Tuesday, 14 October 2014

GUEST BLOGGER: The Downsides of Giving Up

Nick writes: I had a very unusual response to yesterday's blog post about trying to find out if I had liver damage as a result of my drinking. A number of people contacted me privately with their stories. 

Last night I asked one of my correspondents if she would write something for publication on this blog. When I woke up, this was waiting in my inbox (my correspondent wishes to remain anonymous, which is her prerogative):

"Nick's blog grabbed my attention. Without seeing or therefore having the chance to understand a set of blood test readings - Nick decided to quit drinking! A lot of people decide to take a day, a week, or a month off alcohol. Right now Stoptober is giving inspiration to many.

But of those who decide to quit (with or without a bit of worry about a blood test) and those that make it for a day, a week or a month, never mind a year - the period Nick set himself - is anyone's guess. We don't hear about those who sigh and open the next bottle or order another drink at the bar and give up giving up immediately. Not until they need a lot of help.

Like quitting cigs or any behaviour we can't control, we're suddenly in the realm of addiction and all the self-delusion that follows.

The first time I tried seriously to stop smoking I remember wanting to throw a chair out of the window of my second-floor flat ('I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass' was in the charts). My frustration as I realised that I could not stop even when I really wanted to was a terrible loss of confidence in myself. 

That was a long time ago. I did quit smoking cigarettes. It was the proudest achievement of my life when I managed it.

I remember saying so in a group for alcohol addiction. Other women there had babies they said they lived for and would do anything for. Their children were the proudest achievements of their lives, mine was that I had stopped smoking cigarettes. For twenty-five years. During that time I was made redundant and both my parents died.

My alcohol addiction group was a day programme. I attended faithfully for 12 weeks. I spoke in groups, I cooked soup, stirred porridge, meditated and only baulked at drumming.

And I started smoking again.

I remained abstinent from alcohol but the pull - probably about sixty per cent of those at the centre (including the staff) smoked - meant I felt pressured to join in.  I ended three months there clear of alcohol but re-addicted to smoking.

So, thanks alcohol rehab. 

I know I started smoking, no-one forced me."

Thank you, Anonymous Correspondent, for getting in touch and writing this. You might think you are weak, but you kicked drinking and there's no way I'm going to do that permanently. And if you kicked smoking once, you can do it again. Read Allen Carr's book. That really put me off.

If anyone else would like to write something about alcohol on this blog, preferably identifying yourself (but anonymously is fine), please get in touch with me on twitter or facebook.