So we're still a couple of months off the official start to the festive season and Macmillan’s sober-for-october is well underway. With smoking cigarettes becoming increasingly socially unacceptable year-on-year, why is repeatedly downing a poisonous liquid with friends every weekend still considered the social norm?
I quit alcohol 4 and a half years ago. I didn't set out with the intention of never drinking again - initially the point of me taking a break from alcohol was to make my skin better. Permanent sobriety just sort of happened. After my first month off the booze I realised every myth I'd allowed myself to believe surrounding the importance of alcohol in my life, was false. I did not need it to have a good time, I did not need it to feel confident and actually in truth, I did not really like the taste.
Prior to my break from alcohol I'd been drinking pretty much daily since my time at university. That's 15 years of continuous drinking. I didn't always drink to get drunk, sometimes it would be as little as a glass of wine with dinner, but alcohol most definitely played a huge role in my life. I hated being the designated driver, I never wanted to party to end and there were plenty of Sunday's where I could quite happily have stayed under the duvet for 24 hours nursing a very sore head.
The Impact of Alcohol Intolerance on Skin
Alcohol is a poison, a toxin, it makes the liver and kidneys work especially hard to process it and break it down. When our liver and kidneys are overburdened, they turn to our biggest detox organ for help - the skin. This can not only lead to dry, dehydrated skin, but it can also exacerbate more serious skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema. Taking this Milk Thistle Tincture daily is one way to offer support to the liver, whether you're ready to quit drinking or not.
In addition, alcohol can also lead to reduced immunity, hormone disruption, cell damage and insulin issues all impacting on the quality, appearance and ageing of our skin. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so we can lose plenty of skin cell-loving water from the body quite rapidly, leaving skin looking dehydrated and dull.
When we drink alcohol it causes our insides to become inflamed, this can quickly show up on the skin in the form of redness, breakouts and puffiness. Alcohol can also impact the microbiome - the important bacteria in our gut. Good gut health helps to regulate our immune system, which is important in managing inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Red wine is a vasodilator which causes blood vessels to expand creating redness, plus it releases histamine which also causes redness and flushing. It's important to completely avoid red wine if you struggle with rosacea.
Sugar in alcohol and mixers doesn't exactly help the situation either. And mixers such as energy drinks contain caffeine which is a terrible choice for our skin. Not only does it cause inflammation and irritation, your sleep will be inhibited too.
Alcohol Statistics UK
- 2016/17 saw 337,000 hospital admissions due to alcohol - a 17% increase in 10 years
- More men than women were admitted 62% were male
- Last year saw 5,507 deaths as a direct result of alcohol
- 173,000 alcohol related prescriptions were dispensed costing £4.42 million
- 80,000 people were treated last year for problem drinking
Why Is Alcohol So Difficult to Quit?
Make no mistake, alcohol is a drug. It might be a socially acceptable one, but it's a drug nonetheless. It's precisely because it's so socially acceptable - and in fact in many countries such as the UK, the social norm - that it can be incredibly hard to step away from.
If you're not drinking when you're at a dinner party or on a night out you're typically considered boring or pregnant! When I first quit drinking I actually found it easier to say I was on antibiotics to save the million questions around sobriety. That's not to say you're the only one around that dinner table harbouring a deep desire to curb your addiction. According to Catherine Gray, author of 'The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober', 43% of British women and 84% of British men want to drink less. And it seems times are a-changin, with only 3% of millennials stating that drinking is “an essential part of socialising”. There has in fact been a 40% rise in millennials choosing to be teetotal.
Even celebrities from Brad Pitt to Damien Hirst have spoken out about their battles with booze and the pleasures of new-found sobriety. But in a world where drinking alcohol still makes up a huge part of a social lives, is it really as simple as sipping orange juice on a night out or asking for a gin and tonic minus the gin at the bar on a weekend?
Stop Drinking Expert Craig Beck explains; "I was a heavy drinker myself. Alcohol became something that I couldn’t control despite how miserable it was making me. I had an outstanding career, beautiful home and family but one by one alcoholism was destroying them all. Every day I made excuses about why I 'needed' to drink. All the time, failing to make the connection that my alcoholism was the reason for the vast majority of my problems."
Craig's book 'Alcohol Lied to Me' shares Craig's battle and helped me see alcohol in a completely different light. Craig explains;
"When I gave up trying to force myself to cut back. It was only then I discovered how to deal with my alcoholism in a more logical and simple way. I changed the meaning of alcohol, it stopped being something a saw as a special treat. As a result it became something I saw as nothing more than 'attractively packaged poison'."
Adult Alternatives to Alcohol
Just because you're not drinking does not necessarily mean you want to quit socialising with friends. Okay, so partying all night until the early hours or listening to your friends repeat the same drunken conversation for the sixth time in a row might no longer hold the same appeal, but there are plenty of occasions when I still want to catch up with friends and find myself with a limited handful of sugary soda drinks or water as my only alternative to alcohol.
Botonique - I first discovered these beautiful bottles at The Free From Show in London. Sparkly but not sweet, not only are they alcohol free, they also contain Milk Thistle - which can actually benefit our body and skin. Now available from Ocado or online via their own website, I can't wait to see this alcohol free alternative appear in more bars.
SeedLip - This alcohol free alternative has been around for a couple of years. Marketed as an booze free spirit for grown ups, it has a herby, earthy taste to it that I really enjoy. It comes in two flavours and whilst pricy, offers a headache free non alcoholic solution
Redemption Bar is London's coolest vegan cafe bar. With two bars now open in Nottinghill and Shoreditch, check out their alcohol-free mocktails book, which not only offers exciting alternatives to booze ... but skin beneficial ones too!
When is the Best Time to Quit?
NOW! Seriously. If booze is playing a big role in your life, now is the very best time to make that change. There are so many positives when it comes to sobriety. Aside from saving money and recouping lost weekends, your body, mind and skin will feel so much better for this decision too.
Whether you're ready to cut down or quit - or even if neither feels like an option for you at this moment in time - adding a teaspoon of Milk Thistle Tincture per day to your diet will help support your liver and in turn promote clear skin.