How do you feel about doing “Sober October”? If it makes you a little worried or you think you might struggle to go a whole month without any booze, you’re not alone.
I haven’t drank for quite a few years now, so it probably seems like a funny thing for me to be writing about, but more and more people are approaching me for help to control problematic drinking, so I picked up Catherine Gray’s “The unexpected Joy of being sober” at the airport (on the way to Las Vegas rather ironically, not exactly the kind of place you consider going sober).
There are parts of “The unexpected Joy” that I can certainly relate to. When you don’t drink alcohol, especially without a good excuse, such as being designated driver or pregnant, a lot of people you socialise with still want you too. It’s a strange relationship we’ve got to alcohol as a society in the UK, I’m not sure it’s the same elsewhere, and it’s not the same with other substances either. I have never (since the age of about 15 anyway) told someone I don’t smoke only for them to question my choice not to do so. They never suggest that if I tried a certain brand, or menthols, or roll ups that I might enjoy it. They never say I’m no fun and I should give it a go. They never suggest that only one wouldn’t hurt. If you’re not a smoker everyone is OK with that. If you’re not a drinker others often try and rope you in.
If you are someone who tries to cajole non-drinkers to join in with you it’s time to stop and think, perhaps that person is already having a hard enough time resisting the urge to drink without extra pressure from someone else, you just don’t know.
The reason you don’t know is that addiction isn’t black and white. There isn’t a checklist to tick off. There isn’t a line that is crossed that changes you from healthy drinker to addicted drinker. It’s more of a sliding scale and that scale is entirely personally subjective.
The level at which I would describe myself a 3 on the scale someone else may say is 7, neither of us are wrong, as with most things to do with your health it’s your own call. You’ve maybe never even considered where you’d but your drinking on a scale between 1 and 10. (1 being “I had a glass of champagne at the Christmas party and I’ll probably have another at Sandra’s wedding” and 10 being “I sleep with a bottle of vodka under my pillow so I can have a swig to get me out of bed in the morning” – or whatever examples come to your own mind.) Give yourself 5 minutes now to have a think and give yourself a number. If you’re OK with that number then crack on and enjoy your day. If not, it’s time to start doing something about it.