SUZANNE HARRINGTON: I’m an alcoholic, but my kids do the drinking

AS all you moderate drinkers continue to enjoy what the ‘Daily Mash’ calls your “pretend battle with drink” — that is, Dry January — you’ll forgive all of us actual alcoholics for feeling smug, writes Suzanne Harrington

We have so got this. Not only January, but February to December, too. We prefer the word ‘sober’, because ‘dry’ implies what most of you — three days from February — are probably now feeling: a bit twitchy. You are gagging for that warm, alcoholic glow, which you will never get from Diet Coke or those pointless 0% beers; fantasising about that delicious glass of Pinot, before popping three-quarters of the bottle back in the fridge to enjoy another day. You incomprehensible freaks.

The unofficial day for hitting the fuck-it button is January 20, although the difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic hitting this button can be anything from a slight headache to an actual jail sentence for events we don’t remember. The non-alcoholics who don’t make it to the end of January might experience mild disappointment, when recounting to friends and colleagues that they haven’t quite succeeded this year. Oh, well. Never mind. It’s not like you’ve got a mystery black eye, or can’t find your car. For the first time in years, Dry January has been a bit damp in our house. While not personally diving into a vat of anything stronger than tea — I go to meetings for that — my teenage dependents have discovered the joys of fermentation. And I don’t mean kombucha. I hear an unmistakably clinky noise when the 17-year-old opens her sock drawer. My blood freezes. Amid the socks are a dozen empty bottles of genuinely terrible wine, an empty half-litre of cheap vodka, empty beer bottles.

“Oh, my god,” I shriek. “Not you, as well?” She looks at me in pity, as she explains how every time her excitable teenage mates come over for an evening’s hilarity, after they have drunk the worst wine in existence, in deference to my alcoholism they place their empties in her sock drawer. “In case we trigger you,” she says magnanimously. They don’t put their empties in the recycling, because they think (a) the sight of all those bottles might make me want to rush to the off-licence and (b) I’d judge them for choosing quantity over quality.

I explain that alcoholics will drink any old crap, which renders (b) irrelevant, and how going to meetings takes care of (a). She empties her sock drawer of everything except socks, and we smile in mutual relief. That is until the previously teetotal 14-year-old arrives home swaying slightly, and recounting how he has been playing a drinking game. ‘A drinking game’? I shriek. ‘With alcohol’? He nods. ‘With rum’, he says proudly. ‘Who are you, Long John Silver’? I shriek again, but he doesn’t get the reference. ‘You’re 14’, I tell him. ‘You can’t drink rum’.

‘You’re an alcoholic’, he says. ‘You can’t drink anything’.


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