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How Much Is Too Much?

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

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They say every journey starts with a first step...


Well, I’m not sure who ‘they’ think they are, but maybe they should mind their own business and stop trying to be so bloody clever.


Because ‘they’ are wrong. Every journey does not start with a first step.


And I should know, I’ve been on more journeys, made more missteps, and taken more wrong turns than most.


Perhaps that’s why the first step is so hard, maybe this is why so many of us (myself included) fall at the first hurdle: Because we put too much pressure on ourselves.


But what if we thought about it differently?


That brave, bold decision we make (or struggle with) to change our relationship with alcohol is obviously a vital calling-point on that path to living the life we all bloody-well deserve.

However, it all starts…. with a question.


Riddle me this...


Actually, if you’re anything like me, it all started with a weapons-grade hangover. But once you’ve stared into the bottom of the toilet with blurry, tear-stained vision, downed the painkillers, dragged yourself off the sofa and plucked up the courage to go through your phone... The question will arise.


“Do I have a problem?”


Those five devilish words cut a shivering chill through many a hangover sweat over the years.

In those brief, crippling moments of clarity, I knew deep down that, yes, I probably did have an extremely unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Yes, I whispered to myself, I probably did need to address it.


But just as the genie was being released from the sobriety lamp to grant me the life I’d always wished for, I’d shoo it back inside.


I’d hide myself in a rabbit-warren of YouTube videos, seek reassurances from friends and colleagues, scour the internet for books and articles…


...anything to reassure me that I most certainly did not have a problem.


And then, by the evening of the day after the night before, I would settle on the sofa with a soothing glass of red, comfortable within my house of lies that I, officially, did. Not. Have. A. Drink. Problem.


So next weekend, I could do it all over again.


What’s your problem?


Now, you know we love a bit of controversy here at Over the Influence, so let’s pull the pin on this truth grenade straight away.


I’m not here to tell you whether or not you’ve got a drink problem. In fact, I can’t.


I can only tell you what I know, and what I learned from years of trying my hardest to fuck up the best opportunities of my life.


I do not believe I’m an alcoholic.


In 20 years of drinking, alcohol never caused me to take one trip to the hospital, or the police station.


Some of the funniest moments that my closest friends and I will laugh about until the day we die happened when we’d had a few drinks.


But...


The scariest, saddest, darkest, stupidest, most regretful moments of my life all happened - directly or indirectly - because of alcohol.


So, did I have a problem with alcohol?


Or did I have a problem with life? And was mistakenly trying to fix it with alcohol? Like when you realise your house is on fire, and you try to extinguish it with brandy.

(or I call it, ‘Bennett family Christmas ‘98’)


I have no problem with alcohol, I bear it no grudge, in fact I love it a little too much. But I really got into trouble when I started to rely on it to fix my problems.


The solution you seek...


So, if you have come here seeking guidance as to whether or not you have a drinking problem, I’d encourage you to ask a different question.


See, you don’t have to have a ‘problem’ to want to make positive changes in your life.


Ask it not, “Do I need to stop drinking?”


But, “What need to happen for me to really start living?”


And if that voice is telling you there are changes you want to make, or things you want to achieve, or places you want to visit, or books you want to write, or races you want to run, or people you want to love (and that includes yourself, by the way) ...


...but you’ve found it difficult to do those things…


Then why not take a step away from the booze from a little while.


Let other people talk about who has or hasn’t got a problem.


You focus on giving yourself the right solution.


And then let the sparks fly.

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