It all started when I was killing time in my local library, with my kids. A book caught my eye by Allen Carr, ‘The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking’. I thought ‘I don’t want to quit but that will help my Dry January be easier’. I decided to read it.
Then, an interview on the radio led me to Catherine Gray’s book ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’. There were also a couple of other experts on the interview. Two things struck me in what they said:
‘You need to give up for 3 months to really start to see the benefits’
‘There is no safe level of alcohol consumption with regards to breast cancer risk’.
Hmmmm. This, together with the two books, was becoming convincing.
Now, if you’d ask me to give up before I read the books, I would have said:
‘I don’t need to give up alcohol – I only drink a few days a week and not generally to excess’
‘I don’t want to give it up, I like drinking’
‘I don’t have a problem with drinking at all & have cut down in my 40s’
‘I’m happy with my dry January health kick’ etc
But actually so much of our thinking around alcohol is drummed into us from childhood onwards. It is embedded in our culture, movies, marketing etc and hence we learn to associate it with fun times, celebrations, parties, drowning our sorrows, relaxing us when stressed etc.
But the books make you wake up and realise it’s all just unconscious programming. After all, how can the same substance both liven you up AND calm you down when you’re stressed?
The hard truth, that we like to ignore, is that alcohol is:
- A poison
- A depressant & addictive drug
- A known carcinogen
- Hugely calorific
- A big risk factor for heart disease, cirrhosis, strokes, hypertension, dementia etc
- Damaging to our immune system, a sleep disrupter, affects fertility & memory etc.
All this new knowledge was hard to ignore so, in January 2019, my Husband and I decided to give up alcohol for 3 months.
Amazingly – and we were really amazed – we didn’t miss it at all, because we had changed our thinking.
It didn’t take ANY willpower – unlike any previous Dry Jan or when I was pregnant.
We didn’t mind other people drinking around us as there was no sense of missing out. We loved not needing taxis, not arguing over who would have to drive, not feeling hungover or wiped out on a weekend, having loads more energy, sleeping more soundly, enjoying AND remembering fun evenings out.
We got to the 3 month mark and just carried on – there was nothing missing and no desire to drink again. We’ve since completed a whole year, effortlessly including every event we would normally do but all sober & all enjoyable.
On a fun night, with plenty of laughter, we can often come home and feel ‘tipsy’ and as if we have been drinking. A feeling we would have once assumed was due to the booze – it’s not, it’s due to the fun and the company. I even hosted an entirely sober evening where everyone felt like they were drinking & thoroughly enjoyed it.
There are just two downsides to being sober:
- The selection of non-alcoholic beers/drinks in pubs is terrible – a wedge of lime helps.
- You end up being a bit of a curiosity and hence get asked about it a lot which can get repetitive.
I may not have had any desire to become a sober person but I’m very glad it happened as the benefits, both short and long-term, are huge.
Sue Saker is a Life Coach & Relationship Coach and can be reached via www.suesaker.co.uk