If I were living in the 1930s and had just been shot in the arm, I’d probably be eyeing a glass of whiskey right about now. But times have changed, and we’re in an era of growing awareness and environmental consciousness. We’re more informed about the world we live in and the impact we have on our planet. We know that exercise and a balanced diet are the keys to staying fit and healthy, and we’re much more knowledgeable about our food and its nutritional value compared to just a decade or two ago.
Doctors and scientists have proven that alcohol is in fact a depressant and not the answer to our emotional or psychological problems. When I was an anxious teenager and full of despair from a traumatic childhood, I believed that alcohol was the answer to all my problems. Like others who have experienced a painful childhood filled with emotional damage and torment, I turned to the bottle. My poison of choice was whiskey: as the warm liquid would slide down my throat and warm my chest, my feelings of confusion and despair would be drowned inside of me. I was able to cope better with everyday life with my feelings numbed and carefully locked away like a dirty secret.
My GP advised me to quit drinking alcohol due to the damage I had already caused to my organs, and I was only 16 at the time. I often hear people say they drink to unwind and wash away the stress from a long work week. Maybe you drink to boost your confidence or just to fit in with the crowd. Enjoying a glass of wine in the evening or sipping a cold beer with friends at the pub is a popular way to socialise since we humans naturally gravitate toward group settings.
So, how risky is it for an adult to have one, two, or three alcoholic drinks every evening? According to Drinkaware, alcoholism can usually be diagnosed based on behaviour over the past 12 months or more. But alcohol dependence might be diagnosed if someone continuously drinks alcohol daily (or almost daily) for at least three months. The World Health Organization states that alcohol consumption can lead to death and disability relatively early in life. In fact, for people aged 20–39 years, around 13.5% of total deaths are linked to alcohol.
I now understand that my alcohol addiction was a form of self-medicating, I did not know how to deal with my psychological issues so instead, I numbed my feelings. I did speak with professionals but my immature mind did not explore and consume the deeper benefits of this support that was pushed upon me.
I am fortunate enough to have been supported many years later in adulthood by the local rehab and menu partners. I left the Nelson Clinic in Portsmouth sober in 2005. But this was not where my story would end, for this was just the beginning of a long and bumpy road to recovery. I relapsed on many occasions; I fell off the wagon and down the neck of a bottle.
It became apparent that if one does not tackle the reasons that led to their addiction then the opportunity for success was reduced greatly.
A combination of meditation, therapy, and exercise helped me through my darkest days. I now live a life of mindfulness and well-being, choosing exercise and meditation as healthy alternative habits. I was a functioning alcoholic who still managed to successfully keep a career, while my mental and physical self was falling apart. I have escaped death on many occasions and used my experiences to help others, facilitating early intervention at schools for Mental Health and Addiction. My memoir-style books are being used as resources all over the globe, inspiring and supporting others through their battles with these common issues.
People often ask me how I manage to stay balanced despite my rough past full of torment and trauma. My go-to answer is to share my daily habits of meditation, exercise, and faith that have made a difference.
If you’re reading this and questioning if you’re using alcohol to self-medicate or for reasons that could be addressed in healthier ways, don’t hesitate to seek answers or professional help. It’s true that alcohol causes many deaths, and people might still drink to fit in with society. But remember, there’s one place we’ll all fit eventually – a coffin. So, it’s worth reconsidering our choices.