Alcohol is the one drug that is so ingrained in our society that you have to justify yourself if you choose not to consume it. It’s highly addictive and can be just as dangerous as drugs that are actually illegal. I remember at school learning about how drunk people don’t have any idea of their body temperature meaning they could end up dying of hypothermia if they fall asleep outdoors while drunk. At uni we’d joke about this saying we had our ‘beer jackets’ on. It is a depressant, meaning that it slows down your body’s vital functions; that’s why you’ll find yourself slurring your speech or falling over. It’ll also impair your judgement, meaning your far more likely to make poor decisions when drunk- these decisions range from the cringe-worthy to the dangerous. It also causes you to become really dehydrated, which is the main reason you get a hangover the next day. And for some reason as you get older the harder it is for your body to recover…
It’s a huge part of growing up and it’s almost as if the drunken horror stories are a right of passage. I can remember getting so drunk while out with my girl friends that I passed out in the toilets leaning against the door. Freaked my friends out quite a bit when they couldn’t get to me to check I was okay. Thankfully, I was. Although I really suffered for it the next day.
It’s socially acceptable to drink at special occasions; you need alcohol to make a toast, right? It’s your birthday, you need a prosecco! Had a hard day? You need a drink. Had a shock? You need a drink. Hungover? Hair of the dog. If someone refuses a drink then something must be wrong, right?
I have to say that while I enjoy a drink and in all situations listed above you’ll find me toasting with the prosecco or drowning my sorrows in a pint, but I’m not really sure I’ve ever really enjoyed the feeling of being drunk. I don’t really like feeling like I’m not in control of my own body. Most instances in my life when I’ve ended up really drunk, like pass-out-in-the-toilet drunk, I can clearly remember wanting to take it back. Like, I wanted a do-over. A do-over and I wouldn’t drink so much. I just wanted to be sober again. Except you can’t do that, can you? You have to ride it out.
So if I decided not to drink anymore how would people around me react? First of all, how many people would think I was pregnant? It’s depressing to think about how many women have been in ‘drinking situations’ having just found out they’re pregnant and feeling that they have to lie or pretend that they ARE drinking. A woman should get to choose when she announces, right? Particularly if it’s before 12 weeks. I have a friend who sweet-talked the barman at an event to only give her tonic water when she asked for a gin and tonic. Another friend who made her husband drink every glass of prosecco she was offered at a wedding while carrying around a half empty glass. Her husband was nursing quite the hangover the next day. I can’t help but feel that there’s something wrong with our society that women feel they have to pretend to drink to hide their pregnancies because by not drinking they’re outing themselves.
Okay, so once they’ve realised I’m not pregnant, how many people would think that I’d just become boring…? Sure, I’d like to think that I am capable of having fun without alcohol and my friends wouldn’t be my friends if they could only tolerate me when either I’m drunk or we both are. But what about when they’re drunk and I’m sober? When they’re finding their shoes hilariously funny and I’m sober and don’t get the joke, who is having a good time? Well, probably them, but not so much me. Then of course there is the cajoling; ‘oh go on, just have one’, ‘I’ll buy one for you’, ‘what? Why are you not drinking?’ It seems that people are uncomfortable when someone decides they don’t want to drink. Like, they can’t fathom why a person would refuse one so feel the need to try to persuade them that they should. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely done it too, but now I’m more frequently on the other side of it. They probably think that I won’t enjoy myself if everyone is drunk around me, which I get, I might not. So what do you do when everyone else around you wants to get drunk, but you don’t? It’s a genuine question, I don’t know the answer.
I’m not saying I want to stop drinking completely. I’m not prepared to go tee-total just yet. I don’t have a problem with alcohol, in fact, the opposite; I think I have a really good relationship with it. I enjoy a prosecco with my sister in law or my girls when I’m home. I enjoy a pint with my friends at the weekend. I’ll have a beer with dinner when I go out. But I have my limits; I don’t want to drink shots (and haven’t for quite a while) and when I’m done, I’m done, please don’t try to force a drink on me. If I say I’m not drinking, please don’t think I’m pregnant, maybe I just don’t feel like it tonight. I’ll also try to do the same, if you don’t want to drink then I won’t make assumptions. I’ll just nod and buy you a soft drink alongside my pint. As I say with everything these days; don’t judge me for my decisions and I won’t judge you for yours. I’m going to make this my motto…