These are coming thick and fast, anyone interested in helping inspire others contact me and i shall add them on. This is your site after all
Making Tracks Account:
My OH was a big drinker and his drinking habits were part of the reason why I stopped drinking. We were definitely “enabling” each other to drink more than we needed. I knew my drinking was affecting my life in many bad ways but I could also see that my OH’s drinking was affecting his life too, especially important relationships – ours and his relationship with his young son.
I decided in January I would stop drinking. Initially I nagged my OH into stopping too. It was weird me being sober and him drinking a bottle of wine on his own and then sitting there talking complete *guff* and then being horrid and moody with all concerned the next morning. My nagging made the situation worse. Those on the thread here kept reminding me that he’d have to find his own path and all I could do was concentrate on me and my recovery.
3 months in my OH realised that this wasn’t some crash diet I’d gone on and that beyond protecting me from his Dad’s gentle pressure to have a glass of wine that actually I’d done OK. My world hadn’t fallen apart because I didn’t drink and his hadn’t either.
6 months in my OH began to notice that I was losing weight, looking fitter and able to do some much more. He on the other hand was gaining weight rapidly, he wasn’t running (lost his mojo) and that some of the nagging from earlier in the year had sunk in – we’d had a huge argument in Feb where I’d said his drinking and hangovers were affecting his relationship with his son because he was always moody and hung over when the lad came to us at the weekend.
9 months into the year my OH has stopped drinking for 3 months. He has said he’ll not go back to drinking a bottle of wine a night to unwind but he might have the odd beer in the pub. Interestingly his 3 month self imposed ban was up several days ago. He still hasn’t found the time to go and have that beer!
Looking at horror stories about drink, about the depths we can plunge too, ignores those of us who haven’t quite hit the bottom – yet.
And that’s my story I guess and I am, I believe a fairly typical example.
In my teens and twenties I drank when I went out. To excess on odd special occasions but I rarely drank at home other than the odd bottle of wine shared as a treat.
Over the next 20 or so years the frequency of drinking increased, Until I only didn’t drink if I was driving.
It was never huge volumes, I’m a small person and half a bottle of wine would generally see me dozing off but i was probably doing 35 units in a week.
I wasn’t at the stage of stashing bottles of Vodka in the airing cupboard but there were worrying signs.
Firstly I started feeling queazy in the mornings..nothing serious…always cured by a quick run and breakfast.
Then i wasn’t sleeping..checking my watch every hour through endless nights whilst my mouth felt like the Gobi desert.
And the hangovers..Generally Mondays when i would sit in work praying for lunchtime to come round so i could stuff my face with as many calories as possible
as an antidotes to the sweating and nausea. Mondays were always the day when I’d say never again.
About 4 years ago I quit drinking for a month, but I went back to it promising myself to drink less, have days off etc etc.
Well that didn’t work, and i was back where I started from. I Knew I didn’t have a physical dependancy. I gave up without difficulty for a month or so each year when we were lambing without problems.
(Knowing you may have to drive at any time of the day or night!)
At the start of 2009 my New years resolution was to have 2 dry days for one drinking day. I failed dismally.Even with the symptoms described earlier I still felt
that I needed/wanted or deserved a drink so I Was having one. By now I did’t know how much I was drinking. We always kept boxes on wine on the go and my beloved would keep topping up my glass as it emptied.
I Know it was too much. I was suffering more and more symptom, my body couldn’t cope.
The last few weeks that i drank were miserable. I Knew it was making me ill, but I still wanted it. It was like a bad relationship, destructive but compelling.
I can remember certain drinks, a glass of wine I deserved after coming home from a midweek race that was pure misery. The last half bottle I drank- knowing I was
saying goodbye to it.
The last day I drank was 5/07/09.
It wasn’t easy, I didn’t make a big thing of telling anyone in case they started to pressurize me to drink again. I just set out quietly to change my life.
I took a lot of inspiration from alcohol support forums on the net and kept in my mind sound advice like JFT and just refuse the first drink.
The first few weeks were hard. After about 3 months it started to become easy. It became a pleasure. I passed hurdles like Christmas, weddings without wavering.
I found abstinence easier than moderation.
Drinkers want you to drink. You have to be strong to stick to your own path. I look at my mates who drink, more than they should,and wonder how many are where
I like my life now. You can have a great time without drink which I think a lot of people forget.
I feel great and I’m not drinking JFT!
“On giving up.
Drink had always held a fascination for me: Grandma’s cider, my own elderberry wine and countless clandestine bottles of ale in my teens soon led to a damagingly serious habit. University days became directed by drink and I used many devious tricks to get money to fuel my habit. Wine & spirits were of less interest than beer & lager: it was the volume that always appealed; but I was a booze bore, overweight, bloated and deluded that women would find me attractive.
After time in hospital, I was clean but soon headed down the same dingy direction to daily drunkenness. It was only me that could or would not see the damage done to family, friends and myself. In 1979, I resolved to destroy my drink habit for good: I can’t say why – a lucky insight or a caring word, I do not know. After a six-week trial “dry run”, I joined friends at Wembley for the RL Challenge Cup Final. They knew me – and indulged me, but I said nothing of my plan. Eight pints on Friday night, another eighteen on Saturday and I was quietly merry. On my way to the WC in a central London pub, I caught my reflection in a large mirror: “This ends now,” I whispered – and it did.
Staying clear of my drinking chums was essential and I lived quietly at home, rarely going out and even more rarely to pubs. My health improved steadily, with squash, rugby [!?] and running giving me focus, company and goals – great ways to fill the time I used to spend drinking. From over seventeen stones with a forty-four-inch waist in 1979, I ran the Rotherham HM in July 1987 in 1:48 – and I’m still running now! Over 380 events in 23 years and a streak of 1210 days and 7100 miles, I’m over 80% on the way to 2010 miles for the year.
Different people deal differently with drink – I threw bucket loads of control at it and installed a strong substitute. When I started to see the results, I saw no reason to give up sobriety.
Good luck and good health!”
A full and brilliant Account from Bernardsboy
Best Friend and my Worst Enemy
I think Dan’s website is a great idea and as someone who has had a drink “problem” for at least 12 years but until recently never talked to anyone about it and even then only through the cyber world of Fetch Everyone, I wanted to take the plunge and talk about my longest standing relationship… the one I have with alcohol. The very fact I talk about in terms of a relationship ( as in the heading above ) implies a problem because I am making it an animate object, something that has a life force all of its own. During my darker moments with the booze ( and there have been a few which have affected those closest to me as well as myself), it has certainly felt like an uncontrollable monster. I am sure there are many others reading this who have experienced the feeling that alcohol is a person.
Some people may be able to relate to what I’m about to say because they have gone through the same feelings and emotions, others because they can see signs that they themselves might be going down the same path. Hopefully someone may benefit from discovering they are not alone. It is certainly a big relief to get this off my chest. So, like any story, let’s go back to the start.
My childhood wasn’t one surrounded by alcohol as neither of my parents were really drinkers. However, it was a little unconventional. I discovered at the age of 8 I was adopted which was something difficult to grasp at that age. A year later my dad started developing mental health issues and suffered a nervous breakdown being committed to the local sanatorium in July 1973. The next few years were weird. Sunday afternoon visits to the hospital were strange and because my mum had to work nights my brother and I were left home alone 5 nights a week. We saw this all as a big adventure especially when social services became involved! Anyway dad was deemed to have made a recovery when I was 12 and came home. However, for whatever reason he lapsed again and was sectioned again about a year later and that was the last time we ever lived under the same roof. Life was a bit tough in those years looking back and in the past when trying to find anyone to blame but me for my drinking addiction, I tried to blame it on my somewhat dysfunctional childhood. The probability is that it had absolutely nothing to do with it. In trying to explain why I was like I was, alcohol convinced me to pass the buck. There I go again, giving it a life force all of its own!
My first proper experience of alcohol was a disaster. A bunch of 16 year olds about to take their O levels going out for the evening to see a film but drinking first. The cans someone managed to buy were Special Brew. Although it tasted truly disgusting I had some and was inebriated in no time at all. My evening ended with me being violently ill and being carried home by two friends. If you were one of those cinema goers who had your night out in May 1980 ruined by a group of pissed 16 year olds sitting in the front row, I would like to take the opportunity to apologise! What was the film I hear you ask? Somewhat aptly, it was “Apocalypse Now”.
I didn’t drink much during my sixth form years but when I did was an arsehole and had a reputation as someone who couldn’t take his beer. At 18, I went to the University of Nottingham where it was a case of more of the same. I would often drink to ease myself in awkward social situations as I am by nature a very shy person, always have been. Whether that was down to low self esteem I don’t know but a bit of Dutch courage was always essential at a social gathering. Looking back now, alcohol was a crutch and that is really the last thing you want it to be.
University finished in 1985 and work life started. I stayed in Nottingham and still remain here. There isn’t really much about the next 12 years worth mentioning from a drinking perspective. I wasn’t a nightly drinker and never really got drunk to excess. I met my wife in 1988, we married two years later and had our first child a couple of years after that. I was really into my running at that time and set some half decent PB’s. My 58:19 at the Notts 10 mile road race in 1992 is my proudest ever sporting achievement.
Having regarded myself, like most of us want to, as a normal drinker through much of my 20’s and early 30’s, when did things change? If I was really trying to pinpoint when the tide turned, it was just over 13 years ago. I had been offered a fantastic opportunity through my job to take an 18 month secondment in Australia. My wife agreed it was too good a chance to pass up so we accepted. There was a long lead time before I was to make my first visit there and I used that period to celebrate night after night after night. Instead of making me feel good, I noticed the drinking was having a reverse effect in that I began to really doubt whether the move down under was more than I was capable of. Instead of putting the brakes on and avoiding the drink I continued in the hope it would make me feel stronger. Looking back now, I can see I was getting sucked in to that trap alcohol lays for a lot of people and was becoming dependant on it each evening.
It wasn’t long after this that secret drinking began. That could take the form of necking a couple of cans of Stella before I got home but developed to a far worse level but more of that later.
I spent the first few months in Australia on my own so the combination of being away from home and my family for a long time, the pressure of a new job and living in a hotel with a free mini bar meant I was the kid in a sweetshop! In those weeks, I was easily managing 80 plus units of alcohol totally ignoring the fact that kicking this habit down the line was going to be harder. The family came out to Sydney in July 1998 and we had a great time in our 18 months there. Suffice to say, I did a lot of drinking in that time and with the drinking culture out there I felt I could blend in. The fact most of my drinking was done alone at home in the evening didn’t seem to matter.
We moved back to England late 1999 by which time a third child was on the way and born shortly afterwards. For the next couple of years, my drinking levels were about 50-60 weeks on average that included weeks where I was on the wagon and two London Marathons in2001 and 2002. Somehow my actual times in those races never quite were what I was targeting. No surprises there. In 2002, I had a good two month dry stretch and then for no real reason fell off the wagon. There began my darkest drinking period. I was working away from home quite a lot and I would say that over a two year period I cannot have been very far off averaging 100 units per week. My favourite means of disguising drink at home was smuggling cheap supermarket vodka within coke bottles.
I knew by then I had a serious problem but wasn’t prepared to talk to anyone about it. Instead I just allowed myself to continue with the cycle of despondency in the morning, and then be determined during the day not to drink, feel despondent by the evening and then conclude the only way to remove that feeling was to drink myself into a stupor. Of course drink will temporarily remove those feelings but only by numbing the senses. By morning the down feelings have of course returned.
I bought the Allen Carr book but that didn’t work because I wasn’t committed enough. I lurked on AA websites and forums about drinking. Looking back I don’t know how I kept my job in that period because I was a mess. I was also not spending as much time with the wife and kids as I should have y because I was working away during the week and at weekends I would be recovering from the previous night’s excesses. I decided to clean up my act and again in late 2004 had a good spell completely off it. The feelings of serenity and all round good vibes in those times contrasted sharply with the downs from alcohol. I was a better husband, father and person for not drinking. In late 2004, I thought I had alcohol beaten. I was wrong and one moment of complacency saw me back down that rocky road. Whilst my drinking wasn’t as bad as previous years, I had my moments. How was I to finally break free of the hold it had on me?
At the end of 2006, I had a brainwave; not only will I take up running again but I would run a marathon. At that time I was 15 st in weight and looked and felt very unfit. I made a point of telling everyone I would run the Robin Hood Marathon in September 2007. That way, I wouldn’t back out, my kids would be proud of me and I would easily give up drinking. Right? Not quite. I had underestimated the physical and mental hold alcohol had on me. Whilst mileage went up and I had the odd week here and there without drinking, I was still a 4 or 5 nights a week drinker averaging at least 50 units per week right up the week before the race.
On the day of the race, my kids were there at the finish to see me. Unfortunately, I dropped out at 15 miles and for those of you have done this race and know the course had something of a lonely walk from the outskirts of Holme Pierrepoint to Victoria Embankment. As we drove back afterwards, I told my family that the failure to finish was what happened when you drink too much and it wouldn’t happen again.
Since that day, I have had long spells without alcohol and run two London Marathons, each time in a personal best. Running has been a lifesaver for me in that regard. However, I’ve made the mistake a few times in that period of thinking I could be a “normal drinker” whatever that is, only to fall off the wagon big style. The most recent case was the end of May. I had been dry for the best part of 8 months and hadn’t touched a drop since New Years Eve. We were on holiday and a free bottle of wine came with the meal. My wife asked me if I wanted red or white. We had the in laws there as well so it was all very relaxed. For a fleeting second, I wished I had been open with my wife about my drinking problem because then she would never have asked the question. Instead, I said the word red and as the first glass went in and my cheeks burned up I thought “ you fucking idiot”. A summer of on/off drinking followed, as ever being secretive smuggling cheap vodka into the house and downing bottles of wine in 30 minutes. I did that for the final time on a Sunday night recently, sinking into alcoholic oblivion with my wife oblivious to what was going on.
That following morning, 27th September 2010,I promised myself I would never go back to alcohol and that I would start to open out about my problem. That first posting on the Fetch thread was a massive step for me and it’s opened the floodgates. Whilst I haven’t fully confronted the problem with my family yet that will come soon. My number one message to people who have been/are feeling that they are in the same bottomless pit with alcohol is this: Whilst life will not always be a bed of roses during sobriety, it is a million times better than a life with drinking. Oh, and I forgot to mention given the website that brings all of us together, there is no doubt in my mind that running has saved my life. By giving me the focus of a marathon race to concentrate on I was able to start weaning myself down from the suicidal levels of drinking I had been at for the best part of a decade.
However, I appreciate that running alone will not stop me drinking. That desire, as I am discovering day by day, has to come from far deeper within. This new life of complete abstinence is one I intend to thoroughly relish, day by day. I’m not the only one feeling the benefit. My kids have their dad back in spirit as well as body, my wife has seen her husband return.
Differences this time with my attempt at sobriety which I hope will mean a better long term outcome, and this may be of some guidance to others grappling with this evil poison, are:
1. I will talk to others about my drinking problem
2. I will never assume I have alcohol beaten. On the contrary, and I may be stumbling into an AA mantra here, but I accept that alcohol has beaten me. I don’t intend to take it on any more. By that I mean that I simply will never again make an attempt at social or normal drinking because bitter experience has only shown me I can’t do it
3. I accept that sobriety can only be achieved one day at a time
4. I will maintain sobriety for the sake of my health, my sanity but above all else, for the sake of my family.
Not another one!
By HappyG(rrr) aged 41 and 1/2
I don’t “not drink”. I just drink one. Then I stop.
One day, just over 5 years ago, I decided that I didn’t ever want to be drunk again. But I felt it was too hard to abstain completely. Not too hard for me, but too hard for others to understand and accept. So I thought, “How about if I say yes to 1, but no to more?” I didn’t want to make any great declarations and I didn’t want to have to explain myself. So I took the car wherever we went, or I just bought the rounds and only had a tonic water myself. But by having 1 drink, no one ever questioned or challenged me.
My problem, as I saw it, was being a very bad drunk. Having 2 or 3 drinks, usually led to 5 or 10, well to far too many anyway. And more often than not, to chaos, destruction, pain and unhappiness. But having 1 drink didn’t have to lead to 2. I could control 1 drink.
So I tried it once. And it worked, then I tried it again and then I said to myself, this is great, I can do it and I’m going to do it forever. (Note: this is in contrast to “One Day At A Time” and other “proper” Alcoholics Aonymous wisdom. But this is a personal account and testimony, so I make no apologies!)
I am now happier than I have ever been. I am getting married to a woman I love very much. I have a great relationship with my son. I haven’t lost any family or friends. And even those with whom I used to hell raise, seem to have accepted the change.
All the usual benefits of complete abstinence apply:
Save money (on booze, on taxis, lost work days etc.)
Never a hangover
Can always drive (unless they change the law to zero tolerance!)
Reduced calories help weight control (which wasn’t really a prob)
Running – never lose a running or training day due to hangover or bender
Social – can actually go to more events, with less planning, because can always drive (quite popular too, being able to give people lifts!)
Safety, security – more than once I was at risk of doing things that would cause injury or even death, to me or someone else. And certainly at risk of losing job or being jailed.
So, the main one…
Control. Never out of control. Being able to love, care for, cherish and appreciate my loved ones and never hurt or disrespect them.
Challenges (and how to overcome them):
* Social – parties, nights out, weddings, lads holidays etc. I still always want a 2nd drink. I choose not to have one and it’s always a struggle. From a passing thought, to a real challenge. To cope: sometimes I will leave or avoid the event. But increasingly, I just join in with the nonsense. Speak rubbish (almost as if drunk!) do daft things. Surely, if it’s OK to have fun and be silly when drunk, then it’s OK to do it when sober?
* Alone – I enjoy the taste of beer, wine, malt whisky, gin and tonic. I allow myself to have one. I like the taste. I want more. Would another one hurt? YES! So I don’t do it! Solution here is other treats, nice soft drinks, other savoury flavours (very low or zero alcohol beer and wine), just tonic water etc. (See the Alternative Drinks link) Again, sometimes I just go out. Instead of sitting with a beer watching telly, if I can’t have the beer, I’ll not watch the telly! Actually, maybe that goes in the benefit column?!
* Family – pretty much all understand and support. My lovely fiancee, she doesn’t really drink much, never has done. I’m sure this is a big help. Would have been much harder if she was a big drinker.
* Stress – I am lucky that I don’t suffer from stress in my job, I have a wonderful and supportive partner. And I don’t really have many worries. Again, I sympathetic to those who have money, work or other pressures. But as experienced people like Joopsy and swittle said, drink doesn’t really help with those stresses anyway. For me, drink caused problems, it never solved any.
So, in conclusion, in my life, this has been the single most important and rewarding decision and action I have ever taken. If you want some of the benefits, perhaps you could give it a go too?
Very best wishes,
An account now from Dogtanian showing all the benefits of not drinking
A few years ago I got back from a climbing trip and, looking through the photographs, I was horrified at how overweight I looked. I got on the scales and found I was 97kg…it was not a good look. Six months of gym membership and running and I had got down to 93kg but the weight loss had reached a plateau. I had to think about what else I could change and it was time to look at alcohol.
My wife and I would drink every night, sometimes beers and cider but usually a bottle or two of wine between us. Most of our friends were regular drinkers so this didn’t strike us as odd at all. Still, in my head I was drinking about 25 units a week. When I totted it up I was actually drinking 50. It was obvious where I could cut some calories and loose more weight.
I remember thinking it just was not possible for any normal person to limit their drinking to the recommended 21 units. It seemed absurdly low. I decided to give myself a cap of 30 units per week and started logging how much I drank every night. I used a spreadsheet and colored the cell for that day green if I did not drink and red if I did, and entered the number of units drunk that day.
The week started on Friday so if I drank all my allocation over the weekend then I could not drink in the week. I was pretty good at sticking to this. In addition to logging my daily drinking I also had a weekly log where I totaled the units for the week and gave myself a red or green square for the week. This worked really well if I had drunk my allocation by Wednesday but I really fancied a drink on Thursday. It would usually give me the incentive to stay off because I wanted that green ‘tick’ for the week.
Several months later and the weight loss stopped again but now 21 units didn’t seem so crazy. I adjusted my target and found I could stick to it.
That’s been the story for a couple of years now but since the kids arrived I have tended to drink less, rarely going over 21 units for the week and never getting drunk (but still drinking more nights in the week than I didn’t).
A few months ago I saw this thread and was inspired to stop drinking for about 6 weeks in the run up to a key race. I never wanted or intended to cut out drinking for life but I found that reading about people’s problems with alcohol demonized alcohol for me. I had got out of the habit of drinking and, well, why would I want to start doing it again?
I do still have the odd one on special occasions when the mood takes me but I can happily go out to a party or meal with friends and not drink. The biggest shift for me is that I don’t think about wanting a drink on an evening. Drinking in the house in the evening is just not something I do any more; there’s no mental fight about it. That’s something that I would never have expected and to be honest I find quite thrilling. It was hard at first when I was going from 50 to 30 units per week but, like breaking any habit, it gets easier as time goes on until not drinking is just the norm.
The best advice I can give would be don’t worry about telling people that you are not drinking. I worried that I would be spoiling my friends’ evenings by not drinking with them but I found nothing but support. When you go to that first party where you say “I’m not drinking at the moment” it is like flicking a switch. For me not drinking became massively easier once I had ‘come out’.
My weight is now down to 82kg and I’m much healthier (and faster, without that extra three and a half stone to carry). A large part of that weight loss is through cutting out all those extra, empty calories.