In May 2022 at the Rugby 7s in Twickenham I drank alcohol for the last time - at the time I didn’t realise it would be but after several pints I felt the usual self-hatred & unhappiness appear.
The next day I uttered the words I’m sure we’ve all said before; ‘I’m never drinking again’ only this time it stuck. Last week I celebrated 500 days without Alcohol & I’ve never been happier.
I have what I would call a typical story when it comes to drinking in the UK. I started drinking as a late teen, went off to university & my relationship with alcohol intensified. I joined a sports society as a way to ‘make friends’ (aka get drunk at Socials) & I never really stopped.
In my first role after university there was a joke that I had a drunk alter-ego who wasn’t very nice. Although it wasn’t really a joke, I was very unhappy, my self confidence was so low & I took this out on others.
When I first joined Osome in 2021, we were coming out of various lockdowns & itching for some social connection. Going for drinks on a Thursday was a common occurrence & we were in a WeWork at the time so I took full advantage of the free beer.
Waking up hungover was a common occurrence (as was falling over on the tube) & my anxiety started to become unmanageable.
So why did I go sober?
I remember I started talking about quitting drinking in January but it took me until May to actually stop.
I’d known for a while that it was affecting my friendships & work life.
I’d started to sabotage friendships that were precious to me & my self confidence was in the gutter. I never slept well & woke up anxious every single day. My head was so muddled and I needed to do something about it.
I wanted to quit to feel good about myself, not ruin my relationships & also, my bank account.
I sat down & calculated how much I’d spent on Alcohol in the previous 3 months. I realised I’d spent roughly £1000 on Alcohol alone. That didn’t include the Ubers, Deliveroo’s when I was drunk or hungover (shamefully it was multiple orders a day) & other random costs.
In order to motivate myself I downloaded TryDry which gamified my sobriety. I aimed for streaks of Sobriety, first a 7 day streak then a 14 day streak, when I got to 30 I wanted to aim for 60 days & so on.
Within a week of quitting my sleep improved & my acid-reflux stopped. It took a while for my anxiety to reduce but eventually it did & I realised that alcohol was the root cause. I no longer skipped workouts because I was hungover & generally became more active.
I also saved over £5000 that would have been spent on Alcohol. Admittedly - I spent that money on travelling to Australia & other trips - but in my opinion that far outweighs getting sloshed after work on a Thursday.
When I have bad days I always try to think about how far I’ve come in the past 500+ days & how much better I feel.
If you are considering quitting - I’d like to highlight that if you are thinking about quitting, physical alcohol withdrawals are a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing these please contact a Medical Professional.
If you want to quit - my key piece of advice I would give is to think about your WHY.
When I decided I wanted to stop drinking I got a few comments of ‘yeah right, I’ve heard that before’. The important thing to remember is that if you’re trying to quit - for me I wanted to improve my mental health & I used this as motivation. You don’t need to explain your reasoning to anyone if you don’t want to.
If you are supporting someone who wants to stop drinking the number one thing I would suggest is to not make them feel bad for not drinking. I WAS THIS PERSON. My own insecurity thought that I had HAD to drink to have fun & I’ve learnt that simply isn’t the case. I’d argue I’m more fun now.
Come on, just have one!, I never thought you had a problem, I don’t trust people who don’t drink..
Show up for them, show interest & tell them you’re proud of them. You don’t know what they might be going through or why they’ve decided to do this.