A life in addictions: alcohol

Initially it was my intention to start my series of articles about addictions with the addiction to alcohol because it is such important one in my family and such a persistent and insidious habit overall.

Unlike smoking, the consumption of alcohol is still widely accepted and even seen as a welcome act. There are many advertisements that show a happy person, a joyous couple or a merry group of friends drinking or about to drink. Or not even drinking, but being associated with a drink. I recall an advertisement of whiskey that shows an attractive couple in a woolen shirts, all done in a warm brownish color scheme,  laughing.  Then a brand of whiskey is shown whose colors scheme matches that of the clothing and surroundings of the couple.Drinking beer is associated with friends and couples(lovers) having fun in pubs, bar or at concerts and the like. Fun is no fun unless you drink alcohol. That is the message.

Why do people actually drink alcohol?

The simple explanation is: because everyone else does and because alcohol is a relaxant. It helps in socializing. Like many addictions alcohol is one that you pick up from your friends and family.  You drink, because they drink. And if you refuse to drink you are frowned upon or even made fun off. Alcohol is almost an unique addiction because other people, not companies, actively promote the use of alcohol.

“A round of beer for all!”

“Yeah!” the group of friends roar.

“Not me.. I want a spa.” A lone figure raises a finger..

Ho-hum. Everyone thinks.

Eventually you don’t need your friends to drink : you learn to drink alone. I got a friend like that. He is also an alcohol addict. He has been off the bottle for years now, but it never let’s you go I understand. He has been off the bottle several times.  I asked him why he drank and he said that he gets lonely and then drinking makes you forget that. At least for a short while. Then you drink some more and eventually you try to be continuously intoxicated: just to forget your misery. It mirrors his inability to properly connect to people. That is because people suck. Most people have such high demands of others or better: the perceived demands of others, that you can never live up to.

My father was also an alcoholicus. Even more than I thought he was. He would start drinking in the afternoon and by seven in the evening he was so drunk he fell asleep on the couch. I think he would have had something like two or three liters beer. Perhaps even more.Years later I heard from my mother that he would rise late in the evening and then go to the local dinner and buy himself some more beer. This whole procedure would then be repeated the next day. And the next. And the next. On and on.

My mother drank wine. She didn’t drink like my father did and certainly not every day. She somehow never got into the habit or if she did I didn’t notice it. My brother never drank.

A few years ago I started to become annoyed with drinking. It is fun to drink at times, but I was starting to make a habit of it. I would drink a set amount at a set day. Mostly to keep it in check, but even then I noticed I needed more to get the sense of ‘happiness’.  So overtime I started to drink more and more.  I started to busy myself with combinations of beer. Like drinking beer in order of alcohol percentage. I also started to experiment with more stronger beverages, like vodka. Vodka can be mixed with something else to make it more interesting. Coca-cola for instance.

A year ago I decided to stop drinking unless there was something special like a party or a dinner. The reason was that it got in the way of my art and writing aspirations. I would drink and feel drowsy unable to do much more than play games.  The next day I would feel groggy. It prevented me from doing what I wanted to do.

So I stopped basically because I wanted to write about it. Seems this is good from something. At least for me.

I still do not like the way people consistently downplay the use of alcohol. Especially their own. I have worked for companies that arranged parties near highways because that made it easier for the employees to come. Many would drink one beer or one glass of wine, because they knew what they were doing, according to themselves. Over time one becomes two or three.

“But I know when to stop.” they will say, “I am in control.”

Thing is.. if you are really in control you would not need to stop: you would not have started at all.

And stating that you are in control when drinking while you know you are going to drive home later in the evening is an statement of the reverse. You are not in control: the alcohol is.

As I said before: it is an insidious habit helped along by people telling you it is cool, while they are making excuses and glossing over that they are consistently and persistently drinking, even at times that they don’t need to.

What is more is that alcohol is also almost unique as an addiction as  it can kill other people. It probably causes more deaths than any other addiction. Deaths of others I mean.

You might wonder yourself how addicted you actually are. Try and stop for a while or try and refuse a drink offered by another or try and have a dinner with someone else and not drink(or smoke). You might be surprised how often you drink and how it is slowly taking over your life.

Bottoms up!

A life in addictions: caffeine

One of the saddest things I see in the morning when I travel to my work are teenagers slurping cans of soda. Their day has just started and already they are drinking unhealthy stuff.  A large percentages of those cans are energy drinks: Red Bull and the like.. I always associated Red Bull with lots of caffeine and sugar, and to be fair to them I looked it up. According to the wikipedia an average can of Red Bull contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee, but twice as much as a coke has. It contains the same amount of sugar as coke.

It  is not as bad as I expected but it doesn’t sound healthy either. Somehow seeing people drinking these things in the morning when they might drink something more healthier makes me feel sad.

What do I drink on a day?

I took stock. I usually drink milk and orange juice. But when I am on my work I drink mostly coffee. In fact a lot of coffee. Perhaps as much as eight cups on a day, maybe even more and not much else besides. It is important to note that the coffee on my work is rumored to be stronger than average. Maybe that is a joke, but it feels like the coffee is stronger than normal. It kind of burns in my stomach.

Whatever the truth of this, it is obviously that I am drinking too much coffee.  I read that drinking more that 400 ml of coffee might be considered unhealthy. And since one cup contains something like 80 to 95 ml, five coffee should be the maximum. I drink however perhaps ten on a day.

How did this come about?

Caffeine, the defining part of coffee is a drug. “It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.”(wikipedia)

It is a drug and we are addicted to it and companies like Red Bull are making the most of it by supplying, mostly young, people with a drug to make a buck. Is it that harsh? It is.

It must be interesting to work for a company that basically panders a drug. Do their employees and stockholders worry? Do they ever? They just say: we make the stuff, we don’t force people to drink it. Or: if we did not make it, someone else would.

Sounds familiar?

One can say: where there is a demand there will be someone unscrupulous enough to supply it.

But where did this demand come from?

Did we not create a demand out of nowhere?

To do that you start as young as possible. You slip in coffee into soda drinks and other,  like in Coca Cola or Red Bull for instance. Then you make it look cool to drink it. It is interesting to note that you see this with kids. They refuse to drink things that their peer group do not like and vice versa: they drink that what others find cool.

If I look back at my youth, I can’t recall when I started to drink coffee. I do know we drank Coca Cola long before I drank coffee. Does coke lead to coffee?

I really don’t know.

But once you are used to it, it’s not that easy to get rid off. I am trying now, sometimes drinking only tea and water. It is easier to not drink it when you don’t have it available.

Perhaps that is where you have to start.

Just throw it away.

That is what I did. Now let’s see if that works?

 

James Bond: drink zero and be a hero.
James Bond: drink zero and be a hero.

 

images
Men in fast cars..
red-bull-spends-30-to-40-percent-of-its-revenue-on-marketing-and-its-paid-off
..get girls like this. At least for a brief moment.

 

 

 

 

Also here: http://meritcoba.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/a-life-in-addictions-caffeine.html