Emily Hourican says her relationship with alcohol was like a friend with benefits, but never a soul mate. She started young at just 14 years. Even though her Mother did n’t drink, she allowed her children to have a half glass of wine at Sunday lunch.
The inoculation did not work
Emily says her Mother’s theory, was this kind of drinking would act as an inoculation, protect her children from heavy drinking. However, the research says the younger we are when we start drinking the more likely we are to have a drink problem.
Her mother’s theory did n’t protect Emily. She would drink a bottle of Martini Bianco on the way to the school disco, getting paralytic drunk. Then her Mother found out. Years later, the women who ratted her out, told why they had to tell her Mother. They were just so worried about her safety. It shows the value of a caring community, who believe drunk children should be helped not ignored.
The drinking explodes
In a gap year in Florence, Emily learned “nice girls” just have a small glass of wine and then went for ice cream. In UCD though, nice girls did drink. Or as Emily says the “fun ones” did. They drank plenty and this continued into work life.
A bad hangover
It was normal to turn up late and theatrically dying to weddings, christenings, and family lunches. She says
“A bad hangover, was pretty much my favourite accessory, along with smudged eyeliner and boasts of only 3 hours sleep.
A change of heart
Then her Mother’s example of not drinking became more attractive. She became sick of being exhausted and missing so many days. She loved her job and wanted to do well.
So she cut back.
She still drank a couple of glasses of wine every night. She now saw alcohol as a friend with benefits, but not a soul mate. However, even this level of drinking is not recommended as it’s above the low risk guidelines.
Then Emily got pregnant and wisely decided not to drink at all. With 3 children who were each breastfed, she got out of the habit and found she did n’t miss it. Not that she had much of a social life anyhow.
Social Drinking becomes the norm
The odd occasion, she would have a glass of wine to celebrate. Generally only one glass, very rarely two. But it was nice to know she could have a glass of wine when she needed it. At the end of a very bad day, or to celebrate something- maybe a good 10 k run.
Alcohol was a friend with benefits
So Emily saw alcohol as a friend with benefits, but it was only a small part of her life. Her story shows how alcohol is so dominant in Irish society and that we have a really high tolerance for drinking too much. Emily’s story also shows how a caring community and good role models can help influence how we view alcohol. And lastly how our relationship with alcohol can be altered- even if we’re drinking every day, we can still change.
Emily writes so beautifully and the full article can be seen here. There’s a really shock kicker at the end and now Emily can’t drink at all, so do read it for the full story.