Alcohol, this poison far too "cool"

Do you know Louise Delage? Registered in August 2016, she now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram. It is a beautiful nana, with a great life, made of evenings and holidays, dinners with friends and city trips.

Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign

His photos are beautiful. And all its subscribers find it chilly and beautiful… without noting a detail: on each of his photos, there is alcohol.

Louise Delage, in reality, does not exist. It is a "fake",a character created from scratch to demonstrate how culturally quite acceptable it is to see a woman drink alcohol regularly. Because his photos are only spaced a few days apart – or even a few hours apart.

His last post is actually a video, baptized… "Like my addiction".

It aims to show how "it is easy to miss the alcoholism of a loved one".The entire campaign was conceived and launched by Addict Aid,a new portal launched in April 2016. "A real collaborative tool intended to inform, prevent and guide all people wishing to treat their addictions."

The video is also on Youtube. One might think that it would make you think, but some comments show that most do not see the problem…

Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign Louise Delage Instagram alcohol addiction campaign




"Everyone knows that holidays are made to get drunk."

And the afterworks, the Saturday evenings, the outings between friends, and the family meals, the terraces in summer, the afternoons pétanque …

On Wednesday, February 7, France 2 broadcast the film La soif de vivre which was followed by a debate entitled Alcool, un tabou français ? (in replay until February 14th).

We learn, or we remember, that every year, in France, 49 000 people die because of alcohol. That it is the second preventable cause of death after tobacco. 

That more than one in ten French people is an alcoholic – or to put it modestly, "has problems with alcohol".

And that the wine lobbies are clearly as powerful as the tobacco lobbies.

"One drink is fine, three, hello damage"…

In reality, alcohol is a harmful product for health from the first glass, as the first cigarette sends you the same packet of tar in the lungs and cyanide in the blood as the following ones.

The alcohol molecule is the same in cider, beer, wine or vodka.

And it has the same effects on every human being – even though a baby in his mother's womb will suffer much more from receiving the alcohol contained in a glass of wine than a hundred-kilo athlete. Especially among women… their metabolism digests much less alcohol, and stores it for a long time in fats.

No, red wine does not contribute anything to health. No, drinking every Saturday night is not NORMAL. No, binge drinking practiced by teenagers is not just a "bringue phase" acceptable at their age. And wanting to end up in a coma every week while we are with friends should lead consumers and everyone else to ask questions.

In France, culturally, drinking alcohol is a quality, a sign of conviviality, sympathy, open-mindedness. Those who do not drink are called stuck, maniacs, timid, "people who do not know how to have fun". Even if you spend your evening laughing and dancing, nothing to do: if you have a glass of water in your hand, it's because you have a problem. Worse, if you drink "only" two glasses on a birthday, which is already two glasses too many in the absolute, is that you do not honor your host.

Refusing a glass of alcohol is frowned on. And if you don't drink, we wonder if it wouldn't be precisely because you're an alcoholic….

I have experienced all these situations. For a long time, I have had a problem with alcohol. Not just because I'm not a fan of it, and when I drink it, it's in the form of cocktails, sweet wines or cider, sweet stuff, to mask the taste. But above all because it is still and always a social marker.

I can't count the times I refused a glass of champagne… while I was (largely) a minor: in my family, a meal cannot be made without a "good wine", a birthday cannot be celebrated without at least dipping its lips in bubbles.

Afterwards, even though I sometimes had a glass of wine in the restaurant, or a cocktail in a club, almost all the people who accompanied me were amazed when at the bar I asked… a glass of water, a fruit juice. I didn't feel like alcohol. And I was thirsty. Especially since in electro club it is super hot, and alcohol dries the body (hence the "helmet" of the next day, FYI: it's just because you are dehydrated).

But I could feel, in the eyes of others, the astonishment, the feeling of lag, or the underlying reproach. I was even sometimes entitled to a comment in person, since alcohol disinhibits: "you don't follow us in the party", "you don't let go", "you don't let go", "you're stuck"… Same with coke, shit, and anything that can happen in the evenings. Even as I had fun like crazy, happy to listen to good sound, to have fun on the dancefloor, and to be with my friends. While I enjoy the sun, the beach – and the rosé gives me migraines not possible.

I do not prevent, for my part, no one from drinking… but I sometimes told someone that he was drinking too much. Because I was afraid for him/her, but also because I didn't want to spend the end of the evening serving as a pillar, and then as a taxi.

Few people I have met, in all my adult years, have not thought about or asked me questions when I abstained from the table of a terrace, or at the restaurant. For a long time, I understood that not drinking was not culturally acceptable in France. I am even convinced that many of those like me who do not like to drink do so just so as not to be rejected by the group.

It must be said that we are also a bad citizen, if we do not keep breweries and winegrowers alive…

This campaign, this film, this report will undoubtedly have very little impact, as alcohol consumption has been in the habits – and it must be said, since the dawn of time. To wonder if man began to experience despair and sadness at the same time as his pre-frontal cortex made him intelligent…Alcohol, it seems, then makes you more cheerful – well, not everyone.

Because I lived many gloomy and embarrassing moments with people who ended the evening in tears, no longer able to hide their depression, or became irritable, aggressive and even violent.

I would really like to be given peace with alcohol. Especially since I do not refuse to have a drink. I just campaign for the right to drink what I want, and when I feel like it. I denounce the terms 'sobriety' and 'abstinence' that we hear when we have to take the car and we want to go home alive. I'm not stuck or psychorigid, I love partying, and I know, quite simply, have fun without the need for alcohol.

Because behind all this, there are many questions. Who among us wonders about his need to drink to "relax", "have fun", "have a good time"? To have the courage to approach this guy, this girl, to dance on the track? Why do we need a substance (whatever it is) to "have fun"? Needing alcohol to enjoy a moment with friends is for me a sign that everything is not going very well in your life… or that we don't really surround ourselves with the right people.

Alcohol is an addictive substance, and many people live in its slavery on a daily basis. Except when you are already born an alcoholic because your mother was an alcoholic during pregnancy, all those who have become addicted to alcohol… drank it!

And in our society, whose culture and religious origin accept the consumption of alcohol, it is easy to move to the dark side. Just add for a while (holidays, a divorce… a few weeks or months) glasses in addition to "daily alcohol" to become addicted. Doctors see it, we are all different, and some will never become addicted while others will soon be.

But as a rule, given our mentalities and cultural habits, it is quite easy to fall into dependence. And it's hell. From which it is so difficult to get out… and to recover from the after-effects. Not to mention the others… those who suffer, those who are taken into his fall.

I knew two close people who were clearly alcoholics. I say 'were', because both died: one killed himself in a car, the other fell asleep with his cigarette and set fire to his apartment. Both were in a state of denial. Both reproached me for not following them in terms of the number of beers, when it was time for an aperitif – or even at 10 a.m. With them, it was worse than with the others: seeing me not drinking certainly sent them back to their own addiction. I tried to talk about it with both, because for me it's the role of a (real) friend. And I paid dearly for it.

I support 200% of addict aid's campaign, whose goal is still to help us be happier, because every addiction is hell. And I salute the modernity and success through the demonstration of this campaign.

But it is very difficult to talk about alcoholism with an alcoholic. As it is difficult to get across the idea that alcohol, well it's not so cool.

I hope that one day attitudes will change. We still observe a decrease in overall consumption, and we notice that the argument "beauty slimming" works quite well: alcohol is caloric … and it damages the body.

Nevertheless some (especially some, and young chicks in particular) have found the parade: they become alcoorexic. In order not to get fat, it is enough to no longer eat. Thus, one can drink…

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Sophie Barbarella

Writer and Public Speaker

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