Health & happiness

Are you drinking too much?

When I first started this blog I wrote a post about the health benefits of drinking wine. Although I still believe that a little wine won’t harm your health, I really want to write a little more on this topic. Because no matter how much you read about the health benefits, alcohol is a drug – it’s just a socially accepted one.

There’s a lot I could write about what has driven me to write this post, but to be honest that’s too personal for me. I am still a little too aware of who might be reading this – friends, family, colleagues, strangers… And I am not ready to share everything about my life on this blog. However, I will say that someone close to me has been losing him-/herself in alcohol and it is without a doubt one of the most frustrating and painful things I have ever witnessed. It has made me a lot more wary about drinking and what it can do to a person.

Drinking is a part of life

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with drinking every now and then. It’s a part of life and I really enjoy a glass of wine every now and then – especially in the summer. But life has forced me to re-examine my relationship with alcohol as well as the role it plays in most of our lives. While the dangers of the use of certain hard drugs are constantly being brought up, the consumption of alcohol is something that is much more dangerous in my eyes. Why? Because it’s completely ingrained in our day-to-day lives and entirely socially acceptable.

Alcoholism: A grey area

Of course, drinking too much is a different story. People don’t want to become known as alcoholics, but there is a huge grey area in this respect. I’ve come to realize that the ‘classic’ view I had of an alcoholic is not always accurate. Alcoholism is like a serial killer – he/she may look perfectly normal on the outside, but that doesn’t mean he/she isn’t dangerous. Alcoholics don’t necessarily fall asleep on their front lawn, drive drunk or screw up at work. They may never get drunk at all – a consequence of drinking too much is that your body becomes resistant to alcohol. Alcoholics may live perfectly normal lives – or so it seems. This is what makes it so hard to realize someone has crossed a line.

I read somewhere that, as a woman, you’re ‘allowed’ to drink a glass a day (7 a week); men are allowed twice as much. This seems like a lot to me. I certainly don’t drink alcohol every day – I try to limit my drinking to weekends and special occasions – and I don’t drink seven glasses each weekend either. The thing is, if I did, I would be considered normal. Lots of people I know have a glass of wine with dinner every night. Isn’t it a problem already if you’re drinking every day?

Life should always be better sober

I’m sure we’re not all prone to becoming addicted to alcohol. Also, I believe you have to be very careful with why you’re drinking. Are you drinking to suppress a certain emotion, event or memory? Are you drinking because you’re stressed, frustrated or having trouble sleeping? Those are all red flags to me. If you’re having a drink because you’re celebrating something – a birthday, a special event or a beautiful summer night – that’s a different story. Drinking becomes dangerous when you’re using it to self-medicate. It should never become something you need to feel better.

So I believe that the health benefits of drinking alcohol are not all that relevant. Of course, it’s important not to drink too often (moderation, moderation, moderation!) but the reason you’re drinking and the way it makes you feel is much more important. If drinking makes you feel better about yourself, a certain situation, or life in general, you may need to start rethinking your drinking habits. Life should always be better when you’re sober. Remember that.

“I’ve never seen anyone drink themselves smart, successful or happy. Most end up broke, bitter and alone” Unknown

To me, it’s very simple: life should make you high and if it doesn’t, there’s always some drug that will do the trick. In the end, we all want to feel good. Some of us go through a lot of crappy things, which we can’t seem to forget, and stand in the way of us feeling good. Alcohol will make us feel good, it’s almost a guarantee. That’s exactly what’s so scary about it. The most negative people can suddenly become happy by having a drink (not always – but often). Of course, this happiness is temporary and over time you’ll need more and more of whatever you’re using to ‘drug’ yourself to get this happy feeling back.

I am not addicted to alcohol and I don’t condemn anyone who drinks – I enjoy drinking myself. But due to events in my personal life I had to write this blog post, as a reminder to you and myself that alcohol is a drug and you need to be very careful with it. I don’t ever want to be a person who lives to drink and looks forward to their next glass of wine. I want to live life fully – with its highs and lows – and alcohol should not play a leading role in it. There are many other ways to get high without having a glass of wine, you just need to discover what those things are.

“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people” – The Great Gatsby

Whenever you feel yourself craving a drink, especially when you’re feeling low, try replacing that craving with something else you enjoy, something healthier. Read a book, watch a movie, go out, work out, whatever works for you. You might just forget all about that drink and realize there are many other ways to get ‘high’ – and this high will feel a lot better and last a lot longer. Also, being sober when everyone else is drunk can feel empowering. Like you can see things no-one else can see. Plus: you won’t make a fool of yourself and you won’t wake up hungover the next day. In my opinion, alcohol should only be enjoyed every now and then, in moderation, and definitely not every day. No matter how ‘healthy’ or socially acceptable it is.

Emmelyn X

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