So for the month of October I forsook alcohol as part of a charity event. Essentially a sponsored giving up alcohol. For disclosures sake a generally drink about 10 units of alcohol a week and rarely get intoxicated.
I learned a great deal during this event. It is not the first time I have ceased drinking for a fixed period, a few years ago I gave up alcohol during lent. However this is the first time I have really thought about what I was doing and I reached some startling conclusions.
Firstly, many many people have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I am not talking about being alcoholics, but viewing it in a way that is not necessarily good. A lot of people made comments along the lines of "I could never do that." A very surprising number. Comments on the facebook page of the event included lines about substituting other things such as food for alcohol, or counting down the days to go until they could drink again.
All of this is disturbing because if alcohol is something you feel you need, you probably have a problem.
Secondly, people want you to be drunk. I was at a conference last week and my alcohol free time expired on the 2nd to last day. During the week at least 20 or 30 people promised to get me drunk on that day. I didn't have to buy a drink for the remainder of the week. Apparently I absolutely had to get drunk. As it happens I didn't get intoxicated until I was handed a wine bottle that I assumed contained wine. So I drank as though it was wine. Turns out Czech home brewed moonshine is far more intoxicating than wine.
Thirdly, I was surprised by how little it altered my behavior. Without alcohol I still accepted the challenge to walk in six inch heels (guys, man to man, be aware how painful this is and do not try it), I still pretended to arrest someone dressed as a pirate, and a few other things not to be posted here. Parties were still fun and insane-and it didn't matter what state you were in.
Fourthly, I was surprised at how easy it was. People kept saying how hard it must be and it really really was not. I just didn't drink-simple. The only alcohol I really missed was the mulled wine I normally start making at this time of year. And that is more to do with the cinnamon/sugar laden hot drink aspect, which was made up for my hot apple juice with cinnamon.
But mostly I learned about my own relationship with alcohol and reached the conclusion that this was not really a challenge because I didn't have to decide not to drink. Drinking alcohol is not my default setting, I always make the choice to drink rather than deciding not to drink.
In conclusion, it was a worthwhile activity in its own right. And I would encourage others to do the same. Be it for lent or for Charity, just spend a month without alcohol (obvious longer for lent) and see what conclusions you reach.