Laura’s story: Giving up alcohol is an act of rebellion

Laura | October 2022 | 6 minutes

Before becoming alcohol free, Laura had a toxic relationship with alcohol.

As the years go by, I’ve noticed that it has become much less of a big deal to talk about being teetotal.  Many younger people drink far less, if at all, these days placing much more importance on their physical and emotional wellbeing than generation x-ers like me ever did.    

More power to them!  

My generation and culture has the weirdest relationship with alcohol.

From formal marketing and advertising initiatives to pervasive peer pressure (“go on… just the one”), we've been encouraged to use alcohol to celebrate, commiserate, to socialise, unwind and to manage stress for as long as I can remember.    

Once in my thirties, I drove to a New Year’s Eve party across the other side of London so that I didn’t have to faff about with public transport late in the night. I lost count of the number of times I was encouraged to have a drink and come back for my car the next day… a three hour round trip.  I remember it being a big deal that night.  “What? You’re not drinking?” and I had to explain myself repeatedly.  

But, and here’s the rub, despite this blatant cultural pressure to drink, and the weird side-eye you get if you don’t, if you develop an issue with alcohol, it’s seen as something to be ashamed of and, of course, would never EVER happen to the rest of us!    

This message is totally messed up, isn’t it?  “Here, go on, drink this highly addictive and physically damaging substance at regular intervals with our absolute blessing, but… just make sure you don’t develop “an addiction”, OK? Because we’ll shame and ‘other’ you and treat you as lesser.”  What is that all about?  It’s this attitude that stops people admitting to themselves and others that they have a problem, and to reaching out for support if they need it.

I was addicted to alcohol, in the same way I was addicted to nicotine, but I never once felt weird about saying I stopped smoking.

For me giving up alcohol continues to be a glorious and powerful act of rebellion against this booze pushing, shame-loading culture.

I was addicted, and now I'm not.  

More power to me!

You can read more about the language used to talk about drinking problems, including the word ‘addiction’, here

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