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Carrie Armstrong Headshot

Please Don't Give Up Drinking

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ALCOHOL
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I don't like it when I hear people talking about "giving up" drinking.

I don't like it because it doesn't really work.

It's not about sacrifice. The very term "giving up" alcohol I take issue with. Nobody "gives up" drinking, the same way nobody gives up at a traffic light when it turns red. You just stop. Can you imagine if we used this type of terminology whilst driving? Spending hours a day giving up to and from work? We'd all be permanently knackered. Defeated by our own journeys. Is it not slightly worrying that we give more care to the language we use in relation to the vehicles we drive than we do to our own bodies?

Stop Drinking. Stop. It's not even an action is it? It cessation of action, It's switching focus. Replacing the old action of drinking with other new actions. Giving up does more than simply imply that we have stopped a course of action. It infers that there is no more action to come. No stop, so no start. And that is where we are going about recovery in a horribly wrong way. From a massively flawed premise. I've given up drinking so my life is over, versus I've stopped drinking so therefore I'm deliberately starting living instead.

It is important. It is really important. Because when we feel like we've given something wonderful up, that our life will not be as good as everyone else's, those lucky ones who get to still participate in something we have denied ourselves? We harbour feelings of entitlement. That now we have decided to stop f*cking our life up with our drinking we are owed something in return. That the world should give us a break. Be nice to us. That we are suffering and should be rewarded for our gallantry. It won't happen. It can't happen. Because it isn't true. This realisation can be very disappointing. And that disappointment? Just brings a bigger sense of lack and emptiness. Until giving up on giving up seems the only available option. A very easily excused and readily justified option too. And so back to drinking we go. Relapse in full swing, ready to begin that vicious cycle again. And again.

Unless we die obviously. There's your stop without lack. Or is dying too strong a word? Would we prefer "giving up" living?

Recovery is not a sacrifice. It is empowering. An exciting and wonderful journey. The most amazing thing a person can do for themselves. And I never expected it. Never knew it could feel like this. Certainly nobody told me it could be this way. Alcoholics waste years on drinking. On being anesthetised by our drug of choice. We've missed so much of life. All of us. Recovery does not have to be about missing out on even more by spending our new sober life either commiserating with other people who also think they are also missing out, or by spending it shut away from the world out of fear. Fear that our self-discipline is not strong enough to fight the need to drink. More mistaken thinking. Nothing about being recovered needs to be about lack.

My heart breaks for people who have felt the need to "battle" with sobriety. Whether they have lost the battle and gone back to drinking like the 95% we are so often told do. Or whether they continue to battle-like the elusive 5% who stay in recovery-but still feel vulnerable to relapse, or bereft without alcohol. Never feeling fully free and really, truly alive when it is so very easy to do so.

I do believe being recovered is beautiful. And permanent. I do believe we can all have it. Easily. Joyfully. Comfortably. I believe in a world where recovered people are happy. I think we all deserve it. And I think it starts with something as simple as the words we use. Giving up nothing. Choosing more. Choosing a life of passion. Of reaching beyond everything we've ever assumed was possible. A miraculous life filled with inspiration. With love, fulfilment. To me that's what recovery is. And who wouldn't want live in a place like that?

Home.

Finally.

Around the Web

Alcoholism and Problem Drinking | Health | Patient.co.uk

BBC - Health: Alcohol addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Great Britain

Where to find alcohol support - Live Well - NHS Choices

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