Thank you all so much for the wonderful messages you left me on my Soberversary - I was totally overwhelmed. You're all amazing.
It's very easy to feel alone when you quit drinking.
It seems as if everybody else on the planet is quite happily sipping on a glass or two of wine a night, then stopping, without suffering any ill effects.
We, with our defective off-switches and hidden obsessions, feel like outcasts.
It doesn't help that the prevailing wisdom is that alcohol use is perfectly safe for the vast majority of people.
Only a poor, miserable handful, we're told, have a disease called 'alcoholism', and they must never drink. For everyone else, it's a sophisticated hobby. Chin chin!
Well, I came across two articles this week which have made me realise that we really are not alone, and we are not a tiny, sad minority.
The first was mailed to me by my friend J. It's an article in The Independent, headlined 'What the Five Most Addictive Substances on the Planet do to Your Brain'. Here's a link to the full article.
This article is based on research done in 2007 by Professor Nutt (I've quoted his well regarded, but largely ignored, study before).
Nutt's research showed that heroin is the most addictive drug available today. It increases dopamine levels in the brain by up to 200%, and only five times the level required to get you high will kill you.
Fair enough. Could have guessed that.
However, the next most addictive drug, more so than crack cocaine, barbiturates and nicotine is alcohol.
Studies showed that alcohol increased dopamine levels in the brains of laboratory animals by up to 350%, and the more the animals drank the more dopamine levels increased.
According to this research 22% of people who drink alcohol will develop dependence. That's nearly one in four people. Certainly not just a small, unfortunate handful.
The same point was reinforced by the second article, in the Evening Standard, headlined: NHS hospital hires Priory addiction expert to tackle rise in women drinkers.
Here's a quote: The hospital (St Helier) saw a near doubling of alcohol-related admissions of women aged 30-49 as part of a drink epidemic sweeping the capital.
So don't feel alone. Don't feel like you're different, that you were dealt a horribly bad card and that life isn't fair. There are millions of people in exactly the same boat as us, it's just that we're the ones clever enough to see it!
(And if you do feel lonely, just pop on here for a virtual hug).
Happy, sober Friday everyone!