We currently have a thread kicking arse on Strive called “To Pub or Not to Pub.”
That is the question.
I wanted to share some of the fantastic insights with you because I believe it’s a crucial conversation we need to have if we are going to be someone that doesn’t drink alcohol.
The question raised is this - should we spend time in the pub if we want to be someone that doesn’t drink alcohol, we’ve not had a drink for 17 days, and we have been in a state of alcohol/non-alcohol flux for close to a decade?
Never under-estimate our environment.
Read the works of Charles Duhigg in the Power of Habit, James Clear in Atomic Habits, Maia Szalavitz in Unbroken Brain and Brian Wansink in Mindless Eating, and you will learn how instrumental our environment is in addiction. I would go as far as to say it’s heroin’s equivalent of the hypodermic needle.
Strive, Ambassador Julian, nailed it for me, in this response.
“I like to think of pubs as equivalents to the opium dens of old. They are drug dens. Even though I don’t take opium, if I knew I wasn’t going to be triggered, I could go to an opium den to hang out, and to meet people, but it certainly wouldn’t be my social venue of choice. It’s a drug den. As soon as my friend lies down, and takes the opium, there’s not a lot of point me staying. My friend will be gone with the drug. As mild as his intoxication is, he will still not be him fully. If he only wanted to meet me in the opium den, I would have to question him about the direction of our friendship.”
If you want to be someone that doesn’t drink alcohol and are frequently triggered, and find it challenging to make the transition, then steer clear of places that serve alcohol. I know this is challenging because so many places serve alcohol these days, but a pub does one thing, and that’s to sell you a drug - the drug that you are addicted to.
Striver Phil says.
“Whatever your views are on the whole pub/no pub debate, I see them as excellent opportunities to reprogram our brains. The more we can go in them, not drink booze and still have a good experience with our friends/family, this will give us extra armour outside.”
I like Phil’s viewpoint here, and I agree that for some of us, being in this most challenging environment can help build up our armour, and increase our hope that we can do this. However, I want to add a caveat, that for people struggling to become someone that doesn’t drink alcohol, then the resistance will be strong. Strive, Ambassador, Doug, reminds us in the same thread that it’s easier to drink than not, and resistance thrives on this. As addicts, we will do anything to get our fix, and this means sticking with the path of least resistance, and staying in the pub achieves this purpose.
Are We Missing The Point?
There is no experience that you can have in a pub that you can’t replicate elsewhere. When you apply rational, logical thinking, this truth is blindingly apparent.
So why go to the pub?
It’s going to be different for everyone, but I want to opine that for most of us, it’s to connect (notwithstanding the #1 reason, and that’s to get our fix).
Add a sprinkling of rational thinking, and it’s crystal that we don’t need to meet our friends in a pub. People don’t exist solely in pubs. Even landlords leave every once in a while, although the dogs may stay.
Therefore, part of the equation has to be replacing the pub (the environment) with a new environment where you can meet your friends (the connection).
Now comes the challenging part, and the one that will present a significant hurdle, for most.
For us to move our friends to the new environment, we need to do some explaining, and that terrifies us. Explaining our addiction, and why we can’t go to the pub has so many layers of complexity. But if you explain how much you cherish your connections, and suggest that you continue your relationship, but in a different environment - ask yourself this question - what friend is not going to have empathy with that situation and will then work with you to find a solution?
And if they don’t?
You’ve found out that they go to the pub to drink, not to spend time with you.