How did we normalise abnormal drinking?

I came across this article and blog last night.  

It’s good isn’t it? It voices something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I think it was whilst I was at university that I decided that fun= getting drunk. Until then I’d enjoyed getting drunk (and perhaps more so than any of my friends) but drinking hadn’t been the only way to have fun.

Most people rein in their drinking as they get older and acquire more responsibilities like jobs and children etc. (I didn’t cut back but I’m talking about normal drinkers here, or at least what society considers ‘normal’) What I’ve noticed is that even though normal people may start to drink less frequently, they still consider drinking to be the best way of having a good time. Sure, they’ve grown up and moved on from alcopops and shots to fancy wine …but basically they still look forward to consuming a lot of alcohol in one go because that is the best way to have ‘FUN’.

So if binge drinking chardonnay is considered ‘normal’ that must make people like me abnormal, right? It certainly feels that way at times. What’s annoying is that whilst I can have a good night out sober, me not drinking seems to offend other people. If they don’t notice I’m on lemonade then it’s fine, but once they do the spell seems to be broken. Perhaps they’re worried I’m judging them? Looking down on them from my sober high horse?  

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this past week as I’ve RSVP’d to a few Christmas invites. The festive party season is starting to feel like yet another hurdle to get over when really it should be fun. So I am going to try and come up with a little Christmas party survival plan. Let me know your thoughts and tips…

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13 thoughts on “How did we normalise abnormal drinking?

  1. jenisthesoberist November 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm Reply

    It would be really cool if drinking to get drunk wasn’t done so often! The holiday season is the perfect time for people to let loose and have some “Fun.” Maybe there are some really healthy places in the world where binge drinking isn’t done so often, but it doesn’t seem like it, does it? Which is why I will be attending parties only when I am feeling strong, healthy and totally capable of leaving early. Otherwise skip it! 🙂

  2. carrieonsober November 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm Reply

    That’s an article worth printing out and reciting every word of next time someone tells me I am no fun! Seriously though, how true, every word and this is the attitude we come up against every time we feel strong enough to go out and play in that world again!
    I will be choosing my nights out carefully and keep the company of friends who have been understanding of my choice. There will be a few obligatory parties where I will be sober and proud and if I get any spoilsport vibes, I’ll check out early. Will be looking for other ways to celebrate with sober fun. Planning comedy nights, a musical, lunch dates and coffees otherwise.
    Thanks, that was very interesting
    C x

    • soberjournalist November 5, 2013 at 11:08 pm Reply

      The sober fun you have planned sounds great! I’m going to organise a few things like that too – stuff that doesn’t revolve around drinking but will still be a great night out x

  3. byebyebeer November 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm Reply

    Tips I’ve heard that make sense: Arrive late and leave early. Drive on your own so you can leave when you want. Don’t let yourself get too hungry or thirsty. Know that this holiday season may feel harder than future sober ones, especially if it’s your first.

    I was just at a family gathering this weekend and my grandmother asked me if I wanted a cocktail and then if I wanted to try some 30 year old wine. I’ve told her before I don’t drink, but I guess she forgets or doesn’t get it, so I just said ‘no thanks’ and she moved on and so did I. This same exchange happens roughly every time we get together, but it bothers me less and less. It all gets easier over time (and thank goodness).

    • soberjournalist November 5, 2013 at 11:11 pm Reply

      Oh I have the same thing with my grandad! Last time we went out together as a family he shouted across the table ‘why aren’t you drinking?!’ Honestly the whole restaurant heard. He’s quite deaf and very forgetful. Thanks for the other tips. Will definitely be making sure I always have a way of escaping should I need to…

  4. Veronica Valli November 5, 2013 at 8:08 pm Reply

    Hi, Thank you for sharing my post I’m really glad you liked it and I appreciated the comments you made. I really think this is an argument that people who drink find hard to wrap their heads around. Not drinking ever, is seen as something drastic and extreme in our culture. Its very hard for them to comprehend how to ‘do’ many situations like parities, birthdays, celebrations, saturday nights, meals etc without alcohol.
    In many ways its not the abusive drinking that bothers me. If you want to drink abusively that is your choice. It’s the dishonesty around it that I object to. We excuse and mask what is actually happening by using terms like ‘just letting of steam,’ ‘right of passage,’ a bit of fun.’ None of those things are true.
    I always say its not booze that kills people but the lies they tell themselves.
    Great blog by the way and congrats on your sobriety.
    Best wishes
    Veronica Valli

  5. thirstystill November 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm Reply

    Great post and great article you linked there! I like that she’s not demonizing alcohol, just the bizarre culture of excess that surrounds it. And I think that kind of excess needs a veil of denial that gets ripped when someone isn’t drinking, especially if you don’t have one of the culturally accepted excuses. I am finding that deflecting the interest away from my glass works the best, but I don’t have any really challenging situations to cope with. (Most people I socialize with drink only a little; I was the aberration!) Anyway, thanks for the great link and good luck with the festive season!

  6. dianaburke November 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm Reply

    Since most Xmas parties are just an excuse to get hammered, why go at all? It’s not until we stop drinking that we see what it’s really all about – just an endless stream of reasons to get out of our head on alcohol – birthdays, Xmas, Easter, vacations, celebrations, grieving, sporting activities, boredom, excitement, births and deaths,sunny weather, snowy weather, eating, breathing…

    People in some other cultures don’t drink, and they seem to be able to have fun without it. We have a seriously dysfunctional culture when it comes to alcohol.

  7. Gdub November 16, 2013 at 11:16 pm Reply

    It wasn’t until a long time friend told me that trying to piece together the night before –all the time– was not normal that I began to accept I had a problem. I thought my life was “normal” because all of my friends were hard partiers and we sure “looked” like we were having fun. I have really had to isolate myself in sobriety because I did not really have any friends who did not abuse alcohol. Looking forward to rejoining the world as I have learned I am still fun sober!

  8. Mary LA November 24, 2013 at 10:16 am Reply

    In early sobriety I found I needed to distance from heavy drinkers or people who organised their social lives around alcohol. Rather like a new vegan not hanging out with people who barbecue meat and can’t imagine a dish without meat in it, those don’t want to eat vegetables alone.

    I found that there are many groups and individuals who don’t drink or only drink now and again, who spend weekends hiking or playing sport, who play music or work on art, people who don’t hang out sober and lonesome in pubs and wondering why others want them to drink. So much generalising about the use of alcohol in society has to do with who we choose as friends and where we choose to socialise.

  9. Helen M November 24, 2013 at 8:19 pm Reply

    Would love to know. I’ve pretty much stopped going out at night. Between people feeling dampened by me and me knowing they are going to be repetitive and irritating by 10pm it just feels like there’s no point. Everyone else is anticipating getting down to bonding and I’m anticipating when the first person will be in my face too close and spraying me. Not all nights are like that, but it’s surprised me how many are. I concentrate on coffee dates, cinema, meals out. I go home about 10 or 11 at the latest, and that’s usually only after cinema. I don’t miss the pub life but I do worry that I really can’t stand being around drunk people now, because it makes things like Xmas parties and weddings quite traumatic for me, and I suppose that must make me seem like a total cow.

  10. Dannyboy November 28, 2013 at 1:14 am Reply

    Iam a London cabby that been sober nearly 2 years. I have to deal with these totally boring drunken twats all year round , Christmas is 3 weeks of hell . Give me a sober person any day all day please :(.

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