by Carmel Reid, BEng DMS CertEd MCMI, Somerset UK
When I was a young child, I was occasionally offered the opportunity to sip some wine. It didn’t taste nice to me.
At some point, in my late teens/early 20s, I started to drink. I don’t know why I overrode my body’s natural dislike of the alcohol, I can only assume it was in order to be like my friends, who also drank. Unfortunately, I would often drink too much and end up being sick in the most embarrassing places.
To avoid further embarrassment, I reduced how much I drank and sometimes avoided it altogether: I would use the excuse of being the driver and that was accepted.
From my sober state, I would watch my friends drinking and getting louder and louder: it was funny but somewhat disturbing to see highly intelligent (Mensa level) men and women get drunk and have what they were convinced was an intelligent conversation. It made me wonder… how loud was I when drunk? Or, more importantly, WHO was I? It’s as if another being had taken over these people… did that happen to me, too?
Doctors say drinking alcohol ‘in moderation’ is OK, but once we start, do we ever really know when to stop? I’ve seen young kids outside a school disco collapse in the street because they’d been drinking; I’ve seen adults who’ve had strokes or who have diabetes continue to drink, despite doctors’ warnings. We have all heard about road accidents and domestic violence linked to alcohol consumption. Is it really OK?
In 2005 I stopped drinking alcohol altogether. I’d been learning a lot about the physical effects of alcohol in the body, and it all made sense to me. I wasn’t drinking much by then, because I didn’t enjoy the headaches and general muzziness I would feel the next day, so it was easy to stop. Some people treated me as if I was a bit weird, but over the years it’s become easier to say with confidence, “No thanks, I don’t drink”, and they don’t challenge me any more.
To be honest, I haven’t missed it – I still have lots of fun, and I’m sure my liver appreciates the choice I made!