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How I Stopped Drinking my Way Through the Covid-19 Pandemic
You heard about the pandemic, right? We all started to shelter in place, and my work dried up. There was nothing I could do about it, and I made up my mind to enjoy the time off. I’ve been a daily alcohol user for, what, a decade, two decades? Who knows when it became a daily medication, but at some point in my past, I adopted a principle that if I don’t have a drink in hand, I must not really be enjoying myself.
Day-by-day, my drinking/enjoying started earlier and earlier. I made a rule not to start drinking before noon, a rule that I strictly observed unless: a) I started eating lunch before noon, or b) I wanted a drink, and it wasn’t noon yet, because what did I care what the numbers on a clock said?
I work in environmental education for several organizations, and as July came, and we all started to understand a bit more about how The Virus spreads, some of the restrictions on outdoor programming were lifted, and my work picked up. On one of my first programs back at work, a colleague’s car died, and I gave her a ride in mine, her in the back seat, both of us wearing masks. Within a couple of days, the colleague tested positive for the virus. I was pulled off all programs, and sent down to my basement to quarantine, away from everyone.
Pandemic isolation? Of course, the only proper way for a veteran day-drinker to handle this Covid-19 quarantine is to thoroughly stock a cooler, which I dutifully did. And on my second consecutive bruising hungover morning, it became apparent that I was at a fork in the road, and my drinking was going to go one way, or the other.
I believe I gave due consideration to a full-on decent into alcoholism. Clearly I liked drinking. Maybe that could be a life. There’s a quote I remember by Jerry Garcia about drugs. (I can’t find the quote, so I’ll have to paraphrase from memory. Stupid internet. What’s it even good for if it can’t find me a quotation?) Garcia said that drugs are sort of way of organizing your life. Instead of all your little problems, there’s just this one big problem, and it’s drugs. That could be me with alcohol–already was to some degree. Sure, my personal relationships would fall apart bit-by-bit, also my health, my work would come to nothing, the music I play would go away. There would just be drinking. There would be a dark simplicity to that life.
If I was to go down that road, the time to start was immediately, at, as I recall 8:27 a.m. Knock back that hangover with a shot of whiskey, and be on my way.
And that would be what I did on that day. There were some things I thought I might spend some time on during my quarantine–working on a guitar arrangement of a Scottish bagpipe tune chief among them, but I wouldn’t be doing that today, or be doing anything else interesting either–I’d just be drinking. And I wouldn’t do much of anything with the other days of my short life either.
Like almost all of the rest of us, I’d made some quickly aborted attempts at sobriety before, but this time I really wanted to explore this. And a modern person who wants to explore something gets on the internet. Some clicking around got me to Boom. I signed in, and was given a generous welcome by so many members here. I picked someone at random and told him it was Day One. Thanks to you for the good advice to get me started, and to so many of you who have posted here in the days since.
I didn’t do much of anything on that day, of course, besides withdrawing from alcohol. My COVID test came back negative a day later.
That was July 8, and while I’ve not committed to being AF for life, I’m hoping to get through the calendar year, and then re-evaluate with a clear head. There have been some very hard days, but this post is already long enough without burdening you with the details.
Meanwhile, the bagpipe arrangements are a hard challenge, but they’re coming. Work has picked up with a vengeance, which cuts into my picking time, and also makes it hard for me to find a free second to comment on postings, but I’m truly grateful for your stories, and value reading them.
Tomorrow morning I’m running a program where I get to teach a bunch of people to fly fish. It will be a joy to do it with a clear head.
Most of us are already scrambling to find a reliable and consistent message about the best ways to protect our health and support our communities, and people are fighting over who’s truth is the truth. But there is a very simple truth that I know to be accurate :
Excessive alcohol consumption may not only influence COVID-19 susceptibility and severity, but the broad effects of the pandemic are also likely to lead to excessive alcohol consumption.
Alcohol poses different challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic NIH niaaa
In January 2020, before the COVID lockdowns began, it was reported that deaths related to alcohol had doubled in 20 years in the United States. That was a shocking report if you noticed it, but most people didn’t take notice. The report was quickly swept under the more interesting news of the day. Statistics for deaths from COVID however are now shown daily on our televisions and they are horrific, but did you know that during these months of an international obsession with protecting our health, our consumption of alcohol has gone way up? In a country where alcohol-related deaths were soaring already, there is nothing cool about day drinking, or drinking alcohol at all.
But what’s the solution if you are home alone, isolated, worried about the state of the world, and everyone else seems to be drinking the day away with no ill effect? Come hang out with a different sort of online community – one that’ll open your mind to the possibility of enjoying life alcohol-free. It is quite simply one of the best things that you can do to take care of your health in these times of COVID-19.
Be free! Alcohol-free!
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us.
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