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Posts Tagged ‘cutting down’

Last night I tried to go without alcohol. I couldn’t do it. I really couldn’t by the way, this wasn’t a case of weakness or lack of willpower, but having to drink to ease physical withdrawal symptoms.

It’s no surprise and I’m – as the title of this post suggests – not that bothered by it. My drinking diary this morning shows that last night I consumed 4.7 units of alcohol and started to drink at 9pm – I’m a unit down on the night before and an hour later starting.

The withdrawals – as anyone who has experienced them will know – are extremely unpleasant. I tried to stave them off with food, I poked at them with fizzy water and fruit juice, I ran away from them with a long walk. They got me in the end.

Still. Things remain positive. I started drinking at 9pm and the first one – a can of Carslberg (reassuringly weak) – didn’t touch the sides.

The only slight downer is that I took a third drink when I didn’t need to.

The antidepressants I take are called Mirtazapine (I also take Citalopram, which is supposed to be an anti-anxiety medication). On the patient leaflet – along with the cheery suicidal thoughts warning you’ll find on all antidepressants – is a ‘may cause drowsiness’ warning. As understatements go, this is up there with ‘Stalin had some anger issues’. Mirtazapine is my nighttime friend. In fact, I’ve used it in the past to manage a couple of days of abstinence or cutting down here and there; upping my dose by half a tablet has a real knockout effect.

I took my tablet fairly early – around 6pm I think – last night and by the time it came to opening that third beer, I was well on the way to the Land of Nod.

That third beer I drank to get drunk.

A slight disappointment then, but as I’ve made getting out of my head in various ways the main purpose of my life since I was 16, I shouldn’t be too surprised.  For the last five months I’ve been drinking at least 100 units a week without fail, sometimes much more than that. I’ve only been cutting down since last Sunday.

So, at Brighteye I’ll have to report my ‘failure’ and start again on the seven day challenge. It really is a wonderfully forgiving and supportive place though.

If I’m being realistic, I think my aim is to have one or two days alcohol free this week, before Mag goes away on Friday.

That will be the challenge. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Not so much the pull of alcohol per se but the pull of my lovely long days in the Spread, my haven from shrieking children, shitting dogs and screaming parents.

In all honesty, I’m already looking forward to it.

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Consulting my drink diary for last night I note I’m down to 5.7 units.

I bought four cans of Carslberg last night. Normally I drink much higher strength stuff. Guinness is relatively OK at 4.1%. I haven’t touched spirits for seven days today.

The good stuff keeps coming. I eat breakfast. I clean up after myself. I’ve started to listen to music again. I’m starting to read again. I’m cleaner and smarter. I’ve cut down on smoking (just tobacco, I haven’t touched dope for a week). I’m less nervous. I’m taking at least a bit of exercise every day, usually just a walk, but it’s a start. I’m writing more (as you will have noticed if you read this here thing). My concentration is better. My night sweats are decreasing.

If I have to look for negatives, I can find them. Last night I was tetchy and irritable with Mag (that’s understandable in a way, not that she’s annoying, but her work takes her away for long periods of time and she’s just back after spending around five months away – it takes time to adjust to each other again). I’m extraordinarily tired in the mornings – don’t get me wrong it’s better than the hung over or still drunk states I’ve been used to waking up in, but it puzzles me as much as anything.

Now, I’m not sure I even ‘needed’ to drink last night. Yes, I had some withdrawals – headaches, irritability, anxiety – but they weren’t severe. That makes me wonder if I can go without tonight. That would be quite a big deal. Sunday is my traditional binge day. It’s a big day of music over at the Spread and all the gang’s there. I found yesterday afternoon tough, until I ate, and will probably find the same today. However, the sun is shining on Thin City and maybe me and Mag can get out into the countryside somewhere.

Over at Brighteye, they have a forum thread on challenges, the first seven days could be the one for me. I’m going to give it a go I think.

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So, late last week I took the walk down White Street onto Mud City Road and to the local addictions team.

A familiar walk.

You see, for a year recently I was abstinent and I attended an antabuse clinic there, swallowing the little tablets that make alcohol a much more unpleasant poison than it already is.

Then I stopped taking them. Then I went out for a drink with some of my Spread Head friends. Then, it’s two years later and I’m back again asking for help.

Oh well. Looking forward rather than back is probably better. Guilt never helped anyone overcome an addiction, I’m pretty sure of that. (I shall no doubt go on about guilt a hell of a lot more over the course of this here blog).

So back I went. The first appointment was just a pre-assessment. Familiar questions about substance use. Familiar answers.

The familiar – but none the less welcome – injunction, ‘don’t stop drinking’. Now, I know how unpleasant alcohol withdrawal can be, I’ve been through the early stages of very bad withdrawals and it’s terrifying, I really thought I would die and, indeed, that’s why they tell you not to stop (verbatim: “If you feel like you need a drink, have one.”) because you can die.

The truth is though that I’m absolutely terrified of sobriety. There’s a part of me that remembers how much better I felt when I was sober. And another part of me that remembers how I struggled with fear, with concentration, with depression, when I was sober.

I surprised myself a little though by saying that I was addicted to cannabis too. I’m not physically addicted, but it’s another compulsion. One I’m able to put aside when Mag is home. One I immediately leap back into when she’s gone.

I have given blood, I have given urine. I have slightly high blood pressure – nothing to worry about they assured me – and I am due back there in a couple of weeks for an assessment which will be much more in-depth.

I’m trying to cut down a little. And, I have. I’m on about the equivalent of four or five pints a day at the moment, enough to see off the shivers and the shakes and send me to sleep. Mag goes away again on Monday though and I’m in danger of bingeing then. Why, do I say ‘in danger’? It’s surely something in my control and I could decide not too. I know myself though. I know the call of The Spread, the fear because the Shinei kids will be on holiday.

That’s where we’re at.

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