In this final part of our 4-part series on alcohol, our guest writer Janet Hadley explores how alcohol can impact our relationships. We’ve probably all heard tales (from our own acquaintances or from the media) of relationship break downs that are due to rock-bottom drinking. Janet takes a different angle, sharing her experience of drinking and raising children and the difference that sobriety has made to her parenting experience.

Janet Hadley, Founder and Director of Choose Sunrise

It wasn’t until I started questioning my own drinking and then making the decision to cut out alcohol altogether (albeit I never imagined it would be forever) that I noticed just how many positive reinforcements there are about alcohol. The messages telling us that we need alcohol to ‘get through’ just about any adversity are absolutely everywhere. Being a mum of 3, I particularly noticed those aimed at parents, which are quite shocking.

Normalising Alcohol Dependency

Taking a step back and looking objectively at my Facebook feed, what I was being drip-fed was ultimately the message that mums need booze to cope. From Mummy’s wine o clock’ to ‘gin not gym’ memes, our society has quietly started to normalise, perhaps even glamourise, alcohol dependency.

In my own social circle, I started to notice how often booze was present in situations where I’m sure it never used to be when I was growing up. The kids’ sports day at school, the Christmas play at school, the Christmas Fair at school, kids’ parties, during meal preparation at home, even while bathing the children. My memories of my parents’ drinking are confined to Friday nights at ‘the club’. There was no place for wine with Sunday dinner back in my day.

The Early Days of Sobriety

I started to wonder about the impact of this regular, low-level of slightly intoxicated parenting, particularly as I emerged from my own personal fog and into the harsh light of the early days of sobriety. The first thing that struck me was how much more patient I could be. I try not to have many regrets in life, but when I look back at the days of racing through a bedtime story to get to the wine, I feel saddened. Now I have time to really listen to what my daughters have to tell me about their day as I tuck them in one by one. I feel a new calmness in our relationships. I receive compliments about how much less I over-react to things – which, coming from young teenagers, is pretty amazing.

It’s not just the children that benefit either, my relationship with my partner has also become stronger, despite his initial resistance to the loss of his drinking partner. Once he started to see how much happier and confident I am without alcohol, he became my number one supporter, even pouring an entire bottle of his favourite wine down the sink at one point to help save me from myself.

 

 

 

 

Benefits of a complete reset

Of course, I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go tea-total and that we bring in prohibition: given the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed in my lifetime, that would be somewhat hypocritical. I’m simply observing that the promotion and positive imagery of alcohol within our society has been steadily increasing. We’re being taught that alcohol improves our social relationships and makes us more fun. The truth is that, for many people, this is simply not the case. For millions of people, alcohol is getting in the way of us having the best possible relationships with our loved ones, and you don’t have to be a rock bottom dependent drinker to reap the benefits of having a complete reset.

There are other ways

If booze is the only way you know how to de-stress at the end of a long day, I’m here to tell you, there are other ways. These days at the end of a tough day I open a cold bottle of kombucha, go for a run, have a bath, put on some tunes, phone a friend, write, read, listen to a podcast, cook, play the piano, eat amazing food or get out some clean sheets, go to bed early and chill.

It’s not boring!

And guess what? I feel approximately 15 million times better for it. I don’t miss alcohol; I don’t crave it and I don’t want it back in my life. Does that make me boring? Well, not as boring as opening a bottle of wine, watching Netflix, eating crisps, drinking more wine, going to bed, lying on the sofa the next day doing nothing and then having no idea what’s going on in the Netflix series I was watching. My life is full of interesting, fun things to do. I haven’t given anything up, it’s all about what I’m gaining.

If I gave you a pill that would improve your sleep, reduce anxiety, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, improve your brain function, help weight loss, improve mental health, give you better skin and better hair, improve your memory, improve your mood and save you money, would you take it? I think we’d all be hooked!

Choose Sunrise

 

At Choose Sunrise, we believe that nobody should feel afraid to ask for help with alcohol use. We can help you to create drink safe workplace. We specialise in helping professionals to reach their full potential by escaping the office drinking culture and resetting their relationship with alcohol.

 

Did you know…

  • 20% of workers report drinking more than they want to because of pressure from work colleagues
  • 32% of employees attend work with a hangover every month
  • Alcohol is estimated to be the cause of between 3-5% of all workplace absence

 

Is it time for you to consider becoming an Alcohol Wise Employer?

 

Click here to find out more and join the waiting list.