How I Kicked The Drinking Habit

alcoholThis is about an inspiring story, in fact two stories. One is mine and the other had narrated to me. Let me begin with the latter.

In those days I was in the audio-visual presentations business which took me to varied venues and afforded the opportunity of meeting people from all walks of life. This day must have been drawn from some twenty years back but is etched in my memory. The power of story! At one such presentation, we had broken for lunch and I was accompanied an employee of a Multi National Corporation.

So I initiated a conversation with my lunch partner, Roger D’Souza. The conversation veered to drinking habits.
‘Many of my Christian friends drink, how about you Roger?’
‘Everyone in my family gave up drinking three years ago’ and then went silent.
‘What prompted that, if I may ask you?’
Then unfurled the dramatic story…
It was the birthday party of Francis, Roger’s elder brother. On a starlit winter night, the party was in full swing on the terrace of their suburban home, a bungalow. After the feasting and drinking was over, everyone streamed down and the guests parted ways. Except for the birthday boy, Francis who said he wanted to spend some more time on the terrace, enjoying the cool breeze. He did not come down for quite a while and the family fell asleep.

In the morning they realised that Francis’ bedroom was empty and they assumed that he must have slept on the terrace itself. When not found on the terrace too, they became alarmed. Francis’ limp body swathed in blood was later found in the compound.

As was his wont, he must have lied down on the terrace parapet and the many drinks he had downed must have knocked him senseless. Maybe he would not have fallen down in the first place if he had been alert.  Maybe, if he were not so drunk, he could have called for help and not have bled to death…for it was later established that the fall had not killed him, he bled to his death.

That night of revelry which ended so tragically was the last time anybody from the family touched alcohol.

Roger’s grim face said it all.

Why does it take such a dramatic turn of events for us to see the light?

My story is less dramatic, yet I believe it can inspire others.
We grew up in a family where drinking was not taboo. So even during my teens or early adulthood, having a drink or two with family was commonplace, provided the occasion demanded it. Then college happened and indiscretions mounted, followed by early years of my career. The feeling of being financially independent bolstered the rebel spirit.

What happened was a weekend of casual drinking was now routinely binge drinking during any get-together. In fact I began craving my drink. The problem was I did not know when to stop and often got hopelessly drunk. And the frequency of such nights quite alarming.

It was a December wedding of a friend where I hit the bar with undue enthusiasm. With me was my younger cousin sister. We wound up well past midnight and as we headed towards the railway station I could barely stand straight, leave alone walk. In the train, I tried to keep awake and my drunkenness must have been obvious to all. It was particularly embarrassing for me that a school mate was seated just across me. What must he be thinking!!

Any case, I managed to reach home to a frosty reception from Mom. A massive hangover greeted me next morning, not unexpectedly. Mom had all this while warned me to tone down my drinking. This time she had had enough of it.

‘Do you know what shape you were in yesterday night? Forget protecting your sister, you were not fit enough to protect yourself! Listen, we’ve had enough of this. This day onwards, it’s either drinks or me.’

She was deadly serious and I respected and loved Mom far too much to not heed her advice. That was it. It has been over twenty seven years since I quit drinking. It happened overnight. Was it so easy? I remember that just a few days after me going teetotaler, it was my cousin’s birthday. A friend of his had gifted him a bottle of Scotch whisky. Believe me, I had to summon all my reserves of willpower not to succumb to temptation that evening. Temptation of maybe just one drink..

Today, I am grateful to mom for being so firm with me at the right time. Many years down that day, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Doctors will tell you that drinks and Bipolar Disorder just don’t mix. Alcohol impacts the effectiveness of BD meds and increases probability of indiscre behaviour manifold in Bipolar afflicted.

If you need more reason to quit, here are some~
‘Alcohol also affects the areas of the brain that are responsible for coordination, memory, and emotional regulation (anxiety, depression, aggression), as well as the ability to problem solve and learn. Additionally, the byproducts of breaking down alcohol in the liver are toxins, including ammonia and acetylaldehide, which find their way to the brain. These chemicals have been associated with killing brain cells and increasing the risk of certain cancers.’
(Read the full article here: Reasons to quit alcohol)