Saturday, 7 March 2015

Passions To A Pill


This week, an alarming but not surprising study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stating that 20% of my fellow Canadians drink too much alcohol.  here's  an article about it. I'm a bartender so this is really not news to me.  And ironically, this very week I myself witnessed several instances in my life that reinforce this issue as fact.

I work every Saturday night at a bowling alley.  When I slide the key in that gate and enter that bar/kitchen area, I am in charge.  It's my show.  My smart serve certificate decides who drinks and how much.  And my safe food handlers certificate ensures the food is cooked safely.  I am responsible for every ounce of alcohol, every bottle of beer.  I take that seriously.

Last Saturday night was really busy.  So busy in fact, that I closed the kitchen at 8:30 because I didn't feel I could serve, keep track, and evaluate well enough, if I had to run for fries every fifteen minutes. My bar carries about eight varieties of coolers alone, each ranging from 4% alcohol up to 7% alcohol. When the college & uni students realize this, I sell all sixteen Vex very quickly.  I get that these kids are broke.  I never begrudge them any bees & honey treatment when they don't tip me.  As long as they show me some personality ... I'm happy.  I was shocked however on this night at the people who were asking alcohol content of all I offer.  It was older women ... well over their 50's.  Alcohol, though one of the most addictive "drugs" we have, and the one that leaves one's biology in such a state of disarray that it is by far the worst to treat and witness in detox, is an addiction that is hidden by a veil of many colours.  Not the dullest of which is the fact that Canada makes billions of dollars in tax revenue on Alcohol sales.  Looking back, I wonder if they really just needed a hug?  Or is it bang for your buck?  All coolers are $6.50 so perhaps that's it.  Still, I must say I was taken aback when this woman my mum's age asked me which cooler had the most alcohol in it.

The other instance that happened was a bit closer I guess.  I lost two co-workers because they were caught on camera drinking Gin then topping the bottle up with water.  As shocked as I was by that, the bartender in me was and is initially more pissed than anything else that I may have served a watered down Gin & Ginger last week!  It's hard for me to wrap my head around a pull so strong that you can't wait to get home. That you'd blatantly throw away the only employment you have.  For a drink of Gin.  Don't get me wrong, a Gin & Tonic is a lovely and refreshing summer beverage.  I'll take mine with lime, but I've never really felt the alcohol pull.  Though I've known and love many who have.  It's a difficult conversation to have.  Every where we look we are advertised to with seductive imagery and trendy advertising with unique concoctions to get you to try more and more and more.  Much of addiction is subliminal where reminders trigger cravings.  If only we could turn off the advertising.  I must steer clear of my ex-co-workers, but part of me wants to take them both by the ears and to an AA meeting.  I've never been to one, but I know they're close by and regularly offered.

The third happened at my other job.  New staff is a regular thing there, and the other night was the first time I had met or worked with one girl.  We were serving a customer I know and I said that alcohol can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  We gave him a cheers and she looked at me and basically cried for help with the saddest eyes.  Now, I'm sort of used to these kinds of things happening because I was a talk therapist in another life :)  people confide in me often and quickly.  And I genuinely listen because I know that sometimes the macro view is the one that needs to be assessed through.  Those pesky emotions cloud our judgement.  And .. I'll take any opportunity to lend an ear if I can.  Anyways, my co-worker is in her early 20's and knows she has a drinking problem.  She says when she starts doing anything, she does it to to point of doing something stupid.

Tonight after work, she asked me if I wanted to go for a drink.  I can't help but find that weird.  I declined, because my hunni was at home waitin' for me.  But, if you know that one drink always tastes like two drinks which you know will taste like three ... well you need to think before you talk to drink number one.  You have the choice.  You have the power to decide that first drink, pill, puff, deal, game, or shot.  I have shared this quote more than once, but Marilu Henner said once about food addiction that:

"It might be your choice to put that first bite in your mouth, but that food has an agenda of it's own."

Addiction in so many forms is rampant right now in Canada.  Prescription opiates control the lives of too many of our loved ones.  And everyone thinks they can quit.  Until they try.  There has to be more transparency here, there has to be more help, more diverse help.

I never really got the AA thing where you are supposed to surrender yourself to the drug.  But now that I've been there in a way or two, I can see that they've just worded it wrong.  When you know that something addicts you and you know that you lose the ability to control how much you consume once you start, then you have to surrender to the fact that you cannot ever start.  Ever.  This is a very true fact for many past addicts.  But not for everyone.  Our biology's are infinitely unique and so how we handle, metabolize, use or misuse is also unique to each of us.

Another true saying for many yet not all:

"One is too many;  and a million's not enough."

What I really think, is that too many of us are on antidepressants.  I have no medical training and am in no way telling anyone to stop taking their meds.  But for me and many many of the people I know, antidepressants were nothing but zombifying poison pills.  So many parts of my biology began to normalize and improve once I weaned myself off of mine.  Many of us have learned that sometimes Schizophrenics go off their meds because they find them very sedating and dulling.  It's a numbing sense of emotionlessness.  It's likely very hard for some of you to imagine, but I'm convinced that many of these meds make us feel this same numbness  and alcohol is a quick lift when a lift is needed.  Lifts become something you live for.  One a day two a day ... until it's hard to get enough.

We also need to decide if we're willing to give up our passions to a pill that make a bunch of fukkers in some pharmaceutical company too much money.  Healthcare should not be a profitable industry so question your doctor's prescriptions and suggestions.  Google is your friend.  Use it ... doctors do! Know that food is medicine and that you have the power to change your chemical biology through thought, laughter, intention, and love.

You decide what happens to you.