31 March 2011

Workmen, anniversaries and alcohol

The painter I mentioned in my last post has stood me up. He has been stringing me along since November promising he would come to paint my kitchen ceiling when he had a spare minute and now he has admitted he has too many big jobs on (he is subcontracted to someone else to fit kitchens, bathrooms and conservatories) and just cannot squeeze me in. So Tuesday saw me high and dry searching for someone else. I only stuck with him, because he came recommended by a neighbour, but really how much damage can someone do painting a ceiling? (I may regret saying that). So I have been searching through the local paper, local telephone directory ,Which Local and also something called mybuilder.com. I didn't have much expectation from the latter but within a few hours of my posting my project on the site, I had about 7 replies and they are still coming in, so well worth a try! I phoned quite few of those selected from the four sources above and one pleasant chap came to look at the job yesterday. I was very impressed and I may well hire him, as he can fit the job in next week. His prices were very reasonable too for an oil-based undercoat to cover the nicotine stains and three coats of emulsion over that. He does a lot of work for Harley Street and The University of London (apparently) so hopefully I have picked a good'un. Another painter quoted three times what he was asking.It pays to get several quotes.I've got another one turning up in a few minutes.

This week saw another painful first anniverary - that of Greg's funeral - so that is all the firsts out of the way now and I can get on with real life and hopefully more positive thoughts now. As time goes by, I find I am less angry about the whole situation and more saddened that Greg is missing out on Kay's successes and even major world news events such as in Japan and Libya (which of course was his job). I can often be heard muttering under my breath "Oh Greg, if only you could see this or hear that". I see others in my Al-Anon group a year or so in time behind what I was going though and I despair for what lies ahead for them too. But I am appreciating more and more that alcoholism is a mental illness, just like anorexia, where the sufferer has little or no control over it and where only a few can manage to pull away from it.

I feel I want to do something to make a difference, but I don't know yet what and how. I don't think higher alcohol prices are the answer. In Greg's case, he was clinically dependent on alcohol, so would buy it whatever the price. That is why he took out such huge loans before he died to fund it. Prohibition is not the answer, as real addicts would still find a way of obtaining it and it would not be fair on the majority who can sensibly limit their drinking. What about the idea of ID cards which you would need to show to buy a drink in a pub or a bottle in a shop. These could be removed and cancelled if alcohol got you into trouble with the police or you ended up in hospital with an obvious drink addiction, much like a driving licence if you transgress the law of the road or a doctor thinks you unfit to drive. But I suppose there would soon be people out there who would fake these documents. Possibly lobbying government to return to set licensing hours and stopping supermarkets selling alcohol might help, as I am sure the ease of obtaining alcohol is a major factor in the rise of alcoholism these days............ certainly in the case of younger people who go out on the lash till 4am or later.

What do you think?


Nota Bene said...

It is indeed good to get the 'firsts' out the way, I agree with that. I'm not sure there is ever a way of eliminating it completely...especially as it an illness. I do think that increasing controls, prices and availability, especially for the young, are helpful. In Scandinavia, it is expensive and restricted by being sold in Government owned outlets...that may be a step too far in this country. Perhaps more education is the way ahead...but our government doesn't seem too hot on that

Kelloggsville said...

I think trying to find social ways to solve this us like hammering a screw in. We need medical research into the recepters that cause some people to become addicted harder and faster than others. We needs to know how to block those and stop the cravings. We need NHS fully funded clinics for detox. Making an addicts life harder is not the answer, it is finding a medical way to cure the addict I think. Education and pricing may help prevent children reaching the addictive state but once there, as you say, no amount of cost or control would prevent the addict finding a way.

Good luck with your painter, I'm currently doing my own ceilings. Rotten job.

aims said...

Getting through the 'firsts' is hard no matter what it involves. And yes - it does get easier somehow after that.

Why don't you become a mentor of some sort. Or perhaps you could look into taking courses so you could help with counseling. You have a wonderful way with words and enormous patience and compassion. And your experiences alone would turn a lot of heads as it has done here. Worth a thought perhaps?

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

It is good to know that you are through the "first anniversaries" and maybe you are feeling ready to get on with the rest of your life Addy. Hope you soon find a decent workman to help you to carry on decorating your home. Spring is the time of new beginnings. A

Nechtan said...

Hi Addy,

I agree about increasing the price of alcohol. An addict doesn't care about cost. When the craving is overwhelming they will do anything to get the relief it brings them. The substance doesn't matter because its the same process and the cost really does not matter. An alcoholic will drink as much as they need to drink regardless of whether the price is increased- or even lowered.

I do think there is a serious lack of understanding- and more so willingness to understand. Addiction is a cycle that for some can be impossible to break. I dare say there are a lot of addicts who want to change but can't find the strength to. And what you said about it being a mental illness is for me spot on. Addictions are mind driven, bodily influenced. Constant cravings that gather a loud internal voice until they are fed can be draining and scary.

You said you would like to do something to change things. I would be totally in the dark about the effects of alcholism were it not for this blog. And I think it is a story that needs to be told so I think, personally, the single biggest contribution you can make is to get your story out there and get people reading it. From being a frequent visitor I know you can convey that brilliantly and I do hope you give serious thought to doing so.

All the best


Nora said...

Hopefully, you'll be more assertive the next time.

DogLover said...

It's a bit late now, but if you or any of your readers are at a loss for a tradesman, go to:


It's a splendid website where you can find good people to work for you. You won't be mucked about the way your painter mucked you about because once you have used a checkatrade guy you put in "feedback" about him on to the website. So you'll only get reliable people that way. Wish I had mentioned it sooner!

As for doing something about alcoholism, people have been trying for an awfullly long time and the illness is still around, as you know so well!

Furtheron said...

The minimum price thing is a laugh. It'll stop those that have the odd drink from having a drink and those are the people with no problem at all!

I was lucky in the end somehow I didn't lose everything but I did add up roughly what I had spent on alcohol in my 25 years of drinking... it was a small fortune. I'd be living like the Beckhams if I'd not done that :-)

Have you thought about talking with groups of your experience. I've done school talks telling kids what it was like from my point of view - normally we are more hitting than the "science" based presentations.

If you could talk to youngsters esp about how it affects the others in the family you never know it might cause the right thinking before the damage - I don't know. Just a thought. Or something where you are trying to help the families of alcoholics

Eliza said...

I'm glad you've got all the firsts out of the way now. I'm not sure what can be done to stop drinkers killing themselves, I don't think upping the price helps much. I used to be a smoker and when I think of how much money I set fire too, but the price didn't stop me at the time.

Have Myelin? said...

The only thing I do know for sure is alcohol has power over alcoholics. You can't control their drinking no matter how you try. They will find a way around any kind of loophole or barrier put in place.

It must be a horror to be an alcoholic. I know what it's like to love one.

Linda said...

Maybe you could consider starting a grief support group specifically for people who have lost loved ones as a result of alcoholism. This is a different type of group because the grief starts long before the passing.

I know I find a lot of strength in helping others. My blog has helped me to find a purpose for enduring this life. -- Linda (Immortal Alcoholic)

debsdigest.com said...

From one who knows - a person has to discover that life is better without alcohol than with it. It's that first drink that does the damage. One sip of wine can end in a three week black-out so NO alcohol at all is the only answer. It's the fear of the withdrawal symptoms that is the real bugbear. I agree that price doesn't matter - in the end it has to be the individual's choice to stop. It is an illness but it's an illness that need not be terminal. Life is so much simpler without it - no deceit, no hiding bottles, no wretching and cold sweats. I could write a book!

sensibilia said...

I agree with Furtheron that talking about your experience in schools would be something positive you could do. I've said this before, but it bears repeating - I've been alive 58 years, and thought I knew most things but your descriptions of the actual physical decay caused by advanced alcoholism and death were a surprise to me. Like many people, I thought alcoholism was just about getting drunk a lot, being sick and behaving in a stupid manner, and eventually just not being there any more.

The reality you described was visceral. It would be good if you could share it.

Linda said...

Sensibilia -- Alcoholism is not just a drunk who parties too much. Most people die of alcoholism long before it gets to truly "end-stage." They die as a result of an accident or illnesses that take hold due to a reduced resistance to infection. I live with an end-stage alcoholic that is following the footsteps of Alcoholic Daze's husband. If you want to read another side to the issue -- please visit my blog where you will find factual info as well as real experiences. -- Linda