How much do you fancy a drink?

I’m teetotal. I used to drink as much as the next man or woman, but there was a problem. Well, two problems.

Firstly, I would drink to cope with stress. It was actually my only real coping mechanism against stress, which really isn’t healthy, mainly because I couldn’t cope with stress whilst sober, leading to me drinking more often.

Secondly, I didn’t know when to stop. The move from sober to tipsy to drunk to puking on a train was seamless to me and I didn’t notice until I was praying to the white, ceramic god.

I wasn’t an alcoholic and I didn’t have a drinking problem, but it was certainly heading that way. So I stopped.

Just like that.

Seven and a half years ago.

So, when this popped up on my Facebook timeline, I was a tad concerned.

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Let’s get one thing straight immediately; doing something harmless to yourself and others to raise money for as good a cause as Macmillan Cancer Support is a brilliant thing to do. If you want to do it then all power to you, it’s fantastic. I think the idea of the campaign is great and I genuinely wish anybody reading this who is taking part the best of luck with it.

However, it’s the language around it that concerns me. I heard a radio advert for it telling you to do “something amazing”. Is it? Really? No alcohol for 31 days is “amazing”? No water for 31 days is amazing. No food for 31 days is amazing. No alcohol for 31 days is self-denial and admirable, but hardly amazing.

Then there is the question on the Facebook post,

“Can you go sober for the whole of October?”

That suggests that there is room for debate over the answer, which is a worry.

Sure, if you say that you won’t go sober for the whole of October, or you don’t want to do it, that’s one thing. But, if you are asked whether you can do it or not and you answer no, or even if you need to seriously think about your answer, then you need to start asking yourself some other questions.

Like, can I really not stop drinking?

Why can I not stop?

How did I get to this stage?

Is this healthy, physically and mentally?

What do I need to turn this around?

The reason for that is simple. If you can’t go without a drink for just 31 days then you may well have a problem. You are relying on alcohol for some reason which makes the idea of stopping just too much for you.

I know too many people in that position. Too many who, when I say I don’t drink, answer with “Oh, I couldn’t do that!”, or are utterly shocked and disbelieving by it.

I’ve been there. I know that, when you are in that position, you need a reality check before problem drinking becomes a serious problem. A problem to you, your friends, your family and everything else in your life.

It sounds dramatic. It isn’t for me because I did and could just stop, because, in the end, I had to.

I’m asking you, though, can you stop drinking for the whole of October? If so, great, maybe do it and raise some money. If not, though, then look in a mirror and start asking yourself some questions.

Then find the answers.

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