Giving up alcohol – 1 year alcohol free

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(Here is a pointless selfie to illustrate my post)

Before I start I just want to add a disclaimer to my giving up alcohol story. Despite how well I’ve done to be a year alcohol free, people seem desperate to remind me there have been a couple of occasions where I drank. I had a few on holiday in October, a couple of glasses at a wine tasting and a mulled wine at Christmas. I’m still going to be proud considering I have gone from drinking 3 – 4 times a week to drinking 3 – 4 times a year. Giving up alcohol is the best thing I have ever done for myself – EVER.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting here writing a blog post to celebrate one year of sobriety, I would have called you mental. As much as I knew I wanted to give up and that it was for the best – I still didn’t think I would actually achieve it. I didn’t even know the “last time” I drank would be the last time. After waking up feeling horrific after a friends BBQ and yet again not remembering a thing – I decided enough was enough.

One of the funniest things I remember doing was literally telling everyone. It sounds strange but there was a method to my madness. If I told everyone I was giving up alcohol for good and then didn’t I would look like the worlds biggest dick. So going into September I started my sober journey and I can’t describe how shocked I am at how little desire I have to drunk ever again. Luckily enough, the first event I had to have my willpower tested was a baby shower at a restaurant in Billericay. Going for a meal is a great treat when you don’t drink because you can just eat all of the food. Never one to do things by halves, instead of drinking coke or lemonade and encountering no questions, I drank very obvious tea. Not because I wanted people to ask why, just because I fancied it. A few weeks later it was the first of the 30th birthdays. Yes – I picked the year all of my school friends and myself turned 30 to go sober. This was actually a bottomless brunch, so I assumed it would be really challenging. If anything it really helped. By this point because I had been off of alcohol for a few weeks the smell of prosecco actually made me feel quite sick.

Because the majority of my friends are adults with kids and homes, unlike me, the next couple of months were uneventful. I had a mulled wine at Christmas at a blogging event, because I really fancied it, but I couldn’t even finish it. The next thing that would strike as a “challenge” would be my own 30th birthday in February. As it was too much hard work to get everyone to come to somewhere with actually good music like Ministry, we just went for a meal and to a local club. I wasn’t even tempted to drink.

Around April time I was invited to a wine tasting in Covent Garden through my blog (well Instagram). Because I was doing so well I decided that if this was a wine tasting, I was going to treat myself. I’d now done around 8 months alcohol free and was feeling pretty good, a few drinks wouldn’t hurt would they? Well actually, it turns out when you don’t drink, a few drinks hurts a LOT. After having no more than four half glasses of wine I was being so ill the next day I felt like I had been poisoned.

One of the best things I did when I first decided to give up was to buy Stop Drinking Now: The Easy Way (Allen Carr’s Easy Way). this really helped me reassess my relationship with alcohol.

Tips for giving up alcohol

Figure out what you are going to tell everyone

You do not need to justify yourself to ANYONE about not drinking alcohol, but people will naturally ask. I find it a bit of a buzzkill to say in a party atmosphere “oh actually it makes my mental health horrendous”, so I usually just go with weight-loss.

Tell your friends

Your friends will be the biggest support to you when you give up alcohol, so get them on-board to support you. Even your wider circle of acquaintances will end up being a huge support when you are at social gatherings.

Expect the first few weeks to be hard 

This is just down to drinking being a habit at certain times and on certain occasions. Once you “break” the habit it will become easier and easier not to drink. It will actually get to the point where you wouldn’t be able to imagine drinking.

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip

No one is perfect. There is no point at all in being crazy hard on yourself if you do slip up. I have had a couple and they have just served to remind me how bad my anxiety really is when I drink.

Treat yourself

Giving up drinking helped me to lose 2.5 stone over a year. I tend to also walk to Oxford Circus for work from Fenchurch Street about 3 – 4 times a week. Do you know what this means? I can absolutely without a doubt eat what I want and still lose weight. Because I am not drinking empty calories I can enjoy the luxury of not having to diet.

Think of the money

Alcohol is SO expensive. I honestly look at my bank now and wonder how I ever afforded to drink in the first place!

Products that helped me give up alcohol

As I have mentioned already, this book really helped me. Not only did it make me see the way I did drink alcohol in a different light, but it made me realise a few home truths about alcohol as a substance.

Now if I go to a party or a gathering I just drink water, but when I first gave up alcohol there was definitely a sense of “missing out”. Thankfully, alcohol free options are now widely available. My favourite alcohol free alcohol was “Nosecco” as, of course, being from Essex, my favourite drink used to be prosecco.

As part of a wider health kick, I got quite in to meditation to manage my anxiety. I’m not very good at just switching off so I used guided meditation CD’s. Also, I started taking a daily multi-vitamin to ensure that I really was getting all of the benefits of my new alcohol-free, healthy lifestyle.

So what did I do on those nights I had to stay in because I didn’t think I’d be able to resist temptation? I bet the boredom by buying the boxset of The OC and re-watching the entire thing!

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