10 years ago I ventured solo around Tasmania in the rental van you see in these pictures. The van was essentially a moving advertisement for the expectation of alcohol participation. I shudder to think about how I might feel when given this vehicle if I turned up at the rental place today, 10 years later and more than one year sober. Then, I thought it mildly amusing as I drove around Tassie, pulling into a different place each night and indulging in a few drinks to ‘chill out’. I was on holidays, already chilled, I really didn’t need any drinks, or for that matter any encouragement from the van I was driving. I drank because I had come to know that this was what I did.
I’m not interested in telling people how to live their lives but I am all about screaming from the rooftops how good it feels to have changed how I live mine and encouraging others to do the same – if that’s what they want to do.
Apart from a few friends or family who have stumbled on here to support me (thank you), if you don’t have a drinking problem then you’re probably not reading this. You’ve probably never googled the word sobriety or searched for sober instagram pages. You have probably never rolled the question “am I an alcoholic?” around in your mind the way I have. The way so many of us have. But – if you have pondered the notion of alcoholism and where you sit on the spectrum of addiction – don’t beat yourself up about it! Know that you are not alone! You don’t have to stand up and declare yourself an alcoholic to want to change your life. But know that it is absolutely okay to want to change your life.
A fact we know about alcohol is that it is an addictive substance that is legal for any adult to ingest. It is heavily marketed to us in a way that no other addictive substance of its’ nature is. We are conditioned to think that it’s ok, if not expected for us to celebrate with alcohol. To use it to wind down and relax. To keep us company in times of loneliness. To comfort us in times of grief, or to chill us out when we feel uptight, stressed or anxious. Given this, it’s hardly surprising that so many of us fall victim to its’ tight grip. Yet if we admit that we’re addicted or struggling with alcohol dependency, somehow society tends to view us as weak or failing. It is expected that we are able to enjoy alcohol without getting addicted. Sorry for the heavy language – but f*ck that! We need to break down the stigma of addiction. I’m not here to condemn alcohol. If it fits nicely into your world and you’re not on the fringes of addiction good for you – but understand, not everyone is so fortunate. Not everyone can take it or leave it. We need it to be easier for people to say NO! To say I don’t drink, I don’t want to drink, or I don’t need to drink. And for those who have gone beyond ‘safe’ drinking, we need it to be easier to admit that we have a problem. People need to be able to talk about alcohol addiction/dependency without fear of condemnation from their peers, partners, parents or community. I hope for the sake of future generations we are able to change the conversation around alcohol and for it to be seen as normal not to drink. Rather than as something that requires explanation or excuses. We need to find a way to see through the messages that are sent our way and to sell ourselves a new way of life.