Celebs and FOMA

Janey Lee Grace | May 2019 | 8 minutes

In this blog author, commentator and BBC Radio 2 presenter Janey Lee Grace talks FOMA - Fear Of Missing Alcohol.

Once anything is on your radar you see it all the time. Have you ever vaguely wondered if there are any purple cars, only to then see fifteen different varieties on your way to the office? It’s your clever brain allowing you to see what was always there, the fact that once aware of something your ‘reticular activator’ makes you notice it.

I am very tuned in to hearing about celebs ditching the booze. There is something of a ‘sober revolution’ right now in the UK and of course we want some of our beloved celebs and household names to come along with us mortals and endorse our behaviour. Recently I’ve found no fewer than three celebs who made the headlines talking about booze, and I was invited onto Good Morning Britain to debate whether parents should drink.

There is something of a ‘sober revolution’ right now in the UK and of course we want some of our beloved celebs and household names to come along with us mortals.

That’s because A-lister Anne Hathaway shared her ditching the booze story for Tatler mag, and the tabloids have picked it up. Anne says she went on such long binges with her Hollywood Buddies that her hangovers lasted five days. She is reported to have told Tatler mag, “My issue is I just love it... So much, but the way I do it makes me unavailable to my son.”

She is absolutely right about that. There are many of us feeling regret for the way we allowed ‘mummy’s little helper’ to become more important than reading bedtime stories, but the key phrase here is that Anne claims, “I just love it” – meaning alcohol – in the present tense. She goes on to say that she has vowed to go teetotal till her son, now aged three, is aged 18

I’m amazed that she is still holding a candle for alcohol and counting the days (years) till she will drink again.

TV presenter Susanna Reid has also recently shared her experience of going tee total, after she was warned by a doctor that she had a high body mass index. She has spoken about the benefits, saying she sleeps better, her skin is so much better and she has lost a lot of weight, but again at the end of the article it is reported that she said that not drinking hasn’t been without its downsides, and she missed the social aspect of alcohol. She is hoping a scientist will invent alcohol that doesn’t cause hangovers.

Because everything comes in threes, including celebs talking about booze in one week, Kiefer Sutherland was interviewed in the i Paper and is quoted as saying, “I’m clearly aware that almost every single negative thing that has happened in my life was as the result of drinking – and I didn’t stop. So at some point you have to take responsibility for that, and I do.” He was then asked if he ever wanted to stop drinking, and he said, “Nope, no. Some of the best times I’ve had have been when out with friends, having drinks, telling stories. That’s me at my happiest.”

He says sitting drinking whiskey in your kitchen depressed won’t work, but finishes the topic by saying, “But if it’s something that will enhance your evening, go for it.”

It’s a view I would certainly have held a couple of years ago. Most of us feel a bit of ‘guilt’ drinking alone, pouring wine to ease our sadness and depression, but if we’re going out, enjoying a meal with friends, rocking a gig or a party, well that ‘requires’ alcohol and like Keifer, I would absolutely have been convinced that it would ‘enhance’ the evening. In fact I literally couldn’t have imagined I could possibly have ever had fun again socially without a drink.

But alcohol enhances nothing.

I literally couldn’t have imagined I could possibly have ever had fun again socially without a drink. But alcohol enhances nothing.

When the scales finally come off, it dawns on you that it’s all an illusion, that it’s not the alcohol that is enhancing the evening, it’s the place, the music, the friends, the laughter. If it’s a boring party, or a terrible atmosphere, or a monumental fail of a date, with someone you have nothing in common with, are not remotely attracted to and would rather eat bark than form a relationship with, it will still be so if you drink, in fact you will be less equipped to make rational decisions, like making your excuses and going home for an early night. It’s more likely you’ll try and force the issue, to see the person through booze fuelled eyes, and imagine that they are the person of your dreams, when in fact the next morning the wakeup call is horrendous.

It’s not the alcohol that is enhancing the evening, it’s the place, the music, the friends, the laughter.

If only these celebs were focusing on the positives of not drinking, on all the incredible benefits rather than the constant focus on missing out. The truth is they are mere mortals like the rest of us, and prone to the same pressures and societal conditioning. Sadly it seems they all continue to hang onto not just FOMO, but FOMA… fear of missing alcohol.

They aren’t superheroes, they are just people, part of society as we all are, and actually it’s those of us that are prepared to stand up and be counted who will get the prize. We are the sober heroes, the ones who have literally seen the light at the end of the dark booze filled tunnel and once you’ve properly caught sight of it, is worth hanging on to.

Maybe we should celebrate JOMO – the joy of missing out – on hangovers, on the embarrassment of not remembering what you said the night before, of having way too much money at the end of the month… the list goes on.

  • Janey is an Amazon No 1 best-selling author, commentator, and co-presenter on the UK’s biggest radio show, BBC Radio 2’s Steve Wright in the Afternoon.
  • After ditching the booze Janey has launched a podcast, Alcohol Free Life, focusing on sober self-care.
  • Check out her Self Care for the Sober Curious events.