Thursday, December 8, 2011


So, in addition to Nanowrimo and getting my butt back into the gym, the other big thing in my life is that I've quit drinking.

I've always been a heavy drinker. I've been told that I have alcoholism in my family history, though both of my parents are responsible drinkers (my dad barely drinks at all, because he gets blinding headaches if he has more than one beer or glass of wine), and I grew up in Nova Scotia, which is a known bastion of the late-night party, and I've got a few other traits here and there that put me squarely in the right demographic to abuse alcohol and potentially other substances.

I quit drinking once before, in my twenties, for just shy of a year, before starting up again. For a while I moderated my drinking, and I don't think I've ever gotten as bad as I was in my early twenties, but realistically, I've been drinking unhealthy amounts of alcohol for years, and sooner or later it will be a factor in my physical health.

Addiction is a very strange thing. Nothing else demonstrates to me just how "biological" the mind actually is. I can write that I'm a heavy drinker, but there's a huge part of me that believes that I wasn't really that much of a drinker at all. Even though I'm off the charts for consumption of alcohol - every source, every table or graph, every questionnaire says that I drink much, much more than average - I still feel like it isn't really that much. If I have to think of it in terms of data and numbers, I tell myself that I'm an outlier. I mean, I'm 6' and 260lbs, so that means I can drink more with less effect, so who cares if I'm way, way beyond the weekly recommended limit after one night? That's just metabolism!

I've lied to my doctor about the amount I drink. I've lied to family, and to strangers. Not huge lies, and my drinking hasn't gotten to the point where other people feel the need to question me about my habits, but still, why the lies?

If I could somehow arrange to live my entire life being plastered or getting plastered and everything else took care of itself, I would seriously consider it. Drinking isn't for being social, or for savouring or for whatever else people use booze for, it's for getting drunk. One drink? What's the point? Right?

But the fact is that alcohol has already hurt my life. When I think about the money alone...I mean, how many thousands of dollars have I spent on booze? The answer: a lot. How many brain cells? My family is long-lived, and I could, theoretically, live until my 90s or 100s, but what if I have a stroke when I'm 50? That's a lot of time to spend, possibly needing care because of something that was preventable. How many relationships have I damaged because I said something stupid, or skipped an important appointment because I was hungover? The costs are too high.

Originally, the plan was to stop drinking for 3 months, but the longer I'm sober, the more I realize that this needs to be a more permanent thing. I have countless experiences to show that I can't trust myself to stop at one beer. I've been sober now for 2 months and 3 days, and some days are easy, some are difficult, but if I'm going to feel like I've achieved something in my life, I've got to do this.

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