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It's Laila K from Sonic Boom Six! Follow my adventures as I document my life in the band and on the road. I will also be sharing all things musical (interviews with bands, reviews of gigs and festivals), health (innovative clean recipes), fitness (my road to getting abs and a booty), beauty (reviews and tips) and fashion related tings as well as all the fun things I get up to!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Blog About Grog

I decided to give up alcohol on the 24th of July 2012.

I get lots of people asking me why I did it and how I deal with it, especially as I am in a band and am surrounded by booze and drinkers all the time - so I thought I’d write about it.

I started drinking at a very early age. I think I first got drunk when I was 11 and steadily, alcohol became embedded in my weekend routine. I would get drunk every Friday, Saturday and Sunday without fail throughout my teenage years and when I started going on tour with Sonic Boom Six, I would pretty much drink every night. I never drank to block anything out or to numb myself from any pain or guilt I was feeling. I just drank to get really wasted cause I loved the feeling of it. I didn’t feel like I’d partied hard enough unless I was getting put to bed or blanking out. I think I saw it as a security blanket to do and say whatever I wanted. That way, I could blame my actions on the alcohol rather than blame it on myself. I really didn’t care about what I’d say or do cause that wasn’t me, that was drunk Laila.

Two drinks Khan

As the years went on, the routine of getting to a gig, having a couple of beers, playing the set and then getting leathered was becoming tiresome. And so began this ongoing mental battle with myself where I would say to everyone – “I’m not drinking tonight” or “I’m giving up booze for a week” or “I’m only gonna have two drinks” and then I would get drunk and go to bed angry with myself then wake up feeling really depressed cause I’d let myself down once again. I’ve lost a silly amount of days being hungover and not appreciating the great things that were going on in my life. Alcohol for me totally numbed everything. I remember one time when we did a gig at Asbury Lanes in New Jersey where it was another one of those times where I wasn’t going to drink as we had an early start the next day, which promised lots of sightseeing around New York before we flew back to Manchester. That night I got SO drunk, I don’t remember much after the gig. This meant I woke up in a foul mood, dragged my arse around New York and moaned the whole time. We were at the top of the Empire State Building and I just wanted to be in bed… and this was one of many occasions that this kind of thing happened.

Moaning in Manhattan

This became my ritual for about 3 years until I completely stopped drinking. Until then, I enjoyed getting drunk. The hangovers were bad but the enjoyment of drinking cancelled them out in a weird way. I would look to people for help and tell them to make sure I don’t drink too much or to not let me have a drink but that never worked, until I accepted that this was something I had to do for myself it just wasn’t going to happen. I’d often wake up feeling anxious, depressed and on edge. I love exercising and eating healthily but drinking meant I wouldn’t eat all day, get drunk, forget to eat and then binge on salty carbs when I woke up the next day to try to satisfy my raging appetite for all things bad. This happened 3 days out of 7.

At the start of 2012, I’d decided that enough was enough so I steadily decreased my drinking but often I would fall into the “I’ll just have one drink” trap and wake up feeling disgusting cause I’d managed to drink everything in sight! And then something just clicked. I didn’t tell anyone I was going to stop drinking, I didn’t make a big song and dance about it. I went out with my best friends, Maddy and Chewy, on the night of the 24th of July 2012 and I was doing well. I’d only had a couple of drinks all night but I was really aware of it and felt spiky like something wasn’t right all night. At the end of the night, Maddy brought out some Moon Shine that she’d brought back from Hungary and we all did a shot. I didn’t tell anyone then but I knew that was going to be the last drink I ever had. A couple of months ago, Maddy mentioned it to me and said how if she’d known that was gonna be my last ever drink then she would have made it more of a party!

It’s hard to describe how I did it, I think I’d just had enough of feeling crappy and having that constant feeling of fighting a losing battle with myself and the booze. I can’t give myself all the credit though, I had a look on Amazon for books that might help me and I came across Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol. The book didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t know already but it made me more determined to stop. There were a few things that I didn’t agree with but a lot of what he was saying really hit home. It’s definitely worth a read if alcohol is having a negative impact on your life like it was on mine and you want to give it up for good.


The first few months were difficult. It took me a good 5 months to discover the real me, my personality and what I’m like without the booze. Often people ask me if it’s weird being out with loads of drunken people and if they piss me off. At first it was hard, it was horrible and I remember once going in a mood cause I hated being out so much and Nick Horne turned to me and said, “But you decided to stop drinking.” He said it in such an honest way, it really hit home and I realised that it was me that decided to stop drinking. I’ve changed what I do, so why should the people I surround myself with do the same when they don’t want to? Since then, I often remind myself of what he said when people are being drunk or obnoxious. Also, if a night out is rubbish, then I cut my losses and go home. There’s no point in dwelling on whether a night would be better if I was drunk. I’ve had loads of shitty nights out, got drunk and they’ve got worse and ended up in arguments and fights. One last tip I use is to think about the next day, when people feel dreadful from the night before and I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed and that’s when the real fun starts!

I know lots of people that can have one or two drinks and have a great time but I will never be that kind of person. One drink was never enough. However, all of the people that I know that can do this have woken up at some point cause they’ve overdone it and vowed to “never do it again…” I got to the point with booze where it just stopped working for me in my life, it was making me sick and miserable and I knew I had to stop. Believe me, I was no Oliver Reed, and towards the end, I probably drank as much as your average person drinks – a few drinks on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday but I could never judge where the line of excess was and often went past it and then felt guilty/ashamed/disappointed in myself and then I’d do it again and again and again.

A lot of the times I’d try and fail to give up the booze - it came down to a fear of becoming boring or more importantly to me at the time (which is ridiculous) a fear of people thinking that I’d become boring but after the initial couple of months of not drinking, my friends saw how much happier I was and how much I needed to do it for myself. I discovered there are certain people who drink and have a real problem with non-drinkers, as if they’re being judged by the person who has chosen not to drink. I found it similar to certain meat eaters who are mortally offended by vegetarians. I’ve come across a handful of people like this, where the constant piss taking and even aggressive behaviour towards my sobriety has been too much to handle. The best solution I found for this was to cut them people out and not have them impacting my life in a negative way.

For me, ditching the booze has been the best thing I’ve ever done. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel completely alive. I have the best nights out where I actually feel the whole night and what’s going on around me. I think in the past I mistook a lot of the nervous energy I have within myself as a sign to get drunk and to quell that feeling but once I accepted that’s just the way I am, it got easier. Even now when I go out, I get tense and anxious and for the first hour I find it hard to relax but once that hour has passed, that feeling also passes... without the aid of anything to drink! My judgement is better, I sleep better, I look and feel so much better, I’m happy, I’m so much more productive and my brain feels like it’s been rejuvenated. The thought of never having to wake up in that haze, with my head banging, my eyes stinging and feeling sick to my stomach, makes me smile from ear to ear.

Laila x
Happy, healthy close up!

29 comments:

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  2. Many congratulations on your sobriety. I've been off the drink now for just over 4 years, give or take a minor wobble or two. I was a nightclub rock/metal DJ and for years it was the perfect job for the lifestyle i lived. But one day i kind of woke up to the fact hangovers the like of the ones i was having were not normal, anjd no one else i knew was drinking even half of what i was. Things kinda got a little crazy lol. Knocking it on the head has been both the hardest and the best thing i've ever done. So good on you for making that choice for yourself, i know it ain't always easy. See you at Leeds :-)

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    1. It's lovely to speak to people that have been in the same situation as me. I knew that I wasn't alone but it was one of the loneliest things I've ever had to do, if that makes sense? x

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    2. Majorly sorry for the slow response. Laptop died a death, and then it was off to Leeds festival etc. Great show by the way, my knees were both strapped heavily following Download and Bloodstock (slipping on mud ain't pretty!), so i pretty much spent the show trying not to fall over on the rail lol.

      I completely understand what you mean, i found the whole process of realization and trying to address the issue one of the lonliest times of my life. In my case i had a lot of great people in my life once upon a time who all tried to help me see there was a problem. But i guess in reality it is somethign you need to realize for yourself to truly do something about, and a lot of those great people were long gone by that point.

      Having people try to understand is always comforting, but the reality is that people who don't have the same issue can't understand, not fully at least. And as a result it gets pretty lonely as you try to get through it. It's not always that the support isn't there, more that those great people in your life don't really get it. The best way i found to describe it to people is that alcohol is like my first love. We had a great and wonderful time together, but as the relationship started to break down we both refused to let it go and things got more than a little toxic.

      I'd love to be able to drink like a regular person and not have it dominate my life, but i've come to realize that isn't something i can do. Can't have everything in life lol. I missed it the first couple of years, and still do at festivals and what have you. It's like anything you've done for the majority of your life, it comes naturally to you so the urge will always be there. But my life is a hundred times better now i'm sober, in more ways than i can count. Luckily Becks Blue doesn't taste bad either,so i can still have a 'beer' when i go out.

      Just remember you're never alone, you're just one of us :-)

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  3. Laila, you're awesome. I've never been much of a drinker & people have often called me boring. The truth is, i was always worried about how I would act when I was drunk. I could be quite loud & obnoxious & that just isnt me. I'm now 13 weeks pregnant, but I still like to go out & have fun with people who drink, but they know that even after my baby is born, I still won't drink. I just don't need alcohol :) see you in October, love Beth x

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    1. Thank you! See my problem stemmed from thinking I couldn't act like I act now if I was sober. I could only be crazy, opinionated, outspoken when I'd had a drink but that's not true. It took a while to adjust but I can be all them them things naturally now! x

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  4. Very thought provoking blog Laila. Just one question, when you do go out, what do you drink now? The obvious choice, coke, I find very bloating. I should point out I am not Katie, I am her dad!

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    1. I still love hanging out in the pub with my mates and if it's a Sunday afternoon, I may have a non-alcoholic Becks or two but I tend to stick to water! I know it's really boring but I'm aware of trying not to replace alcohol with anything else for the sake of it. I find coke way too sweet and I don't like diet coke! x

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    2. Hi Laila, I'm also a water fan. Do you find there is also pressure to buy a soft drink? Sometimes I don't want to drink alcohol and I'm not always keen on soft drinks. I think it might be me putting pressure on myself, but I do feel odd when I just ask for water. x

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    3. Yeah, people look at me like I'm mad when I just ask for water! x

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  5. Nice blog, Laila K! I gave up drinking using that book about 3 years ago. Very occasionally I have a glass of bubbly but nearly always regret it. I once went away with a group of recovering alcoholics and they were very good at just saying: "No, I don't drink" - when asked, instead of being all excuse-ridden. I have a lime and soda when I go out. Or water. And I'm a much nicer person to be around now too. :)

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    1. That's the thing, isn't it? Having to excuse why we don't drink. What kind of society do we live in where you have to make excuses for not drinking?! That makes me sad. Well done you, proud of you, sister! x

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  6. i really agree with everything you said! i've been contemplating completely giving up alcohol for ages and I have done in the past and I have the exact same issues especially with the people i'm surrounded with! I've tried all sorts of things; deliberately not taking enough cash to get wasted, leaving early stuff like that! It's worked sort of, but if I find myself in a situation where I don't want to stop, then because I haven't drank for ages and in a really e-regular sort of way it hits me so hard cause's so many more problems and reasons to give up! And all I wanted to do was fit in! Funny how you don't have to be alcoholic to get problems on this scale!

    Well done though reading this has given me lots of confidence especially about how much happier and healthier you are & it was nice speaking to you at sound control couple years ago good luck! - Fraz

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  7. Awesome blog Laila. I've never been much of a drinker personally, usually going through about 4 bottles of beer at most in a night. Most of my friends understand that's just me and are cool with it but every now and then someone who doesn't really know me doesn't seem to understand why I don't want to get wasted. Its helps that I've never really liked any kind of spirits. When I finally get my drivers license in a few months I've told my friends I won't mind being designated driver every now and again.

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  8. I play in bands and always feel like the heel for not drinking, but if your current bandmates respect it (and all my current ones do), it's fine. I love good beer, but I never get drunk anymore, I'm done with it, I feel burnt out enough without making it worse! I'm a drummer, we play hard rock and if I didn't approach a gig like a gym session, I couldn't make it through. I do despair of people though who treat gigs as a night out...and playing music for a couple of hours is an unwelcome interruption.

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  9. That's great. I also see being on stage as pushing my physical boundaries, doing that on a hangover, night after night was exhausting. I used to want the gig to be over before it even began, what kind of attitude was that to have?! Now, I can't wait to get on stage and I'm gutted when it's over!

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  10. Can you imagine getting your shit together to write a blog if you were hungover? I know when i quit the booze 10 years ago I thought my creative life was over. I believed to write songs and make art I HAD to be a crazy manic drunk. As it turned out I've been making my best music since I dried out, and had my wits about me enough to SHOW UP for recording/rehearsal sessions etc.
    Talking to other sober people helped too, sometimes knowing I wasn't the on my own being sober; God knows, It's challenging not drinking sometimes.

    I'm Happy for you Laila.

    Nev

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  11. This is a familiar story for me as I had done the same kind of thing through my teen years to the point where I had a reputation that preceded me by people I didn't even know, knew how much I liked getting drunk. I had the similar battles where I would make promises to myself and then I would coax myself into only enjoying it very moderately...followed promptly by business as usual as I thought to myself, "I've had one drink, what does another one matter?"

    I don't mind people who drink alcohol at all, as they have the freedom to drink in the same spirit that I fought for my freedom to not drink. Though the repeated questions of 'Why don't you drink?' as if I were defying human nature by remaining sober, did become grating at first but now I find the good times easier to find, than to wake up with a sore head and feeling sick.

    Anyhow, good on you for doing it. I (quietly) celebrated my one year anniversary of not drinking 16/08/2013 and I feel happy, plus all the extra cash in your pocket as well is a nice perk! :D

    Adam

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  12. Adam, reading that makes me so happy. x

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  13. I think this is important because it's not something that's talked about alot, it makes me happy to see others who have made the decision and have had the self belief to see it through - despite all the obstacles.

    I haven't drunk since September 2012, so almost a year now, and at the risk of it becoming a clichéd statement it's easily the best thing I've ever done. Like you say, all my friends see how much happier I am now and that speaks volumes for itself... but I think it is a difficult thing to see through because of social attitudes. Most social gatherings in this nation involve drinking, it's a given. It's also absolutely fine in the absolute majority of cases, however, eventually there's going to be someone with a chip on their shoulder. It's these kinds of attitudes that are toxic, because it's sometimes difficult to recognise, at least at first, that you really don't have to justify yourself to anyone, especially someone as fundamentally bigoted in their attitude as to pick on the sober person - it's your decision after all.

    Anyway, point being - it's great to see people talking about it, and the more people who do, the more it encourages the rest of us, and encourages those who are thinking about it :) It's not that uncommon these days and it should never be something you should be made to feel inferior about. Keep up the good work!

    Cheers,

    Duncan

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    1. Maybe we start a non - judgemental social gathering where people can do whatever makes them happy! That would be nice. x

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  15. I do have a very clear memory of our having an argument whilst drunk when we were about 18. I anguished over it and apologized the next day, only for you to have no recollection of it whatsoever! It was strange and whereas I don't remember much about many of our drunken escapades, that incident is so clear to me. I guess because we really weren't the arguing kind of friends so I felt so wretched afterwards!

    I am still an occasional drinker (like 2 a year!), but really gave up drinking in large amounts in uni. My reasons were somewhat different than yours. My parents had some god awful violent fights when they were drunk and it made for a most disturbing childhood. When my parents started having issues, my Mum started drinking all the time, offering my younger sisters swigs of Southern Comfort like it was water. I was so angry with her - not just for drinking, but also because I had to be the adult. When Gary came over to visit for the first time, she got thrown in jail for a night for driving drunk. She came home with the car smoking and the front end mashed. She was awful, it was embarrassing, and she lost her license for a while. Alcoholism runs in the family - I don't think I necessarily have anything to fear, but I've experienced the effects of it to last me a lifetime. It's affected my siblings in different ways - scarred some of us more than others.

    I find the peer pressure around drinking incredible. I used to find it uncomfortable to say no, but when I order non-alcoholic, other people are more apt to follow suit. Of course there are always some people who feel like non-drinking on my part is a judgment of their drinking. Why people are so obtuse is beyond me. Common sense would say that most people who choose to limit their drinking or give it up completely have had some bad experience around it.

    You were always fun to be around! I'm glad you're feeling more healthy, more able, more yourself without the booze. It's worth it to read how you're so much happier now. Love you, and this was a great post on your blog xx

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    1. Aww, Sonia. I had no idea about your mum at all!! I didn't mention it in the blog but the family thing for me did play a major role when I was growing up. My dad was always wasted and my uncle was a heavy drinker too. I remember, alcohol was always a major part of growing up and I guess I just followed suit.

      I miss you, Sonia Tang. I'm properly getting my life back on track and I hope the future will very much include you in it.

      Love you,

      Laila xx

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  16. Hi Laila,

    I'd just like to say, this is extremely encouraging, so thank you :)

    Nat x

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  17. Was told to look for this blog by your lovely and friendly merch girl on saturday at the guild hall in gloucester after i told her i'm straight edge. Having realised from a young age that alcohol just wouldn't work for me (i've only ever had one drink) i've been brushed with the "boring" label on many occasions and it's not nice.

    I totally understand the edgy feeling at the start of a night out (i even gave up pubs and clubs for the first five months of this year due to it)

    I have never told anyone not to dtink in my company but not unlike yourself have had to cut out some people due to the unacceptance of my feelings surrounding drink.

    Was really nice meeting you in gloucester and thanks for the autograph and numerous photos :)

    Olly sXe

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