By Diane Goslar
Living life as a recovering alcoholic is not easy. Why? Well, let’s start out on a positive note before answering that.
Alcohol Concern’s ’Dry Humour’ show at the Leicester Square Theatre on January 18 was really enjoyable, such a pleasure. The comedians were hilarious, the audience friendly and appreciative, and the bar was dry. Great. This meant that all the bar’s patrons were on the same footing.
That was important – going to a theatre bar is generally quite difficult for me as I’m frequently the only person ordering a non-alcoholic drink. You see, I can’t drink alcohol any more. This is hugely difficult when living (and socialising) in a society where alcohol is not only the norm, but is so highly valued and prevalent. It seems to me that if you want to be a fun, interesting person then you have to drink. Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t want to appear ’holier than thou’ – I would love to be able to drink alcohol, but because of my abuse of this substance I can’t drink. Ever again.
Frankly, I don’t think people have an easy ride if they decide not to drink (for whatever reason), as they are constantly bombarded at every turn with references and imagery of alcohol. It’s there on television, in films, in shows, in the media, in all forms of advertising, in sponsorships, in the supermarket, everywhere. Indeed, it seems that alcohol is viewed as essential for all happenings in life – to join in you must drink alcohol or you can’t be one of the group. Celebrating something? Open the champagne. Got a problem? Have a drink. Feel miserable? Drown your sorrows. It’s hard to celebrate or commiserate without alcohol – just try doing so!
Then there’s the total ubiquity of alcohol – supermarkets are full of all kinds of drinks, attractively packaged and on special offers. There’s a pub or three on most streets you walk down. Prepared food is full of alcohol, whether in restaurants or in supermarkets/shops. You’d be surprised at how many dishes have alcohol in them, and often quite a bit. I have to check everything I buy or order very carefully (finding a non-alcoholic Christmas pudding was extremely difficult…).
These things make you feel estranged from society and make it difficult to take part in a ’normal’ life and appear part of the group. Alcohol seems fundamental to today’s way of life and if you can’t drink, particularly in social settings, you feel like an outsider. It’s like looking at the outside world from inside a goldfish bowl. You think everyone’s looking at you too.
So now you can see why I enjoyed my aforementioned outing to the theatre so much.
But that’s the way it is. I’ve had to find ways of dealing with these difficulties so that I can mix with my friends who drink, socialise generally, walk down the drinks aisles of supermarkets, pass a pub, eat in restaurants, feel part of society. It can be done, but the challenges are always there and it’s not easy.