Conscious consumption starts with curiosity
Fabulous update, Dr. McBride.! I quit regular drinking a few years back and have no regrets. I feel much better in so many ways!
Love these guiding questions! I find that when I get honest, the answer is usually clear. Despite being a "normal drinker" who "only drank wine with dinner" (that's it), I quit alcohol entirely in early 2020. Every single mental, physical, and interpersonal "indicator" improved drastically thereafter.
For folks exploring these questions, here's a directory of 28 Substacks (and growing) focused on sobriety (I hope it's okay to share here!): https://danaleighlyons.substack.com/p/sober-substack-addiction-recovery-sobriety
I gave up alcoholic beverages back in 2009 I believe. I had fallen ill and couldn’t function. I ended up needing serious surgery and was having mental health symptoms. Alcohol had lost most of its appeal to me much earlier being married to a functioning alcoholic. Life was no longer a party and I started to see things differently. After he died in 2007, my life changed dramatically. But falling ill truly took liquor off the table literally, and figuratively.
A few years later I developed Kidney Disease and have been on a downhill run ever since, with my numbers now in the mid 30s, without ever having alcohol again. To start drinking would be a death sentence.
It sounds as though abstinence from alcohol is becoming a new fashion.
I wonder how negative its effects are on millions of Europeans who drink one or two glasses of wine almost every day and have done so for a century or more.
I Love “health is not an outcome”, we are so often driven to achieve metrics, we need the reminder that not everything is measured by outcome.
I recently had a breakup with my boyfriend of 10 years. While he didn’t go about it in a very good way, we are still very good friends. He was a severe alcohol drinker when I met him through work at our Community Mental Health Center, but i initially didn’t know that. I found out when he nearly died and our mutual work friend, Kevin, called me from his apartment. They were supposed to get together, but he couldn’t wake Chad up. I told him to call for an ambulance and I would meet him at the hospital. Kevin and I stood in the hall for what we thought was 45? minutes. It had been four and a half hours that they worked on Chad. The ER physician came out and let us know he barely flew above not making it.
Kevin left and I stayed and went up to thecroom. The ER doc inquired about family and we knew of none. Chad didn’t wake up for five days. I stayed with him that entire time. I thought he needed to know what had happened.
When he woke up on the fifth day he was very confused, as well as surprised to seeing me in his room. I explained what happened. He had no memory. He had a tube down his throat and couldn’t speak, so I took a sheet of paper and wrote YES on the left, and NO on the right. He was still fuzzy, but this helped him greatly. He still doesn’t remember this well.
When he finally got his tube out was the day I left and went home, showered, and slept. I went back the next day and every day and helped him discharge.
Upon that Kevin and I found that he was going to be evicted for not paying full rent. He was withholding because the landlord refused to repair basic necessities, especially in the bathroom.
Kevin and I got Chad out of there. Kevin’s place was not suitable for Chad,,so we put all of his stuff in my garage and for three months he slept on my sofa until we could find sea new place. Once he was settled he expressed a wish to stop drinking, but had a hard time, especially being alone not consuming a gallon of vodka a day.
I told him that if he wished he could call me when he was ready to stop. And that’s where we undertook an unusual path to sobriety together, not realizing that two years later he would be completely alcohol free to this day.
He called me drunk, of course. So I asked him how he felt. He said he felt like crap, but he didn’t know what to do about it. I told him he had choices. That if there was any liquor left in that liquor bottle, he had the choice to rather keep drinking it, or, to put whatever was left down the drain. He had consumed much of the bottle and was very torn. I offered to come over if he promos not to drink anymore of it until I arrived. When I got there, I let him decide on his own. He poured the remaining third down the drain.
We talked about his feelings that led him to walk nearly a half mile to Walgreens to buy it. He told me his family history. His dad and younger brother were dead. Both were alcoholics. He held a lot of pain inside and the few friends he had liked to drink, but he wasn’t hanging out with them anymore.
He was very lonely. I left him with the same offer that he could call me if he wanted help to make a different decision, even if he was in the midst of drinking. I never judged him. We usually talked about what was going on, and other times just talked as friends.
The frequency of his emergency calls lessened and we started talking about making decisions inside Walgreens. It was the easiest, and only, nearby place to buy food,and that’s when he would now be tempted to buy liquor.
I talked to him about avoidance of that area of the store, because, he said, the bottles sometimes spoke to him and it was hard to say no. I told him to go down the aisle with baby supplies instead.
I brought up the idea that if he did pick up a bottle that it didn’t mean he had to drink it. He could turn around on his walk home to return it. He could pay for it and then tell the worker that he made a mistake and give it back. There were all kinds of times to make another choice.
The change took time and patience and for him to be able to figure out that he wasn’t any happier drinking. He made mistakes here and there and when he did the alcohol made him sick. But after two years he was sober. He hadn’t been so er since he was a teenager.
His life changed in many positive ways over these years and he is continuing to evolve. The time I spent helping him to make those decisions was time well spent.