Alcohol Can Be Terminal

Women and wine time sounds so last year, doesn’t it? Dated and almost twee.

It’s nearly ten years since The Sober Revolution was published, and the near smugness of the way things were then with secret drinking and slogans like W.I.N.O.S Women in Need of Sanity, made women and wine normal and completely acceptable. Times have changed, there is more openness and less stigma, I hope in some part due to books like mine and Lucy Rocca’s, and others that followed. However, during and after the pandemic data shows alcohol related deaths rose. The quippish wine time slogans became very unfunny because the real reason for drinking too much was to try and self-medicate our depression and anxiety, the vicious circle trapped us with that misguided belief. People we drinking to cope, there was no chance of being social with it. Many became very lonely and bored, the one constant with alcohol bought in copious amounts online, is that it is everywhere and available, never lets someone down who is dependent on it.  Supermarkets and couriers did a roaring trade.

Drinking misuse is terminal. Alcoholism is a one-way ticket to certain death, directly or indirectly, via heart and liver disease, obesity, malnutrition, brain damage, a plethora of organ failures and cancer. There virtually no part of us that the toxicity does not makes its mark.

I know all about rock bottom, hit it so heavily, it is no exaggeration that was almost miraculous that I survived. There was no one event which horrified me so much that I had to stop, not obliterated after a good night out and ambulanced to A & E. I was subversive and hidden but had a series of dangerous levels of destruction. I was determined with my screwed mental health to end the nightmare of having to drink to function. I didn’t want to function, I wanted to blank everything out, and death was the ultimate answer to that. Absolute intent.  I didn’t have enough energy to jump off a bridge, but I knew alcohol would kill me if I tried hard enough whilst I languished on the sofa, floor, bed if I could get upstairs or in a bath. Whatever I made public in my book, was only a peephole to what happened to me with the insidious drug that is marketed so very well.

Anyway, it didn’t. I am one of the miniscule numbers who do survive such abuse without any serious permanent damage.

We are living longer, but not living well. Most of us take no notice of slight changes with ageing, until bits of us stop working. When we drink, we use avoidance tactics with the GP, the gateway to referral, and at my age the incidence of underlying health issues, prescription drugs, disabling conditions are common, let alone the mental health problems this crisis riddled world is leading us into. More than ever, we need to be sharp and aware.

Every cigarette packet has the warning that smoking can kill you. Alcohol now surpasses tobacco. Whether you are choosing this as an end destination like I was or pretending it’s fun and makes you well, you, take a moment to remember it’s not a substance you would give to a child, or a dog for that matter. Try to aim for a life that has quality, promise and hope.

You are stronger than you think.

Author: Sarah Turner

Founder of the Harrogate Sanctuary.