I used to drink too much, worry too much, project too much, and because of alcohol, almost every thought I had was pickled with negativity. It was extreme self-destruction, that harmed others, to wake up in the morning, and know you have not hurt anyone is a magical feeling.
In my work, naturally confidentiality has always been key, but the more empowered The Sanctuary women become the more they are now beginning to start the BIG conversation in real time, about what was once a very toxic issue for them. Without stigma or tambourine bashing, they have overcome the fear around talking openly about their reasons for not drinking to excess anymore, and I hope as they do, that they will in turn encourage others who find themselves in the same concerned and fearful position to be able to do the same, casting aside any shame or guilt.
For after all, it was never a choice that we became so dependent on such a well marketed and dangerous, legal drug.
Wine is dressed up so adeptly as being very acceptable, affordable and a quick, effective way to relax. It is also completely normalised, for many of us, it was never considered ‘proper’ drinking until the wheels fell off, With the added easy edge, that it needs no prescription, just a grocery shop and a fridge.
Of course it is not the first time that we have been seduced. Gin was the craze in the first half of the 18th century, the Absinthe movement in the latter part of the 19th Century, and more recently, Mother’s little helper Valium washed down with Gin and Dubonnet in the 60s was a favourite mix for middle class Mums. My Mother was a victim of this over prescribed prescriptive drug, trusting advice that it would make all the tragedy and angst in her life disappear, sadly the reverse was the case.
So many clients are prescribed Anti-depressants, Citralopram, Prozac, wash them down with a cheeky little number, ignoring the fact that their drinking totally negated the effects of the other legal drug they were taking. It is not the fault of them or the GPs, admitting that we drink too much to ourselves and others is far too painful because of the stigma that surrounds it. So, in many ways history is repeating itself. But this is a modern problem, faced by modern women, who wanted it all, and for the most part got it, except for the indisputable fact, that biologically we just are not equipped to drink like men. In everything else of course, we beat them hands down!
This BIG conversation will only start with us. Like minded women, from different backgrounds, who have had enough of the self-destruct button. Without being preachy or evangelical, by playing our wellness and clarity forward, we can make a change. We do not have a rule book, or belong to a cult, but we are very obviously, savvy, intelligent, articulate women who have now got control and choice.
Methods at the Sanctuary are not mainstream, I have no time for the depressing thought that I will be burdened with a lifetime of regret. The gold standards of care that are in place today, are antiquated and inconvenient for many. What I would love all women who are concerned about their drinking, is to campaign for at the very least gender specific care, and at best combine that with age specific care. To be told once you have decided to cork it, there should be immediate and appropriate therapy in place that maintains your determination to make this change. If you broke your leg, your GP doesn’t fix it you’re referred to a specialist. Only when the problem has become desperate, mopping up the outcome of misuse costs the UK at least 37 billion a year, surely that money would be better spent in prevention that does not come across as weakness of the client, the opposite, it so courageous. There is no value with ineffective care, waste of time and money. Because of the drip feed with drinking, rarely do we count the financial cost of it. We did the stats at the Sanctuary. Last year the average saving per client, was £4674.00 per annum, and that did not include, any wild online shopping, guilt purchases or taxi fares.
We must be proactive, vocal and concise in the inappropriate way our once problem is handled. We need to speak with the powers that be, MPs, local Councils, to all services either private or public who would are involved in change. We should join forces pool our resources, one small group will not have enough leverage, but given the amount of online help out there, surely it would make sense for those groups, sites and forums to get involved in real time. We need to make bars and clubs give balance to the drinks on offer, and we need too to tackle our supermarkets and get them to address this balance also. We are the consumers and there is strength in numbers.
We have to banish the taboo, there is none with sexuality or smoking, so why the hell are we still frightened of talking about once drinking too much? It’s insane, and the best definition of insanity provided by Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to change. We have all been there! We live in the 21st century not the dark ages.
To coin a saying that did the rounds with COVID, we all are in this together, but not outwardly, in reality, doing anything about it. Sending messages across the internet, staying anonymous simply is not going to stop this escalating epidemic, we have all find a way of joining forces and taking this to those in power and make them listen.