Addict or habit: #Dryjanuary

#Dryjanuary

There is surprisingly little difference between habit and addict according to the dictionary definitions. They both involve repetitive behavior and they can both be hard to break. Addict tends only to be used in connection with substances that are regarded by society as harmful. Hard drugs, alcohol, sugar etc. Habits on the other hand can be as innocent as reading on the toilet or always watching the news at 6pm. So, addict bad, habit not so bad in short. I think this partly explains why I have always been worried that I might be addicted to alcohol rather than being an habitual drinker. Not the same at all is it? Also, addicts really only have two options; drink yourself to death or never drink again. Maybe a bit simplistic I know but I have known quite a few people who have been addicted to drink and they are all either dead or permanently dry so the evidence suggests to me that maybe it is quite simple. That is why I have always been terrified of the idea of being an addict. Being an addict surely means choosing between total abstinence or a battle that never ends, a living hell.

I have always told myself that my drinking was a habit and not an addiction but that hasn’t meant that there hasn’t been an element of doubt in my mind. What if I’m wrong? What if it turns out that I am addicted and it’s only a matter of time before I lose control and am forced to succumb to a slow and miserable alcohol related death or give up drink completely for the rest of my days. I’ve never sought out a cork screw or a bottle opener before the kettle in the morning but who says that will always be the case. It’s easy to see why having a habit is more appealing than being an addict.

Today is day eleven of the thirty one day Dry January challenge so I am approximately a third of the way through the experiment. I don’t want to tempt fate at this juncture but I am quietly confident that what I have uncovered is a habit rather than an addiction. I am starting to get some distance and perspective on my old habits and to understand why I drink more than I possibly should do. It turns out to be largely down to boredom. I haven’t really craved a drink at all over the past week and a half but I have realised that half the time when I open a bottle of wine or beer it’s because it’s easier than finding something more interesting to do. Alcohol seems to possess the amazing ability to turn the prospect of an evening of mediocre television into a perfectly acceptable way of relaxing for example. Which is fine now and again, just maybe not five or six nights a week. That’s where the habit comes in. It’s just so easy to slip into habitual behavior and that’s what dry January has revealed to me. It’s made me realise that alcohol is great as an accompaniment to a roast beef dinner or a social night in the pub but when you use it to turn something rubbish into something acceptable it’s a bad habit that is in danger of one day becoming an addiction. If ever there was an argument for keeping life interesting this may be one of the best.

If you have five minutes to spare listen to this TED talk on 30 day challenges, it’s interesting.

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2 thoughts on “Addict or habit: #Dryjanuary

  1. Ahaa!
    After a full week of abstinence we are on holiday for three nights in a charming little hotel in Savoie, and I made a considered decision to break the fast and have first, a very nice beer, and secondly, some excellent wine with dinner. It was great. I enjoyed every mouthful. It broke the sombre mood of this week following the terrorist attack in Paris. And we talked , at length, over a slow dinner.
    Alcohol is a gift , to be used in the right way to enhance life, not spoil it..I was pondering a day or two ago how cultures that suppress women, and alcohol, have worse outcomes in terms of religious and cultural perversion, than our own tolerant one. I grew up in an extreme Protestant environment where practically everything pleasurable was the work of the Devil, especially alcohol; my student rebellion was swift and long lasting, and my early lives in Italy and France taught me how to eat, and drink, and live, and love.
    So.., where I am I now? A failure? I hope not. I feel a bit full, which is uncomfortable. But not at all sorry. And tomorrow I may not drink at all. Whatever, it will be a decision, not a compulsion. And the next time after that will be a deliberate choice too, when we have a belated new year celebration with French friends on the 24th Jan, complete with Christmas pudding and good whisky.
    In between, I guess my innards are enjoying the rest, and my trousers are definitely looser! Hope you are not too disappointed in me …

    • Jan I am not in the slightest bit disappointed. Surely that is what my blog was all about, enjoying alcohol in a positive, non-destructive manner. I have been waiting for somebody to make a comment such as yours to put forward my analogy for this dryjanuary challenge. I am seeing it as a 31 step staircase with a big sense of achievement and understanding being the reward at the top. It doesn’t matter if you don’t climb one step every single day and it doesn’t even matter if you step down one or two steps at some point. All that matters is reaching the top at some point and learning something from the experience. Enjoy your break, sounds lovely.

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