Alcohol is an interesting topic, it’s one we probably all have an opinion on. I had an interesting chat with a guy today about it as it happens. I used the word “joke” in the video which I’ve since changed, because really it’s not about that.
He explained that when we joke about something we take away it’s power, we own it and are open to all it brings to our life. I agree with this to a point, I understand (as a drinker myself), we can say things in jest to give ourselves a form of relief.
Would people joke about cocaine? No they probably wouldn’t. Why wouldn’t they? Because it’s illegal. This is the main difference with alcohol and may other elicit drugs, it’s legal and part of society. It’s the main reason people will give.
For me, looking at all the damage that alcohol misuse causes, whether that’s on an individual level, family level, in our communities and society as a whole is vital.
The stats we see or hear don’t mean a lot to most people, it’s too big. It doesn’t affect them or their loved ones or wider family unit. Or does it? So many people have no idea just how far reaching it is. I’ve heard too many times, how friends of friends that have been suffering with alcohol misuse, had no idea their close friend was struggling.
How do we use alcohol in our society?
Most people enjoy alcohol as a social interaction with friends, family and colleagues. It’s a focus at events, used as prizes, gifts and a way to create connection.
So how can it go from enjoying it socially to something more, that’s not alcohol dependence but using it as a crutch to cope with life and sometimes physical pain. Using it to feel a certain way, or to numb feelings. Some people drink too much on a night out, so tend to be more binge drinkers, having too much in a short space of time.
I’ve heard a lot of talk goes on in the school playground, with Mum’s talking about how stressful their week has been and that they’re glad it’s Friday so they can enjoy a glass of wine. In and of itself there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink is there? We just need to be mindful of when it starts to escalate.
That drink in the evening starts to progress to 2 each evening, to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you’ve ever done Dry January, you’ll know what I’m talking about, when you go to stop it’s not quite as easy as you thought.
How is society trivialising alcohol?
If you think about the reason we trivialise/disrespect alcohol, it’s because the wider society doesn’t understand about the complexity and how wide the impact is. Often the reason people don’t know that is because the ones affected keep it a secret, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
It’s also great for retail, so many products and services can be created around it so it generates an income.
I’m forever seeing greeting cards with alcohol on, some with alcohol and children. There are endless products around alcohol, especially now with Gin and Prosecco being the favourite of the moment.
It’s the messaging on some products, in the media, services that I have an issue with, it just demonstrates a total lack of respect for alcohol in my opinion.
How does alcohol misuse start to impact people’s lives?
When people’s alcohol use starts to increase, and this happens over a period of time, they’ll experience an impact. They may not be consciously aware of the impact in the beginning, or at least want to admit it, but it’s there nonetheless.
Whether that’s how they’re getting on with friends and family, even calls after a session of drinking can happen. Being upset and feeling low after drinking too much, not turning up for things, being late, forgetting or not caring about people, places and things.
Work is often a place that will notice the impact, not coming into work or not being as effective as they could be. Relying on colleagues to pick up the slack because they are still hung over.
They maybe experiencing issues withe sleep, overthinking and struggling to concentrate. They may start to get more absent minded. Everyone’s experience is different but the issues I’ve mention are common amongst a lot of people misusing alcohol.
Drinking can easily go from social to something more, it just takes a stressor – like losing a job, relationship break up, illness or whatever the person perceives as a stressor. Then things can escalate, for some faster than others. The consequences can be more obvious for some than others.
What can you do to change perspectives around alcohol misuse?
- Don’t buy into the hype, social media, retail products and other forms of trivialisation. One of the sentences I’ve heard from TV presenters, individuals and in the retail market is “It’s never too early for a drink”.
- Educate yourself if you care about this, someone you know could be suffering
- Be mindful of your words, comments you make and how much you get sucked into other people’s comments and actions
- Challenge it
I’m not saying it isn’t funny when someone is drunk and doing something silly, but that’s very different to messaging that’s out there on a mass scale which minimises the impact.
We can have a respect for alcohol and still enjoy it within reason at the same time.
I’d love to hear your views on this, feel free to email me by clicking here. Or you can use the #respectforalcohol on Twitter or Instagram. Alternatively, join my Change Your Mind Facebook group you can click here.