Can you imagine a scenario where someone who’s addicted to crack, cocaine, heroin, or even gambling, to the point where it’s destroying their life and their loved ones’ lives, turned to friends and family and said “I’m giving up (insert addiction here) because it’s destroying me” and they weren’t embraced with anything other than sheer relief, elation, admiration, and congratulations all round? Because that is the natural and right reaction on hearing someone who has been drowning before your very eyes wants to turn their life around, get help, get clean, get straight, and get a Life – not just a sad, sorry, destructive existence.
It goes without saying that anyone who wanted to give up a life-sapping addiction would have the support of family, loved ones, and friends, and no one would stop to question ‘Why?’ Because it is perfectly clear that if it’s destroying your life, costing you more than money, then it’s not good and it’s got to go. No one in their right mind would ridicule them their choice or try to push the addiction back on them, no one would call them boring, or intimate they were antisocial – because that would be utterly cruel, and quite frankly, insane.
But this is exactly what happens when people announce they’re giving up alcohol. Ok…I’m not saying that it happens to 100% of people, but I can honestly say it’s happened to everyone I’ve spoken to and listened to who’ve made the decision, and I see it written all over social media groups I’m in, and it saddens and maddens me, because what addicts need when giving up their demon is support – not ridicule. I have heard stories where their very husband/wife/partner have scoffed and laughed, said “you won’t last a week”, have asked how the hell they’ll socialise with friends now?, and have outright been called Boring. And that’s from those who profess to love them. What chance do we stand if our (supposed) strongest allies aren’t on our side?!
No one in their right mind would ridicule them their choice or try to push the addiction back on them – because that would be utterly cruel, and quite frankly, insane.
But you see, it only goes to highlight how embedded associating alcohol with any form of socialising, celebrating, relaxing etc. is in our culture.
Had a hard day? Have a drink.
Had a bad day? Have a drink.
Had some good news? Have a drink?
Had some bad news? … you get the picture.
It’s actually inconceivable to too many people that we can get through ALL those things without a drink!
It’s also inconceivable to too many people that we can be sociable, can have a fun time, can let our hair down, we can relax…we can do all these things without a drink – or 20 !
But for those of us that have made the life-altering choice of giving up alcohol, the added pressure of getting grief and ridicule can make the transition and journey that much harder. It’s in our DNA to want to be liked, to fit in, to ‘be normal’…and in every other way we can do all these things – except we can’t do it with alcohol, because the cruel irony is that people who can’t drink turn into people that people don’t like, they start behaving in ways that set them apart and they just don’t fit in, and they certainly don’t behave in ways that would be seen as ‘normal’ when they’re drunk…sometimes to the point of blacking out and having no recollection of how they behaved. Yes – it’s a cruel irony that, to fit in we consume a drug that sends us over an edge that sets us apart.
I can’t tell you how many times people have raised an eyebrow at me or reacted as if I’ve just chopped off my right hand to spite myself, when I tell them I don’t drink anymore; but I’m also very lucky to have that rare breed of supportive people in my life who are right behind me and ‘get’ why I have to do this. Because we really don’t have a choice if we want to go forward into a worthwhile and coherent life. So, what can you do if that support is missing from your life and you feel that you just can’t do it alone?
Get Help: It may sound obvious, but a lot of people don’t do it… Get Help. Go and see your GP/Doctor and tell them you want to give up alcohol but can’t do it alone, that you aren’t getting a lot of support from those around you, and see what help they can offer you. They could help you into detox if you are a very heavy drinker, or see you on a regular basis to monitor your progress; they could put you in touch with support groups in your area or provide a helpline number. So, it’s definitely worth talking with them in the first instance.
Find Support Groups: There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by people who just totally understand what you’re doing and what you’re going through, and have no need to question you or make you feel awkward or weird. There are so many support groups out there, from the one every knows, AA, to smaller groups and charity organisations: every town and city has them and you simply need to type Alcohol Support Groups into Google to find somewhere near you. Not only will you be understood and supported, you also stand a very high chance of making some new friends who don’t drink, and get why you can’t! That’s invaluable, especially in the very early stages.
See a Therapist: Not all therapists cost the earth. Speak to your Doctor about any local therapists who charge less for addiction therapy, or for any charitable organisations in your area who can give you support. There’s a lot to be said to ‘talking about it’ – again especially in the early days of giving up.
Social Media Groups: They can give you SO much support – I know because they helped me in my early stages. Team Sober UK has been invaluable to me… I tune in every single day. You can write how you’re feeling, say what you need or want to say, without being judged, and you can get a wealth of experience and advice from so many people who have tackled this exact problem. Just join as many groups as you can and soak up all the free advice and information, and share your thoughts, fears, frustrations and needs.
Find Sober Friends: However you do it – whether you hook up with social media group members, join sober groups, find your own sober friends – just do it. Get some people in your life who can go out day or night and it not be ALL about alcohol. Get friends who love doing what you love doing – shopping, going for coffee, walking, visiting galleries – whatever – and hang out with them and instantly you’ll have less pressure in your life.
In short – if you’re not getting the support and understanding you need from those around you go out and find it…and Don’t Give Up! Don’t let their lack of compassion, empathy, understanding, and support stop you from doing what YOU need to do. If you have to stop drinking let No-one or nothing stop you – there are people out there who do care – and I’m one of them. Feel free to leave a comment, and please become a follower of my blog if you’ve found any of my articles interesting or helpful. You, Me…we’re in this together.