09 May, 2015 03:30AM ยท 3 minute read

I’ve had my fair share of alcohol in my life. I’ve learned that I could drink most people under the table, though I never got the hang of beer or wine, only liqueurs and spirits. I’ve never had a hang-over. I like to think in my adult years I drank responsibly, mainly because I needed to drive a vehicle a lot. In Australia the drink driving limit is 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100mL of blood for those with an open drivers licence. (I referenced NSW but most states follow this AFAIK) and the guidelines that are often quoted for men are:

“if no more than two standard drinks are consumed in the first hour and no more than one per hour after that…”

…keeping in mind that a standard drink is any drink that contains 10g of alcohol; although the NSW Government site says of counting your drinks…

“Trying to calculate your BAC is impossible…”

Fast forward to about 12 months ago when I had Weight Loss Surgery I knew from my wife’s experience that the rate of absorption of alcohol is much faster and more intense as described here with the key point:

“It is also harder to drink large amounts of alcohol after a sleeve and you will find that you will become twice as drunk, for twice as long on the same amount of alcohol! This is because the alcohol exits the stomach more rapidly and is very quickly absorbed.”

I had been used to ‘pacing myself’ with alcohol intake such that I was able to drive if necessary and wasn’t impaired in my adult years. (Let’s exclude the teenage years from that though…)

That control is now impossible

The rules have changed far too much and try as I might, I can’t seem to get it right. It almost seems like any amount of alcohol has an adverse affect and I’m terrified to drive. There’s a school of thought that says if you’re going to drive you shouldn’t drink at all. Well I drive a car, every, single, day. So when is it okay/safe for me to drive a vehicle if I’ve had a drink if I can no longer trust the old guidelines?

And no, the answer isn’t to carry around my own personal breathalyser, I’m trying to figure out when a safe time is to actually drink and how much is safe ahead of swallowing?

What about the validity of 0.05 limit? Studies show that performance drops off sharply in areas of object recognition, reaction time and risk-judgement beyond 0.05 but this varies based on the individual. Safer still is 0.02 but then 0 is best. Of course a bad driver will always be a bad driver but a good driver plus any alcohol runs the risk of becoming a bad driver. The limit after which you are fined and disqualified from driving is legally fixed.

The problem I have is that I have four children and a wife that depend on me. At the moment even more so. So here we are. I think it’s time for me to say goodbye to alcohol.

It’s become something that is too difficult, dangerous and irresponsible to manage and should no longer play a part in my life. That said the most difficult part isn’t going to be giving it up, it’s going to be repeatedly explaining to others that no, I’m fine, I don’t want a drink thanks. What does that say about our society?