Christmas is just around the corner and we are officially in party season.
I’ve noticed some magazines also call this time of year ‘hangover season’, which would explain the sudden rush of articles with headlines like:
How To Hide Your Hangover At The Office (And Look Flawless)
Tried And Tested Hangover Preventions And Cures That Actually Work
11 Things To Buy For When You’re Hungover But Need The World To Think Otherwise
Even this month’s edition of Women’s Health magazine has a feature in it about ‘hangover elixirs’. These are juices that will – apparently – perk you up ‘when your liver and gag reflex require a little repair and restoration.’
(Interestingly, this is the same magazine that dedicates serious column inches to the benefits of detoxes, chemical-free beauty products and eating ‘clean and lean’.)
I find these ‘hangover cure’ articles problematic for several reasons.
Firstly, it’s wrong to imply that you can chug back as much as you like and outsmart a hangover. It really doesn’t matter what fancy juices you drink, or how expensive your make up is – if you’re hungover, you’re hungover. You’ll feel like crap (and probably look like it too).
Whilst there are things you can do to try and ease the pain and dehydration, ultimately you’ve consumed a toxic liquid – so you’re bound to feel awful. It’s misleading to imply anything else. As the NHS website says, “There are no cures for a hangover. The best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink.”
This kind of journalism glosses over the fact that alcohol is a toxin. And if you’re drinking so much that you feel ill, or blackout, or fall over, then you’re really damaging yourself.
These articles also imply that the best way – in fact, the only way – to celebrate Christmas is to get drunk. Really drunk.
If you’re going to party properly, then alcohol MUST be consumed, to excess. This is the bit I find particularly confusing.
For most of the year, it’s NOT ok to get really wasted. We frown on people who repeatedly drink too much, make a scene and can’t ‘stay in control’. Drunks are bad – you know that, right? And yet … on special occasions, it’s perfectly ok to drink shot after shot until you’re unable to remember what happened the night before. In fact, memory loss is a sign of a good night!
We have such a hypocritical, contradictory and confusing attitude towards alcohol, it’s no wonder people struggle to work out whether they have a problem.
We’re forever glossing over the truth about booze: the broken promises, the memory loss, the judgement and shame the morning after.
And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the pictures used to illustrate these kind of articles rarely show anyone who is genuinely drunk or hungover. The models are always sipping glamorous cocktails, looking confident and in control. Or ‘recovering’ by sleeping peacefully in bed. (No make up smeared all over the pillow for them.) It’s a far cry from how I looked when drunk, or the morning after.
I think it’s important to talk about this stuff, particularly at this time of year, when it’s so very easy to fall for the hype. It’s tempting to tell yourself that ‘everyone’ is drinking loads right now; that it’s the only way to have fun; that those hangover cures really do work… And that this time, it will be different.
So over the next few weeks, just remember … these articles are selling a lifestyle that doesn’t really exist.
It’s not possible to drink to excess and getaway with it.
Alcohol always catches up with you in the end. If you want to wake up feeling good, positive (and able to remember everything about the night before!) then sober is the way to go. Trust me. Sobriety rocks. Really, it does.
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Thank you so much for this! My dad convinced me to join, and I am so glad I did!!!!
I have not had a drink now for 6 months, and I am so greatfull for your blogs as I am dreading Christmas. The hardest thing for me will be people drinking around me, and not having the usual glass or two of Baileys .
I’ve been trying to find an alcohol free recipe, but haven’t found one as yet.
Last week I went to my first AA meeting, I hope to find some like minded people, mutual support would be good.
Thanks for all of your great blogs
I spent last year’s holiday season- which included a family wedding- sober and i just feel like you should know that it was still a lot of fun. My family drinks a lot and we love to play games and hang out and i did those things just with a glass of tea, or water or a diet coke in hand instead of alcohol. And the bottom line is that it was still fun and it is one of the only holidays in years that i remember ALL of it. Be strong and party on, girl friend. There are SO many ways to have fun that do not include alcohol. I believe you will see more and more of them over time.
Thank you Leesa, I will enjoy it I’m sure, and I know that I will feel great to have enjoyed it sober. I am going to buy some mocktails and some Rochester ginger. Happy Christmas x
I agree with your comments. It is totally socially sanctioned to poison ourselves with alcohol on “special” occasions, yet not on others. This is only day 16 of sober me, but I think the hardest part isn’t the not drinking (I feel much better physically not putting that stuff into my body), it’s the reactions from others and trying to figure out where I fit in now since I am no longer in that club. I still have friends telling me to “just control it” when I tell them I have quit wine completely. That’s a whole other problem: the idea that we should all be able to achieve a perfect balance of intoxication– never “fall-down drunk”, always nicely buzzed. I just found that pretty hard to achieve on a consistent basis. No surprise there, since alcohol is pretty addictive stuff after all! Anyway, thanks for your comments and ideas… food for thought, for sure!
I found it easiest with friends to let them know in advance of seeing them on a social occasion (e.g. book group, a party) about what I was doing. I could explain what and why so I didn’t have to field a ton of questions from everyone and could just get on with the socializing. I’m on Day 33.
So true…the hypocrisy of looking down on alcoholics but if you don’t drink at a party that’s seen as unusual. I’ve been both places (sober for a little over two years) and sober is WAAAY better. Sure sometimes it seems like a drink would be nice to have, like everyone else. But it was destroying my life. Totally not worth losing my family over it. And to anyone out there struggling, it does get easier, much easier, with time. If it’s hard to be around everyone else drinking, just avoid it. I still do. Just easier that way.
I am so glad to get these posts! Every single thing you write is spot on and i connect with it all! The holidays are about celebrating and having fun but you can’t do that is you are hungover and feel like crap! Thank you so much for all your posts they help so much!
Thanks Kate. Looking forward to this blogs to get through the silly season. Never thought about it before, why some refer to this time of year as the silly season (not sure if you have heard this saying) but I think your blog says it all!
This is my second Christmas sober and its honestly the best desicion I’ve ever made. Jennie, if want a nice warming drink, try Rochester alcohol free ginger with tonic it’s so lovely. Happy alcohol free Christmas everyone xx
Thank you Jayne, I will, I love ginger. Happy Christmas x
Three and a half months sober now and I am absolutely dreading Christmas, I’m going to three Christmas occasions this weekend and really don’t know how I will get through them, I haven’t been out socially since I gave up so three parties in one weekend….. not good. Not looking forward to all the question’s, I know everyone is going to frown on this but I was thinking of having a sociable few but I don’t know if I want to or not, one half of my head is saying what harm can a few do and the other is telling me I’m mad to be even considering it, at one he’ll of a cross road at the moment. Dreading festive season for the first time in my life. Feel like I will be letting people down no matter what I do.
At 3 months I would avoid any situations where you might be tempted, or feel pressured to drink. It’s much easier to stay stopped than try and start over. One dumb party isn’t worth throwing away what you’ve done over the last three months – which is quite an accomplishment!
Hello all. I’m newly sober as well – a little over two weeks – and I truly appreciate the supportive comments and insights shared on this website. I’ve also read several books in the last two weeks that have helped enormously! In no particular order, they are
-Drinking: A Love Story
-Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
-Seven Days Sober
It’s a strange new world for me – I’m a 48 year-old American woman recently moved to London (city of pubs) and suddenly I’ve found myself needing to make this change – after 30 years of social drinking that was starting to get out of hand. I’ve had mixed reactions to my decision, and I still feel vulnerable and a bit doubtful of my ability to stick to it, but my intention is to remain sober indefinitely. I like the feeling.
But speaking more specifically about the ‘silly season’ has anyone else noticed how many greeting cards make reference to booze??? I didn’t actually count them (I was in a shop yesterday looking for a 50th birthday card for a friend) but I’m guessing it’s a huge percentage. It alarmed me, because I’m newly alert to the myriad ways in which we’re encouraged to ‘bond’ through drinking. I’m sorry to say I’ve bought such cards in the past – and laughed at the clever ones, but now I see it as just one more way in which we are all encouraged to celebrate drinking and all the myths surrounding it.
This is the perfect post that I needed to see today. I am hungover today and feeling terrible. I’ve been trying to abstain from alcohol because I know it’s not a good thing for me to have in my life. I have anxiety and notice that when I drink I really have a rough, emotional day afterward. I’m a mom of two young children, yesterday was a long, rainy day and I drank too much wine. I knew exactly what I was doing, trying to numb my feelings and escape the dreary day. Today I am emotional, exhausted, and have a terrible headache. There is no cure for a hangover and it is a big fat reminder as to why I don’t want drinking to be a regular part of my life anymore. Thank you for your posts.
I am on a long journey of trying to give up the demon drink. I can stop for a few weeks, love the way I feel but then it always lures me back in and before I know it I’m back to horror hangover days spent crying in bed, disgusted with myself. I am now wondering, now my work Xmas do is looming, if I should enforce a 3 drink limit when it’s special occasions or whether I’d be best off stopping it completely once and for all…hate feeling like this. Think I’ve got my answer!
I found that I was always battling with myself in a similar way to you Elizabeth. For me it’s all or nothing. If you choose to quit completely as I have, you may feel as I do, a huge relief. No more mind battles with yourself, I found it exhausting.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do. Have a good Christmas
Thank you Jennie, I have made a decision today NOT to drink at my work do and have even promised to give one of my friends from work a lift home after the party so I have to stick to it…AND I have also promised to take my little niece to the panto the next day so I know I won’t let her down. Yes, the whole thing is exhausted. I think I need to look into new things to do with my time, new hobbies may be the way forward! You have a good Christmas too xx
Help I can’t do it !’