Choose the Day
4th of July 2016 – was the day I decided to give up alcohol. It was the best decision I ever made, not only for my body but for my mind too! It’s a lot easier said than done and even though it’s the best thing I ever did, it’s also the hardest, most challenging thing I ever did. Everything involves a drink – a christening, a funeral, a wedding, a product launch, you name it…alcohol will be there. When it’s sunny, “Tis only a day for a beer garden.” When it’s cold and miserable, “Tis only a day for the high stool.” Is it any wonder alcoholism is rife in this country?! When you choose the day to give up, be proud and be prepared. Tell your friends and family and ask them kindly not to invite you to anything revolved around drinking, at least for awhile. Don’t think of it as forever, because that’s too much pressure instead say to yourself, “For today I will not drink.”
One of my most hated phrases in the history of phrases is when someone refers to someone else as a “dirty alcoholic”. It actually boils my blood!!! An alcoholic can be anyone, it’s not confined to the old men down your local pub, or the man that roams the streets drinking cans. Alcoholics come from every walk of life, across all classes…it can be your teacher, your bank manager, your bus driver, the woman who does your waxing. You don’t have to look like an alcoholic to be one. There is no shame in it and there is certainly no shame in asking for help.
In 1956, The American Medical Association(AMA) declared that alcoholism was an illness, and in 1991 they further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under BOTH psychiatric and medical section.
So before you call someone a “dirty alcoholic”, ask yourself, would you turn around and, for example, call someone a “dirty diabetic”?! I don’t think you would. Whether you agree with alcoholism as being an illness or not, we as a society, need to be less judgemental. There is a stigma attached to alcoholism, in the same way there’s a stigma attached to mental illness. In my opinion, this stigma has to go.
Watch Out for the Warning Signs
I always thought an alcoholic was someone who drank a bottle of Jack or vodka or Jameson or whatever, 1st thing every morning and who needed it to function. I couldn’t have been more wrong…when you can’t stop after that 1st one and you need more and more and you just never get enough, you have a problem.
- When it starts affecting your health, relationships – family, spouse or work.
- When you’re skipping meals because you know it will wreck the initial “buzz”.
- When you lie about how much you’ve had or hide your drinking habits from loved ones.
- When you self medicate for sleep, anxiety etc using alcohol.
- When you, regularly, use it for escapism.
- When you prefer to get drunk on your own rather than socialise with other people.
Realising you have a problem and wanting to do something about it really is the 1st step. If you know someone who is struggling with alcohol, talking to them may help but be prepared for them to be super defensive. You have to remember they need to WANT to do it themselves and realize they have a problem.
The Off Switch
Some people are wired differently than others…some people don’t have that off switch. Alcohol is a chemical that affects our brains. After the 1st 2/3 you get a buzz but as the night goes on and more and more is consumed it begins to irritate our brain cells. This can make people act in a way they normally wouldn’t act, some become louder, more chatty and free spirited, some people just fall asleep, some people more emotional, and some people turn in to assholes. Everybody is different. And please, don’t get me wrong alcohol can be enjoyed by loooooooads of people but just not by people who are missing that off switch!
This is Your Sign
So if you’re thinking of giving it up for good and are looking for a sign to give it up…this is it! Or even if you’re thinking of doing Dry January, believe me when I say even a month off it will do you wonders. I want to share with you 10 reasons to quit alcohol and maybe if it helps one person make one of the hardest decisions ever, I’d be happy!
10 Reasons to Quit Alcohol
1. Your mind will love you for it!
I suffer with anxiety, panic attacks as well as seasonal depression and each of these have improved dramatically. My panic attacks were so much worse, especially the day after the night before and the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life was always after heavy drinking. I literally, do not know myself feeling “normal” of a Monday. My anxiety and feelings of depression are no where near as bad as they were when I used drink. It’s actually incredible how much better my mind is. I only wish I did it sooner.
2. Weight Loss
Alcohol is just empty calories, it gives your body ZERO nutritional benefit and it can contribute to weight gain.
- Pint of Lager = 180 calories
- Pint of Cider = 210 calories
- Glass of white wine = 140 calories
- Glass of Red Wine = 200 calories
- Jack and Coke = 308 calories
When you give up alcohol you will notice some weight loss, which is amazing but this won’t apply to everyone. It really depends on what type of drinker you were. If you skipped meals a lot when you drank, you may notice you’re eating a lot more or are replacing alcohol with food and so you might see an increase in your weight. If that’s the case with you, don’t be too hard on yourself.
3. Reduce your risk of heart disease!
As mentioned above alcohol can contribute to weight gain which in turn can increase your cholesterol levels and affect your heart. Giving up alcohol will reduce your cholesterol levels helping to keep your heart healthy and reducing your risk of diabetes. You will live longer too!!! Now who doesn’t want that?!
4. No more hangovers!
With no more 3/4 day hangovers, you will notice you are so much more productive and have more energy to do things you normally wouldn’t have. No more feeling sorry for yourself, hiding away from the world, mortified at what you did, said or who you hurt the night before. You will actually want to enjoy your day, rather than wishing it would end.
5. More money!
In the beginning, I couldn’t believe how much money I was saving! It was crazy. Well, I didn’t actually save it. At the start, I went through a phase of spending all my money on makeup instead, but hey, it was better than buying alcohol. Now, I’m saving it all and it’s so rewarding watching the figure go up and up every week. Think about it. A night out in town, taxis, food after, hangover food the next day, a cure the next day in the pub, easily comes to €200. €200 a week for a year is €10,400!!! That could go towards your deposit for a house!!!
6. Enhance your brain power!
Heavy drinking – even on a single occasion – can throw the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in your brain off balance. This leads to agitation, grogginess and forgetfulness. Giving up can help reverse the negative effects alcohol has on the part your brain responsible for problem solving, memory and attention. You will be more alert and clear headed.
7. Boost your immunity!
Binge drinking or drinking a lot every day every day impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to colds, flu and infections. Giving up alcohol will boost your immunity making you stronger and more equipped to deal with illness.
8. You will sleep better!
We all know after a few drinks you fall asleep fairly quick but the quality of your sleep is very poor, which is why you’re always wrecked the next day! Giving up alcohol gives your brain the chance to do what it needs to do – process all the information you took in that day – and your quality of sleep will be so much better. If you suffer with insomnia, there are plenty natural and alternative things you can do/take to help you sleep rather than reaching for a bottle.
9. All your relationships will improve!
You will be more present in life without alcohol and you won’t miss a thing. No more forgetfulness, blackouts, arguments, apologies! EVERY. SINGLE. RELATIONSHIP. WILL. IMPROVE. Your relationship with your family, spouse, friends and even the relationship with YOURSELF. You will learn things about yourself you never knew before, you will start seeing how truly resilient you are and how you’ve really never needed alcohol to help you get through stressful times.
10. You will be sooooooooooooo much happier!!!!
You have to remember alcohol is a depressant. Believe me when I tell you when you dropkick it out of your life YOU WILL be so much happier. Maybe not all the time, because there will be times when you’ll find it unfair, lonely, and life might be getting you down but once you have an incredible support system and the belief in yourself that you can get through that day, you will get through it. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t be too hard on yourself or use it as an excuse to go back drinking. You can always get back on. Just start again. Do it for yourself, not for anybody else and you will see how much your life can change.
If you or someone you know has decided to reach out for help a GP is a good place to start because they can refer you to counselling and counselling can really help. A good place to gets lots of information and support is => http://www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie/ . If you’d rather talk to someone and feel like you can’t talk to friends and family call The Samaritans on (01) 671 0071. You don’t have to do it on your own.
I was having a chat with someone I know about drinking, he was off it 20 years and he said something I’ll never forget, “People always say how drinking will take away your pain, your bad memories, but what they don’t tell you is eventually it will also take away everything you love – your happiness, your freedom, your partner, your children, your career, your home. It will take it all away”.
Hearing that, I knew I had made the best decision in giving it up. People who have a problem with alcohol are usually left with nothing, nothing but memories and an empty bottle. I have never been prouder of myself for giving it up, every single aspect of my life improved. Giving it up is one of the most liberating feelings ever, I’d encourage anyone to do it.
Nobody talks about alcohol or the problems it causes. This has to change, a light needs to be shone on it. We need to get rid of the stigma associated with alcoholism and help people become aware that there is ZERO shame. I thought long and hard about sharing this post but I have nothing to be ashamed about and if it helps even one person, well that alone would make me very happy. People need to be aware that it is possible to live a happy, healthy life without alcohol. Trust me.
Today, was a good day.
For today, I did not drink.
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