One of my goals this year was to reduce the amount of alcohol I consume. It’s not that I drink all that frequently, in fact I probably drink one day over 2 weeks on average, sometimes it could be more than that. However, the issue is that when I drink its not just 2 or 3 drinks, it could be 8 drinks in one night. I do not think that this binge drinking is healthy for me, or anybody for that matter.
Living in Ireland, I grew up in a society where drink was almost glorified in the eyes of the young. You were waiting for the day you turned 18 and could have your first legal drink. I have heard many stories of teenagers starting to drink at the age of 13! How does that effect our bodies as we are developing?
Every year 500 men and women die in Ireland, from cancer linked to alcohol consumption.
I myself did not drink properly until I was 16, when I started going on the odd night out with friends to clubs. We would aim to drink as much as possible enjoying the drunk hazy feeling. This meant often having a ‘naggin’ (which is 5 units by the way) before we even stepped foot in a club… in this way we thought we were saving money but we were definitely not saving our liver! Some guys would drink a shoulder, which is more units again, before getting to a club, as they could handle more alcohol in their system and ‘needed’ more to get that drunk feeling.
of alcohol in 2013 was consumed as part of a
binge drinking session.
Over the years, my relationship with alcohol has definitely become healthier than those early days; I no longer have a ‘naggin’ before getting to a pub/club. Perhaps my back pockets aren’t happy about that but I’m certainly drinking far less and not having any less fun. So thats got to be better for my health! In fact, because of my clubbing and binge drinking days of my youth I feel I have now exhausted that side of life and now no longer have much interest in it. I now much prefer to go for a nice meal and have one or two glasses of wine at dinner than go out all night drinking until you cant see the person’s face in front of you.
That being said I feel like I am still surrounded by people that do enjoy several glasses/shots of alcohol in a night. Prior to my dry January experiment I felt this pressure to drink on nights out, and drinking one or two was not good enough. Ah come one you will! I wanted to squash this feeling of pressure by exclaiming my plans to do dry January. In this way people knew not to push me and I didn’t feel any need to join in with the drinking as I had a good reason for abstaining.
My reasoning for doing dry January? This past year I have been through some very challenging times and my mental health has taken the brunt for it. With worsening anxiety and depression I decided to start on a low dose of anti-depressant medication. The first question I asked to my doctor after being prescribed the medication? Is it okay if I have one or two glasses of wine? And Ireland being Ireland, they said as it was coming up to Christmas and that I would be socialising, I could have alcohol but not to go overboard. But it was like telling a toddler they could have just one sweet out of a pile of sweets on the table… they’re gonna sneak some more into their pocket! Right?
Alcohol is a class one carcinogen, just like cigarettes!
At first I did not link my mental feelings with my consumption of alcohol but with counselling and being more in tune with my emotions I soon began to realise that after every night out I would feel like shit, be unmotivated for up to 3 days after, grumpy, etc. After a while I questioned why I kept doing this to myself, despite it saying in the medication manual that consumption of alcohol on anti-depressants is not recommended, when I knew I was already struggling with my mental health!
That is when I came to the decision to reduce my intake and experiment by doing dry January. I have to admit I did have some slip ups, thanks to a weekend break and some persuasion by a certain somebody. However, for the most part I stuck to it and I felt great! It was with out a doubt one of the best decisions for me and my mental health! I have committed to carry this over into February.
The more I don’t drink, the less I want it when I’m offered it, which is great. I think this is because I know the effects it has one me and thus have a good reason for not having it rather than a lot of peoples’ general wish of ‘being more healthy’.
I wanted to write this post to open up about my mental health struggles and how it can be effected hugely by alcohol consumption. It is also food for thought… what are the reasons you drink?… is it for yourself or for others? Think about that today! If you wouldn’t smoke a cigarette because of the health implications why would you drink 5 pints? Leave your thoughts below!!
Love, Aoife X
- To learn more about how alcohol effects us…
- To learn the facts about alcohol in Ireland…
- Easy ways to reduce your intake but still go out
- The benefits of cutting down
- Alcohol Ireland’s facts on alcohol