Dry January anyone? I ‘think’ I have decided that dry January is not enough for me this year. I am going to try going sober for good. In the past I have done dry January each year. Some years I have stayed on for a full dry three months. However, recently I have come to the conclusion that alcohol does me more harm than good. I do not plan to go back to drinking it at all in 2023.
The key words there are ‘do not plan’ and ‘think’ I have decided. I am finding it anxiety inducing to commit to this being it! The idea idea of never drinking alcohol ever again is disturbing at the moment. Famously, it needs to be taken a day at a time. I am quite happy to commit for a week or a month. A year makes me a little nervous. Forever is not on the table as a commitment. It is where I really hope to be one day!
Let me start with the normal caveats here. You read these caveats a lot in all the blogs and background reading I have done. I don’t know why we all feel we need to get these caveats in. I am no different to everyone else in this it seems! Firstly, I have not been in the habit of drinking myself into oblivion or anywhere near it. Secondly, I cannot claim that alcohol has caused any issues with my work nor my relationships. I am just someone who drinks a glass or two (or more) of wine most nights. Oh and more at the weekends. Oh and I have been steadily drinking more and more over the years, for a lot of years. Let’s face it, there is no ‘just’ about it. I have been drinking way way more than is considered healthy in the advice given here in the UK.
Going Sober – so why now?
I would like to make one small point on the advice we are all given. My thinking started to change when I read something that debunked the idea that there is a health benefit from drinking a moderate amount of alcohol. This has guidance always been there at the back of my mind. A reason to drink. I was being told it was good for me! Moderation was always the goal not elimination. This was because that was the healthiest path, or so I had been lead to believe. Turns out that this is not the case at all. The studies that get quoted when promoting the health benefits of drinking in moderation did NOT use people who had NEVER drunk in their control group. They actually used a mix of people in the non-drinker group that included recovering alcoholics!
In fact, I as I am now fully aware, there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to drink. Each and every sip of alcohol we take increases our risk of cancer and has numerous other negative health impacts.
This knowledge had a remarkable impact on me. After I read this I had a little voice at the back of my head telling me I shouldn’t be drinking. Then to add to this, in November 2022 I had a health scare. I am not going to bore you with the details and to be honest it is not yet resolved so I can’t actually give you details. Suffice to say that in the early hours when lying awake worrying about my health I was kicking myself for all the mindless glasses of wine I had drunk without even thinking that hard about them or even enjoying them properly. All I could think was that I had managed to damage my health and I decided that that had to stop!
Going Sober – making the decision
Deciding that I had to stop drinking and actually stopping were two different things entirely. We were in the run up to Christmas with social events and family meals and alcohol everywhere! Initially I decided I would join in with all of the alcohol fuelled celebrations and start going sober after Christmas with everyone else in January!
However, the nagging voice at the back of my head was not happy with this position. I was very busy at work right up until the 23rd of December but once I stopped work and my brain had idle time I knew I couldn’t put off the switch. I had my last drink of alcohol on Christmas Day and then swore my gift to myself for Christmas 2023 would be going sober!
Going Sober – help and support
A couple of days before Christmas I decided I would use the app ‘I Am Sober’. I cannot recommend this app highly enough. There is a free version but I chose to pay a small fee for the full version. The app provides support for people who are trying to give up a huge variety of habits and addictions. I made my sober pledge at midnight on Christmas Day and the counter started. Each day you have to pledge to remain sober and at the end of the day you confirm that you kept your pledge.
There are communities of people using the app. Thousands of like minded people at all stages of their journey and many of them sharing their knowledge and experience. It is a very supportive and informative place. The app allows you to share your own story on a timeline with the people who are at the same stage as you. You can also read the stories of people who are far far ahead in their journey. I find that totally inspiring.
I am rooting for my 26th December cohort and hoping that if not all of us make it, a large proportion will be celebrating our sober anniversary over the holidays in December 2023. There were a few over 4.300 of us started out together.
Now there is just the small matter of getting through my first sober New Year’s Eve for around 40 years!
Wish me luck!
P.S. If you are interested in craft and particularly crochet you might want to check out my craft blog www.stickytapeandstring.co.uk