2 Apr

This article by Russell Brand is well known in recovery circles, and its been invaluable to me over the past few weeks:

Sometimes when I’m in AA, I feel like the literature is filled with passages from inside my head. I get the precisie same feeling when I read passages of the article.

Russell talks about watching a video of himself taking heroin in a run-down dump in Hackney:

‘…[I felt] envy at witnessing an earlier version of myself unencumbered by the burden of abstinence. I sat in a suite at the Savoy hotel, in privilege, resenting the woeful ratbag I once was, who, for all his problems, had drugs. That is obviously irrational.’

On my down days, I can relate to this so strongly. I envy the version of myself drinking freely before the penny had dropped that I’m an alcoholic, before I was encumbered by the knowledge I can’t drink again. I look at myself in those first few months alcohol really took its grip where all I felt was a sense of naughtiness and abandon. No more. As an AA buddy once said ‘Being in a 12 step programme REALLY f**ks with your drinking.’ I imagine that were I to drink now, every drop of pleasure would be sucked out of it by the knowledge that I’m an addict. That drinking isn’t a choice, but a compulsion.

As the sunshine is out again, my mind turns to thoughts of ice cold pints of beer and dewy glasses of white wine by a pool somewhere exotic. I can sometimes taste it, feel the relief of the drink slipping down my throat and then I remember the wisdom on Monsieur Brand:

‘Even if it began as a timid glass of chardonnay on a ponce’s yacht, it would end with me necking the bottle, swimming to shore and sprinting to Bethnal Green in search of a crack house.’

I love this line so much. When I’m right in the middle of a craving, this is the sentence I turn over and over in my mind. Minus the crack house, this describes my experience of drinking perfectly. That timid glass that seems so appealing is a one way ticket to the land of Doom.

I’m still obsessed with watching people drinking, especially the ones who can have Just One Glass. I find it absolutely baffling that people don’t get overtaken by the same urge to drink more that I do. I was talking the other night to my best friend who I finally told that I’m in recovery. He gets absolutely SMASHED, sometimes for 2-3 nights in a row and in terms of volume, has always drunk more than me. But when I told him about my drinking he said he didn’t relate to it at all: the shame, the sadness, the wanting to stop… He never feels like that.

Once again, Russell sums it up perfectly:

Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

If this seems odd to you it is because you are not an alcoholic or a drug addict. You are likely one of the 90% of people who can drink and use drugs safely. I have friends who can smoke weed, swill gin, even do crack and then merrily get on with their lives. For me, this is not an option.

Oh you wise wise man, THIS IS IT! Most people can get blind drunk, wake up, shake off their hangover and get on with their day. Not me, not ever.

Today’s a flat day. I’ve got a bit of a case of the ‘mehs.’ I’ve had a bit of a sugar binge over the last few weeks and it’s making me feel crappy. My addiction has most definitely transferred- I’m filling the gap alcohol has left with the comfort of sweet things. This needs to stop. I need to go cold turkey I think, as surprise surprise, moderation isn’t an option for me. What would Russell say? “What starts as a timid nibble of a Reeses peanut butter cup turns into me snaffling the entire packet and leaping out of the door in my pajamas to Bethnal Green Tesco to get more. My transformation into Augustus Gloop is complete’  I used to be a paragon of discipline, one of those people who could savour a single square of dark chocolate and be satisfied. Not any more. So this is the next addiction to tackle. I’m doing a marathon on Sunday so will not worry about dietary restriction until after that, but I’ve got to take a hold of it.


14 Responses to “Addiction”

  1. Rebecca A. Watson April 2, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    I know what you mean about the sugar addiction. My hubby decided to skip sugar for a month and I thought I could do it. Nope. Lasted 12 hours! But it’s a helluva lot better than booze, that’s for sure. Do what you think is best, but if I were you I would make sure to figure out some other treats for yourself so you don’t feel too deprived 🙂

  2. afteralcohol April 2, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I haven’t read that article yet and will go and do so right now, but oh goodness, yes, you’re right that basically whatever we do now, whatever choice we make, fun carefree drinking is a thing of the past. We are through the looking glass. Thanks for saying it: I’m reading Almost Alcoholic at the moment and it’s kind of fucking with my head. I needed to read this instead.

    • FitFatFood April 2, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Oooh, I haven’t read Almost Alcoholic, but the title alone suggests to me its potentially dangerous for me to contemplate. For me, the only way I’ve been able to stop drinking is by seeing it in black and white terms Drinking = depression, loneliness, shame Sobriety = Happiness, calm, friendship and freedom.

      Keep that Russell Brand article close to you in early sobriety- it helps me so much.

  3. soberlearning April 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    When I quit the wind, I figured out how many grams of sugar I was drinking daily. My M&M fixation does not even come close. So I say fuck it for now. It may not last forever, but it is helping me now.
    I love the Russel Brand article, and your post is great. On Monday night in AA, I asked them WHEN I would stop being hyper aware of every one else’s drinking. They all told me I haven’t accepted that I am an alcoholic yet. Of course I have, or I would never have walked through that door. I forgot about the quoted paragraph above, I guess it never really goes away. Just reading that again this morning has made my day brighter.
    Great post, and good luck in the marathon. Don’t be to hard on yourself about the sugar, everything works out with time.

    • FitFatFood April 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

      I think you do Step 1 to some exent when you walk in the door, and blogging is an exercise in step 1 over and over !

      Glad it helped, reading the post. If I ever see Russell Brand in a meeting (according to his writings, he’s in the rooms) I shall embrace him and thank him for one of the best things on addiction I’ve ever read

  4. lucy2610 April 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Hope it’s a glorious run and you blast through your PB! Will be thinking of you 🙂 xx

    • FitFatFood April 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks Lucy- see you at the race we’re both doing I hope 😉

  5. Debbie April 2, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    So very well written. Russell Brand really tells it like it is – I love it. Be careful going ‘cold turkey’ on the chocolate. I tried that in February and the alcohol cravings came back FULL FORCE. It was agonizing. My plan is to slowly wean myself off the chocolate. ‘Cold turkey’ is SO not an option for me! Good luck on your marathon. I envy you! I have a half in May, but with a problematic bladder I am no longer able to run it 😦

  6. jenisthesoberist April 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    I don’t want to mess with your sobriety at all, but as I am sober longer I see more grey areas in regards to drinking. Not for me….or you…or many others who definitely cannot drink ever, but for others. Problem drinking seems more like a continuum than an absolute sometimes. Your friend, for example, might simply not be to the anxious and guilty point yet. Or maybe he will never get there. I read somewhere that alcoholics are either born or made, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I adore that article…especially the parts you singled out. So, so good! Hugs!

  7. carrieonsober April 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Love this article so much. I can literally feel the envy, cravings and the insanity of the thought processes that happen only in the addicted, like minded, like me. That is how I know I will always feel differently about it than normal people do. One drink would take me right back there eventually every time…
    Sugar is not the same kind of enemy – go easy on yourself. Lately, I have been trying to tier the cravings/rewards thing, by trying a less naughty treat first and then if that doesn’t work I can have something else until I feel better. The most important thing is being sober and you really mustn’t say never to anything at the moment, just try being a bit more sensible of the good days. On the bad days, it takes what it takes to get through as far as I am concerned.
    I wrote back at about 8 months maybe, that I stopped noticing what others where drinking,how much, how quickly etc. But it did come and it’s a great release when you just don’t notice much less care. these feelings will not be with you forever, some will lessen so much and some will disappear, they really will. Otherwise, no one would survive being sober without actually exploding!!
    Oh the shame of doing Tesco’s in your pjs, or would it be a onesie?!
    You are doing brilliantly, you are such a fab blogger too…great post!

    • FitFatFood April 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Ahhh thanks C!

      I haven’t *actually* gone to Tescos in my PJs for Cadburys Twirls, but I could see it happening on a bad day 😉

      It’s weird with the sugar, I used to be so moderate and now I can’t be moderate- I want to eat ALL of it…. I know it’s more important to be sober than anything else so won’t be silly about it 🙂

  8. thirstystill April 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    I’m with you on sometimes envying the person who drinks freely, though I quickly follow that up with remembering that when I drink, I drink compulsively, and compulsion is not freedom! I just had to cut back on the sugar and junk food, too, and I feel much better as a result. I hope your “mehs” lift and you feel sunny again soon. Good luck with that big run! xo

    • FitFatFood April 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      Thanks! Will post how it goes 🙂


  1. my life. . . today | Dangling on the edge - April 2, 2014

    […] to “I don’t care what I drink, I just want to get shitfaced.” I think FitFatFood wrote a great post about addiction and referenced Russell Brand. I love the way he explains […]

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