Dy­ing for a drink? Dar­ren Mc­gar­vey on his con­stant bat­tle to re­ject al­co­hol

Rap­per, Scots­man colum­nist and au­thor Dar­ren Mc­gar­vey aka Loki re­veals the con­stant vig­i­lance he needs to em­ploy to avoid al­co­hol

The Scotsman - - Front Page - ● Poverty Sa­fari, by Dar­ren Mc­gar­vey, is pub­lished by Luath Press, £7.99

Why not cel­e­brate all this with a glass of wine, a bot­tle of beer, a cou­ple of drams, eight cans of Stella, two bot­tles of Buck­fast, a bot­tle of whisky, three grams of co­caine, a blis­ter of di­hy­drocodeine and 32 val­ium?

I’ve been think­ing about drink­ing lately. Which is not good for me, be­cause I’m an al­co­holic. If I were to lift a drink to­day, there is no telling what might hap­pen. Once I rein­tro­duce al­co­hol into my blood­stream, I have great dif­fi­culty reg­u­lat­ing both how much I will con­sume and my be­hav­iour while I’m in­tox­i­cated.

There aren’t enough pages in this pa­per for me to ad­e­quately ex­press the true ex­tent of my de­struc­tive drink­ing, or the emo­tional in­te­rior that fu­elled it, but what I can tell you, is that no mat­ter how bad it got, I’d al­ways sober up and de­cide it was OK to drink again.

That’s why I’m wor­ried. This idea, an ob­ses­sion of sorts, has bur­rowed its way back into my wak­ing mind. There it will wait for an op­por­tune mo­ment to re­veal it­self. It speaks to me in dif­fer­ent ways, some­times as a friend or con­fi­dante, other times it’s a shoul­der to cry on. The ob­ses­sion will adopt which­ever tone it deems as more per­sua­sive.

As I go about my life, feel­ing in­creas­ingly be­sieged by the pres­sures of work, par­ent­hood, fam­ily, all couched in con­stant fi­nan­cial in­se­cu­rity, the ob­ses­sion lurks pa­tiently in the back­ground.

Of course, the very fact I al­low it to fes­ter is proof of my in­san­ity. The mad­ness that I would even en­ter­tain the no­tion of drink­ing again, let alone al­low it to re­an­i­mate it­self and set up shop in my head. The rea­son it’s in­sane, is be­cause of all the ev­i­dence that ex­ists that I can­not drink safely, no mat­ter how I try. But those once ex­cru­ci­at­ing mem­o­ries, of mak­ing a fool of my­self, of say­ing cruel things, of caus­ing trou­ble and let­ting other peo­ple pick up the pieces, of hurt­ing my fam­ily and friends, now feel so dis­tant. So dis­tant that I ques­tion whether those things re­ally hap­pened.

How bad would one drink be? I’m away from home, my ca­reer is go­ing well, my son is healthy, my re­la­tion­ship is back on track af­ter a rough patch, my fam­ily is stronger than ever, why not cel­e­brate all this with a glass of wine, a bot­tle of beer, a cou­ple of drams, eight cans of Stella, two bot­tles of Buck­fast, a bot­tle of whisky, three grams of co­caine, a blis­ter of di­hy­drocodeine and 32 val­ium?

This is the mad­ness of ad­dic­tion. The fool­ish idea that some­how, de­spite all the ev­i­dence to the con­trary, I would be able to con­trol and en­joy drink­ing. For ad­dicts and al­co­holics, this is an idea that never goes away. Re­cov­ery is hinged on com­ing to a state of com­plete ac­cep­tance about that.

The ob­ses­sion to drink and use can be re­moved, but it re­quires de­ter­mi­na­tion, sup­port and bru­tal self­crit­i­cism.

One day, I re­alised that I need never drink again. Not only that, but that I would one day be able to walk into a bar and the thought of buy­ing a drink wouldn’t even cross my mind. But the free­dom that comes with so­bri­ety re­quires com­mit­ment, grat­i­tude and hu­mil­ity, which are three traits that do not come so eas­ily to some­one like me. Thank­fully, I don’t need to worry about whether I can stay sober for the rest of my life, I just need to stay sober for one day – to­day.

0 Dar­ren Mc­gar­vey: ‘I’d al­ways sober up and de­cide it was OK to drink again’

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