Alcohol. I fine servant but a terrible master

A wise doctor once said. Alcohol is a fine friend but a terrible master.

To many who really don’t understand alcohol or have had traumatic experiences concerning alcohol this post will be of little interest to them. Specially as its not very PC these days to say anything positive about alcohol consumption.

Now I speak from experience having served 30yrs in the Metropolitan Police Force as a serving constable . First of all its an error to use or abuse alcohol to run away from grief or indeed anything. Yet alcohol taken appropriately and at the right time of day can provide a temporary and blessed relief from the stresses and strains of life. And at the moment in my case the loss of my dear wife of 50yrs to pancreatic cancer about 5 weeks ago. I personally look forward to my beer of an evening as a relaxation and mellowing out period following what is often the stresses and anxiety of the day living without my beloved Anne. Indeed I’m writing this now at 10-30pm whilst enjoying my beer. Clearly I’m not drunk. I know that what ever life flings at me during the day I have my guaranteed temporary relief at the end of that day. And its a strategy used by police officers and many others who’s job it is to deal with life tragedies on a daily basis - including doctors and nurses. But I stress its just a temporary release and nothing else, yet a little something to look forward to at the end of the day which often assists in a good night’s sleep. I’m reluctant to say this but: beware of those who take the moralistic high ground and condemn the therapeutic use of alcohol. They are normally or basically non drinkers and are merely quoting what they’ve read somewhere. I’m a fit 73yr old and have, and still use ( Not abuse !) alcohol as it was intended. Maybe your tipple is a few glasses of wine or a couple of stiff spirits. Either way it matters not. To requote my old school doctor friend from many years ago. Alcohol is a fine servant but a terrible master. There is no stigma in enjoying your favourite tipple.

Bless you all.


Geoff you are right to voice and express your take on what alcohol can aid,relieve and as in your case a welcome relief in taking the edge of a terrible situation and I much agree … that also being the reason that has unfortunately made you a welcome member of this forum … unfortunately it’s not always the case for everyone I don’t think it matters the reason we drink alcohol but more in fact the person we are that’s drinking it … I’m in agreement Iso used to enjoy a glass of wine … to de stress not often but still enjoyed … unfortunately for me I now do fear people thing I take the moral high ground not because I want to judge or to be miserable… but because tonight I tuck my five and six year old in to bed and give them a kiss and say ‘ mummy loves you and so does daddy up in the sky ‘ and my beautiful girl says back to me ‘ is daddy safe now mummy …
you see my husband died last year just 36 he was not an alcoholic … a husband a daddy and for some reason he turned to alcohol to take of the edge of what ever darker was going on inside him .he binge drank on the Saturday night was found the next morning . and now we are left with a huge hole in our lives … I don’t drink anymore alcohol scares me … I hope in time my thoughts will change … I constantly now tell my friends and family to be careful watch what they have and why they have it but most importantly for them to still enjoy a well deserved beer and believe me when I say it comes from fear and no moral high ground … I’m so sorry for the loss of your wife I know how cruel and cancer can be … I hope the sight helps and a cold beer also
Love and best wishes Michelle x

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Thank you both for your understanding posts. Everything in moderation. I do enjoy a beer and I also like cider. Like anything in life if misused it can cause problems. Overeating is good example. People’s experience of over drinking can vary so much. Has anyone here attended an AA session? I have as a visitor and when one listens to the sad stories of family breakups, violence and destroyed relationships and major domestic problems caused by alcohol, it make one realise the dangers.
How events in life can swing from one extreme to the other. Teetotal to alcoholic.
Love to hate. Buddhists talk about ‘The Middle way’. Walking the path between the two extremes.
If one holds beliefs about total abstinence from alcohol perhaps for religious reasons or just because the dangers are seen, then surely it’s as unnecessary as the other extreme.
I am so sorry Michelle about your husband. Who knows what goes on in another’s mind. We can never judge or condemn. Everyone has their inhibitions, and some are able to talk about it others ‘bottle up’. The shame involved in opening up, which is so important, often stops a person doing just that. That’s why counselling is so important. A counsellor will never criticise or judge.
I’m off for a glass of cider. 7% alchohol. Why not. Best wishes.


Michelle believe me when I say I am truly sorry to hear your story of a tragedy that for you and the children must be almost unbearable. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being brave enough to share. Of course I wouldn’t for one moment even consider you taking the moral high ground. You speak from direct experience and as a wise person once said " Experience is the greatest authority." And your suspicions concerning the use of alcohol are well founded. I can feel you understand where my post was coming from and the over all message I was conveying. Yet on reflection perhaps my post could be construed as being rather smug as I come from a working culture of drinking and so used to the affects and behaviours surrounding the subject. Indeed my best friend died indirectly from the effects of being an alcoholic. He too was a retired police officer who had been haunted by demons for many years but would never share with me where they were coming from. Im sure as time passes even my use of beer ( never spirits!) as a means of relaxation will decline if for no other reason than the aging process. As I mentioned I’m an old feller of 73. Bless you and your beautiful family including daddy in the sky.

Love Geoff x

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Thank you Jonathan for creating the balance on such a difficult subject. Indeed I to subscribe to the Buddhist Saying “Tread the middle path.” Although I have wondered off the path into scrub land on many an occasion. Thus are the lessons of life learned.
Bless you Sir.,

Love. Geoff

I just wonder how many people turn to alcohol because it takes the pain away for a short time.


The problem with alcohol and grief is it’s a depressant, using more than a small amount for a soporific effect will make you feel worse. I admit to using a tot of brandy to help me pass out for 3 to 4 hours a night. As a young man I abused alcohol and got into trouble for it so I’m fully aware of the dangers. I disagree with AA on never being able to drink again, I believe it depends on your own strength and willpower.
I personally refuse to consult a doctor because the standard answer is mind numbing chemicals like benzos. Illegal drugs like marijuana act in the same way. When the chemical wears off you’re back in reality and feeling worse because you have to start all over again.
My personal vice is tobacco to relieve stress. I’d actually quit for 16 straight months before my sweetheart passed away and didn’t start again until two weeks after she died. I felt so much better physically being tobacco free after 45 years smoking, but now it really doesn’t matter if it kills me, I get to be with my Rhonda sooner.
Take care. Carl.

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Hi Carl
I can fully empathise with your post. Everything you said rang a bell with me although futunately alcohol never got the better of me despite, like many others, I’ve said and done things under the influence many, many years ago that even today makes me feel ashamed. I’ve been vaping for about 4yrs now as a substitute for cigarettes and it works very well. But with the passing of my soul mate Anne I compliment that now with roll ups. I felt I needed a stronger hit along with my beer to feel more ’ normal’ again. My beer is Carlsberg not all that strong but creates a mellow feeling that never produces a hangover even if I go OTT. And just like you, I longer care about my health. I remained as healthy as I could to always be there to look after the love of my life. Now she’s gone I couldn’t care less about me. The sooner I die the better. I’m contributing nothing now to this world. My kids may want me but they don’t need me. So Im more than ready to meet my sweet heart again in the other dimension of love. To use an American phrase - JOB DONE.

Hi Jonathan 123 and everyone else, I lost my partner 6 months ago and turned to alcohol - big mistake I now not only miss my love desperately I am now trying to stop drinking with all that entails. The unhappiness it can cause is huge ! Take my word it relieves nothing and makes life worse if that is possible when grieving - I loved him so much my life is quite meaningless. Now is a fight to conquer this toxin - warm wishes to all. Xx

Geoff -?i agree with you there is nothing wrong in n having a drink and I have a question : why is it you decide to write about it? Do you deep down think that you are having fun be too many? Do you feel others are judging you?

Sadie xx

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Hi Sadie

I wrote it as a conversation piece because all too often we only hear about the negative effects of alcohol through the media and constant scare stories from the ‘experts?’ Experts who chop and change their minds every five minutes. eg first its OK to have a glass of wine a day and then it’s not ! ( And who only ever has one glass of wine a day? And have you seen the size of modern day wine glasses? More like brandy bowls. LOL ) A tot of spirits before bed time is good for the heart and then it’s not! The contradictory list goes on, changing every year as new ’ experts?’ put their five pence worth in.
So from my perspective alcohol, in my case ordinary strength beer, has been a life saver. It takes the sting out the tale of the grieving process when it gets too much to bear. Its been a good social tool when conversing with others, especially about what Im experiencing

  • but without the tears. And contrary to common belief alcohol doesn’t depress you. It is a ‘depressant.’ It has an element that depresses our inhibitions. That’s why alcohol loosens tounges and makes a drunk do outrageous things. Perhaps what Im saying to some folk is. Dont feel any stigma about relaxing with a drink. Don’t let others moralise to you about its dangers ( normaly tea totalers) Use alcohol. Don’t abuse it and you will be fine.
    Love and Light.

Hi Wilma, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your partner and that you are struggling to stop drinking. Are you getting any sort of support to help you with that? It sounds like a tough challenge to face on your own, and even more so when you are grieving. This page from Alcohol Change UK has a list of ways to get support:

Well done on taking steps to try to stop and I wish you the best with it.

If anyone else is reading this who is concerned about their drinking habits, there is a quiz here that can help you check how healthy your drinking is:

There was a programme on BBC 4, a while back, on Bacchus. It explored the use of alcohol through time by ancient civilisations.
Alcohol was definitely seen as a servant. The gist of it was that it was used as a well needed release but one stopped before the point of no return. Unfortunately it is not currently available on iplayer. Well worth a watch when it comes round again.
I think grief is so complicated that it is exhausting. We cannot bear it at an intense level indefinitely. If we do something has to give. My problem is that I feel guilty when I feel a little relief because I am a mother and I should never put myself before my child, even though she is gone.
Alcohol, however, seems to allow me an hour off in the evening without the guilt. For me then as long as it remains my servant I will continue.
Sending hugs to all that are greaving. X

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My husband and myself, as part of early retirement enjoyed our evenings and weekends where we could have a relaxing meal and some wine. Not in an excessive way but then not within the guidelines. He became ill with vague symptoms and initial tests showed a suspicious ulcer in his stomach. Admitted after 5 weeks of seeing GP, through which he hardly ate and certainly had no alcohol, yet because he did not drink within the recommended limit he was treated disgracefully by the health care professionals, in particular one consultant who continued to question this even though test results confirmed stomach cancer and spread. He died 2 weeks later. I raised a formal complaint and went to a meeting with McMillan Lead Officer, Matron, Ward Manager, Consultant and the Doctor who had carried out the endoscopy who had to challenge the Consultant on his continued assumptions around alcohol.
I addressed this group my saying as I looked around, could any one of them say they stuck to guidelines, did they go home after a tough shift and relax with a glass of wine? I also said that even if there had been an issue as soon as the cancer was diagnosed and it was confirmed terminal, the interest in alcohol should had stopped. My poor husband must have blamed himself.
We had apologies and a commitment to improve staff training but I took this further and met with the Trust’s CEO. Her first words to me was they had let my husband and is down. Indeed she asked for our permission to use our experience to ensure such biased views did not compromise care.
As I deal with life after loss I am very aware that a glass of wine can become an another and I do know I would get upset, not depressed, but in a bad place. I do though enjoy a drink occasionally in social settings with friends.

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Let ‘us’ down

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Sorry, I’m one of those teetotallers (don’t like the taste) and not really qualified to join this conversation. I’m not judging but hope you don’t mind me telling you of something that has stayed with me for years.
My husband was a singer and at one of his regular gigs a woman started to turn up very much the worse for alcohol. She tried to get on stage with my husband and would become tangled in the wires making it dangerous for her and the rest of the band. She was a total pest but my husband was such a patient person and was always kind to her. I asked him why he didn’t have her thrown out and he told me her story.
She had followed him and the band for years with her husband and then he died. She had been a smart, attractive,intelligent woman but when her husband died she took to drinking. I saw her often in the supermarket with a basket full of alcohol and wondered how she could let herself get like this. Now all these years later, I know. I had no idea what the poor woman was suffering.
I also found out only a few years ago that one of my Nan’s was an alcoholic. I never knew, I was only a child when she died but she was always my lovely, laughing Nan. She died young of liver failure. So please if you think you might be getting out of your depth please get help.

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Dear Pat
With all due respect, you really havnt been reading my posts correctly. People who understand alcohol and have been ENJOYING it for donkeys years as I have don’t need help. Why should you imply that I should? I’m a fit 73yr year old. Have run two London Marathons ( And had a good few beers afterwards) I’ve cycled all my life and have been practicing Zhan Zhuang ( Jan Jong) Stand Like Tree. An ancient Chinese standing meditation technique for 20yrs. I know your heart is in the right place but this is the second time you have answered my posts in a controversial way. Please read the words correctly and think before commenting.
Love and Light.

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The first thing I see in your somewhat angry reply to Patti is the same justification all of us have used who abused substances. Oh it doesn’t affect me, I do this and this. We over indulge and abuse alcohol or drugs to escape reality. The only real difference between the two is most people use drugs to give them a high, alcohol is a depressant and makes what we’re escaping from worse.
You replied to me earlier in the thread that you had done things under the influence that made you feel ashamed. Maybe that’s the difference between you and me, I regret nothing, I learned from my mistakes and became better. I regret hurting other people on my journey but not myself. I abused booze and ended up in prison, it wasn’t the fault of the booze, it was me.
So I am in a position to comment, plus every job I ever had was working with the public, you learn a little psychology people watching for forty plus years. My first thought when someone raises a subject then says they don’t have a problem with it would be they have a problem with it.

The other thing I would note is you raised the subject of alcohol when we’re here because of grief. You said you were a cop, they are notorious for abusing booze. People like me loved the cop pubs because you could stay in them all night long, licensing hours didn’t apply in those places.
If you want to carry on using your chosen chemical to escape reality that’s your choice, others get their fix from a doc, I personally have the equivalent of a finger of brandy in a small glass to help me sleep for four hours. I may occasionally have a pint of beer when I’m out. One thing I absolutely guarantee is booze doesn’t help with grief, it’s a downer which makes you more depressed.

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