It’s a coincidence that 2019 is also 50 days old. It wasn’t my New Years resolution to stop drinking. I had two beers on a long-haul flight on January 1st, had no alcohol since and I’m planning for it to stay that way.
I had been drinking 70+ units a week, then got very fit by gym and dieting, then ranged from zero units one week to 40 the next. Still too much. As well as harming my health, it seemed absurd to run 5km, hit the weights, etc, and then drink 5 units (400+ calories) of wine after.
If I could have halved that to, say, 20 units a week, I’d have been happy. However, even after 5 units (2 large glasses) of wine, the urge to drink more was very powerful, and although my willpower usually won, that urge was unpleasant. I knew any stressful event in the future would be just the excuse to have a few more, and I’d soon be back to 70 units a week.
An abdominal ultrasound as part of a private health check showed a suspected mild fatty liver, which I completely expected after years of boozing, but it was the final kick up the backside to sort out my drinking.
With a heavy heart, I knew I’d never be a social/occasional drinker again nor be able to stick to 20 units a week. That realisation is like losing a close friend and accepting you’ll never see them again. It’s so obvious now that an alcoholic/alcohol dependent can’t drink moderately ever again. The brain has been hard wired through years of drinking to expect alcohol. Drinking becomes an instinct.
My GP and an addiction agency were able to prescribe me Campral, which is a drug that tries to suppress the messages from your brain telling you a beer would be nice. It has definitely helped a huge amount.
I frequently gave up for a week or two, but fifty days is the longest period in about 30 years! Luckily, touch wood, I have no health problems. Sure, I had aches from a fatty liver, but these have long gone.
The urge to drink just one is still there so the battle isn’t yet won.
Lot of waffle, more of a therapy rant than anything useful so to summarise:
1. Anyone who needs to drink every day is alcohol dependent.
2. An alcohol dependent’s brain is programmed through years of drinking to expect alcohol. The body will want alcohol every day. Moderate or occasional drinking is impossible for an alcohol dependent.
3. Ask your GP for help. They will understand, won’t judge and most importantly will help.