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Why can everyone else manage their alcohol intake, but not me?

Updated: Jan 13

Did you know, that if you start drinking to avoid pain, or loss, or trauma, you are more likely to fall into addiction faster than someone who is simply drinking on occasion for social reasons? Now, don't get me wrong... Alcohol is addictive, and nobody is immune. Nobody. And let me tell you that the people you envy because they can "take it or leave it", or say they can, are probably asking themselves the exact same question as you. In fact, statistically, just over half of them are.

I used to be able to take it or leave it. I barely drank, and the rare times I did I enjoyed a laugh with a few friends and then paid the fee of a hangover next morning, shrugged it off and carried on with my day.

But then I lost my eldest son to a rare form of cancer. He was 12 years old. It broke my heart and my world into a million tiny pieces. Pieces so small, I lost everything.

I no longer wanted to live in the cruelty of the real world. So I anaesthetised myself with red wine and moved myself into games such as World of Warcraft, Everquest and Eve Online, and did not resurface for many, many years.

I was still a Mum, so every day I functioned on automation, dropping my remaining six year old to school, cleaning the house (on occasion), running a business, and seeing my wonderful, supportive friends. But every night I would disappear, wine in hand, into my PC and a game of choice, chatting to fellow 'guild' members and gamers and downing bosses whilst chugging wine and getting inebriated. It was a wonderful, crazy, funny place to hide, and there I stayed for over eight years. Eight years! Count them!

Those gaming communities perhaps saved my life. In games there is no judgement. It does not matter who you are or where you come from, you are simply accepted for the person you are online, and the skills you can bring to the raid team. I was a healer character in both Warcraft and Eve. They embraced me and they, inadvertently, healed me right up.

When it felt safe to come back to reality, I crept back into real life, first by leaving self employment and getting a job with some wonderful people. And then by re-educating myself to keep up with the modern world of technology. I did well! I was promoted quickly by someone who recognised and appreciated my talents, and I was able to use the skills I had learned in my years online gaming to build gigantic commerce platforms, social media channels and email marketing campaigns.

The job was stressful sometimes though. And when I got home, the wine still called to me, every night, and I would have a glass or two to relax into the evening. It was fine. I still performed well, woke early in the morning, I functioned. I existed just fine.

A few years later I lost my wonderful Mum, my best friend in the world. And two really good friends, as well. My world shattered once again, but it was not as difficult to get back up this time. I knew this too would pass. My wine intake lifted. I was by now drinking three bottles a week, and when I went out with work colleagues or friends I would be the last one standing at every party, knocking them back so fast and laughing raucously at their jokes. I use to brag people struggled to keep up with me. I shudder when I think that now. But I still performed well, I still functioned fine, I still existed.

By 2019 I had started to question my choices, though. My hangovers were lasting longer, it was harder to resist the call of a good Chianti, and I had started to slip up on occasion. It was little things, no "rock bottom", no drama. Just bruises I could not account for. Not being able to remember the night before very well, or falling into my bosses' 40 year old beloved Christmas tree an hour into a Christmas party. (The shame!) In my defence he said it was a barbecue, I had not eaten all day, and there was no food! But still, the warning signs had been niggling at me for a few months. Not to mention the money spent on late night taxis and alcohol.

In December 2019 I took my first break from alcohol, a time which started my journey to giving up for good. I will always be glad I took this step, and I am excited to tell you more about it soon.

But for now, please, stop beating yourself up. It is not your fault. And you are not alone. Millions of people have the exact same questions as you have. The exact same questions as I had back then too. You are not alone.

Amanda x

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