As a person who has dedicated his life to help others quit drinking it saddens me when I catch sight of headlines like the one I saw in Business Insider this week.
A New Study Suggests That People Who Don’t Drink Alcohol Are More Likely to Die Younger
I don’t want my children to see headlines like this.
My 12-year old son already feels compelled to drink, such is the power of social conditioning, and the last thing I need is to try and explain the actions of a group of researchers who are quoting scientific fact.
Wonderful. Another falsified reason that people can use to explain why they choose to spend their hard earned cash, and time, pouring poison down their throats.
If I ever hear anybody tell me that they choose to drink because they will live longer I will douse myself in flames and light a match. Fortunately, even the most hardened protector of their rights to piss away their lives won’t go down this road; but just in case they do, I thought I would empty my mind on the reasons I think this way of thinking is so badly flawed.
The article stated that a tightly controlled study was taken where they looked at a group of individuals aged between 55 and 65, spanning a 20-year period, and accounted for variables ranging from socioeconomic status to level of physical activity.
The study was led by a team of researchers working under the tutelage of Charles Holahan of the University of Texas, Austin, and it found that of the 1,824 study participants, only 41% of the moderate drinkers died prematurely compared to 69% of the non drinkers. The study even revealed that only 60% of heavy drinkers died prematurely, and the term ‘moderate’ was classed as a person who drank one to three drinks per day (heaven forbid what the heavy drinkers were putting away).
The study group have no answers as to why non drinkers die early, but Business Insider speculate that it’s because, ‘alcohol can be a great social lubricant, and strong social networks are essential for maintaining mental and physical health. Non drinkers have been shown to demonstrate greater signs of depression than their carousing counterparts and in addition to the potential heart health and circulation benefits of moderate drinking (especially red wine), it also increases sociability.’
Alcohol Can be a Great Social Lubricant
This is the biggest myth that alcohol creates, and the biggest reason why so many people will refuse to ever quit drinking. It’s the single biggest reason I hear cited as to why drinking is not only fun, but also an absolute must, if one is to live a wonderful life.
I walked through Cardiff City Centre late last night. I passed crowds of people who were glass eyed. They had no idea where they were, let alone what they were doing. In the midst of these people were at least three policemen, and a riot van was parked just off the street.
And you call this social behaviour?
I can’t think of anything more anti-social.
I grew up in the Welsh Valleys and the village drunk is a guy called Archie. He used to be a really nice kid, extremely sociable and a nice conversationalist. He has a great love for boxing and likes to talk about the fight game.
So why does everyone avoid him when he sits down to talk to them?
They avoid him because his drinking has caused him to become anti-social. Defiance runs strong in the blood of a drinker. There is no way that they will admit that drinking is an anti social habit; but it’s there for all to see.
Just spend 10-minutes with Archie and you will see it for yourself.
The Red Wine Test
I’m not a great lover of science when it comes to the teachings of alcohol. I prefer to concentrate on the power of social conditioning and the mind. But there is one little study of my own that I like my clients to partake called The Red Wine Test.
I ask my clients to lock themselves in their front room, turn off all forms of electronic devices, and then start to drink a bottle of red wine. They are not allowed to partake in any other form of visual or audible stimuli until 30-minutes after they have stopped drinking.
When they get their buzz, their feeling of exhilarating excitement, their surge of empowerment, or whatever feeling they get after consuming alcohol; they are to write these thoughts down at the end of the session.
Most people don’t even make it until the end of the bottle before turning on the television.
They get bored.
But how can they be bored if alcohol is such a great social stimulant.
Now place that person in the middle of a dinner party with some of his, or her, best friends, and ask them to perform the same exercise – what do you think happens?
They love life.
They are buzzing, laughing and having the time of their lives.
In the case of the two experiments what was the difference?
I assume you have worked it out that the audible and visual stimuli created by the people caused the social wonder, whereas alcohol on its own actually caused social angst.
Now try the second experiment with no red wine; just a dinner party full of your favourite friends and no alcohol whatsoever.
They love life.
They are buzzing, laughing and having the time of their lives.
It’s easy to see why people believe that alcohol is the reason behind the good times, but when you break it down it’s simply a fallacy. An illusion that your mind chooses to see in order to provide validation for pouring poison into a body that is trying so desperately to eject it.
It’s no different from crushing a Viagra into a bottle of water, labelling it as ‘the hardest water in town’ and convincing people that it’s the product from the tap that has caused the groin to stir.
People can’t see the Viagra so they think it’s the water. People choose to ignore the people and think it’s the alcohol.
I Like to Party
It’s true that a lot of people who quit drinking find it difficult to socialise in the way that they once did. My hero Allen Carr said in his life saving book The Easyway to Control Drinking that once you quit you can continue to socialise as you once did and enjoy those occasions even more.
It didn’t work out like that for me.
I like to party with the best of them. I love my music, adore the jokes and laughter of my friends and thrive on the positive energy. It’s just a fact that this is not how life is like when my friends go out drinking. They drink to get drunk. Have you ever been out with a bunch of drunks when completely sober? It’s akin to taking acid. You have no control over the situation, it’s a nightmare and it feels like it will never end.
Slime on this ear, slime in that ear, JUST STOP TALKING!
I can’t take it anymore. Why are you telling me the same thing over and over again? Why are you shouting? I am right next to your mouth.
I don’t go out with my friends because to do so puts me in an anti social position. A position caused by alcohol. It’s the alcohol that creates the anti-social situation…not the attendance of the non-drinkers.
Do you honestly believe if booze vanished tomorrow that there would be no laughter in the world. That people would stop connecting? The reason that people who stop drinking decide to stop socialising with those that do is because it causes them to be unhappy.
Even if this means they die younger, can’t you see that it’s the alcohol that is causing the early deaths and not the decision to abstain? It doesn’t matter how you sugarcoat it alcohol kills people – period – as my American friends like to say.
Are Non Drinkers Miserable?
If you want to make me miserable then stick me in a room with a bunch of drunks.
Does that shorten my lifespan?
Does it ‘eckers like.
I have never been happier since I quit drinking. I have experienced wonderful things I would have never even knew existed had I stayed under the powerful spell of booze. My father is a chain smoker that spends most of his time coughing. He doesn’t exercise, has type two diabetes, drinks like a fish and eats the worst kinds of food imaginable.
Will he live longer than me?
Even if he did, longevity means nothing if your life is miserable. I have always said it – length is not always what it’s cracked up to be. I look at my Dad, whom I love to bits, and I see someone whose life is heavily restricted by the life that alcohol has created for him.
As Queen once sang, everyone wants to live forever, but I would rather live a shorter more fulfilling life, than a boring mundane life of fits and starts that lasts longer than The Highlander.
There are a lot of people who become miserable when they quit drinking. I see them everywhere. They are the people who never wanted to quit in the first place. They call themselves alcoholics for life, and they take each day as it comes, because to look further will cause them to wobble.
These types of non-drinkers are always worrying that they will one-day fail. They count down each day that they are sober like a scene from the Shawshank Redemption. They miss alcohol because as much as it was destroying their lives they always liked it.
This is where a part of me is glad that this article was written, because it does highlight an important point that non-drinkers should pay attention too.
Why are you so keen to stop drinking?
Ask yourself that question…but it really doesn’t matter, because all roads lead to the same word.
People quit drinking because it’s making them unhappy, and they want to be happy. Conversely, if you then quit and become unhappier then what’s the point? You might as well slap on those heels, wipe ash on your cheeks, wander down the high street and hang around with the cops.
There is no point in giving up alcohol if that choice means you are going to be unhappy. Whether or not you die a lot younger is irrelevant.
Surely, it’s all about making the living and not about the dying?
It pains me to say this but if not drinking really makes you miserable then go back to that bottle of red wine. Pretend that it’s better for your heart than running around the block, tell yourself that you will live longer, and that social events will now be more fun, because your inhibitions will no longer exist so you can let your hair down.
Why do I say this?
Because there is a way that you can quit – AND BE HAPPY.
We can live longer and I call it living a Lean Life…so stop messing about and join the program today
It’s time to be happier and to start living a long life.
It’s time to prove Charles Holahan wrong.
Stop drinking – start living – you only get one life.
So that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Have you recently given up drinking and feel unsociable and miserable?
If you want to seek more help and guidance on these issues, and hang with like minded individuals who struggle with the same problems, then why not head over to the Needy Helper Hub
Photo courtesy of cc @ flickr.com Joselito Tagarao