Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sober Day #156: So Much Alcohol

I did an experiment yesterday. I consciously looked for all mention of alcohol around me- billboards, newspapers, magazine, websites...   This is in the UK, but the prevalence of alcohol references is pretty much the same at home in the US.

It is absolutely everywhere!   Partial list:

(1) In my email, a Social Living offer for a Mixology Course
(2) A flyer for a dinner featuring a different wine with each course
(3) Large billboards each advertising a different whiskey, gin, etc
(4) Article in a woman's magazine about 'Stocking your Bar'.
(5) Pubs, of course, with lists of alcohol far longer than the food offerings
(6) Newspaper ads for various alcohols, and an article about specific Merlots
(7) TV and magazine ads for various things- cars, travel, clothing or jewelry- showing a glamorous woman/man/couple with champagne/wine glasses as part of the setting

There was nothing else that was mentioned or shown so often and so lovingly.  Not cars, not food, not sports, not boats or high-end housing.  There seemed an assumption that alcohol is necessary for a normal social life.

On one level, it makes me think:  What is there about today's society that makes so many feel a need for a socially-sanctioned escape from it?

On another level, I think: perhaps those with a 'normal' relationship with alcohol (ie, those who have an appropriate OFF button) simply ignore these, and it is only my unhealthy relationship with alcohol that makes me notice these?

And on the most important level, I almost feel thankful for these constant reminders of what I am choosing to change.  Each mention I see/hear makes that first thought across my mind:  That sounds lovely, I'd like some of that.  And then the counterpoint:  Wow!  No, I really don't think I want to do that, at least not right now.  It doesn't seem fun right now to give away part of my life, part of my consciousness, to a substance.

And there is the constant dilemma for most of us:  How can something that logically makes no sense, none at all, still seem attractive and alluring?  

Bottom line:  Alcohol is pervasive in our society.  Those of us with no OFF switch are therefore continually reminded of our false friend, alcohol, and must continually re-think:  Yes or No?  Shall I or shan't I?  The bummer of this is constantly having to flex the "No, not today, thank you" muscle.  But the good side is that all this flexing of the muscle makes it stronger and stronger, and it becomes a bit easier each time to say "No" the next.

I went to a dinner with a large group of husband's colleagues last night.  Wine was being poured around the table by the server.  There was mineral water on the table.  I filled my wine glass with mineral water, said "neither, thank you" the first time I was asked "red or white?"- and the server with wine simply skipped me each time after that when she rounded the table.  It was simple, non-dramatic, I'm not even sure if those seated on either side of me noticed, and nobody mentioned it.  Easy as pie.  Which continues to surprise me.

No wine here yesterday, none planned for today!


  1. Interesting that you think it is similar in the UK and US - I was wondering if it Britain was particularly strong on its drinking culture. I feel like I'm noticing ads and imagery everywhere, though perhaps that's just because I am hyper-aware of it having just quit. It does feel part of that normalisation of boozing, doesn't it? Look! Everyone has a drink, it's cool, sophisticated, fun, *normal* ... expected even? Glad your dinner went well! And enjoy Oxford, such a beautiful city :) Try get to Stratford, too, if you can. Not far away! xxx

    1. I wonder if this situation today is vastly different from other times in human history? Or if in medieval times people were also mostly soused, but it was so much the norm that nobody even questioned it or commented on it?

      Oxford is amazing! I would love to have gone to school here. 16-year-old daughter has raised the question of coming here herself- it could happen!

  2. MTM beat me to it!! That was exactly what I was thinking too :) It feels like here in the UK we are literally drowning in booze and being urged at every turn to drink. I saw mother's day ad's outside a supermarket saying - drink Bailey's, a perfect way to celebrate this day (or something similar)!? WTF!! And my post today follows on this topic - ESP indeed ;) xx

    1. There is a swath of middle America that is the Bible Belt- where rather rabid teetotalers live. But on the coasts, suburbs and big cities, alcohol is IT. And even in the Bible Belt area, there are the sports fans/bars and the hunters for whom hunting is more about the beer than the deer. This would make a great thesis topic for some sociology/psychology student!


I'd love to hear about your journey, and hear your take on my journey. Comments are very welcome!!