I spent a lot of my late teens and 20’s out. As in, out out! Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and if we are including University, then Wednesdays as well. At the time it was great fun and I loved the ritual of being out every weekend and having pre-drinks whilst getting ready with my friends (in fact sometimes I preferred that part of the night over actually going out!)
I never suffered with physical hangovers, I was never sick or rarely had headaches but in my mid-20’s I started to get ‘mental hangovers’ and it wasn’t ever about what I may have done the night before (the so-called Beer Fear), it was always anxiety about the future. I catastrophised everything, perceived all aspects of my life negatively and struggled to see all the wonderful positives. I then ate badly for the whole of the next day which exacerbated the situation and I was an absolute Negative Nancy and I hated it. Even by Monday mornings I still didn’t feel myself it was only by Tuesday morning my brain and body had thankfully re-set and I felt normal again. There was an ongoing battle in my head by the time the following Saturday night came round because I’d be excited to go out and loved drinking prosecco with my friends and the memory of the previous Sunday and Monday’s depression felt like a distant memory.
It is only with time that I have now completely come round to the facts for me personally. I simply value the feeling of waking up feeling refreshed and happy MORE than I do the fun of going out with friends and drinking a bottle (or two) of prosecco. The older I get the more clear and non-negotiable this becomes. I know that I can only really get away with having 2 glasses of champagne or prosecco and feel completely unaffected the next day. So that is what I do 95% of the time. It may sound boring to some, but for me I think it is more boring to be hungover for 2 days and question your life! But please don’t get me wrong, if go to a wedding or on holiday this can go out the window but I am prepared for how I am going to feel and I make a choice and I am drinking for the right reasons.
What does drinking alcohol do to you and why do you drink? I think there is an important distinction to make here. If you are having a few drinks to socialise and spend time with people you love then go for it. If you are drinking to mask or cover up something you are trying to escape from emotionally then that is a whole other matter. If it is affecting your relationships, work and/or your behaviour then you do need to take a serious look. Drinking will simply act as a plaster for that day but the issues are going to rear their ugly head the next day and in fact make you feel worse. I believe it is important to unearth the reasons why you are drinking to escape how you feel in the first place so that you can then start to take the important steps of working on the root cause.
If you think you or someone you know may have an alcohol problem then know that you are not alone. According to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 10.8 million adults are drinking at a level likely to pose a risk to their health and of those people, 1.6 million have some level of alcohol dependency. If you are worried about your own drinking behaviour or anyone you know please visit https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/ or ring the free and confidential national helpline 0800 9177 650