Mc D stops going to pubs

Attitude change

As time went on I found that I naturally started to drift away from going to pubs.  Sure I still go out and socialise in them, but if there are other options I will take them first.  I find that I can catch up with friends better just by going for a good walk and a cup of coffee.

I stopped being brainwashed

I stopped the brain washing that automatically assumes that being with friends involves alcohol.  It does take some time. I did have one or two setbacks, but all they did was remind me just how much I hated hangovers and how booze left me feeling rotten about myself.

Unexpected Surprise

Along with a lot of people, one of the reasons I started drinking to begin with was to combat shyness. I realise I am a lot older now and a lot less shy as a consequence.  I have found that through socialising without booze, I have become a lot more comfortable in my own skin and am confident in any social situation.  Meeting new people in new places was sometimes intimidating to me without the crutch of alcohol.  Meeting people without drinking has allowed my natural self to blossom and grow and my true nature has been allowed to develop fully.

Did I mention money?

Although it was n’t the main motivation to stop drinking, I noticed straight away just how much money I was saving by not drinking.  Not getting into rounds, no taxis, no expensive wine with meals and no drunk internet shopping meant a lot healthier bank account.  As a consequence I have been able to treat myself to a few luxuries I would have not dared buy when boozing.  The irony is n’t wasted on me, year after year I squandered pots of cash by drinking it, while thinking I was unable to afford something I really wanted.

Conclusion

Overall I found socialising without alcohol tricky at first, having a plan on what to drink and what to say to people when questioned is very important.  Making it a rule that drinking is just not an option and sticking to this rule solidified the decision in my mind and gave me strength in times of discomfort. 

Going to pubs does not bother me

Having said that in the beginning, I only went to events that really appealed to me so I would not be in constant temptation and I also removed alcohol from my home.  Now I am less inclined to go to pubs and when I do it really does not bother me to be around people drinking when I am not.  I thought to get to this stage would never happen to me.  Experiencing all the benefits of stopping drinking, let me know that I am missing nothing at all.

Editor’s note

Mc D does a lot of things right. He

  • Listens to what he needs
  • He makes a plan
  • Initially he avoids events unless he really wants to go
  • He accepts he will make mistakes and does not blame himself for them
  • He uses the money he saves to buy things he really likes
  • When he’s more confident, he starts going to pubs again-when he really wants to!

Photo Background photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

Mc D discovers socialising sober can be done in Ireland

When I initially stopped drinking I was very nervous about going out and socialising sober. Without the crutch of alcohol would I survive?  I was sure that I would be bored senseless and also be judged boring by those around me.  However, I was determined to go about my life as normal as possible and I didn’t want to live like a hermit now that I had put down the drink.

Preparation is key

On the occasions that I did go out, I was well prepared beforehand.  I knew what I was going to drink. I also had a backup drink to fall back to if my preferred alcohol free option was not available.  I choose to drink alcohol free beers. I found they gave a good sense of beery satisfaction and were a godsend in the early days.  By filling my glass with a beer it stopped unwanted attention from people enquiring into my drinking status. Socialising sober wasn’t something that I wanted to broadcast in the early days as I wasn’t yet comfortable with my new change in lifestyle.

Growing in confidence

Every time, I socialised sober without alcohol at an event that would have been a drinking event in the past, my confidence grew.  Initially, I had dreaded socialising without the crutch of booze, but then I began to look forward to being able to drive to an event. I could enjoy meeting people, engaging with them properly and driving home afterwards, knowing full well I would wake up refreshed the following morning.  I also discovered that if a situation was boring alcohol added nothing to it.  People would just get drunk and get even more boring/morose/ argumentative as the night went on.

Questions and Answers

After some time I couldn’t hide the fact that I was no longer drinking.  I had built it up in my mind that the people in my life would be extremely interested in this new change and would be trying to get me to drink at any occasion.  Two things happened.  The first was that people were supportive and just said “fair play” and would only mention it again in passing to see if I was still not drinking.  

A mirror to our own drinking?

Others would feel the need to tell me that they do not drink that much and so there would be no point in them giving up.  It’s often said that when we stop drinking it holds up a mirror to other drinkers. It forces them to confront their own relationship with alcohol.  If they are not that comfortable with their drinking, they usually feel the need to explain or deny their drinking habits.

People are more wrapped in their own worlds

I have also discovered that people are just generally more wrapped in their own worlds than I realised.  It was quite narcissistic of me to think that they would be overly concerned with me kicking the drink.

Staying strong  & socialising sober

Having said that on one or two occasions, when I was socialising sober, I did get people looking at me as if I had lost my marbles and told me that it would only be a matter of time.  Only once did I get a person who asked me outright if I was an alcoholic and I treated this comment with the contempt it deserved.

Editor’s note

You can see that preparation is key to managing an alcohol free  social life. Mc D thought carefully about the situations he could handle and took it at a pace that suited him. He used alcohol free beers until he was comfortable saying he did not drink. In his case most people were supportive but when he got a bad reaction from people he did not take it on board. He realised it was the other person’s problem not his.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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)

 

Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were holding her back

Are your beliefs about alcohol making you miserable?  Lucy talks about how unhappy she was, when she first stopped drinking.

The way she saw  it,

“I was different now. I was weird, a failure – a social outcast”

 

There were no positives for drinking less

She could n’t see any of the positives of reducing her drinking. She’d grown up in a culture that adored alcohol, so not participating in that culture was really hard.

She had decided not to drink at all as she could never have just one or two. But she really wanted to drink. She saw it a part of a fun and happy life. Yes, there were health gains, but who wants to live longer if life is so rotten?

 

Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were making her miserable

The problem lay in Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol. She believed

1)    Alcohol makes you attractive

2)    Alcohol makes you successful

3)    Alcohol makes you cool

4)    Alcohol provides you with a better social life

5)    Alcohol transforms you into a rebel

6)    Alcohol helps you deal with stress

 

Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were wrong

When you look at each of Lucy’s beliefs you can see they are actually incorrect. Lucy realised they were lies. For example

  • Alcohol does not make you more attractive. In fact who has n’t been turned off by a drunken approach?
  • Alcohol is much more likely to get in the way of your success. Whether it’s about being a successful parent (who needs a hangover when dealing with an energetic toddler or driving the teenager to GAA practise.)  Or an important early morning business meeting when you’re tired because you stayed up drinking.

 

A better social life?

You can argue that in Ireland, social life does revolve around the pub. If you don’t drink it’s get absolutely boring listening to other drunken conversations. But do you really want your social life to revolve around drunken conversations? There are other options, which we’ve written about here

 

What are your beliefs about alcohol?

So if you’re going to be in control of your drinking, it’s really important to be aware of your beliefs about alcohol and see if they are true. Writing these down can be really helpful. You might also find our course here useful  in identifying your pros and cons of drinking.

Lucy’s full post is well worth reading and can be seen here .They also have a really nice range of clothing  and goods for people who want to show they are in control of their drinking. Click here for their shop.

Low alcohol drinks can help reduce your drinking

We previously looked at using low alcohol drinks in this post here. In this post, we’ll look at some of the low alcohol drinks actually available.

As regular readers will know we’re big fans of each person understanding and picking the right approach for them. So whether low alcohol drinks will work for you will depend on your individual health, lifestyle, work and social factors. Your own feelings  and enthusiasm for change are also really important.

So whether cutting out all drinks with alcohol or drinking low alcohol drinks is right for you is a decision only you can make.You might find these questions here helpful for making your decision.

Here’s a selection of some of the low alcohol drinks available

 

Alcohol free wines

First up is Torres Natureo White which has 0.5% ABV 

Price is €7.95 – Available at O’Briens WineWineonline.ie, SuperValu , Tesco

Gaby served this wine to her friends without telling them it had no alcohol and they thought it was lovely. She says it is

Fruity and mild, it has flavours of nectarine, yellow plum and a floral touch”

Gaby also reviews a range of low alcohol wines in her very interesting post here. These include

  • Flight Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate
  • Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
  • Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
  • G.D.Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2015

Gaby also tells you how much these wines cost and where you can buy them, so well worthwhile looking at her post here.

 

Aldi Featherweight range

Aldil launched the  Featherweight range which include a choice of Pinot Grigio or White Zinfandel in Irish stores in January. These wines retail for just €4.49 and have half the calories of other wines. Unfortunately they’ve just been withdrawn, I’m not sure why.

 

Alcohol free Beers

Alcohol free beers have come a long way. New beers are launching regularly. However many of them are not available in Ireland. Some beers still taste awful and most people believe they don’t taste like the real thing. But if you’re under pressure to be seen drinking they might be an option. I like  alcohol free Erdinger(alkoholfrei ) but it is very gassy so I can never drink more than one.

Some of the newer beers are getting better reviews.

Heineken recently launched the Heineken 0.0 which has no alcohol.

Also launched recently is a lager- Pure Brew from Diageo which has 0.05% volume. They claim

In independent taste tests, over 70 per cent of people were surprised to discover that they were trying a non-alcoholic beer after tasting it.”

The recommended pub price is €3.50 a bottle.

 

 Other low  alcohol drinks

If you can’t find any low alcohol drink that you like, you might want to try the Alcohol Free shop. They’re getting great reviews online. They sell a wide range of low alcohol drinks including beers, wines, spirits and cocktails. They ship to Ireland with a minimum order of 6 bottles which can be all different. They’ve  put together mixed cases so you don’t even have to choose. Click here for their website.

 

Low alcohol drinks can be a good option

There is certainly still some way to go before the range of alcohol free drinks matches their alcohol versions.  In England there’s a much wider range available with lower prices.

However the newer drinks are worth trying and can be a useful part of your tool kit for reducing your drinking.

If you’d like to find out more about reducing alcohol harm please click here.

Is it your fault if you drink too much alcohol?

Most people believe if you drink too much alcohol, it’s your own fault. While we’re great believers in taking personal responsibility for ourselves, this approach totally ignores the role of society and advertising in influencing us. If society in general took the issue of alcohol harm seriously maybe we would not have been brainwashed.  We would not have grown up with the belief that  drinking alcohol is a normal and essential part of an everyday happy life.

 

The brainwashing starts  when we’re children

The research shows the brainwashing starts early. The majority of Irish children at just eight years old, think being Irish means you have to drink

drink too much alcohol

 

So from a very early age, we see alcohol as being a normal, everyday part of our lives. As we wrote last week, there are no warning labels on alcohol. So we see it, as just a safe every day product. After all, if it was that toxic we’d be told.

 

The pressure to drink is everywhere

Every occasion involves drinking. We see it in the media all the time. Last Monday’s Irish Times front page shows a big photo. The winning Leinster rugby team in the dressing room spraying each other with beer and drinking cans of beer.

All those birthday cards encouraging you to drink more on your birthday. The Prosecco parties for yesterday’s  royal wedding. The communion drinks while the kids play on the bouncy castles.

 

Not being able to drink is a problem

This week, I was talking to a woman going on an important business trip with potential customers. With a heavy cold she said she would not be drinking. Her work manager and colleagues insisted the customers might not enjoy the trip as much. So, she had to be sure to have at least one!

 

People who can’t control their drinking are the problem

So our society loves alcohol and we’re pressurised into drinking. Anybody who attempts to drink less or not drink at all are stigmatised. They are seen as the problem.  To make this situation even worse, as people who realise they have a problem discover, finding help is very difficult.

Despite numerous reports over many years, services to help people manage their drinking are underfunded and have long waiting lists. There is also no independent regulation of alcohol treatment services to make sure they are actually helping people. No clinical audit or look back for them.

 

The cervical cancer screening scandal

Which brings us to the cervical cancer screening scandal. Nowhere is the contrast between our attitudes to alcohol and other health problems more obvious than in the reporting and reaction to the cervical cancer scandal.

Heroic, brave courageous women like  Vicky Phelan    and  Emma Mhic Mhathúna  have come forward. They’ve  rightly called for accountability in how they were treated in the cervical cancer screening. It’s been a top news item for nearly four weeks now. Already the Government has promised action with parliamentary hearings and supports for women affected.

Now imagine if these heroes have come forward and said their terminal breast  cancer had been caused by too much alcohol but this had been missed on screening. It would not be news. There would be little or no sympathy. They certainly would not be seen as heroic.

 

Women who tell their alcohol stories are not interesting

Women like  Senator Frances Black, Alison Canavan and  Valerie Farragher  who have told their alcohol harm stories simply don’t generate the same interest. They‘re not terminally ill. But they speak for the hundreds of  people who are now dead as a result of alcohol harm.  When they speak, there’s an initial newspaper article or two, maybe a radio interview or even a documentary. But then silence. No legislation, parliamentary inquiries or extra supports for them. It’s their fault. They drink too much alcohol.

 

In one month alcohol kills the same amount of  people as  cervical cancer does in a year

We rightly have a cervical cancer screening programme. Cervical cancer kills 89 women a year. In one month alone, alcohol harm kills 88 men and women. Yet there is no alcohol screening programme.

So alcohol harm kills  the same  amount of people in a month than cervical cancer does in a year . Yet we have no screening programme for alcohol. Nor is anybody calling for one.

drink to much alcohol

Would you drink too much alcohol if you knew?

If you had known when you were younger, about all the health risks of alcohol would you be drinking as much?

If your GP asked you about your drinking, when you went for an antibiotic last time,  would you be drinking as much?

So next time, you’re feeling ashamed about the fact you  drink too much alcohol, show yourself some compassion. We’re all influenced by what goes on around us and we grew up in an alcohol obsessed culture.  So it will most likely be more difficult than it should be to get your alcohol drinking under control.

If you’d like to know more about how we’re conditioned into drinking too much, click here.

If you’d like to support a petition to change our culture around alcohol please, click here.

if you’d like to know more about reducing alcohol related harm, please click here.

 

What do the Belfast Rape trial, Rory Mc IIroy, Lidl store demolition have in common?

Are the Belfast Rape trial,Rory Mc Illroy, Tallaght Lidl store demolition connected? They don’t seem connected do they?  But they are. The thing they all have in common  is alcohol.

The Lidl store destruction & Belfast Rape trial involved people who drank too much alcohol. Rory Mc Ilroy complained about people who drank alcohol disrupting golf play and wants alcohol sales limited.   So alcohol harm connects all three. There’s been plenty of coverage of these incidents.  Little coverage though of how alcohol was involved. We seem to accept that  heavy drinking and alcohol harm are both normal and acceptable.

 

Alcohol and sexual assault are common.

Over one in 5 women and one in ten men have experienced sexual assault according to the Rape Crisis Centre.

Alcohol is involved in many of these assaults. In one study over 76% of defendants in rape trials had consumed alcohol.

Alcohol Action Ireland report nearly 50% of people who murdered someone were drunk when they committed the murder.

 

Women blame themselves when assaulted

The research also shows that many women blame themselves when assaulted. A very common reaction for women is to simply freeze. We  don’t resist. We  don’t scream or fight. The majority of sexual perpetrators are known to women. We may have been chatted up,or we may have previously kissed the assaulter. This makes many women feel they are to blame for the assault. We feel we invited the assault.

 

Alcohol does not help

As we saw in the Belfast rape trial the young lady had been socialising and drinking with her friends. Because alcohol affects our brain, this can reduce our ability to make safe choices. But to be very clear,

We are never to blame when assaulted.

 

Belfast Rape trial

The defendants were found not guilty in this case. Apparently the young lady does not regret taking the case. The way our legal system works it is very difficult to get a conviction for rape. The use of alcohol is a factor in the   low rate of  conviction. One of the reasons so many people don’t report rape.  This young lady is incredibly brave and her actions might just be the first step in a movement towards changing how our legal system treats people.

 

Don’t blame yourself if assaulted

If you’ve ever been assaulted please, please don’t blame yourself.  If you were very drunk and unconscious during the assault, you are still not to blame. After all, if you were unconscious and someone tried to pour a cup of tea into your mouth, you would n’t blame yourself. You’d say the other person was an eejit and totally at fault.

 

Cup of tea anyone?

The cup of tea example is drawn from a really great video, explaining consent. Watch it and you’ll really understand how  talking about “women looking for it, or being to blame”  is vile and horrible.

This video should be required watching for all people who are old enough to have sex.

 

After an assault

After an assault, many people may use alcohol to block out the horrible feelings of self blaming, guilt, shame around the assault. Then alcohol becomes the  problem. Some people then look for help. Unfortunately the help offered is all about treating the alcohol harm. The real problem – the trauma from the assault is not addressed. Very few treatment systems are “trauma informed”. Trauma informed treatment means instead of asking

“What happened you?”

Too many Health Care professionals ask

“Ask what’s wrong with you?”

These types of question strengthen the belief that the person is the problem, not what happened to them.

 

Is this you?

If you’re in this position, don’t despair. Now that you’re informed, you can take action. Get support for both the assault(s) and alcohol harm

Click here to find out more about supports for sexual assaults.

Click here to find out more about support for alcohol harm treatments.

 

Want to change things?

So many people are disgusted by the comments made by the players. Over 55,000 people have signed a petition asking the IRFU to review the behaviours of the players involved. You can sign it here.

And when you’re signing, why not add a comment asking why the IRFU are still accepting sponsorship from an alcohol company?

Finally if you think our alcohol culture needs to change, you can support the Public Health  alcohol bill here.