(Me actually thin because I don’t drink 10,000 calories a week)
Had you had said I’d be sitting here celebrating two years alcohol free a few years ago, I would have looked at you like you had just emerged from a volcano with a rainbow shooting out of your arsehole. But you know what? Here we are. It has been two years since I decided that giving up alcohol was the best way to deal with my anxiety, and it has worked. Someone told me on Twitter the other day I had encouraged them to give up alcohol, so I wanted to share some tips that might help anyone looking to do this.
Deciding to give up alcohol
I look back now on some of the previous posts I’ve written about giving up alcohol, and it feels like I haven’t been drinking for so much longer than two years. It’s weird how something that is such a big part of your life can eventually fade to nothing. I was never the sort of person who had what you would call “a drinking problem”, but when I went for it, I went for it. I became the sort of person that couldn’t just have one. I realised I was taking things WAY too far every time I did have a drink. Knowing what I am like and that I would never be the sort of person that would be able to have one or two and head home, I decided to give up drinking all together. The funny thing is, despite how much I loved a drink, I knew I’d do better if I gave up entirely. Everyone was pretty supportive, but considering how much I did love drinking I don’t think anyone held out hope I would manage to see it through.
The first couple of months
I’m not going to lie to anyone reading this, the first couple of months were hard. I’ll never forget the first non-drinking event I had. It was my best friends baby shower meal. I drank tea. A meal is a pretty quiet affair, so I don’t remember being particularly bothered that everyone else was hammered. But I do remember thinking I’d leave it a while before I went out again in an environment where everyone was drinking. The first couple of months are a struggle. If you are going to give up drinking you might need to avoid a few social situations initially. Hopefully you’ll have good friends that understand.
Failing a bit
I had two set backs. One was my work Christmas do, where I got drunk for the first time in 3 months, made a tit of myself, needed to be put in an Uber home and slept through my alarm the next day. I luckily didn’t get fired, and I had finally broken into advertising, so I was incredibly cross at myself for putting that opportunity in jeopardy. Before this I also had a setback on holiday, where I did basically the same process. The anxiety I suffered after the second time put me off for life. If you think the anxiety is bad when you drink often, you can’t begin to imagine how bad it is if you haven’t drunk for ages.
Finally cracking it
I can’t pinpoint when it happened. But a few months in, the temptation to drink alcohol just left me. I asked my friend for a vodka and coke once a few months after giving up, and I took a couple of sips and realised I did not want it at all. Even if I was faced with a lifetime of free alcohol (which I basically am now in my job), I wouldn’t drink it. It wasn’t even a case of giving in to temptation. The temptation simply isn’t there. I can happily go to bars, clubs and festivals with my friends and happily drink my water. No dramas what so ever. In fact, I accidentally drank two huge mouthfuls of G&T at the Crystal Maze a few weeks back and I threw up in Piccadilly station. Nice! one of the resources that really helped me was this book Stop Drinking Now: The Easy Way (Allen Carr’s Easy Way). It really helps you to get into a different mindset.
I think where a lot of people fail at giving up alcohol is not realising that once you do crack the first few months, and it stops becoming habit to drink, it literally wont ever be a challenge again. Also, you won’t believe how good the perks are, like sleeping like a baby every night, being able to come off of anxiety medication and losing 3.5 stone in 2 years.