Day 108, and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO KAGS who made 100 days yesterday! Kags has been with me since the beginning, and since she quit drinking has found a whole new life and a gorgeous new puppy. You rock, Kags.
I've become increasingly interested in the theory of 'cross addiction'. This is partly because I get loads of e-mails and comments from people who talk about becoming addicted to sugar, and partly because I know I'm developing new obsessions of my own.
Here's what Veronica Valli has to say in her book 'Why you drink and how to stop.'
Once you are addicted to one substance you can be addicted to all.....(alcohol addicts) recognise they have a drinking problem and manage to stop. But then the emotions and feelings they always had, that they used alcohol to escape from, are still there, and they are forced to find other chemicals or behaviours to deal with them.
Valli then cites a fascinating study of obese gastric band patients. It was found that they often suffer from 'addiction transference'. Because they usually don't deal with the underlying psychological issues which led to them overeating, once they can no longer gorge on food they frequently develop addictions to other substances - like alcohol.
So the sugar addicts become alcohol addicts, and we alcohol addicts become sugar addicts! It's like an addicts version of Freaky Friday.
Funnily enough, looking back, I realise that my alcohol consumption really took off in my early thirties, after I managed to quit my twenty-to-forty a day cigarette habit. In my twenties my hands and mouth were far too occupied with smoking to drink too much!
And now, when I get the familiar squirming knot of anxiety in my stomach (which, thank goodness, happens much less frequently now I'm sober) I still feel the need to shove something in my mouth (no rude jokes please).
I'm sure there's something deeply Freudian about this, linked to long buried memories of breastfeeding for comfort. In any case, we have spent decades conditioning ourselves to self medicate against any negative emotion with a hand to mouth action.
And that's why it feels so natural to reach for something like chocolate. Plus sugar, like alcohol, stimulates the 'pleasure receptors' in the brain.
I've tried super hard to avoid 'using' sugar too much, but I've developed other addictions instead.
If I'm stressed about something I head straight for the fridge and, depending on the time of day, go for either a Diet Coke or an AF beer (or water if I'm feeling guilty about overdoing it with those). I drink WAY more fluids than any normal person needs, so am constantly running to the loo.
Actually, I'm starting to worry about my reliance on AF beer. I've begun checking how much I have in the fridge, and even running out to the shops for an emergency stockpile. I consciously limit myself to no more than 3 small bottles a day. It's all behaviour I find horribly familiar...
My other addiction is this blog. I keep meaning to cut down the number of times I post to 2 or 3 a week, like most 'normal' bloggers, but if I don't write my morning post I get all angsty. I was out all day on Monday, leaving home at 7am, so I woke up at 5am to write my post before I left!
I also check my blog stats obsessively, which really irritates the husband and kids. I get super excited when I get readers in a new country - like Oman, Antigua or Ukraine. I love counting page views - 63,000 since I started three months ago. Is that a lot? No idea.
In August we're doing our annual jaunt to Cornwall for a buckets-spades-surfing-and-no-wifi holiday. In the past I've loved this as it keeps #2 away from Minecraft for a good long stretch, but now I'm already starting to panic about how I'm going to manage without the blog.
Lucy Rocca (founder of Soberistas) often talks about how she took up running obsessively once she stopped drinking, which is a really great way to channel your addiction, and to relieve stress. Plus, running releases endorphins, so gives us that high we crave.
I know I should try something like that rather than sitting hunched over the laptop wondering why my wine belly isn't disappearing any faster.
I'm assuming, and hoping, that as I get more used to dealing with all the raw emotions that I've drowned out (literally) for years, my need to 'self medicate' with something else will ease off.
My advice to anyone starting on this journey is to be aware of cross addictions.
Don't beat yourself up too much if you need a crutch like sugar initially, but try to channel your obsessions towards something like exercise rather than just chocolate!
I do feel like I'm on a constant merry-go-round of addiction followed by restriction, but at least blogging and AF drinks are healthier than alcohol and nicotine, so I'm plodding in the right direction ;-)
Hugs to you all,