The two most important parts of our lives, time and health, if we are lucky to have them, and some to spare, are always taken for granted. With my clients we do go through a process of working out how much time we waste whilst in the chapter of concern about our drinking habits. It’s not just the act of imbibing, it is all the thinking time on top. For the most part we have set hours to ‘unwind’ with alcohol, prior to any kind of full blown addiction. Wine time, between getting home from work or school runs, until the bottle or bottles run dry. The rest of the time is spent wasted thinking about what was said the night before, how you can justify it, whether you should drink today, or not, until wine time rolls around again, and back on the merry-go-round, that is far from merry.
Out of 24 hours in a day, if we are lucky, we get sleep or for those who do drink more than they know they should, including me back in the day, passing out, anaesthetised, of 6 or 7 hours. The next 18 or so we spend at least 9 of them worrying, feeling shameful, regretting and beating ourselves up about this activity, and within that time convincing ourselves that tonight, it will be different and drinking again. It is exhausting and has in turn, a hugely negative impact on our health, emotionally, physically and mentally. The rest of the time we squash in work, family, home, shopping, and wishing that time away until the drinking hours begin.
Rarely do we allow ourselves to consider the outcomes, but that is just human nature, always convincing ourselves that we are not that bad, and we know people who are worse.
However, when you do get to middle age and beyond, being incapacitated by illnesses that are out of your control is saddening, but being similarly incapacitated by those that you could have done something about, is tragic and deeply upsetting made worse by the enormous bag of guilt and shame that goes with it.
This is not just a problem in the UK, for example, a daily Australian paper only last week reported that it is middle aged women’s heavy drinking that has not, unlike men’s, decreased, and more and more are presenting with the consequences of it. Link. http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/more-middle-aged-women-drinking-alcohol-to-dangerous-levels-20160609-gpfibi.html
My clients are not weak or powerless, just unable to access appropriate care without feeling stigmatised and ashamed. If they do find quality care, their attitudes towards not only their own problem but that of others, changes dramatically, and they are able to care for themselves with compassion and thoughtfulness that they should have been allowed to do in the first place rather than being labelled and categorised as a failure, and of course ALCOHOLIC. So wrong, so outdated and extremely unhelpful.
To start to consider the vital importance of time and health rather than a fake quick fix from a bottle is surely worth a few of our precious hours.