As you probably already know, I have been on-again, off-again with respect to the wagon since completing 100 days at the end of last year, beginning of this one. I want to be done with the off-again part.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about how alcohol is a crappy way to self-medicate. It just has too many side effects. Even its enjoyable aspects are only fleeting. Any relief from anxiety or stress is only replaced with and compounded by additional stress and anxiety soon afterwards. And what is the point of having a “fun” time with your friends when you only have hazy memories of what actually happened? Maybe that isn’t fair. Maybe the feeling of having had fun with your friends and having bonded (even if you don’t remember everything) is worth it … but I don’t think so. Not if this is what you do habitually. If alcohol was a prescription drug, there would be a very long list of probable side effects listed: additional anxiety, regular sleeplessness, severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, limited or failed relationships, memory loss, chronic hypertension, organ damage, cancer, dementia …
I know from my own experience that it is hard to see it after you’ve been sober for a while so I’m going to share some things I remembered recently about drinking booze to excess (the way I generally like it). I’ll start with the most obvious: hangovers suck.
You know that feeling you get when you wake up feeling like someone is driving a stake through your head, and when you get up to take some ibuprofen, you can barely stand from ongoing deep waves of nausea? Maybe you don’t really remember it very well now that you’ve been sober for a while. Maybe you’ve managed to repress it. Well, I remember it. It sucks.
When I was a new drinker, having a hideous hangover meant that I would swear off booze (for a few days at least). The LAST thing I ever wanted to do was to taste alcohol while fighting to not throw up bile first thing in the morning (sorry, sorry, I know that’s gross). However, as I got on in my drinking years, I started to think a hair of the dog was a good idea. I would drink at 3 a.m. to go back to sleep (more on this later). I would drink at 8 a.m. to go back to sleep on weekends. Once in a while, I even got truly drunk for a second time in the middle of the night. This was rare, and I didn’t drink before work exactly, but near the end of last year, I had a few times when I worried I still had alcohol in my system from middle-of-the-night drinking when I arrived at work in the morning.
And speaking of work, how horrible is it to try to get through the workday while hungover? Every second is an eternity of suffering until you can get to that part of the day when the hangover finally releases you from its terrible grip and you start to feel human again?
I know that most of us probably didn’t experience hangovers this way every day. Personally, a bottle of wine didn’t really regularly give me a serious hangover after some years of drinking. But there was still always that malaise. The heavy fog. The exhaustion. The irritability. The nagging anxiety. It all sucks.
So, if you are thinking it might be a good idea to visit that old friend alcohol, think again about the crappy side effects. In my next post, I’ll explore “Why the f*** am I awake at 3 a.m. AGAIN?”
Sending love and support to all of you.
Ms. New Leaf