This week’s blog is by Club Soda member Sarah, with a frank take on her relationship with alcohol. You can keep up to date with Sarah here.
I have a dependency on alcohol
My relationship with alcohol started when I was about 13. My grandad got me drunk quite deliberately but I don’t know how and don’t know why.
In my 80s world, alcohol education was non-existent. It was considered cool to drink and go to pubs. Pubs weren’t serving food so it was a social event after dinner to “go down the pub”. For me, pubs were sociable places, restricted places, secretive places, which made them intriguing and sought after.
At 15 I started drinking socially, never experienced a problem with ID or the fact I was underage. It was good to get drunk, felt reckless, mature, grown-up. You could do anything, you belonged, you mattered.
I drank in bus shelters, drank cheap cider on the street, drank weird cocktails with no idea of the content, drank to be part of something, drank for courage, drank to face the world, drank to forget.
90s alcohol was super sugary and tasted nothing like alcohol. The horrible taste I got when I’d drank too much cider and cheap lager was cured as alco-pops tasted of fizzy pop.
During my late teens and early twenties, my alcohol consumption intensified. I woke up planning where I was going for my first drink, how many drinks I could handle before going home and drinking. I didn’t care about food. I was constantly unwell and didn’t realise the impact it was having on my body.
I met a lovely man that I wanted to marry, I drank. I got a new job, I drank, I booked a holiday, I drank. I didn’t need an excuse, a reason or an event for alcohol to play a part. Let’s go for a walk (to the pub), let’s go somewhere fun in the car (to the pub), who’s driving? Not me! I won’t be able to drink and if I’m not drinking then I’m not going.
I hated myself the following day, I’ve always suffered with bad hangovers but as the volume intensified and age creeped on me, so did the after-effects; I missed events, I threw up in bushes, I hid in the bedroom feigning a migraine, I had brain blanks and completely forgot portions of the night before but passed it off with a laugh and a wry smile. I had all the excuses. Inside I was ashamed and promised myself today would be different, but it wasn’t.
I needed alcohol to get through stressful situations, I needed alcohol to recover from stressful situations, I needed alcohol to have fun, to enjoy myself, to socialise, to stay connected. I was living a lie.
My mental health reached breaking point in July 2019. I was prescribed medication. The instructions said not to mix with alcohol, I didn’t listen and quickly realised the consequences.
I endured my scariest panic attack after 4 glasses of wine. I wanted to die. I have never felt suicidal but that was the closest I ever came. By using alcohol to mask my pain, my condition, my recovery, it had nearly killed me.
I admit to those closest to me that I have an addiction. “Overindulgence”, “keen interest”, “wannabe wine buff”. I’m alcohol dependent.
I’m 40 days sober by choice. I choose today not to drink as it doesn’t serve my purpose. I’m exploring meetings, reaching out to social groups that promote sobriety and investigating intriguing non-alcoholic alternatives when socialising, rather than the standard boring carbonated drinks.
Tests will come. Time will tell.
Today I choose sobriety.