Wednesday, 3 April 2013

On Abstinence

This is somewhat predicable given the season. Yes – I gave up alcohol for Lent. The reason I’ve not drawn attention to this resolution previously is that until recently I thought I might not be able to stick to it until the end. To my surprise I did.

            The background is that I enjoy good wine. I had slipped into the habit of enjoying a glass or two … or three, every evening. In fact I don’t think a day has gone by in the last 20 years when I have not taken wine. While I never got drunk and never got into any sort of trouble through drinking, I was regularly exceeding the weekly recommended maximum units of alcohol. Because of medication I have to take, I have blood tests to check my liver function every year. The fact that they have always been normal was no incentive to cutting back or giving up.

            I wondered whether I was an alcoholic. But I don’t in fact fit in to the definition – certainly not that offered by Alcoholics Anonymous whose web site I checked. I didn’t crave alcohol during the day and was not much bothered by the wish to drink until 6 in the evening at the earliest. But I have become tolerant to the effects and my daily consumption very gradually increased as the months and years slipped by.

            The decision to give up for Lent was fairly spur-of-the-moment. My wife let slip, almost casually, two days before Ash Wednesday, ‘Well, are you giving up drink for Lent?’ I thought a moment and then said, ‘Well, I think I will’. And I did.

            Rather than sit with a glass of wine I took a glass of low calorie tonic water with ice and lemon. The bitterness of the tonic rather lessened the sensation of missing the wine.

            I felt better from the start. But I have to say that I felt pretty well before. I missed my wine, but didn’t experience what might be called ‘withdrawal symptoms’. One positive thing – I stopped snoring and so my wife felt better. Then I started to lose weight. Not surprising when you consider the number of calories there are in a bottle of white wine. I tended to avoid telling too many people about it. A few seemed almost to resent what I’d done as though it might reflect upon them. Some looked at me questioningly, as if to say ‘did you have a problem with drink, then?’

            I had my first drink on the evening of Easter Sunday. No undue effect. I hope now to avoid drinking wine every evening, or at least to keep myself to 20 units a week. We shall see.


  1. That is really interesting. I, too, fit into your category of a few glasses every night (well, most nights, because I don't if I'm out because I have to drive anywhere I go or sometimes I just don't feel like one). I, too, rarely exceed my quota and I last got drunk to the point of a hangover when I was 18 (50 years ago and it was so horrible I said 'Never again' and really meant it). I, too, take medication and have liver function tests annually and am always pronounced A1. I, too, have wondered whether I'm addicted but don't fit any of the categories. I gave up cigarettes in 1967 and never craved one from the day I gave up so decided that was prime facie evidence that I didn't have an addictive personality.

    My non-alcoholic drink is Angostura Bitters and Tonic.

    I think that your post might just be about to inspire me into having a few nights off each week for a start.

    Thank you.

  2. Hello - and thank you very much for your comment! Yes - we seem to haved things in common. My non-alcoholic drink was tonic with Angostura bitters as well (but my son pointed out that Angostura has a significant alcohol content, but I discounted that - one only has a few drops anyway).
    It sounds to me as if you don't have a real problem. For myself, I have resumed my white wine again in the knowledge that I have it in me to give it up if I choose. For now I cound the units I take and endeavour to keep to less than 30 units a week. Also it seems to be a good idea to decide in advance how much one will drink over the course of an evening, and stick to it.
    Good luck!