Sunday Guest Blog by Maz Compton. 'Vodka with a Twist of Cancer.'
Imagine this scenario.
We sit down together at a table. A Harry Styles playlist on in background, dried flower arrangement in the middle of the table and a glass in front you. It’s a drink. It looks enticing, it looks refreshing, the garnish is crisp, the glass is beautiful. It’s yours to drink but of course there’s a catch. The liquid in this glass has been scientifically proven to increase your cancer risk.
But you can drink if it you want to....
Would you take the drink?
This is the predicament you face every time you have alcohol. You see, alcohol is a known carcinogen in humans, when ingested it can increase your risk of several types of cancer. Yet somehow, most people have missed the memo and use alcohol as a multi tool of coping with life stuff. You know a long day, a great day, a weekend, or a wedding. You don’t order a vodka with a twist of cancer, a more realistic order, and this isn’t new news, this is old news buried by mood evoking marketing, sports sponsorship, and aspirational advertising. But the truth is, alcohol is not good for human consumption. And this is good to know, when we know better, we can do better.
The Canadian Government recently updated its alcohol consumption guidelines to reflect the toxicity of alcohol, the new guidelines state that less than 2 drinks per week, and preferably zero alcoholic drinks a week keep a person in the low-risk category for cancers and negative health. Zero drinks are ideal. That’s the new normal. That’s the benchmark.
So, what happens if you drink a bottle of red every night like I used to? Well, now is your chance to do something great for future you and reframe your relationship with alcohol. Alcohol doesn’t work. It isn’t beneficial, it only leads to heightened anxiety, negative health effects, bloating, blotchiness, hangovers, and heartache. Maybe it’s time to find another way to wind down. And there are plenty, we just don’t talk about them. A drink is acceptable and accessible but its time to call last drinks team because alcohol is wreaking havoc in your body.
Eight years ago, before I knew how much damage alcohol was causing my body, I drank a lot. How much is a lot? Like a bottle of wine, a night, sometimes a tad more. I drank because I was unable to deal with the big life stuff that had hit me hard in my late twenties and early thirties. A hugely successful media career (which was amazing but left me with immense Imposter Syndrome), a divorce, moving cities for job opportunities, being single and socially anxious. I struggled to keep up, so I drank to unwind.
Nothing crazy happened. I didn’t wake up with a tattoo on my face, or a tiger in my lounge room like The Hangover, but one day in September 2014 I woke up, and that day my friend Mark suddenly died. He had a heart attack. To manage the grief, I drank myself into a spiral and eventually I googled ‘am I am alcoholic?’
This wasn’t super helpful but through this time of self-assessment I felt I needed to change the way I was trying to cope with life. I realised that drinking away the evenings just wasn’t working for me anymore, so I decided to stop drinking for a month. And I haven’t had a drink since.
Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
What I have discovered about myself, the life I have curated that I love, the clarity, the ability to feel and process feelings, is only possible because I decided to call last drinks for myself. Sobriety gave me everything alcohol promised.
I didn’t do an In and Out List this year but if I did it would look like:
Red wine lips
For me sobriety started as a month-long self-experiment just to see how things would look without the haze of a hangover or the blur of some beer goggles. It was a tricky month to navigate the social events in my diary, and I felt super awkward socially without a beer in my hand. So, I grabbed a water instead and moonwalked out of the party as the sun set, knowing my alarm was set for sunrise so I could win the morning, rather than try to remember the night. At some point, things started to feel clearer, I felt calmer, I loved my mornings hard, and I just kinda kept going.
My intention each day, and it still is today, is to navigate it all without alcohol, the good, the terrible and everything in between. And I am doing, and trust me if I can get sober, anyone can get sober. But you are the only person that can make that choice.
All I know is this, a t some point, alcohol tricked me into thinking it was the solution, when in fact it was problematic. So, I changed my relationship with it.
The sobriety movement is gaining traction, and rightly so. A growing community of people are discovering sobriety is do-able, beneficial and can lead to your best days. If you are sober curious and wondering how to navigate life without alcohol at everything, you can listen to Last Drinks podcast where I have chats with people about their last drink and how to thrive without alcohol. You can also listen to my personal Last Drinks story in Episode 40 of the podcast.
A huge shout out to Maz for writing this piece for Cuppa! You can listen to her amazing podcast and follow her story via the links -
@mazcompton on Instagram @lastdrinkspod on Instagram facebook.com/mrsmazcompton