When is drinking too much our fault?

Last week, we wrote about drinking culture  raising the issue of is it really our fault if we drink too much?


What do the experts say?


The experts look at three things, they call Structural, Community and Individual.

fault




What’s the structural issue?


Structural looks at stuff like legal systems and regulations. So in Ireland, we licence pubs and we allow alcohol advertising. Until the new Public Health Alcohol bill is actually implemented alcohol can be sold below cost as a loss leader by big supermarkets. Makes it very cheap and easy to buy.


What the bill won’t do is stop sports accepting alcohol advertising. So we’ll still have the ridiculous situation of leading sport heroes like Johnny Sexton accepting the “Heineken Man of the Match award”

So in Ireland, structural factors are still stacked in favour of drinking alcohol.

What’s the Community issue?


The community aspect is how people as a society actually work and live together. The GAA is a big part of our community. They’re more aware of the damage alcohol does as they don’t accept alcohol sponsorships and they train club staff to provide help for people who drink too much. (Click here for details)


So they are well ahead of the rugby gang. However so many of the local clubs depend on alcohol sales to stay afloat and the range of alcohol free drinks in club bars is generally poor.

Communion and Confirmation season


With communion and confirmation season on us, we can really see how everything resolves around drink. So often the Communion party is the bouncy castle in the garden, where all the kids play outside while the adults sit around for hours drinking. Not just one or two glasses of wine, but a bottle or two. Kids grow up to see this as normal and then repeat the cycle when they are adults.

So the community we live in is still very much stacked in favour of drinking alcohol.

Does the individual have a part to play?


So is it any wonder we drink too much given the pressures to drink all the time? Is it our fault? This is where it’s useful to separate out fault versus responsibility.

Fault versus Responsibility


So if your partner cheats on you, it’s not your fault. If you grew up in a household where drinking too much was normal, it’s not your fault.
However it is your responsibility to figure out how you are going to deal with it. Because as the actor Will Smith says it’s


“Your heart, your life, your responsibility to be happy”.

So as we wrote last week, knowing the game is rigged against you helps. It is not your fault, drinking less is so difficult. It however your responsibility to decide how you are going to deal with the obstacles placed in your way.

It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility

So when things go wrong, like you discover your partner is cheating, or just a really rough day in work and anxiety levels are through the roof, it’s your responsibility to choose how you will deal with this.

Have a bottle of wine, or just a glass, or maybe just head out for a walk? It’s not your fault, you’re having a rough time, but it’s your responsibility to choose how you will deal with it.

Will’s video is well worth watching and you can see it here.

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Is Blue Monday really so blue?

The idea that Blue Monday, the 3rd Monday in January is the most depressing day has taken hold in the last few years. Even though the science behind blue Monday is highly suspect!  Many people do find the 3rd week of January   depressing- the New Year’s resolutions have been broken or it’s very tough going and money is very tight until the end of the month.

So we thought we’d cheer you up by looking at some of the really positive things that are happening.

 

#Metoo movement

This was a major story in the last few years. Women standing up for themselves and calling out those in power, abusing that power by sexually assaulting women. It became a topic of conversation at tea breaks over lunch and for the first time many men became aware of the level of intimidation many women must face every day.

 

Change is happening at ground level

One highlight for me was a coffee break where one man stated woman were exaggerating about unwanted  sexual innuendo. Every single woman from women in their 20’s to their 60’s put up their hand to say yes, they had been subjected to unwanted sexual remarks or  physical contact at least once. The man was visibly shocked and hopefully he has a new take on the issue.

 

Women’s voices are becoming stronger

We had the horrific Belfast rape trial followed by further horrible questioning in a Cork trial where a woman was asked about the underwear she was wearing, showing rape myths are alive and well.

But now women are standing up for themselves.  There were protests after the Belfast trial and  Cork Trials. Jena Keating a Cork woman stood alone on Patrick Street in her underwear, with her mouth taped and ‘this is not consent’ written all over her body.

People starting hugging her (click here  for video) and she really got the point across.

 

Brave Campaigners

Brave Vicky Phelan has changed the face of Irish medicine and how women are perceived with her decision to campaign on cervical cancer screening.

Louise O Neill’s book on sexual consent was turned in to a searing sold out play and Lynn Ruane’s book about her life won an award.

We also had the campaigners for repeal persuading the people of Ireland to vote for abortion. Whatever your views about abortion, it always disturbed me that in a country which banned abortion we did not have a decent child care system and children often have to wait years for health treatment. Maybe now we’re a little less hypocritical.

Another highlight for me was seeing Emmet Kirwan’s video showing one woman’s life, it covered so many different important topics. (click here)

 

The backlash against alcohol begins

At long last, we’re beginning to see more people starting to question our attitude to alcohol

There was

The well-known commentator Adrian Childs documentary talking about his relationship with alcohol.

BBB news talking about resisting “drink pushers” during the festive season

The Irish media even got in on the act saying Merry Christmas cards showing alcohol give the wrong message about alcohol.

 

A pub without alcohol

We even have Ireland’s first ever permanent pub without alcohol coming. Hopefully opening in February.

Imagine that!

There’s also a few other pubs. All In Dublin as far as I know, but they just have alcohol free sessions. Now if they could just reduce the price of alcohol free drinks!

 

Addiction services starting to change

Finally the horrible practise of bullying and insulting people with alcohol problems is now  starting to be challenged. This article appeared in the Irish Times.  This practise has no benefit in treatment so  avoid any treatment that includes this approach.

 

Public Health Alcohol Bill

A major achievement was the passing of the Public Health Alcohol Bill. Despite powerful lobbying the bill finally passed. Now the Government just has to implement it.

 

Blue Monday is not so blue

So yes, we’ve still a long way to go, this Blue Monday  but finally Irish society is beginning to change. so don’t give up hope. Change is always possible. If you’re feeling a bit Blue Monday why not look back on the last year and see if you can find five memories or events that made you happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad week for the Public Health Alcohol Bill

The Public Health Alcohol bill which we wrote about here was back in the Dail this week. It’s now 1,000 days since the bill was first proposed. In that time over 3,000 people have died from alcohol related harm.

 

Alcohol kills more people than suicide

As we’ve written before alcohol harm kills more people than illegal drugs and suicide.

Public Health Alcohol Bill

So you would think the bill which is aimed at reducing these deaths would be treated urgently. But no, two other bills, the Good Friday Pub bill and Craft brewery opening hours bills  have been introduced after the Public Health Alcohol bill and  are now law.

 

The Public Health Alcohol bill came back into the Dail

It was hoped the bill would be approved by the Dail on Wednesday. The debate started in the evening and ran for over 4 hours. A small number of deputies kept talking with total misinformation.

Michael  Healy Rae- Yes- he of the publican family, that thinks overgrown hedges kills more people, thought the bill was aimed at young people only.

In fairness, Stephen Donnelly, the Fianna Fail spokesman on health withdrew his amendment as he did not want to delay the bill. He also admitted to now being aware of the links between alcohol and cancer.

Louise O Reilly also proposed a useful amendment to start detailed tracking of alcohol related harm.

 

The Bill does not pass

With all the hot air, though the debate ran out of time. As one commentator said

“Listening to the filibustering and misinformation in the Dail by a handful of Deputies.

We have been apple picking in orchards in childhood and down the Wild Atlantic Way”

You can watch the full dispiriting debate at this link here- (pick Wed 27th Sept)  if you have masochistic tendencies, or you can pick up the speeches here.

 

The media role

The media did not cover themselves in glory either. Disgracefully, Virgin Media asked Michael Overgrown Hedges Healy  Rae to present a current affairs programme dealing with the Public Health Alcohol bill. Healy Rae missed a Dail vote to do this. There was no mention of his conflict of interest. However Senator Frances Black did a great job defending the bill. You can see a clip here.

Gerry O Sullivan, questioned Healy Rae ‘s appearance as a current affairs presenter on Kerry Radio and got a lot of abuse for his troubles. Link here.

On Twitter, the political editor of the Irish Times, Pat Leahy said he could only watch the debate with a half bottle of claret. (Smart Pat, you’re not binge drinking ). This generated multiple  replies mainly along the lines of

“It would drive you to drink, all right,”

and

You’re going to die, we’re all going to die.”

Very few of the replies were active supporters of the Public Health Alcohol bill.

 

Alcogenic Culture?

So if you’re trying to manage your drinking, our alcogenic or drinking environment does not help. All the messages are drinking is fun, sexy, entertaining and that life without drink is boring and uninteresting.

It can be very hard not to absorb these messages. It makes trying to reduce drinking very difficult as  discussed here  and here.

 

It’s changing though

There are signs of change though. 92% of the public do support the bill.

Public Health Alcohol bill

 

Minister Simon Harris has committed to bringing the bill back into the Dail next Wednesday. Hopefully the Government will stand up to alcohol industry pressure.

So just keep reminding yourself, your thinking is more informed than many of our TD’s and media. You know alcohol is a problem.

 

Motivation wavering?

And if you feel your self-belief or confidence weakening try reading some of our writer’s stories on our blog. For example

MSBG writes about “how living in Ireland made her  drink more to be accepted by Irish Friends

Irvine says “  he can’t live in Ireland as he drinks too much.

Siolta writes ” on her fears of  being seen as no craic ” if she does n’t drink

Beanyneamy writes ” on drinking away the Irish stereotype

Or just watch the very funny Irish intervention.Over 4 million people have enjoyed it so far.

 

Rose of Tralee finalist “confesses” addiction problem

Like it or loath it the Rose of Tralee, gets plenty of media attention with one headline stating

“Startling confession from Carlow Rose wows the nation”

the confession refers to an  addiction problem.

 

Rose of Tralee confesses addiction problem

This headline caused much controversy on social media with comments such as this

from Amy Lynam

“Another disgusting headline. 

Confession: the act of admitting that you have done something wrong or illegal @IrishTimes you are contributing to addiction stigma, please stop”

The headline was eventually taken down.

 

What’s the problem?

Well Amy is right.  Confessing to an addiction problem is seen as something shameful. We don’t “confess”  to breast cancer or a wonky elbow.  Why?  Because we don’t blame people for their breast cancers or wonky elbows.

However, you’re probably thinking, unlike addiction, people don’t cause their own breast cancers or wonky elbows. They are responsible for their own drinking though.

 

Drinking is a risk factor for breast cancer

Facts are though some breast cancers are caused by drinking and some wonky elbows are caused by falling on a tennis court.  But thankfully we don’t label these separately and decide the poor sufferer is to be shamed and blamed. So why do we do it with drinking?  It stops people looking for help when they do have a problem with their drinking. Making it worse, not only do we shame people who drink too much we also shame people who are trying to control their drinking.

 

We shame people who try to control their drinking

We’ve a great acceptance of people who drink too much, once they do not admit to having a problem.

“Sure she’s great craic”

“She’s the life and soul of the party. “

But try to control your drinking or not drink at all, and you feel  labelled as boring or you feel pressured to drink to please friends. Or you even  get asked if you’re pregnant. Our atittudes towards drinking are a  total paradox!

 

Rose of Tralee opens a new chapter

So the Rose of Tralee’s bravery was rightly admired and she was even made favourite to win. (She did n’t, that would be a step too far!) You can see her wonderful interview here. However she did not have an addiction problem, her parents had the addiction problem.  She just sadly grew up with it.  So the headlines were even more misleading and no wonder commentators were annoyed and right to be concerned about the poor reporting.  All the media mentioned her parents had a heroin problem, very few of them mentioned they had an alcohol addiction problem first.

 

Don’t let stigma get to you

Whether you just have an occasional problem with alcohol or whether you have a physical dependence on alcohol, it’s really important not to let society’s shaming attitudes towards alcohol  bring you down. It’s not easy as the now sadly deceased social justice campaigner Dara Quigley eloquently puts it

That is one of the unseen struggles of recovery from addiction. A constant battle between what you know is true, a desire to make it out the other side, pitted against a society which views addicts – particularly women addicts – as moral hazards to be contained and controlled.”

Dara’s full  article  can be found here

 

Tell yourself you deserve a better life

As Dara says,

“Tell yourself you deserve a better life”

So if you are struggling with alcohol, beware the constant messages from society  you are less than other people. You are a person who deserves compassion and respect as you deal with a problem.

Every single day, tell yourself  you deserve a better life.

 

Photo courtesy of RSVP

Have a break, have a brainwashing

Leading journalist Jennifer O Connell likes brainwashing herself when she’s travelling home on a train. She pretends she’s travelling first class as she orders her cigarettes from the trolley and starts smoking. She might even have a packet of peanuts as she plugs in her earphones and she starts relaxing in the crowded train.

You’re probably horrified that Jennifer has been so brainwashed into liking cigarettes,  she’s still smoking cigarettes on a crowded train.

Nadine loves her surf holiday

Meanwhile over in the Sunday Business Post, another leading journalist Nadine O’ Regan writes about her super healthy surfing holiday, in a fabulous five star hotel in Fuerteventura. She loves the way the hotel offer her favourite cigarettes at breakfast time from the breakfast menu. All included in the cost.

Melissa thinks her job is in a “blokey space”

Sorcha interviews taste expert Melissa about women smoking cigarettes in the Irish Times. Often Meslissa gets asked

“Are you sure you want that big pack of cigarettes”

“I know from experience that many women are uncomfortable about working in or smoking cigarettes. It’s bro culture.

Things are changing for the better though. This weekend Melissa is the key speaker at a first ever festival in Cork to celebrate women and smoking.

It has not been advertised much. But then with  free publicity in leading newspapers,they probably don’t need to advertise.

Horrified?

Do you think this is crazy?  Women celebrating their smoking. We all know smoking kills and no advertising or smoking in public is allowed. In fact Ireland took the global lead in introducing the smoking ban. A lead that many countries followed.  So you probably believe  Jennifer and Nadine should not be smoking in public places and the Irish Times should not be giving free publicity to a smoking festival.

 

Brainwashed out of smoking

So attitudes to smoking have really changed since our Government rightly took action  way back in 2004. The Government estimate over 3,000 lives were saved in the first 10 years of the ban.

Next month, is the last time you will see cigarette boxes with branding, colours and logos.  After that colourful cigarette boxes are banned.  Most people think this is a good idea. Attitudes towards smoking have changed as a direct result of Government action. Smoking is not “cool” or socially acceptable  anymore.

Brainwashed into drinking

So now in the stories above, replace smoking with alcohol. Jennifer enjoyed a 25cl bottle of wine on the train. Nadine liked the option of the bottle of prosecco with her breakfast and Melissa wants to sell more beer to women.

As we reported previously the alcohol industry is targeting women and these three examples show their efforts are succeeding. All around us we see alcohol shown as a simple harm free relaxing joy. We’re been influenced maybe even brainwashed by marketing that alcohol is just a normal everyday item.

Alcohol is more harmful than smoking

Yet according to the prestigious Lancet medical  journal, alcohol does more harm to the person and people around them. In fact a group of experts concluded that alcohol is the number one most harmful drug. Smoking is only in 6th place.

brainwashing

You can see the full report at this link. So all the action on smoking,  yet alcohol does not even have to be labelled as harmful!

Don’t be fooled by the brainwashing

So give yourself a break. Don’t be fooled by all the brainwashing. If you find the thought of smoking revolting, next time you’re tempted into drinking too much, replace the image of that lovely tipple with an image of a revolting half smoked cigarette dripping ash. And if you’d like our Government to take action and stand up to the alcohol industry, support the public health alcohol bill here.

If you’d like to learn more about low risk drinking, click here.

Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

Lessons for Life- part three

This is our final post on  lessons for life  from the book.

“Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us about the Mysteries of Life and Living”

These are the key messages I took from the book and provide  quick help when you’re pushed for time.

Lessons for life

 lessons for life

Anger

  1. Anger is natural except when it is suppressed
  2. Anger creates action
  3. Anger tells us when we have not dealt with our hurt
  4. Generally there is another emotion behind our anger
  5. Have a safe space to let out anger

 

Happiness

  1. Happiness is a natural state- it depends on our perception
  2. Happy people are the least self-absorbed and self-centred
  3. Don’t focus on “shoulds” if you want to be happy.  I “should” have done this, I “should“have done that
  4. Life is long, but time is short
  5. Change how you react to situations that make you feel bad about your life
  6. There is no good without the bad- e.g. There can be no mountains without the valleys
  7. In the ordinary, find the special

 

Play

  1. Playing keeps us young, passionate and helps relationships to thrive
  2. Playing is to live life to its fullest
  3. Playing improves our mental health in the same way that physical exercise does
  4. Strive to get the work out of fun- if it’s fun it’s not work.
  5. Watch out and don’t turn play into productivity – it must be enjoyed to be play
  6. Every experience is rich with the possibilities for magic.

 

Patience

  1. Accept you don’t always get what you want
  2. The ability to delay gratification is important
  3. Learn to live with a situation as it is- not as you would like it to be
  4. Each life experience comes when you are ready
  5. Need to exercise the patience muscle- think about being patient
  6. Develop a faith or belief that healing is always at work – even if you can’t feel it
  7. Don’t always try to fix things
  8. Have hope

 

Surrender

  1. Think of life as a roller coaster- ride don’t drive
  2. Use the Roller Coaster image when you’re exhausted from trying to control
  3. Don’t fight the unfightable – let go
  4. Turn into a situation not away
  5. Use the serenity prayer first written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr made famous by AA

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference”

 

Forgiveness

  1. Forgiveness heals our hurt and wounds
  2. Forgiveness restores us to a place of grace
  3. Non forgiveness keeps us stuck- a perpetual victim
  4. Forgive yourself
  5. We are here to make mistakes

From me, I’d add forgiveness is for yourself, for your own piece of mind. It does not mean you forget what happened or put yourself back in a position where the same hurt can happen  again.

So that’s it- our lessons for life summary of a really useful book. Hope you found it helpful. You can find the first post in  the series here and the second post here.

Her drinking was Amelia’s dirty little secret

Amelia feels really guilty about her drinking.  She feels like she has to maintain secrecy about her drinking. She does not want to be out of touch with her friends. She wants to have a normal social life. To feel connected to other people. But after a lot of thinking she’s decided to come clean.

 

Why did she feel the need to drink?

She tried to figure out why she felt drinking was so essential to her role as a Mother. So she was not one of the 630,000 Facebook group members of “Moms who need wine”. But she did feel the urge to keep drinking. After all Motherhood is stressful and we need the wine to relax at the end of a long exhausting day.

 

Women don’t become fools when they become Mothers

Amelia is an intelligent women. She kept to the then guidelines about drinking while pregnant. (Now days it’s recommended, no drinking while pregnant or trying to get pregnant) She knew Mother’s don’t become fools when they have children. So why did she and her friends feel the need to drink so much?

 

Amelia asked questions about her drinking

Amelia realised part of the reason she drank was because it’s just so normal now.  As leading journalist  Gabrielle Glasser says wine has become

“Normalised, expected and then reinforced by popular culture, social media, advertising. The volume and ubiquity of the pro-drinking message has made it infinitely more likely that even mothers who know it’s a caricature, will immediately think of pouring themselves a drink as a release valve once the children are in bed – and then do it.

 

Amelia realised wine is everywhere

Amelia knew what Gabrielle was saying is true. From

“The wine glass engraved

“You’re not really drinking alone if your kids are home”

Or the flowery fridge magnet chuckling

 “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink.”

 All the messages we’re surrounded by, are its safe to drink alcohol. The message is by drinking we’re fighting against the constant pressure that society expects us to be perfect Mothers. And who would not want an escape from that awful pressure!

 

Amelia wrote an article about her drinking

So Amelia did lots of research to try and understand what was going on. She found that in the UK in 2009 it was reported that the most significant trend was women drinking more. She found people encouraging Mothers to drink so they would not  be seen as a tiger or helicopter Mum.

She wrote an article about her research.

 

The secret shame

Amelia had to think long and about publishing the article on her drinking. She felt shame about her drinking. The problem was she was not that horrible label “alcoholic”, but she had given up drinking. So she did not want to appear sanctimonious or look like she was judging people.  She felt pressure to stay quiet about her healthy life choice. But finally, she decided to publish to see if she could start a conversation.

As she states

“The attitude is:

‘If you don’t have a problem with it, why do you have a problem with it?’”

But if we don’t talk about it, how do we know if we have a problem?”

It’s well worth while reading the full article which you can find  here

If you found this post interesting you might also enjoy BeanyNeamy’s story here.

Enjoy your summer drinking without the hangover

Hope you’re enjoying this pretty special hot weather run as we finally see the media start to cover the serious downsides of summer drinking.

 

Ryanair encouraging Summer drinking

Ryanair came under criticism for their ad which suggested getting drunk on holidays is a rite of passage.

Summer drinking
“To all #LeavingCert and #ALevel students: plan your dream summer holiday now so you have something to look forward to,”

Then rather cynically and hypocritically they made a call for booze to be banned from airports. As one headline put it

“Booze up on holidays, but not on our planes”.

It really shows how big companies don’t have our interests at heart. It’s all about making profit no matter what the cost to us.

 

Boozing in the Barge

There was also coverage of a problem in Dublin’s Portobello with crowds of people drinking around the Barge pub leaving rubbish behind and urinating in public. Residents took to barricading the street. More details here.

 

Summer Drinking, Drinking, drinking

RTE Prime Time did a show on balconing in summer climates. This is where a person climbs from one balcony to another or dives from an apartment into a pool. In Majorca alone, this month five people died. Usually the person doing the jump or dive has been drinking  alcohol. You can see the RTE trailer  here with some very disturbing videos

 

Leaving Cert Summer Drinking

This was followed up by a big report  in the Irish Times on that summer drinking rite of passage- the Leaving Cert holiday. One teenager described a day’s  drinking. Starting on the 4am bus to Dublin airport, 4 pints,10 plus local beers, a litre of vodka, a  cocktail bottle and Sambuca shots were consumed. Obviously this teenager was unaware of the dangers of alcohol poisoning or the longer term alcohol harm. With this type of drinking it’s no wonder the youngest Irish person diagnosed with alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver was a young girl aged just 18.

 

A chink of light

In this alcohol soaked culture, one good piece of news though, is the Public Health Alcohol Bill has finally got through the committee stage of the Oireachtas. (Irish parliament) Now it goes to Report and final Stage, hopefully in the autumn. This bill is the first step in changing the culture around alcohol. For the first time, alcohol will have clear warning labels about the risks to our health. if you’d like to sign a petition to support the bill, click here.

 

So how to control that summer drinking?

A key thing is to make sure you drink plenty of liquid of the non-alcoholic type. At a friend’s event last night, they produced an ice cold jug of water with mint leaves and it was really lovely. Mint is very easy to grow in your garden – preferably in a pot as it can take over.

 

Alcohol Free cocktails

If you’d prefer something with a bit more zing, Lucy has some good suggestions. From a citrus iced tea, to Pina Colada and Virgin Mojito. Full recipes here.

You can also find suggestions on lower alcohol drinks here.

 

Planning an alcohol free holiday?

If you’re going the whole hog, and decide you’re not drinking at all then Lucy’s tips for planning a happy alcohol free holiday will be useful. Click here.

 

Valerie’s top tips on holiday drinking

Or maybe you just want to cut back on your summer drinking. Then Valerie’s tips on controlling your drinking will come in handy and allow you to enjoy your drinking without the hangover. Click here for details

 

Finally a key thing to remember is just like drinking and driving don’t mix, neither do drinking and swimming.

PS

Telling people you’re going swimming later is also a great way to avoid pressure to drink.

 

 

Alan feels the stigma of drinking too much

There’s so much stigma about drinking too much. We tend to label people who drink too much as down and out. They’re the old man on a park bench, clothes tied together with string, smelling bad, drinking from a paper bag and shouting abuse at people passing by. This stigma of “being an alcoholic”  stops people admitting they have a problem with alcohol and need to drink less.

 

The secret entrepreneur

That’s why I was so pleased to read a recent series of columns by the Secret Entrepreneur, in the Sunday Business Post. This was written by a young man, who set up his own  business – a start up,  here in Ireland. He raised substantial funding and for a while it looked like the sky was the limit. The company was in over 100 cities. We’ll call the Secret Entrepreneur, Alan.

 

Family history

Alan had a family history of drinking too much. His Grandfather died from alcohol and it contributed to the early death of his Father at just 49.

At 24, a year or so into his start up, Alan realised he had a problem with drink. He lasted about a month without drinking. then his relationship broke up. Several times he tried to control his drinking- without success.

 

Work did not help

The start up culture has a heavy alcohol influence. Many start up’s see providing a fridge of beers with a gumball machine as normal. At the end of a a long day, it’s a way to relax and socialise together. A reward for employees going above the call of duty. Or to celebrate big events like the first major customer. Not taking part in drinking isolates people from the team and feeling connected.(more details here)

 

Friends did not help

Alan  found people “did not get it”. When he complained of hangovers, they said stuff like

“Ah, sure, have another one, hair of the dog. It’s the only way”.

People often  don’t know what to say when you admit to hangovers or drinking too much. There’s just so much stigma about drinking too much.

 

The Americans think we’re a nation of drunks

When Alan relocated to the States, he found his American colleagues only had 2 or 3 drinks a night.  To them that was a “mad night out”.  Alan felt the pressure to be the life and soul of the party. Visitors loved meeting him for a few drinks- a good night out. But while that was one night for them, it became three of four nights for him. Whenever he made a fool of himself the Americans would say,

“Oh you’re Irish, its okay

Beanyneamy tells a similar story about the Irish being seen as drunks  here.

 

Despite the drinking, success continued

Despite all the drinking, 10 years later, Alan succeeded in selling his company to a major multinational, who also gave him a job. However it turned out to be a dead end. His drinking got worse and he ended up in a really humiliating position after another drunken night.

 

He quit alcohol

So Alan quit the booze. He put his energies elsewhere. Into writing a book about his Father. He took up playing football again. Each week he made small tweaks to his lifestyle. The most important thing he did was tell himself giving up alcohol was the best decision he had ever made. It was a positive decision rather than a negative decision.An important tip for anyone trying to manage their drinking, as we describe here.

 

What’s in the future?

Alan’s no longer with his start up his start up. He  got made redundant a few months after giving up the booze. But because he was mentally prepared to deal with it, he was ok. He does not miss drinking at the moment and he’s not saying he’ll never drink again. He’s just living for each day as it comes and enjoying life.

Alan’s story is well worth reading here. (A subscription to the Sunday Business Post is required)

 

Let’s reduce the stigma about drinking too much

I admire Alan for telling his story so honestly. Even though, he’s not disclosed his name publicly, in the start-up community he will be known. The more people like him Francis, Alison, Aoife and Valerie come forward and tell their stories the more we reduce the stigma about drinking too much. Instead of labelling and blaming people as “bad” or “alcoholics” we start seeing real decent people with feelings and emotions just like you and me. People who need help not judgement. We’ll also start challenging our culture which encourages people to drink too much and stigmatises them when they do.

 

What’s your story?

Everyone’s story is unique. Does n’t matter whether you’re a cleaner, a top Entrepreneur like Alan or a Mother who works in the home. You are not alone in being someone who struggles with drinking too much. Don’t let the stigma about drinking too much get to you. Just like Alan, you too can have a brighter future, no matter how dark it appears at the moment.

If you”re starting to control your drinking, you might find this post here useful.

If you’d like to quickly check if you have an alcohol problem you might find this post here useful. (No names or email address needed)