As Dawn the Drinker, I was well known for getting far too excited, far too early. For example, I’d always get hammered the night before a wedding in anticipation for the next day & generally spend the first few hours at the ceremony feeling like death, propped up against a wall, my face an interesting shade of green.
I was the same with holidays. The night before, whilst packing, I would always indulge in at least a bottle of the white stuff, with the end result being a stonking hangover to travel with. It was also compulsory to have a few large glasses at the airport .. the only thing that would stop me was if the hangover was too severe!
This year, it’s going to be very different. And whilst I’m a little apprehensive, I’m also a little intrigued to feel what it feels like to travel and enjoy a holiday completely sober.Ironically, I’m going to the land of wine, cheese & baguette, a Sober Slimming World persons dream (or nightmare). I’ve been to France many times before however was mainly drunk or eating carbs. It will be interesting to see how the French ‘cope’ with me as not sure the non alcoholic choices are going to be extensive. I’m also interested to know what it feels like to wake up with vigour every day rather than stumbling out of bed, gasping for water.
Historically, I have never moved much on holiday .. mainly to the fridge or the bar .. but this time will be a novelty as I still need to walk 50 miles towards my challenge. I will be packing my trainers for the first time ever & am still getting used to the thought of the essential space they will take up in my minuscule hand luggage.
And then there’s my holiday money, previously spent on copious amounts of alcohol & cigarettes. I’m still debating how much I’ll need .. it’s like being a born again holiday virgin .. and I’m guessing that this time, I might actually come back with some Euros in my wallet!
One of the common things I’ve been asked this week is how to take the plunge, how to ‘go sober’ forever?
It’s not easy. I’m not going to tell you it is for several reasons.
1. You will blame me when it’s bloody hard
2. It is bloody hard
3. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and be rich & healthy & happy
Sometimes, ‘forever’ is too huge to contemplate. We are told most things aren’t forever anyway, so why should this be any different? Humans are stubborn creatures. Threaten to take something away and we want it more, gorge on it even. It’s like when you go on a diet, you become more hungry right? Wrong. You just become obsessed with food and the problem escalates.
When I became sober, I set myself a challenge for a year. I based my idea on an article I read showing before and after photos and I was inspired. Whilst I didn’t think I looked that bad facially, I knew I was massively overweight and that becoming sober would hopefully help with weight loss.
I then started to read articles written by people who had given up alcohol for a year. They advised to take things slowly, build up from a day to a week to a month to 90 days to 6 months to a year. This was the best piece of advice I was given. Small chunks were far more manageable. Plus I like a challenge and the joy as I reached each one gave me a far bigger high than a glass of Sauvignon.
If you take things slowly, you are also healing better. You can’t keep picking the scab! Gross analogy but perfect in this instance! Let yourself heal slowly. Your body has been abused for most of your life .. it will take time to adjust.
Becoming sober is not just about swapping your drinks. It’s about changing your lifestyle. You will go to bed earlier as your body will crave sleep to heal. You will then have more energy and need to exercise to expel it. This will change your food choices as you won’t want to contaminate your temple. You will become thirstier for water as your body rehydrates and your skin will start to glow. You will feel better and become happier.
Everything is linked. Just by removing one component, your life will change in every way. Break the habit and take your time. Ride the cravings & emotions. Use your support network. Eat chocolate and drink fizzy drinks. Do things that make you happy and fill your time. You only get one life .. make sure you live it .. don’t drown in it.
10+ Before-And-After Pics Show What Happens When You Stop Drinking
Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine a time without alcohol. But for most of us, we managed to live for quite a few years alcohol free and had fun. Becoming sober is trying to return yourself to that state before alcohol appeared, to a carefree time before feelings got involved.
I don’t exactly remember my first drink. I’m sure I sipped some beer when I was very young and hated it. That feeling never changed & I still dislike beer. I don’t remember my first taste of wine but am pretty sure I didn’t like that either. It’s a strong taste for a young palette.So how do we change from small, young innocent beings, alcohol free and haters, into proper wine monsters?
The biggest reason for me was peer pressure. ‘Everybody did it’. It was naughty to sneak alcohol from the drinks cupboard, to drink cheap cider and fortified wine in the park with the big boys. What’s even more ironic is that it was cheap, nasty & disgusting drinks got us hooked .. drinks that made us sick.
When I started drinking ‘proper’ wine, I loved the medium to sweet version, mainly German, with ingenious names like Hock (my friends with more sophisticated tastes kindly renamed it ‘Cock’). I liked it because it was easier to drink than a stark dry white and could soon nail a bottle to myself without being sick. I saw this as a breakthrough as most alcohol made me ill. Did I listen to my body? No, I listened to my peers.
I remember ‘drinking alone’ being described as a characteristic of an alcoholic and so I always ensured I drank with other people. Another herd mentality. It was ok if ‘they’ were doing it, perfectly acceptable. So we drank in packs before we left the house … if we managed to leave the house.
It’s hard to break free, to turn your back on the crowd and do something different. It takes strength, courage and conviction. The ‘crowd’ may not like your decision but this is your life, your choice. Who says your choice is wrong and their choice is right? Why is ‘with the majority’ the safest place to be? Perhaps the majority are making the biggest mistake of their lives and you are a pioneer in Soberdom?
One of the bravest things you can do is stand up for yourself, to say ‘no’ when most people say ‘yes’. Don’t be afraid to do that. I can guarantee you won’t be the only person in your friendship group considering whether they have an alcohol problem. It’s rife, but shame & embarrassment are easier to bury than to admit.
Let’s change the majority rule into looking after ourselves, loving ourselves even? Let’s break the mould for generations to come and make sober the way forward instead of smashed. Let’s make Elderflower the drink of the century rather than Prosecco. Let’s make hangovers a thing of the past.
Sober For 2017 was just that. An experiment for a year, to give my body a break from the constant cycle of poison and hangovers. I’m not sure it crossed my mind at the beginning that I possibly wouldn’t drink again .. the intention was always to celebrate the completion of a sober year by getting pissed up on Prosecco!
I knew I could abstain from alcohol for short periods of time. I’d completed Dry January before. I’d even pushed Dry January into mid February one year, but never got further than that. My thinking was that, in the grand scheme of things, a year isn’t that long right?
By the time I’d hit January this year, I’d already been sober for 5 weeks. I’d survived Christmas and New Year and had lots of Dry January contenders on my wagon. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone but I must admit that January made me assess the enormity of the task ahead.
A year now felt like a very long time and made me start to question just what I’d taken on. I started thinking about alcohol free holidays and weddings and sober parties and gatherings. And it scared the shit out of me. I mean, can you actually have fun without getting absolutely annihilated? That’s what social occasions are all about right?
I began to understand that Sober For 2017 wasn’t just about choosing soda instead of Sauvignon. It wasn’t just about saying no to Prosecco and gaining a love for coffee. No, it was a complete lifestyle change. Saying no to booze was literally the tip of the iceberg.
Becoming sober changes everything. It affects your sleep, your energy levels, your friendships, your work, your social life, your opinions, your conversations, your tolerance levels, your happiness, your emotions. Once you stop harming yourself, you can see exactly how much damage you were doing in your little bubble of doom.
I think my peak of excitement and pride was hitting 90 days. I was high as a kite with happiness! It felt like such an achievement. I’d gone further than I’d ever been before and I was starting to see the benefits. The blog was growing at amazing speed and the weight was falling off. I think it was around this point that I started to realise that Soberdom was for life, not just for 2017.
Today, I’ve achieved the next milestone of 6 months sober. I’m still astounded this is me. Party animal, night owl, pisshead extraordinaire. My life has changed beyond measure.
It is truly unbelievable how much influence one substance can have on your life. Alcohol is a believed to be a fundamental part of adult life, of British culture. When are we going to wake up and understand it is an addictive drug that ruins lives? When are we going to start teaching the next generation that there is life beyond alcohol, that we are ok as human beings and don’t need a crutch to enjoy ourselves?
When is there going to be a campaign against alcohol like there is about other drugs? When are we going to explain that alcohol doesn’t make you sexy/happy/rich/slim? In fact it makes you the complete opposite.
My intention is not to drink again however, as a former drinker, I am realistic enough to never say never. My ambition to remain sober is strong and I am a firm believer that if you want something enough, your dreams can become a reality. Soberdom is not easy but neither was my life before. At least now I get quality sleep & my skin looks good!
The universal rule for Soberdom is ‘one day at a time’. It’s a great rule. Apply it to everything. Enjoy every moment. Life is too short to spend it in an alcoholic fug. Stop waiting for Friday and treat Monday like it’s the best day ever. Jump on my wagon and enjoy the ride. It will be the best decision you ever made.
1. Do not glamourise the first drink .. remember the phrase ‘one is too many, a thousand is never enough’.
2. Flood your mind .. read books about giving up alcohol, read blogs, join online support groups, listen to podcasts. Literally drown out the irritating voice telling you alcohol is the answer.
3. Create new habits to replace the old .. try jigsaws, cooking, crochet, colouring, crosswords, writing. Take up a sport, clean, sort out your finances/cupboards/love life.
4. Sleep is vital .. you are repairing your damaged body .. let it rest, let it repair. Don’t feel bad. If you’re tired, you’re tired for a reason. Go with it.
5. Find a strategy to ride the cravings .. eat chocolate if you have to, find your favourite alcohol free drink & drink lots of it, go for a run, anything that keeps your mind busy & satisfied.
6. Break time into chunks .. a day at a time .. build to a week .. then a month .. then 3 months. Forever will freak you out in the early stages. Don’t freak out.
7. Reward yourself. You are doing an amazing thing. You deserve treats.
8. Avoid social situations where alcohol is present in the early days. Don’t torture yourself! Remember, you’re not missing out when you’re not drinking .. you ARE missing out when you are.
9. Find a buddy/accountability partner .. someone who you have an affinity with .. maybe you share a sobriety date or maybe you live in the same town. Stay close & in touch .. you will spur each other on when you’re feeling vulnerable.
10. Buy a tin from the pound shop. Every time you would’ve bought a drink, put the money in the tin. You’ll be surprised how quickly it mounts up. Save for something special. Visualise how amazing it will feel when you get your treat & enjoy it when you finally do.
** these are not scientific facts, they are based on my journey & what helped me **
I thank you