joi, mai 6, 2021

The Best Christmas Present

Why not give yourself a great Christmas present? It doesn’t cost anything – in fact it will save you a lot of money – and it’s really good for your health. The only problem with this present is that you can’t give it to anyone apart from yourself, and that doesn’t really fit with the Christmas Spirit, when we spend too much money on presents for other people.

So what is this brilliant gift? It is simply to give up alcohol for Christmas and New Year (and ideally forever). It is a promise to yourself that you will no longer waste your money and risk your health by consuming a drug that is both expensive and, in the case of spirits, tastes so bad that you need to mix it with juice.

There are so many good arguments to give up drinking and so few reasons to go on a December binge at office parties, Christmas celebrations and New Years. I suspect that most people don’t plan to drink too much at this time of year but we tend to get caught up in the “Christmas Spirit” and allow ourselves to be carried along by convention and custom. And then we wake up in January feeling hungover, bloated, broke and depressed.

Why do we do it? Are we just going along with the crowd? Are we unable to exercise our free will? Do we need to get drunk to enjoy parties? I would like to say this is the behaviour of a herd of animals, but animals are smarter than us; they don’t consume things which are bad for them and they know how to avoid danger.

The best reason for giving up alcohol is that it’s a poison. I had always known this but it was a vague awareness at the back of my mind, associated with people in the pub saying “What’s your poison?” and the kind of bravado that goes with heavy drinking. And how can alcohol be a poison if it’s legal, if it can make you feel good and if we drink it in relatively large quantities without dropping down dead? Poison kills immediately, or so I had thought.

It was only after I started working for a drug and alcohol rehab clinic in Scotland that I started to understand this concept of alcohol as a poison. Some of the people who come into our clinic are in a desperate physical state — alcoholics, for example, tend to starve themselves — and when I hear their stories I am often amazed that they are still alive. Many of them never make it into rehab as they literally drink themselves to death. I don’t have any stats in front of me but I would have thought that most alcoholics end up prematurely dead.

One of our psychiatrists told me this amazing quote from ancient Greece that put things into perspective: “there is no such thing as poison. Only a poisonous dose.” This helped me understand how alcohol is a poison: if I drink two bottles of vodka I will die; that is my fatal dose. Some people would be killed off with just one bottle. Women are more vulnerable to alcohol that men so their fatal dose is generally lower. When you realise this you start to wonder why so many people spend so much time and money drinking poison.

I gave up alcohol as a New Year’s Resolution at the end of 2006. Since then I haven’t had a drop (actually that’s not true, I did sip a gin and wine punch last weekend at a party and it was amazing). But it has been easy to “stay stopped” (as they say at the rehab clinic) and I never saw the point of starting drinking again. The only problem is that you have to listen to a lot of nonsense at parties, as the more you drink the more nonsensical your speech becomes (although it may seem to you that everything you say is full of wit and wisdom).

People seem amazed at my strong will, my self discipline and my resolution. I’m not. I gave up drinking as it was making me fat (the body processes alcohol as a sugar), it was becoming too habitual – my ex-wife and I would drink a bottle of wine every night – and I thought I could spend my money on something else. Giving up was hard but staying sober has been rather easy. Why not give it a try? You have so much to gain and so little to lose (except, perhaps, the approval of your friends.)

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  1. Inteleg ca //-i incantat ca a scapat de un viciu si doreste sa faca prozeliti in ale abstinentei. Dar nu pricep ce cauta compunerea asta pe Contributors. Se inscrie in aducerea mai aproape de populatie a politicii de austeritate promovate de dreapta noastra? Ca eu nu-i vad rostul.

    • Daca ati avea vre-un viciu, i-ati intelege utilitatea.

      Cred ca-mi este mai util acest articol decat unul politic. Variatia este binevenita.

  2. ” in the case of spirits, tastes so bad that you need to mix it with juice.”
    Salt is so bad, that you need to mix it with food in order to be able to eat it.
    „The best reason for giving up alcohol is that it’s a poison.”
    The best reason for giving up oxygen is because it’s a poison (really, look it up if you don’t believe me. Breathing pure oxygen would kill you – there’s a reason why some creams or foods are touted to be „antioxydant”)

    and so on, and so on…. This article is bullsh*t, alcohol is not bad, at all – same as oxygen is not bad. It’s the alcohol ABUSE, the excess that will poison you. There’s no need to give up alcohol completely – in fact there are ample studies showing e.g. that consuming moderate quantities of red wine is good for your health.

    • Congratulations for not having a problem with alcohol.
      However, I’m sure you know there are some who have (he spoke about rehab clinic pacients)

      By the way, many older people are advised to eat salt-free bread.

      • @Dan – he doesn’t say anywhere that it’s about pathological cases, he just says „alcohol is poison” – and in fact, there is little reason to believe „” is a forum where lots of alcoholics hang out, this is supposed to be a site for normal people.

        „many older people are advised to eat salt-free bread” – yeah, same kind of argument as with „alcohol is poison”. You are aware that there are people allergic to almost ANYTHING, right? With almost anything, you can make a similar case that „many people are advised to avoid „. But I noticed that, while picking on salt, you say nothing about how many people are advised to avoid oxygen, which *is* poison.

        • „It was only after I started working for a drug and alcohol rehab clinic in Scotland that I started to understand this concept of alcohol as a poison. Some of the people who come into our clinic are(…)”
          “there is no such thing as poison. Only a poisonous dose.”

  3. Interesting article. However sudden ‘New Year resolutions’ like these are very bad for your system, see:

    The solution is (ideally of course) to do everything in moderation, so you can reduce alcohol gradually, to a small amount that you could be happy with. The main problem in Romania is there are so many excesses (food & especially drink) over the festive period that it is a real stress for almost anyone’s system. Also there are periods of abstinence / frugality during Lent or other ‘posturi’ followed by a pantagruelic feast that takes your system out of kilter! Perhaps a balanced diet/drink routine without spikes of feast or famine would be much wiser these days…….

    Merry Christmas! Craciun Fericit!

    • In the Independent article the short term alcohool abstinence was criticised as a false friend because of increased consumption afterwards. Long term reduction of alcohol consumption was encouraged. And the author has 6 years. Congratulations! Keep up this good work!

      Merry Christmas everybody!

  4. First time when I hear that wine or alcohol would be a drug…:-)
    Certainly, when abused, wine and in general alcohol is harmful to human body. Nevertheless, the same thing is legitimate when we talk about Facebook or gambling, right? Other than that good quality wine is just the juice of the earth at its best mixed with a lot of sun. Thomas Jefferson was having a glass or two of wine a day, made out of the grapes cultivated on his Virginia plantation – Monticello. It’s true, back in the day, the glasses designated to wine drinking were smaller by volume comparing with the present-day ones. They were similar to the ones we use for liquors these days. Jefferson had a long healthy life, fulfilled with accomplishments in many disciplines. Another argument would be French people that tend to consume red wine daily. The rate of heart-attacks in France comparing with other European countries and US is very low. French are fit and life expectancy is high. Last but not least…the dietician I saw a few years back when I was trying to lose weight, actually recommended me red wine…no more than two glasses a week. No harm there at all.

  5. Personaly, I think the best Christmas gift It is to have the presence of people around a table discussing in peace and spending time together.

    I’m living in Nord America, a west society and what I observe is the rush, everybody is running searching and buying gifts…Is not more Christmas is like paying directly from our wallets the price of unhappiness. The Gifts are usualy a sign of social(buyer) conformism, from iPads, iPhones, tablets …clothes, one friend of mine spend around 500 dollars for 4 ski jackets…*deals*…and when I ask him do you really need them?? he responds me…well not really, I’m going to skiing around 2-3 times per season.

    So ..what we choose…the endormophines, the pleasure of seeing each other and change words(endormophines who are free*result of physical exercise* and words who are always reconfortable) or the expensive equipement or gift.

    Yeah, we asist more and more to a Spectacular Christmas.
    The gyms are begining to be under the asault of people who want to resolute the all-year inaction, the stores are invaded with credit card zombies….the music of Christmas was already poisoning the air in shopping-mals, long time ago :) . After Christmas, is the Saint Valentine, after the Easter and ..voila the perfect occasion to spend money and buying some days of happiness is born …the shopping mania goes on…

    From other point of view, I like your suggestion. But unfortunately for me, I just discover a good bootle of Laphroaig 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch. Fortunately I know when to stop.

    Happy Xmas!!

    Always a pleasure to read your articles.


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Rupert Wolfe Murray
Rupert Wolfe Murray
Rupert Wolfe Murray este consultant independent pe probleme de comunicare. Scotian cu resedinta la Bucuresti propune autorilor săi, acum, la sfârșit de an, trei întrebări despre anul 2020 si perspectivele României în viitorul apropiat. Cele trei întrebari sunt:

1. Care este evenimentul anului 2020 cel mai pe nedrept trecut cu vederea de media și de opinia publică? 

2. Care este cea mai interesantă idee a anului 2020?

3. Care e cea mai mare temere pe care o aveți pentru viitorul României si care e cea mai mare speranță? 

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