I could have a drinking problem. I mean “could” in the loosest sense. As far as I’m aware, I don’t have a drinking problem, but the potential is there. Perhaps the potential is there for most people. After this year especially, I get why things like Dry January exist - you really do need to step away from alcohol, sometimes.
Do you ever, after a long day – or week, or month – have a sudden urge for a big glass of wine or a cold beer? I do; especially as I get older. Kids, work, home, farm – there’s a lot going on in my life right now. And at the end of the day, there’s nothing nicer than sitting down with my husband with a glass of something. It’s how we unwind; usually on a Friday night.
The first lockdown in March was such a novelty. At times, the lack of routine almost made it feel like Christmas holidays. You weren’t sure which day it was as they all blended into each other, you had no plans and you didn’t need to go to bed as early or get up as early. This all led – far too easily – to an increase in those late evening drinks.
It was a relief when lockdown was lifted and we were given a bit more freedom to go to the park and see friends safely
Social media was full of individuals making memes, TikToks and videos about how great it was; being suddenly able to day-drink. A lot of these were funny, or intended to be funny. There was also a slew of full-time mammies posting about how desperately they needed their “mammy juice” to get them through their home-schooling day.
I laughed, and even made similar jokes with friends and work colleagues. But on the other side of things, my husband and I were drinking way more than we normally would. It was a relief when lockdown was lifted and we were given a bit more freedom to go to the park and see friends safely. For a while, toward the end of lockdown, if I didn’t have a drink in the evening I was beginning to miss it in a way that wasn’t healthy.
How many times have you bought two bottles of wine; intended to last at least two evenings with you and your significant other, only to finish the first bottle and feel like it wasn’t enough?
In the lead up to Christmas 2020, while we were largely in lockdown again, my husband and I didn’t take to the bottle with the same fervour as previously. Instead, we drank chamomile tea. I bought a bottle of alcohol I don’t enjoy as much as (the more dangerous) wine and beer and kept it in the press for when we felt like having a drink. Because I don’t enjoy this type of alcohol as much; I can have one drink without immediately feeling like I need to pour another.
How many times have you bought two bottles of wine; intended to last at least two evenings with you and your significant other, only to finish the first bottle and feel like it wasn’t enough? That’s how things were with us during the first lockdown, and I’m sure we’re not alone. It led to some groggy and unproductive Saturday mornings with the kids.
There was a sharp increase in men who were “drinking to cope” in 2020, according to Drinkaware research from the month of March. The reasons for the increase included boredom, loneliness and stress. I’m not a man, obviously, but I can relate to these findings.
I don’t think I should feel shame to be able to acknowledge that this is my truth
There are people in my family with drinking problems and I know that leads to an increased likelihood of developing a problem myself. I don’t think I should feel shame to be able to acknowledge that this is my truth – in fact, I feel the opposite. Knowledge is power, and if you know your weaknesses you are better prepared to take them on.
I’m not going to stop drinking, but I am going to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of how I drink: how often, for what reasons and to what extent.
This is not a New Year’s resolution. New Year’s resolutions are never kept! I want this awareness of my alcohol consumption to be an active part of my lifestyle.
I don’t want to be a downer or a bore; I can still enjoy parties, dinners out with friends and the odd weekend away, but for those nights at home and – in the future – if we’re ever in a strict lockdown-type situation again, I want to remember the year 2020 and how I almost developed a drinking problem.