Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A Never Drinker's Perspective

One of the main reasons I write about my sobriety is because it seems it has a butterfly effect on others. Occasionally I've shared my blog with people I think might be interested. Last week I was emailing back and forth with a mate of mine and I remembered he had mentioned when he visited last he didn't drink alcohol. I didn't ask him about it at the time, but it stayed in the back of my mind. His response was more than interesting. It turns out he has never drunk alcohol - ever. But alcohol has loomed large at times in his life, touching the lives of those around him. I asked him if I could use his thoughts on booze because I thought his perspective on it all could be valuable to a great many people.

As I head past five months' sober I am finding reading about the experience of others hugely valuable.

So here it is, practically in its entirety. Let me know what you think. 


I was planning on replying to your note today and woke to hear you had another earthquake in the 'hood. No fun in that and I hope all is well with you. 

But the real reason for writing was to let you know I've read every line of your blog and I am very impressed. You are a terrific writer and it's interesting how you can make your words both personal and educational at the same time.

We both come from a culture that is blessed and cursed with alcohol; blessed because it can be a social convener, but cursed because it can be a massive limiter to one's personal growth. You explained how alcohol is used by people to allow them to be comfortable in their own skin during social interaction. However, conversely, alcohol limits their ability to overcome that discomfort, as it can be used as a crutch. Some people use the crutch throughout their lives and don't even know that they are doing it.

A well known alcoholic ... said the wisest words on this topic for me when he said, "People look at alcohol as the problem, but alcoholics look at alcohol as the solution". Those words really opened my eyes as to why people drink to the extreme and I feel bad for them.

I have had a lifetime of sobriety among a cadre of heavy drinkers. I am the most popular designated driver on the planet. I spent all my younger days in pubs seven nights a week, drinking orange juice that I'm sure most people thought was vodka and orange. I was a shy person by nature, but was dragged into all the drunken carousing by being part of the gang. The beauty was that I could act like I was drunk, and have great fun but, as you mentioned, the morning after was solid for me. 

Not drinking did bring extra responsibilities, such as cleaning off my friends' suits of vomit before we took them home to their parents, fishing false teeth out of toilets, breaking up fights between friends (who wouldn't remember the scuffle the next day) and all-in-all being a sober eye when things went awry. The problem was that I was too immature to see that my friends were self-harming and some, as I mentioned before, died way before their time and I miss them.

I have no idea why I did not drink; my father drank every day, but I only saw him drunk once. After I left for [the country I would settle] my younger brother became an alcoholic, but thankfully has been sober for approximately 35 years. Interestingly, when I arrived ... people assumed that, because I didn't drink, I must have a drinking problem

There were many times when I was working in a high stress job, where I would come home to [my wife] and say "today is a day that I wish I was a drinker!". But innately I knew that alcohol was not going to solve my problems - the problems were tough enough for a sober mind.

Here's a mantra that my mother used when I would whine about how the world was mistreating me. I have made it my own and I use it to give myself a head shake when I am wallowing in self pity. It's part of a longer poem that you can get on the web - written probably a hundred years or more ago, but it resonates big time for me!

"Don't look for the flaws as you go through life,
And, even if you find them,
Be wise and kind, and somewhat blind,
And look for the virtues behind them."

And that's my sermon of the day. Keep right on writing on!

Best to you and the lovely tribe.


  1. I love this and thanks so much to your friend for sharing. This is the life I want for my children and I am going to do everything in my power to make it possible for them to 'never drink' Your friend is very wise and perhaps subconsciously knew those first few glasses could mean a life he did not want. Very powerful so thanks.

  2. What an interesting guy. I love the lines of his poem at the end too, I'll try and memorise that. It is so rare to grow up in our culture and to never even try alcohol. I wonder where his innate wisdom came from, to know at a young age that it was not for him. Perhaps his father's daily drinking? perhaps never seeing him drunk, therefore making him wonder what the point of it is, to spend money and have a daily habit that seemed a bit redundant? It's interesting because some are put off by the bad behaviour of parents, though many end up with drinking problems themselves regardless. Here is a parent who was obviously hooked on his daily consumption but presumably behaved normally. I guess a kid could easily observe this as a ridiculous waste of time.