Please be Sober Responsibly

16 Jan

In the UK, the drinks industry gets away with ads making booze seem cool and sexy and amazing by slapping the strap line “Please drink responsibly” on its ads.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how this applies to the sober world.

I haven’t blogged about the exact nature of what happened the last night I drank, or in fact told anyone, but it’s safe to say it was the most rock bottom it could have got for me.

And I’ve done a lot of pondering about how and why the quick descent happened again after my 40 day sober stretch. And the truth is this- I can pinpoint the moment I knew that I would drink.

I was lucky enough to meet someone who is very prominent in the media taking about sobriety and their recovery over Christmas. We met for copious amounts of coffee. I shared my struggles and she told me, that I was young, my drinking didn’t sound that bad and that maybe I needed to “get it out of my system” a bit more. My jaw nearly hit the floor. But as soon as my alcoholic brain gripped onto those words, that was it- I’d decided, unbeknown to myself at that moment that she was RIGHT! That’s exactly what I needed to do! Yay!

And I drank, and tried to stop the net day and carried on for a week or two on and off. And eventually, in a drunken haze, I actively sought out a situation that helped me tick my rock bottom box. And I’m still, weeks later, struggling to find my sober momentum.

Today, as I’ve attended my 2nd AA meeting in 24hours I’m angry- angry I listened to her, angry I didn’t listen to my instincts and angry to be in this situation at all.

So my message, I suppose, is to us all. All of us who blog and support others and share our stories. We have a responsibility that we didn’t sign up to when we started on this journey to be careful what we say to others. You can suggest and share your experiences and sober tips, but never ever make a judgement about someone’s drinking. Never tell them it’s not bad enough to worry about. Only an individual knows whether their drinking is bad enough to have an impact on their life, and any suggestion that it might not be is like a Get out of Jail free card to the alcoholic brain.

So, I just wanted to put this experience out there to remind us that people take on board what we write and comment and advise them over coffee and that we need to be careful with what we say to other problem drinkers.

Happy Thursday!


17 Responses to “Please be Sober Responsibly”

  1. wren1450 January 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    SO true. We are all fragile –some more than others. But, we must remember that we all are “one drink away from our next drunk,” which may last hours or weeks or…..forever. I don’t want it on my head that I unwittingly have someone a free pass to further explore their obvious problems with alcohol. And I know that I don’t want to hear anything like this, either, because I don’t know if I might be in a very vulnerable place at that time.

  2. lucy2610 January 16, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Oh boy I don’t know what to say FFF. The main emotion I I feel is anger that someone would say that to anyone who has embarked on a journey of change so huge, especially someone who has been through it themselves. It seems so disrespectful and diminishing of the battle that we have. Warning heard loud and clear 🙂

  3. soberjournalist January 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Gosh what a ridiculous thing to say. She of all people should have known how dangerous that advice is. Proof that sobriety doesn’t always make you wiser!

  4. Jane January 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    I think if anybody is talking to you about ‘their struggles’ with alcohol then warning bells should start ringing. It seems pretty obvious that the person is asking for help. To then be told to ‘get it out of your system’ is a totally unacceptable and downright irresponsible response. I’m furious for you.

  5. Mental Rollercoaster January 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Hear, hear! What an irresponsible comment she made. I believe she may be struggling with her own issues – I wouldn’t think that someone who’s in healthy recovery would suggest what she suggested. She may very well be a “dry drunk,” as we all hear about in AA.

  6. Belle January 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    really, really, really. this is such bullshit. and it makes me so sad to think that she’s dishing out advice like that. she OF ALL PEOPLE should know better. but I guess it just proves the point that not all people are good people, and so not all sober people are good people either. Best to excavate her comments NOW rather than AFTER you have 5 years sober and it’s still eating at you… If someone wants to quit drinking, they know why they want it. No one else has the right to say anything, other than “what can i do to help.” argh.

  7. carrieonsober January 16, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    Yes, do let it go and be proud that you caught yourself so quickly and didn’t think it was actually a good idea to continue drinking because ‘you are young’. I still can’t believe it!

  8. momthegr January 17, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    I can’t believe the bs comment. cannot. in the long run whole experience will help you but still sorry .. any chance you can share your experience with her? send her this link to your blog post.

  9. monkeybegone January 17, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    Besides – why would wait until someone had an accident before you encouraged them to slow down & put their seatbelt on?

    If you were seriously concerned about your drinking and it was causing you distress – that’s reason enough to take control. Well done.

  10. Amina C January 17, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    You are so right. No one can ever tell another if they are an alcoholic or not. I am shocked that happened to you and I’m sorry. That really sucks. I’m glad you are following your heart and doing what is necessary.

  11. Lilly January 17, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    I am utterly shocked and gobsmacked by this. Particularly as I *think* I know who you are talking about – because I think you mentioned meeting her before – and, if so, she’s one of my sober heroines and I am very, very disappointed to hear this came from her.

    This particularly upsets me right now when I am struggling with the “maybe I wasn’t really *that* bad crap” so I absolutely know how easy it is to latch onto those thoughts. I was reading two of my fave sober books last night, Drinking and Dry, and found it all too easy to read about some of their drinking and think it sounded so much worse than me. I never drank a whole bottle of scotch. I never had the shakes. Maybe I am ok? If you want to find ‘worse than’ reasons they are always there, age irrespective.

    But, we know if it’s a problem. We wouldn’t be here blogging about it if it wasn’t. And when it’s bad for you and makes you miserable – and causes you to do things your sober self never would – *you know* and it doesn’t really matter how young you are or who else drinks more or whatever the fuck.

    This also makes me mad because when I look back on my drinking at your age I can remember some pretty dreadful/shocking nights/experiences that SHOULD HAVE BEEN major wake up calls but I was so far from having that insight. I wonder how different my life would have been now if I had? Which is why I think it’s sooo great that you have. And again, why I find it appalling someone older, who found soberiety later on, would put you off grabbing the bull by the horns NOW. It sounds like some lingering romancing of young drunken days that is entirely inappropriate.

    Seriously, WTF?

    I am glad this makes you mad and doubly glad you are not using that as an excuse to keep going.

    L xo

  12. finallygotsomethingtosay January 17, 2014 at 6:38 am #

    Hmm. Interesting. I’m sorry you had to go out and seek a lower bottom, but in the end it takes what it takes. Was it a ridiculous thing for her to have said? Absolutely. But here’s the thing (and judging from the previous comments my perspective may not be a popular one, but here goes): it’s *your* sobriety, and absolutely no one else is responsible for it but you. No one. No matter how long they’ve been sober, whether you admire them or not, and whether or not they’re a well-known figure. They are not responsible for your sobriety. It sounds to me like you’re blaming this woman for your relapse, which is ridiculous. Let me reiterate: what she said to you was stupid, and thoughtless. I’m sorry she said it, and sorrier still that you latched onto her words and used them as a reason to drink. That said, it’s still on you. No one else can keep you sober, and no one else can make you drink.

    I was 19 when I got sober, and countless people – both sober and “normies”- questioned whether I was a “real” alcoholic, or whether this was just a “phase” I was going through. People are people, and are prone to saying stupid shit. Even the well-meaning ones. I had sponsors relapse, guys I liked relapse. I had relatives who had known me forever suggest that just because both my parents were alcoholics (my mom got sober, my dad didn’t) it didn’t mean I was one as well. Still, I didn’t drink. I am not trying to make myself out to be some paragon of sobriety, either. I screwed up a lot, in every way imaginable. I didn’t drink, but I did attempt suicide in early sobriety. **I do NOT recommend this!** Nonetheless, I didn’t drink. I knew – knew deep, deep down – that I was an alcoholic. I believed with every particle of my being that taking a drink would only take every bad thing in my life and make it that much worse. I believed that. So I didn’t drink. There were days and weeks and even months where I felt like that was the only thing I did right. Eventually, things did get better. It took a long time. I didn’t drink.

    I am not trying to sound unsympathetic to your relapse. I’m really not. I hate relapse, and have had it hit close to home too often. I hope it never happens to you again. But maybe, just maybe, you needed to find a lower bottom in order for your brain to accept that you’re really and truly an alcoholic, and really and truly powerless. I don’t know. I have known a lot of people who had to hit lower bottoms than anticipated to get and *stay* sober. Maybe that was the case for you.

    I was lucky. I found a group of people in early sobriety who let me whine and cry and wail about how shitty things were. They listened and they held my hand and they hugged me, and they they told me my life and my sobriety were between me and my Higher Power. They told me to get a sponsor and work the steps and to keep coming back. They listened to me talk about my suicide attempt. They nodded and hugged me and held my hand and told me that my life and my sobriety were up to me, my Higher Power, and my program. God bless every single one of them. They pissed me off, and I thought they didn’t “get” me because I was young or special or smart or different. It was all bullshit. Those people told me exactly what I needed to hear, even when I really, really didn’t want to hear it. I hated them, sometimes. I love them now.

    You may be irritated by this, and by the length of this post (sorry, it is ridiculous). That’s okay. But I would be remiss if I didn’t do for you exactly what those amazing people did for me: tell it exactly like it is. Your sobriety is on you, and no one else. Blame no one for your relapse. Accept it, and believe you are exactly where you are supposed to be today. Let go of the anger, and move forward. Nothing good comes from anger. Work the steps, find a Higher Power, and go to as many meetings as you can. I went to two a day for a year… you might need less, or more. People will continue to say stupid, thoughtless crap. If you go to enough meetings, your head will be too full of randomly acquired wisdom to feed into the crap, be it your own or anyone else’s. Good luck to you.

    • FitFatFood January 17, 2014 at 7:49 am #

      I’m in no way annoyed by your comment and really glad you posted this, because you’re absolutely right.

      I can only hold myself responsible and believe me I do, but what I’m warning against is a carelessness in assessing the other drinker. As you rightly said, you know deep down yourself if you have a problem, and I did and do know that. I’m angry because against all reason and logic I clung onto that comment, used it for my own purposes. I’m annoyed that whereas in other areas of my life I can exercise great greeting, logic and rational thinking an in this area I cannot.

      I still stand by my point regarding responsibility, and I like the AA approach of advising others “My experience was..”

      The comment wasn’t intended to cause harm, but in this delicate and unstable period of early sobriety I see it as careless.

      Anyway, I’m back, I’m holding myself responsible every day for that day’s sobriety and I’m thanking god for each day sober. That’s all I can do.

      • finallygotsomethingtosay January 17, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

        That’s all anyone can do, really, on any day. Whether you have a day, a week or even years sober. Because in the end it truly is only one day a a time.

  13. Glenn January 19, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    For the love of all that is good…
    Without my current support networks in place, if someone I trusted, even a little, told me in no uncertain terms that I could drink, or that I didn’t have it that bad, if they minimized and rationalized my past, if they even hinted at me being able to or that I should get out and drink… well, I guess I would rather not think about it.
    With that being typed, I am grateful to have blogging as part of support network and glad that reading your writing is part of it.
    Thank you for sharing!

  14. Rebecca A. Watson January 21, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    I’m sorry to hear that you had to deal with this, but i really wanted to say thank you for posting about it! You are so right that we as openly sober folks have a responsibility to check our comments and judgments…of course everyone is responsible for their own behavior, but since we’ve all been there and KNOW how hard it is, I think we could be expected to be a little sensitive about these things.


  1. How much did I drink? | A hangover free life - January 18, 2014

    […] not proud of this fact and I want to be honest.  And having read this post by FitFatFood I also want to say that if the number of units that you are drinking is nowhere […]

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