While I think my story will resonate with a lot of people, it is unique to me and based on my own personal experiences. I am content in my life choices both good and bad, as they have helped to shape the person I am today, and driven me to seek better for myself and for others.
The last time we met, I talked a bit about my struggles with alcohol abuse and what led me on the path to sobriety. With alcohol being a legalized drug since the 1930s, it has become widely adopted and accepted. But the fact remains that it is a drug and one that can cause severe health problems and a lot of heartaches if abused. As with anything in life, moderation is key, but for some of us, we just can’t moderate our use.
That Was My Issue With Alcohol, It Was All or Nothing!
If we were going out, then we were going hard! Pre-drink before the party, shots at the party, drink at the after-party and so on. In my teens to my early 20’s my weekends (Thurs-Sun), I would have consumed up to 20-30 ounces of alcohol. And then later in life, add in the drinks at lunch or after work, I was drinking up to 4 times a week with approx. 40-50 drinks in total. THAT’S A LOT OF ALCOHOL!
But was it so bad? The next day I’d feel crappy, and as I got older the hangovers got worse. But I’d make it to the office, and I’d get my work done, and everyone else was doing it. I certainly didn’t have a problem…did I? And what was the real harm anyway?
Let’s look at some facts1
Alcohol is a depressant drug that is legal in most parts of the world. Depressant drugs slow down the parts of your brain that affect your thinking, behaviour, breathing and heart rate. For this reason, it should be consumed moderately.
For many people, a single drink of alcohol releases tension and reduces inhibition, making them feel more at ease and outgoing. Some people feel happy or excited when they drink, while others become depressed or hostile.
Is it dangerous?
Alcohol can be dangerous in a number of ways. The impact of alcohol’s effect on judgment, behaviour, attitude and reflexes can range from embarrassment to unwanted or high-risk sexual contact, to violence, injury or death. Suicide and violent crimes often involve alcohol, and alcohol is involved in more regrettable moments, crimes, and traffic fatalities than all other abused drugs combined.
What are the long-term effects?
How alcohol affects you in the long term depends on how much and how often you drink (although in a very recent statement by the World Heart Federation, they state that NO amount of alcohol is good for you2. Read more on this here).
Research studies have shown that:
|1 Drink Every Other Day||1-2 Drinks Per Day||3+ Drinks Per Day|
|As little as one drink of alcohol every other day can help protect middle-aged and older adults against heart disease.||One to two drinks a day can increase your risk of developing certain cancers.||Three or more drinks a day increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart problems|
Heavy alcohol use can result in trouble getting and keeping an erection for men or menstrual irregularities for women. Alcohol may cause appetite loss, vitamin deficiencies and infections. It also irritates the lining of the stomach, which can be painful and is potentially fatal. Alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, liver, throat, breast and other cancers. Alcoholic liver disease is a major cause of illness and death in North America. And for women, the effects of alcohol can present more inherent risks than for men!
Psychologically, long-term use of alcohol can damage the brain, which can lead to:
- Difficulties with coordination and motor control; and
- Loss of feeling or painful burning in the feet.
Alcohol dependence often results in clinical depression, and the rate of suicide among people who are dependent on alcohol is six times that of the general population.
My Truth – I Was Abusing Alcohol
The truth is that no matter how I look at it, or what I wanted to believe or was willing to admit to myself, I was abusing alcohol. I had been drinking way too much and for way too long. But why did it take me so long to come to this realization?
I didn’t want to face the truth, and society allowed me to get away with it. In fact, we would joke about the fact that we were functioning alcoholics. Go to a conference, there’s an open bar. Want to catch up or build up a relationship with someone, attend a networking event with an open bar, catch up with old friends…usually it was over a drink. This made it hard to let go of, as it was intertwined into work and social culture. How do you let go of the drink while still maintaining social ties? This was my struggle and maybe the main cause of relapse for many people working towards sobriety.
I am not here to judge, and I can only speak for myself, but choosing sobriety is one of the best decisions I have ever made!
And for many of you, even a reduction in your normal intake may just be what the doctor ordered. I feel comforted in the fact that the tide seems to be turning, and a more health-conscious society is pushing a reduced or alcohol-free lifestyle with no judgement! And of course, more products such as DRNK are launching, providing us with more options for non-alcoholic beverages. Let’s normalize partying in our own way and on our own terms.
For me, I still plan to be the life of the party…I’ll just buzz a little differently!