had been there to replace the drinking back then, that could have become a habit instead. That could have been sport, a more local school that offered evening activities and local friends, or even a girlfriend but that was only in my wildest dreams.
I can also see now that in quitting drinking and without really thinking about it I have adopted a host of new habits. These include always having a large glass of water with my meal, always writing at least 1000 words per day of whatever book I have on the go, swimming every day unless it is karate night, and going for a walk late in the evening regardless of the weather. I am not obsessive about any of these to the extent they have become addictions but they are certainly habits that get due consideration every day. I can also easily relate to my not drinking being a habit, and certainly not one I want to break.