Wrestling with Pros and Cons of Drinking


For many years the Sanctuary has asked prior to clients starting the Six Week Programme to list their pros and cons for drinking, to be searingly honest, as of course only I read the list. That is a relief, as the majority of us know bearing our souls at the first stop, recommended generally our GP, just doesn’t happen, far too scary, and potentially fraught with worry if we are absolutely honest with our habits. What if we are reported to social services? What if the children are taken from us? What if the liver function test comes back outrageously negative. We deny, and not because we are born liars, but just full of fear and often overthinking the worst possible outcome.

So, what are these pros? Why do we believe that drinking at the end of the day is going to make us feel better, more fun, and relaxed? Along with another ‘pro’ that it helps us sleep. None of these are true. They may have been when we drank without the background buzz of responsibilities, being young enough to rally at great speed, and to laugh about the hangover with friends at the office on a Monday morning.

But these feelings and light-hearted thoughts do change as we trot through life, along with the excuses for having a cheeky little number in the evening. Please note I use the word excuse, not reason, as a twitter follower the other day directly messaged me with the line ‘there is never a good reason for drinking too much’, well, duh, I have always said that! Reasons are so very different from excuses, and there are a zillion fabulous excuses out there.

Most of my clients for example, hardly drink at all when they are out, it has morphed into being an isolating experience, and it would horrify them to be seen to be out of it in public in the state of the at home on the sofa look, our park bench. Not so again when there is a youthful verve going on, and Facebook filled with pictures and rip-roaring fun, glass in hand and a perfect look of friendship and jollity.

The fact is that there are very few pros indeed unless you are fortunate enough to have a rigid off button. They get fewer as we get older. The other pro is that it feels a void many of us have had, for drinking does blur the edges of time, most especially if we are lonely and bored. I do get that, and it is a tough one to fill, especially if we are not ready to be a gym bunny, marathon runner or expert in somehow making friends away from our old tribe of drinkers. Women like us do tend to have a very low boredom threshold, active brains, full of chatter, and it can be completely maddening switching the damn thing off without the help of a glass or four of white.

The last week of freak weather has made many of us rightly stay in, and I for one at times have been intensely fed up and bored. Having just returned from the warmth of Southern Florida, busy, happy both with work play and friends, it was a shock to the system! There was a form of cabin fever setting in. It has made me really grateful now it is over, to manage it, and not endanger myself or others by going on a stealth mission to the booze aisle.

I have said many times that I am never evangelical about not drinking, if you do have good times with it, then great, but more and more I hear and see women over 40 who are in a very precarious place that makes them both lonely and scared. In my opinion the Pros are extremely weak, and as we have so much to look forward to with a sharp brain and good health, surely it has to be time we really looked honestly, at the advantages if any, of Big Alcohol and the game it plays with us.

Author: Sarah Turner

Founder of the Harrogate Sanctuary.