Hi there, I want to have a quick discussion my friends. Not looking to toot my own horn but, today marks two years sober for me. I think alcohol is a relatively un-discussed issue in the professional community, especially tech and startup culture.
A bit of a brief history on me, is that I used to be quit the drinker and alcoholic. I started drinking when I studied abroad in Korea, and kept it up when I came back. It caused me to lose my dream job and almost become homeless. I eventually got a job but still kept on drinking. I had a minor health scare and stopped drinking completely, that was two years ago.
Things are going well now. I quit smoking, got a better job, increased my skills a whole bunch, got a dog, and just all around am doing better! The increase in mental clarity and acuity from not drinking and smoking is insane. Its like I'm two times smarter almost!
However, I want to talk about alcohol in dev culture. From beer on tap in startups, to encouraging going out and getting plastered as 'team building', alcohol is very prevalent. All tech events seem to have beer in cans or bottles at a minimum. This doesn't bother me anymore, though it made not drinking difficult when starting out.
For the newly sober this can be a death sentence, and for the rest of us, its a minor worry.
"Will I be seen as an uncool prude if I don't go out and drink? Will people judge me?"
"Should I reveal my past drinking so that my coworkers keep me accountable?"
"Will my past drinking prevent a promotion or limit my career options?"
"Can I safely go to rehab without losing all my PTO or sick days, and have no one ask about it? I don't want everyone to know."
These are the kinds of questions some of us will ask ourselves. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this, but I wish people would think more about the impact of alcohol culture in their companies. A lot of events will have some La Croix or soda, and that's great! However, it feel like a shitty consolation prize. The company "splurges" on the good beer, and you get a canned coca-cola. Maybe also "splurge" on the fancy sodas, or have a fancy mocktail, or something else at your event. This is also good for people who don't drink culturally such as Muslims, or who have other health issues.
Lastly I want to say to anyone who is struggling with alcohol here, feel free to reach out to me. I used mostly reddit.com/r/stopdrinking to stop, but also kept busy with meetups and video games. There's no one way to stop drinking, alcoholics anonymous, rehab facilities, retreats, SMART programs, whatever. Your doctor has loads of resources to help you, they won't judge you and will help you repair any damage you've done.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy some ice cream tonight for me! I for one, am not drinking.