Author: Ian Stewart
Read Time: 7-8 minutes, 944 words
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A few months ago, I decided to lay off alcohol. The story of why I chose to do so is a long and complex one. I’ll try my best to give you a quick rundown of my relationship with alcohol and how that relationship has evolved.
The first time I ever drank a beer was when I was eight years-old. I had stolen it from my dad and concealed a can in each pocket. My friends and I hid out behind a shed and drank them, but I don’t remember why we wanted to, or who’s idea it was in the first place. I suppose it was a part of the environment we grew up in, because not long after that we stole some more – this time vodka, cider, and other things. We didn’t drink them this time. We decided that we would sell them to the neighbourhood children and have a few extra coins in our pockets. Sadly, what transpired was not the successful business plan we had imagined. Instead, the older kids came by, kicked the shit out us, broke my Bret “The Hitman” Hart mug, and stole the booze. I didn’t cry, but I wanted to.
When it comes to my personality, I have always been an introvert. At least in a public setting. If I ever meet you and seem like I’m a weirdo, or an asshole, it’s because I’m trying to think of ways not to be weird and have forgotten how to converse. Sometimes I’m OK, a lot of the time I’m not.
So, you can imagine how I soon recognized that alcohol and weed were like sorcery. They were magic tools that somehow gave me the power to overcome my social anxieties. When I was drunk, I made people laugh, we did stupid things, and I was happy. In my late teens it seemed like I was drinking every day, because life was wonderful when I was drunk, playing drums, getting stoned, and wandering around the streets I had grown to hate. When Alestorm were signed, I was drinking every day.
Every day was a party, and I remember reading an interview with the singer of Grave Digger, whom we had just finished an awful tour with. He said something along the lines of – even in the darkest days of my alcoholism I never drank the way they drank. He meant it to be a negative thing, but like true Scottish people we felt proud as fuck. And we were only getting started. By the end of my time in the band I was a mess. I had destroyed my mind to a point where I still haven’t been able to fix it, and alcohol wasn’t helping anymore. Not like it used to.
Drinking has always been a habit for me. It’s a part of our culture, and an excuse to socialise. Unfortunately for me, I had abused that habit too often. So, after a lot of contemplation and many failed attempts, I managed to get myself into a new routine without alcohol, and I started see what the positives were.
I’m sure many of you have read the positive effects of removing alcohol from your life – weight loss, more money in the bank, etc. Well, I suppose they are true to a certain extent. Consume less calories and you will lose weight, spend less money and you will have more money, it’s no secret really. I wouldn’t have said that I noticed a great deal of difference for the first couple of months, but I did feel as though I had broken the hold that alcohol had over me. Initially it was weird not to drink at the weekend, then it was strange to go for a meal and stay sober, really it just wasn’t normal for me to be in any social situation without a drink in my hand. I think I believed I wouldn’t be able to do it, but when I saw that I could, a new problem arose.
I now felt as though I had overcome the obstacle that was alcohol. I had broken the habit, felt the benefits, so I believed I could now enjoy occasional drinking and it wouldn’t affect this new life that I was constructing. I was now planning out my calendar for the rest of the year and marking off the days when I would be drinking. I wasn’t going to drink every weekend, maybe just for special occasions and things like that.
When my brother got a promotion at work, it seemed like a good excuse to have a few beers. I was feeling good, and I assumed that this detox meant my body could probably process the alcohol better than it had done for years, and that I may not even suffer a hangover. I was wrong, oh god, I was wrong.
I can’t remember the last time I had a hangover like that, and I wouldn’t have even considered myself to have drank that much compared to past endeavours. There are too many symptoms beyond the typical hangover ones to list off, but after two days I found myself looking down at a toilet bowl full of piss that resembled iced tea and thinking to myself, “I feel like a car that’s about to stall.” The engine is ticking over, but it’s about to cut out.
I feel like I’m back at the start, and it wasn’t worth it. Only time will tell if this was just another obstacle I had to clear on this journey, but either way, this time I have decided to remove alcohol from my life entirely and go again.
Ian Stewart is on Twitter: @GutterKid101