Before and after giving up alcohol - Introduction

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Before and after giving up alcohol - Introduction

Everyone loves a drink, right? Drinking alcohol is fun, social, normal, even good for you… or so we have been told. But studies in recent years[1, 2] have shown what our bodies have always known… that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

Many of us had already come to this conclusion on the basis of what our bodies were telling us, and when we started listening to our bodies – despite what our minds wanted to hear – we were inspired to give up drinking alcohol and to look for other ways to deal with how we were feeling. On these pages you will find stories of why we did that, how we did that, and how we feel and live now.

And here is some information that may inspire you to consider making the same choice too…

The facts about alcohol

There is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The American Cancer Society[1] has just come out and stated this fact in 2017, a fact that the Cancer Council Australia[2] stated some years ago in 2011.

For many years we have been told that drinking a small amount of alcohol is good for the heart, and some doctors have even been persuading people who did not drink alcohol to start drinking on the basis of this research. But recent meta-analyses[3, 4, 5] have looked at all the data again and found it to be flawed, biased, to be based on false premises and to have no real basis in fact.

Alcohol is responsible for a huge amount of injury, disease and death. It is the fifth largest risk factor globally for death and disability, and in some areas of the world it is the leading cause of disease[6].

Alcohol causes injuries to the liver; cirrhosis, and liver cancer. It also causes cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, and upper aero-digestive tract.[4]

The damage from alcohol is not only physical

While the physical harms of alcohol are well known, what is less widely acknowledged is the interpersonal and social harm it causes.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a major cause of ill health and social harms, not limited to the drinkers themselves, but also affecting families, bystanders and the broader community.[7]

Alcohol related absenteeism in Australia in 2013 was estimated at a cost of over 2 billion dollars in lost workplace productivity. Alcohol was responsible for 5.1% of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia in 2011. It was responsible for 28% of the burden due to road traffic injuries, 24% of the burden due to chronic liver disease, 23% of the burden due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries, and 19% of the burden due to stroke.[7]

While illness and death can occur as a direct result of alcohol use, in most cases alcohol is one of a number of contributing factors, so the data we have is likely to represent only a fraction of the total harm caused by alcohol.[7]

And what of all the harm that never results in an admission to a hospital?

Alcohol plays a huge part in the domestic violence, abuse, neglect and chaos it causes in the home. Even just the fact that a parent is not present, whether at the pub or checked out with a drink in front of the TV, can have enormous consequences for their partners and children in the short and long term.

Many of us have grown up with alcohol in the home, and not only has this shaped our own behaviours, it may have caused the hurts that led to us wanting and then needing to drink alcohol ourselves. All that any of us ever want is to be loved and met for who we are, and if we don’t receive this in our formative years, this can set us up for resorting to alcohol and other means to cope with life as we grow up.

But alcohol is socially acceptable, normal, even compulsory in some cultures and settings and it can be hard to learn to live life without it, as we use it for a reason. These reasons may be different for each of us, but alcohol gives us something, does something for us, otherwise why would we drink it?

Is there another way?

If we are feeling we would rather life live without alcohol, is there another way?

Could it be as simple as learning to reconnect with ourselves, with the essence of who we are, and in that place, finding that we have no need for substances such as alcohol to give us relief from the tension of daily life?

For in our essence we feel wonderful, and when we are connected with the essence of who we are, life can be magical again, even if it was not that way for us when we were young.

References:

  • [1]

    There's no safe level of drinking when it comes to cancer risk, oncologists warn https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2017/11/09/alcohol-cancer

  • [2]

    Alcohol and cancer: a position statement from Cancer Council Australia https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2011/194/9/alcohol-and-cancer-position-statement-cancer-council-australia

  • [3]

    Alcohol Consumption and Mortality From Coronary Heart Disease: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28499102

  • [4]

    Association between alcohol and cardiovascular disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis based on individual participant data http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4164

  • [5]

    Chronic heavy drinking and ischaemic heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis http://openheart.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000135

  • [6]

    A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61766-8/fulltext

  • [7]

    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Australia’s health 2016: 4.6 Alcohol risk and harm. https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/ec088003-9cd4-4a74-9d9b-a27ad100aca0/ah16-4-6-alcohol-risk-harm.pdf.aspx

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Health conditionsEssenceConnectionAddictionAlcohol

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    Photography: Steve Matson, Electrical Engineer with a love for photography