Here at the Parenting Phil’s we love a gin and tonic… as you might have guessed this from our last video and from a few insta posts, and from a few other blogs… OK we talk about G&T fairly regularly!
And whilst there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a relaxing beverage on an evening after a long day of playing referee, chef, bottom-wiper and ‘Daddy Robot’ (don’t ask), it’s important to recognise when you might be having one too many.
This week in the UK it’s Alcohol Awareness Week, a good time to take a step back and reflect on your booze intake and ask yourself ‘Am I meeting all my daily unit goals?‘ Obviously I jest, but coming from 12 years experience of working in drug and alcohol treatment services, you develop a bit of a sense of humour around the matter.
Alcohol Change UK (the new charity formed by the Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK merger) have themed this years awareness week as ‘Change‘. Change in the way we talk to our friends and family about our use, change in the way we stigmatise people and believing that change is possible.
Throughout my career I have worked with people dealing with alcohol issues in many different ways; young people who have started drinking, causing problems in their families and/or communities or become victims of sexual exploitation, children who have suffered neglect and abuse because of parental alcohol misuse and also with adults who are battling with this nightmare. I have chaired too many Drug Related Death panels than I care to remember, where I have had to review the treatment journeys of people who have ultimately died of alcohol related illnesses, and I’m not talking about older people either, in my last role over in Calderdale we were seeing a really high number of women in their 40’s DYING because of alcohol abuse.
Now you might think this is a bit depressing for a Parenting Phil’s blog but guess what, we can do serious too (well maybe, sometimes… ish).
The reason I thought I’d write about this today is because I’ve been really conscious lately that I drink more than I think I probably should. The national guidance now for a man is 2-3 units a day, with alcohol free days in between. So in truth, I’m a massive BINGE DRINKER!
Pre-kids I was always a big social drinker, like lots of young professionals living the care free lifestyle. Going out after work MID-WEEK and guzzling cocktails and pints, I was always partial to a shot or two too… I’d normally blame Pips at this point but I’m sure there would be an onslaught of comments from friends and family who would be more than happy to share a story about how I was the main instigator of epic hangovers.
I was sure that once I became a father that my drinking would reduce massively, and it has in terms of the amount I would put away, but the frequency has probably increased if I’m being honest. No longer can I go out a few nights a week and get bladdered… in fact once or twice a year is once or twice too much for me nowadays, but having a beer or a G&T on an evening after the kids have gone to bed has become something of a habit.
I’m normally in bed by 9.30-10pm so I don’t have the time to get p*ssed or barely tipsy, but just that habit of reaching for the bottle the moment I have some ‘me’ time is making me think about how alcohol has always been a big part of my life… and saying that out loud is actually pretty scary!
I’d like to think I could go tee-total tomorrow (never today as I’d obvs need one final blow out) but the reality is I think I would find every excuse under the sun as to why I would ‘need’ to drink; like my sister is coming to stay this weekend, it’s my birthday in 2 weeks, it’s Christmas (for a whole month) and then don’t start me on New Year, where I need to drink like I’ve stayed up til midnight when I’ve actually passed out by 10pm!
So what’s my point? I’m not entirely sure, maybe it’s to name and shame myself into reducing the amount I drink, maybe [more likely] it’s a plea to other parents to tell me that it’s normal and totally the kids’ fault or maybe it’s just getting it off my chest and a promise to myself to look at where I can make ‘change’ to ensure that I’m around for the long run for my boys (and grand kids!).
I’m pleased to tell you that as a result of Alcohol Awareness Week I am now on my third drink-free day this week, so in my best patronising voice, I challenge you to reflect this week on your use and think about whether there is a need or a personal desire for ‘change’ too.
A final note from me (sorry it’s a boring one) is that if you find you can’t reduce your alcohol use like you want, there are great services out there ready to help you over those small hurdles at an early stage, so don’t wait til it’s too late!