Far From Sublime



As over eight million TV’s beam into our sitting rooms most evenings, I am constantly amazed at the amount of both subliminal advertising and situations that make you NEED a drink.

Buying a sofa? You better have a bottle ready. In all of the Soaps, most I think revolve around a pub and the social salve, Emmerdale, Eastenders and dear old Coronation Street.

Before they all start, you can have another good excuse to pop the cork with teatime Come Dine With Me. Any reason you need to drink is covered by them, for their staple solution is a few pints, vod and ton, or a couple of gallons of wine. Christmas becomes one of the biggest excuses/reasons of all, and even now, in the middle of November, the offers are starting for stocking up for a really big hangover or worse.

Sadly, social media and TV, especially reality TV, presents role models, no matter how off kilter that may be. Sometimes it seems the more desperate characters are the more popular they become. Fiction and cyber space are real, and Reality is not.

There is no let up from it. And of course that gives us, alcoholic misusers/problem drinkers a massive problem. If we were recovering from an illegal drug, we really do have a sporting chance. It’s not available, acceptable and everywhere.  In an article in the Independent newspaper Jeremy Swain, Chief Executive of Thameslink, a leading homelessness charity, said that his charity’s clients were harmed more by super strength lager than by heroin and crack cocaine. It takes some effort to score.  None of the television programmes recommend it as the ultimate cure all, unlike alcohol.

Choice will only be a term that can be meaningfully applied when people are made aware on the packaging of beers wines and spirits that they are buying a powerful addictive drug that has been aggressively marketed at them, that it is an aggravating factor in the vast majority of violent crimes, features in most of the NSPCC’s recorded cases of child abuse, and as latest figures suggest, causes an additional 22,000 deaths per year. This is not about price in my opinion, it’s about visuals. We live by them.

So, I believe that giving up alcohol is one of the most difficult challenges of any drug. The marketing subliminally suggests that we are doing ourselves no favours by not drinking. Makes us different, not part of the crowd and often I have had the raised eyebrow treatment. Whether they think I am pious or just a little strange, I don’t know, but I do feel sometimes almost as stigmatized for not drinking as I did for being a drunk. A caveat to those that know me, and drink around me, realise that I have no evangelical mission to make the world sober far from it, just a desire to help women who have crossed the invisible line of social fun to dependent and needy drinker.

This never gets me down though. I have got to a place where I know that I will wake up in the morning, every morning, clear headed and in control, without that awful feeling of what in God’s name did I say or do last night?

I can be honest and at the same time gentle with myself, because when I sleep, I am really tired, not passing out, unlike the old days, one wine, two wine, three wine four, five wine, six wine, seven wine, floor! Moderate drinking does little harm as long as those who live by it actually stick to the guidelines. Personally, I would rather have a fabulous few Mocktails with no fear of a wobbly measure that would put me or another in danger.

Life really should not be about rules and judging others, but surely we owe it to ourselves to be the best we can be.

Author: Sarah Turner

Founder of the Harrogate Sanctuary.