One of my first posts referred to me being epileptic (read about it here) and how I decided to give up drinking as a result – the thinking being that by removing the impact that alcohol has on my physical health, I’m prevented from further fits.

To be more precise, most people struggle for rest after a big night out. While the hangover may go, you are inherently tired. While I don’t understand the scientific reason for this (and if someone does, please let me know in the comments below), my thinking is that because your body is dehydrated from the drinking that has taken place, it uses up other resources and nutrients within the body to try to make up for it.

So, I gave up drinking alcohol. When I first posted about it, I was 10 weeks into sobriety – I am now heading into 19 weeks without a drink (actually, it’s 19 weeks tomorrow). Obviously, it’s too hard to remove it from your food, given the flavours that different alcohols provide to the dish. While I have lost weight and feel physically better, I didn’t anticipate it to have the emotional and mental effects that it has had.

I’ve found myself in a situation where I cannot handle going out for drinks anymore. I can’t just stand in a pub holding a Diet Coke while I’m surrounded by people slowly (or quickly, depending on the person/people) getting drunker. To socialise in this setting is a real challenge for me, as the only people at a similar level to me were the bartenders – and to be honest, the bartenders and the security guards have got bigger things to worry about than a miserable sober person. While some will say that I should go and pick up, it’s a lot easier said than done. Given my self esteem is hovering somewhere around the centre of the earth (i.e. negative), such a thing isn’t going to happen unless I find myself in a venue where there are women with even lower self esteems than I.

This means that if I want to socialise while around alcohol, I need to be going out and DOING something (get your minds out of the gutter, people!).

That’s not a bad thing. I can go out to dinner with friends, I can go to the movies, I can watch a show, check out a comedy performance, watch sports – I just need a purpose for going out.

Having said that, going out to watch sport only works if I’m emotionally involved with the club(s) in question.

What I’ve discovered (and many many media outlets and social commentators have said in the past) is that our society is one that is based on the consumption of alcohol. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but it concerns me that the Australian people are being, for want of a better term, indoctrinated into the consumption of alcohol as a normal part of society. It is particularly the case in sport where many semi-professional sports clubs cannot survive without their bar takings (this is more of a problem in Western Australia where poker machines have not proliferated at anywhere near the rate that is seen in the rest of Australia).

If Australians want to catch up, the question is usually “Do you want to go for a drink?”, far more often than “Catch up for a coffee?”. Having said that, this might be my experience rather than others, so I’d be intrigued to hear your views.

Obviously, there are many physical and social problems associated with the consumption of alcohol and I’ll have more to say on this topic in the future relating to the various social problems that have recently become a massive discussion in the media, but I go back to my point – Australian culture seems designed around the consumption of alcohol.

While I will freely admit that I was a willing participant in this culture, it is extremely difficult to convince myself to go out without finding a purpose.

Fortunately, my friends are extremely supportive of me and are understanding which makes it easier.

So to those who are wanting to help a sober friend and to those who are sober and plan to remain sober – even those who are doing Febfast, Dry July, Ocsober, etc – you can get through it, you will get through it, you just need to work out how you want to entertain yourself.

I’m interested in your thoughts.