My Wicked Mistress – Part 2 – Sick

Philadelphia, PA – May 2018

(Warning: graphic content)

It was life as usual for me in 2018. things were good and not much had changed in the last year.

I didn’t get out as much and preferred a quiet life at home. Some of my friends and drinking buddies had moved on to other cities and careers. Bartenders moved on to different positions and the big drinking and social life was over.

I had cut loose most of the detritus in my life. All the crazy girls were gone and I rarely saw anybody from my old life in media.

I hadn’t been feeling well lately. I had some aches and pains that I was attributing to middle age and work.

I was trying to drink a lot of water. I would drink maybe 80 oz a day. I figured that was good.

But no matter how much water I drank I began to notice that my urine was more of an amber color than the usual healthy yellow.

I had also had diarrhea over the last day or so. Loose stool and yellow bile.

I called out sick from work because I just felt like garbage. I figured it was simply a stomach flu.

But in a day my mind brought me around to what was happening to me.

I pre-gamed with a cocktail or two before I would go out at night. While at the bar I pounded 5 to 6 glasses of wine. Then maybe stop somewhere else and have a nightcap. Usually a Manhattan. Then home. Grab a rock glass and pack it with ice. Crack open a can of seltzer and start pouring in the vodka.

By then I had no idea of the dosage of vodka I was imbibing. The only way to get an accurate measure would be to see how far down the vodka was in the bottle. If a lot of the vodka was gone out of the bottle, well then I drank a lot.

I went online and looked at the signs of alcohol damage to the body.

Oh no.

I stopped drinking that day.

I had an uncracked half-gallon of Nikolai vodka in my room. I gave it to my daughter Loralei and told her it was now the house vodka and she could have it and share it with her friends. I also gave her a 6 pack of spiked seltzers.

I still had all of the expensive bottles of booze in my room.

They always say throw away all of the booze in your house. But my life doesn’t work like that. I’m not going to drink that fine liquor. I have no triggers. I’m just going to stop buying gallons of vodka and pouring it into my body. I don’t know what demon I was trying to drown. It was like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

From what I read and saw, my liver was struggling to break down the alcohol because it was overworked. Hence the yellow bile in my feces. My kidneys were also struggling. They couldn’t break down the blood properly to purify it.

I was toxic.

I also read all I could about alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal. I went to the grocery store and loaded up on fruits, vegetables, and vitamins. A multivitamin, Vitamin E, B12, Melatonin, and Milk Thistle.

Google all of that. Find foods that are antioxidants.

I did all that and braced myself for the worst.

I had some trouble sleeping but that was it.

Within two days I felt so much better. By being completely sober I gave my body a chance to heal after years of abuse.

In a couple of days, everything went back to normal. Regular and healthy urinary and bowel function.

I have a strong immune system. I’ve written about it before. I not only bounced back, I felt SO MUCH BETTER!

My appetite returned with a vengeance. I suppose it was resetting from getting over 1000 empty calories a day in pure booze. I was so ravenous for food about a week after I stopped drinking.

After a few days, I realized the reason I was drinking the way I was. It was because I was stuck in an old nightly ritual I used to NEED to turn off my mind. I had so many problems in my past life I had to have something to make them stop.

The quiet darkness. Like a silent shroud over your day. You huddle down in your bed and wait for them to come. The cycling thoughts and fear that you’ve allowed into your life. My anxiety and depression… like shadows, were my only company.

But all of those things have been banished from my life in the last few years.

It’s like cigarettes. I once did it for happiness and then to relieve pain, and then it was just something I was simply doing out of habit and no longer had a use for it.

So I dumped it.

Booze for me was the same thing. Once I could sleep unassisted, I was better. I felt clear. Happy. Sharp. Better physically.

It was like I was ingesting insecticide into my system every night and suddenly stopped. The body wants to be well. Once I stopped hurting myself, my body went right to work on repairing the vessel.

I even went to an AA meeting.

That was an eye-opener about a lot of things. The people that are in there are there for a reason. Alcohol is the one thing they should never do again.

Alcohol makes them crazy.

They drink and it changes them chemically. It destroys who they are and everything around them. They’re at a point in their lives where they can no longer even have a drink. But like I said… it’s a spectrum. It’s not black and white. Everybody’s physiology is different. Some people change when they drink. Others not so much. I just did it out of habit and to soften the world a bit at night.

I heard all of the horror and heartfelt stories in that AA meeting.

But when I left the meeting I knew I wasn’t like them. I’m not an alcoholic.

Abstinence isn’t the solution for everybody.

I enjoy the occasional drink now, but that’s it.

I’m so glad that dark chapter of my life is over.

Tune in next Tuesday for the 3rd and final chapter in this little series.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

My Wicked Mistress – Part 1 – Alcohol

Philadelphia, PA – 2018

I quit smoking cigarettes years ago. I was no longer addicted to nicotine and it had just become an expensive toxic habit I no longer enjoyed.

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I could write a whole blog regarding this subject, but I’ll keep it focused on this forum.

I had my first taste of beer when I was a kid. My dad let me try it. It was so bitter I spit it out on the kitchen floor. I agree that you should let children try things they’re curious about. It demystifies those things. People always want the forbidden and the taboo. If you just let them try it and show them that it’s not bad it removes the desire.

Everybody reacts differently to drugs and alcohol. It’s not black and white. Nothing in life is. As my daughter says about sexuality and mental health, it’s a spectrum. I’ve always agreed with her. No one is either crazy or sane. No one is either sober or an alcoholic.

It’s a range. A long winding, grey area.

I know I’m going to piss a few people off here but that’s not the purpose of my words. I’m writing this because I want to tell you all about my experience with alcohol.

I’m going to open with this. Alcoholism isn’t a disease.

Disease: A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of part or all of an organism, and that is not due to any external injury. Diseases are often construed as medical conditions that are associated with specific symptoms and signs.

When I think of diseases I think of the big ones.

  • Autoimmune Diseases.
  • Allergies & Asthma.
  • Cancer.
  • Celiac Disease.
  • Crohn’s & Colitis.
  • Heart Disease.
  • Infectious Diseases.
  • Liver Disease.

Stuff like that. They happen. But alcoholism isn’t a disease. It’s called that because so many “normal” folks are afflicted with it. It destroys lives indiscriminately. Yale to jail. Top to bottom.

But…

It’s a disease you have to BUY.

You don’t just catch it. You have to willfully do it. You have to go to the bar or a store and pick up a bottle and decide to drink it.

That’s not a disease. That’s your mind and body vs. alcohol. Everybody’s different.

But this piece isn’t about that. That’s for another blog. Not mine.

This is my brief story. I’m going to keep this as short as possible because it could eat up my whole blog if I go on too long about this subject.

I’ve always suffered from anxiety and depression. That coupled with low self-esteem and being an overachiever is a perfect cocktail for alcohol consumption.

I remember the first time I caught my first buzz from alcohol. I was out on the fishing pier one night in Wildwood, NJ with my friend and bandmate, Wolfie. We had a 6-pack of Molson Golden Ale and I had maybe 3 of them. I was 17 years old.

I walked back out onto the boardwalk when my very first buzz from alcohol hit me.

It was beautiful.

I felt exhilarated, euphoric, and indestructibly confident.

I couldn’t believe the power of this bitter elixer. It made the weak strong, the tired energized. The sad, happy. The loser, confident.

I went home and told my mother about my experience. She had also suffered from anxiety and probably some depression her whole life. I explained to her how good it made me feel and it also made my anxiety, (Which was really bad back then) simply vanish.

“That’s great, but don’t ever let it become a crutch.”

“What do you mean, Mom?”

“Don’t rely on a drink to carry you through something.”

Those words stuck with me my whole life.

I love to drink. It’s fun. It feels good. It’s a wonderful social lubricant.

I’ve had my ups and downs with booze. Many of us have. The fights. The drunken misunderstandings. The brilliant hilarious nights. The random hook-ups. The crazy sex. The bad decisions. The great ones. The bed spins. The vomiting in inappropriate venues.

I’ve experienced all of that stuff.

I drank beer and wine. When I got to California I started getting into sipping Jack Daniels.

I enjoyed beer and cocktails in the ’80s in my 20s. I went into banking. Having a few drinks after work was just something everybody did.

Happy Hour. What a lovely name for something that involves people, booze, and lasts two hours instead of one.

I think during my very unhappy marriage is when my drinking escalated. My wife wasn’t much of a drinker and certainly didn’t like my drinking.

I would sneak nips from a half-pint of Smirnoff’s Vodka hidden in my garage.

I can see it all very clearly now. My social drinking had now become a band-aid over the pain of my domestic life.

My drinking didn’t end my marriage. Turns out we were simply incompatible as people on so many levels. I should have never gotten married. I know now it’s not an institution I can belong to. This shark needs to be free to swim and roam the oceans.

With my wife gone, I was now free to drink all I wanted whenever I wanted. I could listen to the stereo,  rock out to my music, and drink my Ketel One and tonics.

I was never one to drink in the morning or during the day. As much as I loved to drink, I always had strict rules regarding time. I would only take a drink after 5 pm.

Sure, I’d have the occasional glass of wine at a brunch or something, but no more. The real drinking happened at night. In a bar or behind closed doors and drawn blinds.

I was writing a book back then so I would just disappear from my sad life into writing and booze.

I didn’t even realize what was happening to me or why I was doing it. A former artist and musician, reduced to a branch manager at a bank. My marriage is already over. The only one in my family divorced. And then there’s dividing up all of the assets I had worked so hard to construct. Then the child support begins. $600 a month of your net income vanishes from your account every month. For 15 years! Do the math. It’s a financial nightmare that seems without end. I missed my little daughter. My little family was destroyed. Ruined.

When you begin drinking it’s for fun. It makes you laugh and feel happy. Later, it can be used to extinguish pain. Alcohol numbs you to the point where for that night you no longer care and have no worries about life in general.

But you might as well throw gasoline on a fire to put it out.

The booze kills the pain. But alcohol is a wicked mistress. You love her and she’ll fool you at every turn. She’s a beautiful and sexy girl. Doesn’t cheat on you. Won’t ever disappoint you. Always there for you. Comfort. Forget your problems. “Don’t work through them, honey. Just drink me in. That’s it, dear.”

I drank like that at night for the next 10 years.

I had no problems with my drinking through the 2000s. It’s just something we did after work.

Let’s jump to the Spring of 2018.

I quit cigarettes. My daughter lives with me. She’s happy. I’ve left corporate life. I have a nice little job I like doing. Child support is long over. But I continue to drink as if I’m covering some sort of pain.

But I’m not sad anymore. I have wisdom. I fought through anxiety and depression over the last 50 years without therapy or medicine. I’ve won!

But I continue to drink out of one directive. It’s simply a ritual. Just like smoking became. But one far more deadly.

I think I thought at the time I needed it to fall asleep. I did. Because I could no longer fall asleep without alcohol. My body needed it to shut down. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I never really addressed why I was doing it. It simply became a function of my evening life.

Everything was good in my life. This became a dark secret.

I could be out at the bar having a few drinks but the minute I got home I just kept going on my own. Alone in my room drinking vodka and club soda. One after the other. I never counted. I just did it until I could sleep and off I went.

But my will is strong. I can drink like that and get up for work the next morning with Metallica Metallicano problem.  Never call out and I’m never late. Am I doing this to overcompensate for my drinking? Probably.

If my mind wouldn’t race at night maybe I could stop drinking so much in the evening.

Two to three times a week I would go to the liquor store and pick up a 1.75 bottle of Nikolai or Wolfschmidts vodka. I wasn’t quite at the level of drinking as Guns n Roses bassist, Duff McKagen, but I was working on it.

My older sister said I was a functioning alcoholic. Normally that would be correct.

But not in my case.

Was this something I was simply stuck with from my old life, for the rest of my life?

Time would only tell.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Dating Game Teetotaler Dating: How to Date When You’re Sober & Don’t Drink

No matter the reason you don’t drink, it can be hard to figure out how to date when you’re sober. Here are some of the most fun sober date ideas!

verything from how to date when you’re sober to telling your new partner why you don’t drink can be complicated. Drinking is such a major part of today’s dating culture, so navigating it as a sober person adds a new level of uncertainty.

Dating should be full of fun and excitement. You should have butterflies, not knots in your stomach.

It can be nerve-racking to share that you don’t drink for any reason. People can be judgmental, confused, or even offended. So, navigating the world of dating when you’re sober takes some patience and practice. 

How to talk about dating when you’re sober

Dating when you’re sober starts out the same as it does for anyone else. Whether you’re on a dating app or meeting in person, even at a bar, you start with flirting.

You don’t have to tell someone you don’t drink right off the bat. That is your business. You shouldn’t have to explain yourself to anyone. But, unfortunately, because drinking is such a social norm, people expect it. And they question it when you don’t.

When you decline a drink from someone hitting on you they might take it as a rejection, in reality, you would much rather enjoy a side of fries. If they don’t assume you’re turning them down, they will probably assume you are driving, not that you don’t drink at all.

In my experience, as a sober person in the dating world, it is best to let them believe what they want to at first. Getting into why you don’t drink from the start can erupt a lot of peer pressure.

You may not drink because you don’t like the taste or because you are a recovering alcoholic or for any other reason. Whatever the reason, it is totally okay. But, I cannot tell you how many times someone has said to me that I just haven’t found the right drink or that I’d have fun if I drank with them.

Choosing not to drink for that night or forever is a personal choice. Although dating when you’re sober may weed out your options a bit more, it is possible to find someone who accepts your decision. 

When to tell your date you’re sober

If the fact that you’re sober or choose not to drink didn’t come up before your first or second date, don’t fret.

On a first or second date, you don’t have to share all of that. Just have a nice time. Some people may not even ask why you’re not drinking. That is a good sign.

If you see things moving forward, you may want to clue them in. They should respect that you choose not to drink but may have questions about why. Whether you want to talk about it or not, they should accept it. Try not to get defensive if they are curious. They may truly just want to understand you better.

If not, this may not be someone you want to continue dating. Some people simply cannot understand any reason why someone would choose not to drink. You can list off all the reasons why: from health concerns to addiction, money, taste, and so on, and they will still argue.

And for some, they may have a hard time with it because it is so opposite to their chosen lifestyle.

For instance, it would be hard for me to date someone who goes out drinking every weekend and keeps a lot of liquor in their house when I don’t drink at all. We would have such differing lifestyles.

But currently, I’m dating someone who has a beer here or there with dinner and drinks when he’s out with his friends, but, simultaneously, completely respects my choice not to drink.

Once you mesh with someone that respects the fact that you don’t drink, you can get into learning how to date when you’re sober. 

How to date when you’re sober

The ‘go-to date’ has almost always been dinner and drinks. But, that can be dicey when you don’t drink. Whether you never drink, want to avoid drinking too much, or just want a more unique date, here are some awesome ideas that will be sure to impress your date and actually let you get to know them.

#1 The Adventurer. Whether you live near a hiking trail, an indoor rock-climbing wall, or a national park, physical dates are a great way to bond. Get moving, work up a sweat, then grab a smoothie or pack a lunch with plenty of water to turn a fun workout into a romantic picnic.

Getting fresh air and some exercise in with a new romantic partner leads to a much stronger connection than a few drinks at a bar.

#2 The Artist. A museum is always a great way to share a common interest. You can tour a museum and discuss your opinions on the artist and their work.

And why not take it a step further and get involved with the art? Find a pottery painting studio or even an art class in your area. You can show off your talents or bond over learning some new techniques. Plus, you’ll likely walk away with a moment from your date together.

#3 The Competitor. Some friendly competition between you and your date is a sure-fire way to start some flirty banter. Take your date mini-golfing, bowling, or even to the batting cages. Ax throwing is a popular date spot as of late.

Whether you’re a skilled sportsperson or not, it’s guaranteed to be a memorable date. 

#4 The Kid At Heart. For a purely fun day loaded with games and cotton candy, head to an amusement park or arcade. You’ll have a blast. You could even win your date a stuffed animal from a claw machine. *Just don’t eat too much before going on a roller coaster.

#5 The Foodie. Whether you’re a master chef or can barely boil water, take your date to a cooking class. Not only will preparing a meal with your date bring you closer, but you’ll learn how to make a delicious new recipe, which will last you a lifetime.

Cooking together is very sensual and creating something to enjoy can really ignite a bond you may not feel by just going out to eat.

#6 The Daredevil. Escape rooms are popping up everywhere and are such an exhilarating date idea. If you’ve never heard of this, the gist is that you’re locked in a room and have an hour or so to search for clues to escape.

You can do this as a double date or team up with some strangers. It is sure to fill your day with lots of mystery. It will get your adrenaline pumping and bond you two immediately. Just make sure your date isn’t claustrophobic before making reservations. 

#7 A Little Bit Of Everything. If you’re not quite the planner, but want to do something fun – throw it back to those middle school dates and head to the mall. Go shopping, grab a pretzel, giggle your way around Spencer’s Gifts, play with the puppies if your mall has a pet store, or even build a bear.

Just walk around and do what catches your eye. The possibilities are endless. You’re sure to feel like a lovestruck teenager again.

Which one of these dates will you try out? Hopefully, learning how to date when you’re sober comes easily to you and your future partner.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

What It’s Really Like to Be Sober Curious: When an Alcohol “Break” Becomes Permanent

In the spring of 2018, 42-year-old Kim Banks found herself in a lonely place. Struggles with anxiety and depression interfered with life as a wife, mother of 5-year-old twin boys, and her work in public relations. Despite self-improvements like daily exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, Banks wasn’t happy.

“I was feeling lots of anxiety and depression, along with irritability, even though I was trying to do all the right things,” she says.

In the back of her mind, Banks describes a nagging thought, “Give up the alcohol.”

“I was in a constant, daily argument with myself,” she says. At the root of was the question: “Should I drink tonight?”

Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
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Banks ended each workday with a few glasses of wine. On weekend nights out with her husband, she describes “going a little hard,” and leaving a wave of bad feelings for the next day.

“I knew I needed to eliminate alcohol, but it was the last thing I wanted to eliminate,” she says. “I really enjoyed wine, and I definitely bought into the idea alcohol enhances experiences,” she continues. “Tell me to give anything else up but the wine.”

Initially, Banks describes a curiosity around “taking a 30-day-break” from alcohol. She researched online for information about what impact alcohol has on the body. “I mainly searched for success stories from people who gave up drinking for 30 days or more,” she explains.

Her online searches turned up first-hand accounts of people like herself, who hadn’t suffered major life-altering consequences from drinking, but saw their drinking as problematic all the same. Others identified as “alcoholic” but blended traditional 12-step recovery with other support among fellow “sober curious” followers.

Banks made the decision to go alcohol-free. “I was thinking, ‘This isn’t making me happy anymore, but it’s ingrained in my daily habits,'” she says.

How Giving Up Alcohol Became a Wellness Trend

Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book Sober Curious is something of a guidebook for this less-threatening, label-free, booze-less trend. The book describes Warrington’s “gray-area problem drinking.” Uncomfortable with the label “alcoholic,” she developed a following of like-minded non-drinkers via her book, podcasts, and social media. Banks is one of many who either gave up drinking altogether or drink more mindfully.

Sober coach Rae Dylan lives in New York City and sees the trend up close. Cities like New York City and Chicago are seeing a rise of sober-free bars and events. Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to alcohol-free living boast followers in the tens of thousands.

“I see it as part of what’s happening all around us,” says Dylan, who works with recovering addicts and alcoholics requiring protection from the press, nutritional guidance, mental health issues, medication, and detox. “People are more interested in a healthy lifestyle and part of not-drinking is part of this healthy culture which recognizes it’s not healthy the way Americans drink,” she adds.

In particular, the idea of not drinking in what some consider awkward social situations, like a bar atmosphere, is encouraging, Dylan believes. “It’s a good thing; the movement gives younger people, who may feel pressure to drink or do drugs, another outlet,” she says.

“Instead of feeling pressure to drink,” Dylan continues, “the focus comes off labels like ‘alcoholic’ and, instead, people focus on having a cool virgin mojito with maybe organic cane juice.”

Finding Like-Minded Non-Drinkers

Banks admits her first steps into a sober lifestyle weren’t easy. Friends and family didn’t object, but they had difficulty supporting what they couldn’t understand.

“I was surrounded with casual drinkers who didn’t understand why someone would choose to give up alcohol without being an alcoholic,” she says. “I wasn’t a rock-bottom alcoholic, so it wasn’t a black-or-white issue for me.”

Instead, the issue, like Warrington describes, was more of a gray area. “I was tired, my skin was breaking out and I had tried everything else,” she continues. “I knew in my heart what I needed to cut.”

Finding support from other non-drinkers meant turning to the internet and social media. At first, Banks was unaware she was part of the sober curious movement. Her first steps going wine-free centered on setting up an Instagram page to record an initial 30-day break from alcohol. “I would post things like, ‘This is my second day without alcohol!’”

Today, Banks has nearly 6,500 Instagram followers celebrating her alcohol-free experiences. She credits this early support with her sober lifestyle today. “There were so many supportive people on Instagram,” Banks says. “I felt like I had these online pen pals who really got what I was going through.”

She describes the connections as uplifting without shame. Followers celebrate her victories and help her navigate rough days. Plus, she knows she has 24-hour access to a community of support. If she and her husband go out for the evening, she’s only an Instagram away from others who are also abstaining from drinks on a weekend night.

Trend vs. Lifestyle

Living in Greenville, SC, Banks doesn’t have the luxury of countless, trendy sober bars to visit. But, time away from drinking has made it easier and less appealing to go backward. She says she focuses on the reality of drinking versus the fantasy.

During a recent family vacation, Banks said the idea of having a drink sounded tempting. She reminded herself, however, of the reality behind the “one drink,” which included, for her, likely more than one drink, a bad night’s sleep and heavy anxiety in the morning. “In the beginning it was so hard, but now I’ve had so many experiences under my belt, and I feel more confident,” she explains.

“I think through the drink,” she explains. “I admit to myself I have the urge, but I know the ‘idea’ is way better than any glass of wine.”

The days of pushing through moments of temptation are fewer and further between. If she needs support, she knows her Instagram followers are always nearby, along with other sober curious friends she’s made on the journey.

Her friends and family are still casual drinkers, but Banks has been abstaining from alcohol for the past year and a half, and has no intention of going back to her evening wine. “I love waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning without a hangover,” she says.

Enjoying sober experiences has left Banks feeling healthier, more focused, and more present for her husband and children. In addition, her family’s finances have improved without the steady purchase of wine. She says her husband is proud of her accomplishment, and her children are enjoying a more active family life with hiking and trips.

“There are so many physical and emotional benefits from intentionally taking a break from alcohol,” says Banks. “It opens a whole new world. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom,” she adds. For now, she remains alcohol-free, one day at a time.

 

 

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9 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol During The Coronavirus Pandemic

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have been panic-buying more than just toilet paper and eggs. U.S. alcohol sales spiked 55% in the week ending March 21, according to data from market research firm Nielsen. Online alcohol sales were up 243%.

Much of that can probably be attributed to stocking up on booze for several weeks’ worth of self-isolation. According to a survey by Alcohol.org, 1 in 5 respondents said they stockpiled alcohol for just that reason. However, many people are also drinking more in general: 1 in 3 respondents said they are likely to increase alcohol consumption in isolation.

While a few extra drinks to get you through the stress and boredom of being stuck at home might not be a big deal, it can become a slippery slope.

How much drinking is considered normal?

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Keep in mind that these guidelines refer to the amount you drink on any single day ― it’s not meant to be an average of drinks consumed over several days.

However, these are just guidelines; what’s considered “normal” drinking is somewhat subjective and based on your own body and behaviors. “If you don’t have a problem with alcohol, an extra glass of wine here and there isn’t something to be worried about,” said Brian Wind, chief clinical officer at alcohol and drug treatment center JourneyPure. “People are bored, stuck in their homes and really stressed out. For some, kicking back with a drink is perfectly normal.”

It’s when your habits and thoughts surrounding alcohol begin to change for the worse that you should be concerned. Unhealthy alcohol use exists on a spectrum, which can range from alcohol misuse to abuse to dependency, according to Sari Eitches, an integrative internist who practices in Los Angeles.

“During the challenges of the looming threat of the pandemic, plus the stresses of lockdown, we are naturally turning to any coping skills we have available,” she said. “Many of us are shut off from our best coping mechanisms, including social interactions, yoga class, time with extended family and friends and even time in nature.”

That means some people turn to coping methods that are available at home, including alcohol. Maybe that includes you. If so, keep an eye out for these signs that you might be drinking too much.

1. You drink because you’re stressed.

In general, it’s considered problematic when alcohol intake increases during stressful situations, “even during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Amanda Brown, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and an associate at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “It means that we are using alcohol to cope with the negative emotions caused by stress.”

Brown explained that when you’re stressed, you experience new or uncontrolled emotions that you’re not used to dealing with and your emotional equilibrium falls off balance. To adapt to these changes, you turn to coping mechanisms that help regulate emotions.

“But not all coping mechanisms are adaptive,” she said. “Alcohol use, for example, is a maladaptive coping mechanism that can ultimately cause more harm for an individual.”

2. You drink because you’re bored.

The thought of spending another Saturday night at home in front of the TV might seem unbearable. That is, unless you also have a glass (OK, bottle) of wine at your side.

Similar to drinking due to stress, drinking to cope with boredom is a red flag, according to Andrew Mendonsa, a clinical psychologist with addiction treatment center Sprout Health Group. “When you say, ‘I’m bored at home, I’m going to turn to the bottle,’ that’s when you start to cross the line,” he said.

When you feel bored or restless, Mendonsa recommends going for a walk outside (as long as it’s safe to do so) or calling friends and family. If you feel like you can’t rely on these healthy coping methods alone and must drink, you likely have a problematic relationship with alcohol.

3. You drink on the job.

Transitioning to a fully remote job can be tough if you’re not used to working from home. It may be stressful learning new tools and communication methods. Plus, you might struggle with productivity. With no office to drive to and no boss looking over your shoulder, there may be more temptation to Irish up your morning coffee or crack open a beer at 3 p.m.

“If you’re working from home and have justified that it’s okay to drink while working, you are mistaken,” Wind said. “While working from home, you should conduct yourself just as you would being on the job. If you’re drinking to get through the workday, it’s a sign that you have a problem.”

4. You’re constantly worried about having enough alcohol.

Another way to know that you’re drinking too much during isolation is if you worry about having enough alcohol and find yourself making extra trips to the store or gas station just to buy it. “We should be minimizing trips that aren’t essential right now, so if getting alcohol feels like an essential to you and you’re going out often to stock up on it, you’re probably drinking too much,” Wind said.

5. Your responsibilities are falling to the wayside.

Balancing your job, your child’s education and relationships with family and friends is hard enough without a pandemic adding to the chaos. It’s understandable if you drop the ball on your obligations sometimes. However, Eitches said that if alcohol use interferes with your priorities and obligations in any realm of your life ― including work, social connections and self-care ― it’s a sign that there’s a problem.

6. You’ve been making poor decisions while drunk.

Many of us have let a secret slip or gone overboard online shopping after a few drinks. Hey, mistakes happen ― we’re not here to judge. But those alcohol-induced slip-ups should be few and far between. If you regularly make decisions when intoxicated that you wouldn’t make or would regret when you are sober, there’s a larger issue at hand, Eitches said.

7. You don’t feel good physically.

Hangovers are a reminder that overindulging on alcohol isn’t great for your body. So if you regularly wake up with headaches, sensitivity to light, dehydration and other hangover symptoms, it’s a sign you’re going overboard.

Eitches added that generally feeling crappy due to drinking, due to disrupted sleep and eating patterns or less motivation to exercise, are also warning signs.

8. You experience withdrawal symptoms.

When you drink often enough, your body becomes reliant on alcohol to function. Stopping alcohol intake when your body is dependent on it results in withdrawal symptoms, which range from mild to severe and can include shaky hands, anxiety, sweating, racing heartbeat, hallucinations and even seizures. You may begin to experience certain withdrawal symptoms within six hours of your last drink.

If mild hangovers have progressed to more serious signs of withdrawal when you stop drinking, it’s definitely time to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.

9. You want to stop drinking but can’t.

Finally, if you recognize that drinking alcohol affects your life negatively but can’t seem to slow down, it’s time to get help. Fortunately, there are many resources available.

If you’re experiencing difficulty coping or having problems with drug or alcohol use, you should immediately call your doctor or the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). They can refer you to local treatment facilities, support groups and community-based organizations.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also has an online treatment navigator to help you find and evaluate the right type of care for you.

Remember that we’re all experiencing an unprecedented situation that is scary and challenging for many people. We all use different coping strategies, some healthier than others. If you become dependent on alcohol during this time, it’s not a reflection of your character, intelligence or strength. We all need help sometimes, so don’t be afraid to seek it out.

 

 

Coronavirus is no time for sobriety – a drink or two can make this crisis bearable

The recent suggestion that we turn lockdown into “Dry Covid” is pompous at best, ambulance-chasing at worst. There’s a time and place to judge other people’s behaviour – now is not it.

Ian Hamilton’s call to arms is ostensibly a response to the government categorizing off-licenses as an essential service – although I’d argue this does not mean the government deems alcohol essential, but rather that it should be essential to offer it to those who want it. They sell Dairy Milk in off-licenses, but this doesn’t mean they too are essential.

Hamilton’s suggestion that being able to buy booze at a petrol station but not to drink and drive suggests an “incoherent” governmental to alcohol is itself incoherent. It suggests buyers feel compelled to drink what they’ve bought as they drive off. Presumably, there are swathes of brickwork next to hardware stores absolutely dripping with Dulux.

Yet more troubling than the illogicality of Hamilton’s argument are the psychological and sociological consequences of forcing the UK should spend lockdown in Mormonesque sobriety.

Before that horse bolts, it’s important to say I’m not disputing the facts around excessive alcohol consumption (mental illness, kidney and liver damage, among others). Nor am I dismissing the World Health Organisation’s advice that alcohol has a negative effect on immunity, something we certainly don’t want during a pandemic. But it’s just as important to appreciate that there’s a spectrum of alcohol use.

I know what addiction feels like (and, thankfully, how sobriety does; a whole decade of it so far). I’m public about my past, and this has opened up hundreds of conversations. Many of the people I speak to want to know whether going above the government limit on units makes them a soak. It doesn’t – not least because this limit has been shown by those who came up with it to be arbitrary. It means you are one of millions of Britons who relax with a pint, a glass of wine, a G&T.

Alcohol dependence and using alcohol to cope are different beasts. Having a drink to unwind at the end of the day – particularly given the circumstances – doesn’t make you an alcoholic. Shaming and stigmatizing those who enjoy an occasional drink is likely to lead to more irresponsible drinking.

What we’re faced with right now is scary – and we need a way to collectively cope. So let’s have a drink – hell, let’s have two. A pandemic is not the moment to get on our high horses about one of the few things that make it more bearable.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

 

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How To Shop For Wine Safely During the Coronavirus Outbreak

I’ve always thought of liquor stores as “essential businesses!”

You’ve stocked up on food staples, queued up what to watch on Netflix, and now, you’ve only got one thing left to do: figure out how to safely get wine during the coronavirus outbreak. Well, wash your hands and listen up from the appropriate social distance, because there are still plenty of safe ways for you to have that glass of pinot.

Is It Safe To Go To Liquor Stores?

Like shopping for groceries during the coronavirus outbreak or any other sort of public activity, buying alcohol from a store comes with some risk. Being in a crowded place — like a liquor store during peak hours — poses a greater possibility of coming in contact with someone who is infected and contracting the novel coronavirus. As person-to-person contact (through the transmission of infected respiratory droplets) appears to be how COVID-19 is primarily spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended gatherings over 10 people be canceled or postponed for at least the next few weeks. Limiting the number of shopping trips you make is likely the best option. And yes, that applies to liquor stores as well.

When you do go shopping, be mindful of what you touch and give fellow shoppers as much space as possible. And, in case it hasn’t been drilled into your brain already, don’t touch your face and wash your hands once you get home. If you want to be extra cautious, wipe down any bottles, cans, or products with non-porous surfaces you bought with soap and water or disinfectant.

Wine options may be limited as certain stores during the coronavirus outbreak.
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Can I Get Wine Delivered To My House?

Unless you live in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah, chances are good you can have wine shipped to your doorsteps. (Those three states are the only ones that specifically prohibit direct-to-consumer shipment of alcohol, per the National Conference of State Legistalurres’s page on the direct shipment of alcohol in the United States. Apologies to all Alabamians, Oklahomans, and Utahns.)

While many states have some restrictions on what kind of alcohol can be shipped directly to consumers and how — Delaware requires orders to be processed and shipped through licensed wholesalers and Rhode Island allows alcohol to be shipped but only when purchased on-site — most states allow beer and wine to be shipped straight to you.

Are Wine Delivery Services Safe?

As with food delivery safety, liquor drop off comes with some hypothetical risk as well. There are a few key things to keep in mind to keep yourself and those around you safe: Limit contact with your delivery person, utilize contact-free drop off when possible, and wash your hands. Wiping down deliveries like you would items from the grocery stores will also help reduce your risk of interacting with the virus.

Popular liquor delivery service Drizly is implementing certain precautions in order to keep customers and drivers safe per their website. While contact-free alcohol deliveries can’t be guaranteed as in-person confirmation is often required for legal and safety reasons, Drizly is encouraging things like outside delivery drops, contactless ID scanning, and eliminating the need for customer signatures.

If you’re able to avoid the store entirely, you won’t be lack for choice when it comes to wine delivery. There are wine subscription and wine delivery programs like Usual Wines, Vinebox, Winc where you can spend some of this self-isolation finding your new go-to wine. Favorites like Rosé All Day and Cupcake wine can be bought through third-party sites like Big Hammer Wines and Wine.com.

Some are avoiding liquor stores and using wine delivery services during the coronavirus outbreak.
alvarez/E+/Getty Images

Have Wine Makers Been Impacted?

While wine availability may depend on where you live, major wine makers are still producing but with more caution. “We have made many changes to our business over the past few weeks,” Anna Bell, vice president of marketing at Barefoot Wine, tells Bustle over email. “While we are quickly adjusting to real-time changes affecting how and where consumers are able to engage with us, we continue to work closely with our suppliers, distributors, customers and sales teams and appreciate all of their extra efforts to ensure our fans are still able to access and enjoy Barefoot during this time.” Molly Davis, vice president of marketing for Apothic at E. & J. Gallo Winery, spoke to Bustle over email and also emphasized the up-to-date changes Apothic is making to ensure consumer and worker safety.

“We continue to work with our environmental health and safety teams to provide a safe workplace for our production and sales team members who are unable to work remotely,” a representative for Gallo, which owns both Apothic and Barefoot Wines, told Bustle over email. “We have made many adjustments to our business, including increased sanitization measures and social distancing and we are providing additional resources to support our employees who are unable to work remotely.”

Like many other major wine makers, both Apothic and Barefoot are available to order on Drizly or through the The Barrel Room. So, you’ll still be able to sip your favorite (or most $10) wines at home.

Are Liquor Stores Considered “Essential Business”?

In states that have shuttered nonessential businesses and closed schools, some places are still allowed or required to stay open during COVID-19-related closures. Health and medical facilities are, of course, still open, and grocery stores and restaurants aren’t required to completely shut their doors. Additionally, liquor stores, in most states, are staying open.

In Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun, convenience stores and liquor stores are exempt from nonessential business shutdowns. While wineries and distilleries must close, they can still offer pick-up and delivery services. Per the Seattle Times, some stores that sell liquor and cannabis are staying open during shut-downs though that comes with a couple of caveats. “Liquor stores that sell food” and “workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplemental retail” are deemed essential per Washington state’s nonessential business shutdown.

Pennsylvania has closed its liquor stores amidst shelter-in-place ordinances for a significant portion of the population, as reported by Business Insider. However, doesn’t appear to be the trend in other states. Also, beer and wine are still available at grocery stores.

In other words, you’ll still be able to sip on your sauvignon blanc while enjoying virtual happy hours. But please, quarantine and drink responsibly.

 

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Guy Stops Drinking Alcohol, Shows How Much Sobriety Changed Him In 3 Years

I LOVE this guy!

Giving up your vices and guilty pleasures can lead to a happier and healthier life that’s full of purpose. Even though you might not see the changes day-to-day when you give up drinking alcohol, they’re very apparent to others. One of the things that can keep you motivated is documenting the changes and looking at the photos side by side.

Well, one man has made the phrase ‘one day at a time’ fit both his fight with alcoholism and documenting his journey through sobriety. These last three years, Kenny D. has taken snaps of how he looked when he quit alcohol at key stages in his journey of sobriety. The changes within the first month are already huge and he is almost unrecognizable in the final pictures.

“I took a picture of myself the day I got my first sobriety coin, 24 hours sober. I felt so ill and I looked so bad, I wanted to remember it so I wouldn’t forget. The day I got my 30-day coin, I thought my look had changed drastically so I took another selfie,” Kenny told Bored Panda, talking about the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sobriety coins given to alcoholics who stay sober for a certain amount of time.

Scroll down for Bored Panda’s full and exclusive in-depth interview with Kenny who got back his life, regained his health, and discovered new depths in his character by giving up drinking. For more powerful Bored Panda posts about sobriety and how much people change when they give up alcohol or drugs, check out these articles here, here, here, and here.

Kenny went sober three years ago. When he took his first photo, he was feeling awful

“I liked showing my family and friends the side-by-side of 24 hours and 30 days to show the change,” Kenny said. “Of course, they were skeptical because I had spent the last several years terrorizing my family and friends while I was drunk. So I kept them to myself mostly for the first year, but I always took a selfie every time I got a coin. On my one-year anniversary, I took my picture and posted a side by side on Reddit and called it the Progression of Sobriety. I thought it would just be something uplifting for people to see, I had no idea I would get the kind of response that I did. The post was flooded with comments from people asking me about alcoholism and how I stopped drinking. Asking how they can stop or how to help their own friends or family stop. And a ton of good positive kudos and congrats for my transformation. So after the first year, I felt like I’d make it a bit of a tradition to post my progress on my Sobriety birthday on November 2. I also keep with the tradition of taking it in my bathroom just for continuity. Year two was last year and this year was year three.”

Barely a month later, he was looking and feeling much better

Kenny revealed how much of a problem drinking became for him, as well as how it brought him to the edge. “I started drinking in college. But it didn’t become a real problem until about 10 years ago. I began drinking often and always to excess. I discovered at one point that I could not control the amount I drank once I had taken the first drink. I could not drink without getting drunk. So I decided to quit. I would last a few days, a few weeks, a few months, one time for a year. Always with relapses in between. By 2016, I had gotten to the point that I would get drunk every day. I drank 12–24 drinks a day and I was blacking out 3–4 times a week. I knew I had a problem but I didn’t know what to do. I used to stand in the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror and wish I wasn’t a drunk. I would wonder how I got this way. Sometimes I was just indifferent to whether I lived or died. I just wanted it to be over and I didn’t care how,” he explained the pit of despair he was in just several years ago.

Kenny kept up being sober with the help of the 12 step program, loved ones, and AA members

“The last time I drank, I had a week of vacation and I had bought myself a case of beer and was going to ration it for the week. 3–4 beers a night,” Kenny went into detail about how he finally got sober. “The first night after I put my son to bed, I opened my first beer. That was at 8 p.m. By 11 p.m., I had drunk 19 beers. Something inside me said, ‘Kenny, your life is no longer manageable.’”

He also fixed his diet and started exercising

“A friend of mine had gotten sober a year before and I did the only thing I could think to do. I reached out for help. I texted her and told her I had a problem and I needed help. The next morning, she picked me up and drove me to my first 12-step meeting and I’ve been sober ever since.”

Kenny took a photo every time he got a new AA sobriety chip

Kenny was also very open about the greatest challenges that he faced after he got sober three years ago. “My greatest challenge was the working of the 12 steps. 12 step recovery is a complete overhaul of your life. It is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. It caused me to face how I felt about other people and to clean up the mess I had made in my life while I was drinking. All I wanted to do was to stop drinking and to get my life back. I had no idea that I would get a whole new life that was full of more joy, happiness, and freedom than I could have possibly imagined.”

The man was completely open about how much drinking alcohol affected him

He continued: “The biggest difference between myself now and three years ago is that today I live my life by a set of spiritual principles. From morning to night, I run all of my decisions through a sort of spiritual filter. I do my best to not be resentful or spiteful or angry, though I am human and I have a tendency to forget sometimes. I’m not a saint. If I have a problem that I can’t tackle with stuff in my normal spiritual toolkit, I get on the phone to my sponsor or another alcoholic-in-recovery.”

Previously, Kenny couldn’t control himself when it came to alcohol

“There is always somebody around to help, I just have to reach out. The most difficult part about living with such success in sobriety for me is avoiding what they call ‘resting on your laurels.’ Getting complacent and going back to my old way of doing things. I get over it by going to lots of meetings as often as I can, working with other alcoholics, and practicing the spiritual principles in all of my affairs.”

Kenny used to drink 12-24 drinks each night…

“In my personal life, I’ve become an avid reader, I love to learn new things and read nonfiction and biographies. I’ve recently begun painting and that has opened up a whole new part of my brain that I didn’t know existed,” Kenny said about his newfound passions.

…and he used to lose consciousness three or four nights each week while drinking

“And as you can see from the pictures, I’ve lost 75 pounds (34 kilograms) since I got sober. I eat much cleaner and I exercise now. My favorite form of exercise is DDP Yoga. Awesome program and it completely changed my whole perspective on exercise and healthy living. Three years into sobriety, every day is an awesome day and I can’t wait to experience the next awesome thing or meet the next awesome person whom I can learn something from.”

Kenny was officially three years sober on November 2

People were very supportive of Kenny’s journey

                                                    You look fantastic, man!
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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Lux – It Started With An Entire Bottle Of Champagne

I was having a beer at the Roxy in West Hollywood. I see this hot girl who looks a little older than me. Maybe 22 or 23. She has tan skin and an exotic foreign look. I can see she’s checking me out and I send her a drink.

She immediately comes over and sits next to me at the bar. We chat for a bit and she likes that I’m a musician. She suggests brunch at Cafe Casino in Santa Monica.  We hop in my ’69 VW minibus and she says she has to stop at her apartment. Her apartment is in Brentwood. Nice place, beautiful, lots of high-dollar stuff, no roommate.

We go to Cafe Casino at 1pm. During brunch she drinks an entire bottle of champagne by herself. We leave, and in the van she says she wants to stop by a shop in Westwood. I park in the parking lot and get out. I look for her and don’t see her. I hear a noise, so I look around my van and she’s squatting next to the wall peeing on the ground.

We go into the shop. She takes a few dresses into the changing room and tells me to come over. I stand outside the changing room and she pulls me inside. Lux completely undresses, gets in the clothes, asks me what I think, undresses, gets in more clothes, etc. That was super hot to me at the time and probably would be today.

She takes about $400 worth of clothes to the counter and tells the cashier she really has to pee. Cashier says sorry. Lux begs, so cashier relents and takes her into the back, but it’s too late. The damage is done. So she also buys a new pair of pants.

We’re back to her apartment, she answers a call and starts talking in a foreign language that I can’t place. Couldn’t even guess the continent. (Maybe Iran?) She’s very nervous and upset. She hangs up and tells me she has to go to her other apartment at the Wilshire Palisades. She asks me to go in with her.

We go into her apartment which is also completely beautiful and belongs only to her. This chick is some sort of rich heiress. She has a badass telescope that I start playing with. In the mirror, I see her open a safe and put something in her purse. She tells me we need to leave and asks me to take her to my apartment.

We go to my place and she instantly passes out. She stays like that for about 6 hours. When she wakes up, Lux wants Dairy Queen. It’s closed and she starts crying. I take her to Carl’s Jr. She gets a cheeseburger, a chili dog, cheese fries, and a sundae. We come home, she eats it and throws up. Passes out on my couch again. I read and go to sleep.

Next morning she asks if she can stay and watch TV. I tell her I have plans and need to take her home. She says she can’t go to either of her apartments. I tell her too bad, I have plans, and drop her off.

She called a few days later asking when we could see each other again.

I told her no.

 

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What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up Alcohol

Here’s how a substantial phase of sobriety could affect your immune system, sleep, and even your skin.

“Giving up drinking doesn’t make you live longer. It just makes it feel that way.” That’s one of my dad’s favorite quips should his consumption be brought into question. The truth is that however much you enjoy the taste of alcohol or the way it makes you feel, in almost all respects, it does bad things to your body and brain. I experienced firsthand the upgrades that can happen when you stop drinking for a while when I got in shape last spring. Granted, giving up booze was just one of the behavioral changes I made, but I couldn’t help thinking it was particularly significant one. Here’s what science has to say about that and other things that would likely happen to your body when you give up alcohol.

Your immune system will be more effective

Drinking too often and too much is closely associated with several immune-related health effects. What’s “too often” and “too much,” you slur? Well according to the National Institutes of Health, it’s more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week for men; and more than three drinks on any day or seven per week for women—figures that manage to be either sexist or bad math or possibly both.

On average, drinkers have a higher susceptibility to pneumonia and other respiratory disorders, a higher likelihood of getting complications and poor wound healing after surgery, a higher instance of sepsis and certain cancers to name a few. “[Giving up alcohol]…will strengthen your immune system and make it easier for your body to fight off infection,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietician with the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Kirkpatrick cites a 2015 study that showed that alcohol overexerts immune pathways, which in turn decreases the body’s ability to defend against a number of adverse invaders.

And you don’t get off lightly if you only go big every now and then. A study published in the journal Alcohol found that a single episode of binge alcohol intoxication leads to overexertion on the immune system and inflammation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. (Typically this happens when men consume five or more drinks or women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.) The good news is, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, your immune system’s response will buck itself up after you give up the sauce. “What’s not clear is how long it takes the body to strengthen after alcohol is taken out and what frequency of drinking relates to this decrease in immunity,” Kirkpatrick tells me.

You’ll eat less, or at least with more intention

According to a study in the journal Obesity, the drunk munchies may be due to alcohol heightening the senses. Researchers found that when people received an intravenous alcohol infusion equal to about two drinks, they ate 30 percent more food than those who received a saline solution. Their conclusion? Even mild intoxication can increase your brain activity in the hypothalamus, making you more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting you to eat more. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alcohol is often linked people overeating and having a poor diet.

You’ll sleep better

I go to a party, I have a few drinks, and before long I’m out of gas and ready for bed. I get home, zonk out immediately only to find that I’m wide awake at 5 AM and unable to get back to sleep. Sound familiar? “Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it slows down the body and naturally makes you sleepy,” Kirkpatrick explains, adding that booze is also associated with disrupted sleep because the body is working overtime to metabolize it. A few drinks will usually help you fall asleep quick but once you’ve metabolized it all, you’ll likely wake up or have a poorer quality of sleep.

A review of 27 studies backs up Kirkpatrick’s analysis that while booze may help people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it’s not a prescription for restful and recuperative shuteye. When people drink, their sleep gets fragmented, which means they wake up more often in their sleep rather than sleeping through the night, says Amarjot Surdhar, an addiction psychiatrist at Northwell Health. “People feel generalized fatigue and malaise the following day after heavy drinking,” he tells me, adding that a suppression, delay, and reduction of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is another way that you’re doing your brain a disservice. The REM sleep cycle is believed to stimulate the central nervous system, restore brain chemistry to a normal balance, and help us form new memories. If your REM sleep gets messed with, you’ll likely feel like crap the next day.

You’ll decrease your risk of getting certain types of cancer

In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. In particular, alcohol appears to increase the risk of head and neck cancers, esophageal cancers, liver cancers, breast cancer, and colorectal cancers. There’s also mounting evidence that booze is associated with increased risks of melanoma and of prostate and pancreatic cancers. Conversely, putting a plug in the jug can decrease those risks.

Quitting booze could impact fertility in women

While pretty much everyone’s on board with the idea that getting wasted when your baby is gestating inside you is like, not cool, alcohol’s effect on fertility is less talked about. In one Danish study, the alcohol consumption of healthy women who were trying to conceive was monitored. Booze was measured in standard servings: 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and 14 or more units per week. Women in the highest alcohol consumption group (14 units or more per week) had 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles, and those who did not drink had 1,381 pregnancies in 8,054 cycles. These figures equate to an 18 percent decrease in the probability that the women who drank more would conceive.

The study’s authors note that the consumption of fewer than 14 servings of alcohol per week seemed to have “no discernible effect on fertility.”

And decrease the likelihood of damaged or malformed sperm in men

A 2017 study found that while alcohol didn’t alter sperm density, it did increase the production of sperm with particularly large heads containing potentially damaged DNA. Authors of that study recommended that “men who plan to father children stop drinking alcohol at least three months before engaging in sexual intercourse that may lead to pregnancy.”

That rec might seem a little drastic since research has shown that it’s heavy alcohol consumption that can significantly affect sperm quality, says Michael Reitano, New York City-based urologist and physician-in-residence at men’s health startup Roman. Small quantities of alcohol can indeed have some effect on the shape of sperm but many large studies have determined that moderate alcohol consumption does not affect fertility, he tells me.

Your skin will likely look better

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee out more liquid than if you drank water. Pissing in double time prevents your body from extracting water from urine in the kidneys. The result? Dry skin that can appear lusterless or ashy. “A moderate drinker will most likely not see a detrimental impact on their skin from having a drink once in a while,” Kirkpatrick says, but cautions that that excessive drinking is can lead to the desertification of your face. What’s more, booze also decreases the body’s production of an antidiuretic hormone called vasopressin, which helps the body reabsorb water. Cut the drinking out or down and you’ll improve your skin’s appearance in short order, she says.

 

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