Stoptober is well underway. I’m a little sceptical about designating a month for positive change, due to the ‘white knuckling’ element of it. However, I am all about commitment to helpful behaviours and fund raising for the well deserving charity Macmillan Cancer Support. There is also the benefit of giving livers a little opportunity for respite.
Stoptober is not necessarily about people aiming for an abstinent, teetotal existence but does encourage a more mindful appreciation of relationships with alcohol and amounts imbibed. Clients and friends who have elected to take on the challenge couldn’t be described as having issues with alcohol misuse but nonetheless alcohol figures as a regular pastime. There would be no purpose in someone embracing Stoptober who only has a sherry at Christmas. For my husband who is moving into his 10th year of recovery from alcohol dependency every month is Stoptober, however he is not on a countdown to when he can drink again and relishes his sober life.
When previously working in a community treatment service, it was not uncommon for people to go for a “wash and brush up detox.” These were carried out under clinical supervision due to the risk of potentially, life threatening seizures attached to abruptly stopping drinking when physically dependent on alcohol. There were no expectations of continued sobriety, it was literally designed to provide a physical and psychological rest from the labours of addiction. Taking a break from drinking at any level is always helpful to bodies and minds. There is also merit in breaking habitual behaviours, it is always easier to reduce alcohol intake after a complete break. Tolerance to alcohol is built rapidly, meaning as time goes on more alcohol is required to achieve the desired effect.
Public declarations of intent with fundraising attached provide accountability. Making a positive change makes us feel good about ourselves and raising money for a good cause serves to provide an extra boost to our self worth. It has gladdened my heart to see fundraising pages on social media smashing targets. The last six months have caused financial hardship yet people continue to give. Giving makes us feel good, whether this is taking part or making a donation. The coronavirus pandemic has meant isolated, restricted living but there is unity in taking part in Stoptober, either as a participant or supporter, feelings of inclusion are generated.
In the lead up to October it was my belief that Stoptober should not be solely restricted to alcohol. Baking escalated during lockdown and eating habits changed significantly. Hearty home cooked meals and baked goods became standard fare. Imagine how much money would be raised if Stoptober was extended to Victoria Sponges and pastry?
I did not sign up to Stoptober but supported others. On the 1st October I found myself wheezing and shivering at a walk in testing centre and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. There followed a fortnights abstinence from a multitude of consumables due to illness. Although now feeling much better, the wily beast that is Coronavirus has robbed me, hopefully temporarily, of my senses of taste and smell rendering the most desired food and drink completely pointless!