Men’s Week – ‘A Journey from Heavy Drinker to Sobriety’ by The Sober Yorkshireman

Men’s Week – ‘A Journey from Heavy Drinker to Sobriety’ by The Sober Yorkshireman

Hi, my name is Karl; I’m also known as ‘The Sober Yorkshireman’.

My drinking started when I was about fourteen/fifteen years old, as it did with lots of people brought up in the nineties. I started off drinking bottles of hooch and white lightning in my local park and this soon progressed to drinking beers at lunchtime when I got my first paid job as an adult.

Initially, I thought it was amazing that lunchtime meant a beer and a burger, however, soon it became two beers and a burger, and within four years, I was managing three to four beers in that time. This habit inevitably made me very unproductive in the afternoon and I regularly got behind on my work-load. This made me stressed, which led me straight back to the pub after work to de-stress. Yes, it was a vicious circle which was easy to slip into.

When I was twenty-one, I left that job which was in a career that could of taken me far and wide; I handed in my notice with no job to go to because my life was a mess and my drinking was my priority. I eventually found a job labouring on a building site but my habits never stopped. I’d just go from the building site to the pub.

This started me on a cycle of doing dead-end jobs with no career prospects. At one point, I was even unemployed for two years but still my drinking continued.

In 2008 aged twenty-seven, I managed to find a driving job that I liked. I was essentially my own boss and it gave me the freedom and opportunity to see lots of the Yorkshire countryside. In December 2011, I got my lorry licence which was something I’d wanted to do for years. In addition, my daughter was born in early January 2012. She was a complete surprise as we’d been unaware my partner at the time was pregnant!!

It was a huge shock to our world. We were both living with our respective parents and so I decided to move into my partner’s parent’s house so that we could bring up our daughter together. Even though we struggled for money, I still managed to go to the pub every night after work.

In August 2012, I changed jobs again to get more money, which hopefully meant I could start saving for an house. Unfortunately, our relationship broke down in March 2013 and I moved back to my parents house.

From the day I moved out, I started paying maintenance. This meant I had to scrap my plans to get a mortgage. I’d always worried about money but now it was stressing me out daily so I just went to my sanctuary (the pub) at every opportunity I could to blot it out.

My life went from bad to worse. I started dabbling with Class A drugs and was drinking what most people would consume on a Friday night on every single night of the week.

I started using dating sites to get my fix of attention as my self-worth was non-existent. Nothing lasted long though as the dates either wanted to change me and stop my drinking or I wanted to get back to my mates and the pub.

I could see that my family were also hating the amount I was drinking and so, to escape the crowd, I started drinking alone. I stopped taking drugs but all this meant that I was turning into a loner drinker. I’d find myself in a pub where I knew nobody, sitting alone, and drinking my nights and my life away. 

In January 2016, I decided to do Dry January and actually lasted ten weeks into early March. I then decided to try moderation; my plan was to drink on a Friday or Sunday, but for the next 6 weeks, I drank every single day.

That was when I truly hit rock bottom. In May 2016, I remember seeing a TV programme by Louis Theroux called ‘Drinking to Oblivion’ and it really struck a cord with me. The next day, whilst driving in my lorry, I said to myself ‘you need to give this up. You can’t go on living your life like this anymore’.

Later that week, I called my local alcohol support group ‘Forward Leeds’.

They said they could help me the following day but due to work commitments, it wasn’t a possibility. The next available appointment was 5 weeks later on a Wednesday evening. I agreed to it but in the meantime I decided to try to find some online support.

One of the support groups I found suggested I choose the date to stop drinking and so I chose 1 June 2016. The day before was a bank holiday and I drank all day and got smashed.

That was last day I ever drank alcohol. With the help of my online support group and Forward Leeds, I’m now over 2.5 years sober.

There are so many positives to being sober.

I’ve met an amazing woman on a sober dating site. She lives 200 miles away from my Yorkshire roots in Ascot and I’m moving to be with her at Easter in a house we’ve bought together and renovated.

I’ve done sober weddings, stag parties and even a lads trip to Dublin, all without touching a drop of alcohol.

Everyday I try to better myself. I now eat a plant-based diet, have ditched coffee and started meditation, running and the gym. I’m also looking to start Crossfit in the near future.

In January 2017, I started a blog. My partner and I also blog together and in January 2019, we launched our own sober support group to help others get sober (see below for links).

Since becoming alcohol-free, we have both lost weight and got fit. I ran my first marathon in May 2018.

My life has never been so good; it’s like I’ve been given a second chance at life. Now we want to give other people the opportunity to see how our lives have got changed and help them get a second chance at life too


Written by Karl, edited by Sober Fish

Blog –

Instagram @thesoberyorkshireman

Instagram @soberfitcouple

Our support group –



Can a leopard change its spots?

Can a leopard change its spots?

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. 


Looking after number 1

Looking after number 1

Before soberdom, ‘loving yourself’ always seemed a bit of a weird concept to me. People say, ‘you can’t expect someone else to love you if you don’t love yourself’ but I used to think that loving yourself seemed a bit, well, up your own arse. 

‘Oh look at her over there, she really lurves herself’.

I have friends who saw the sober light of day a lot faster than I did. It was all about responding to your inner child and buying organic and ‘loving yourself’. I was inwardly incredulous. Really? Inner child? Really? Buying organic? Really? If I’m honest, it wasn’t really inspiring me to gravitate to the other side. Instead I kept drowning her.

But now, slowly, without the fog of alcohol and the black cloud of the relationshit, I can finally understand what the hell my friends were talking about.

Instead of ‘learning to love myself’ or ‘practicing self love’ (because that just sounds well dodge), I’m going to call it learning to care for myself. I can now see how much I was damaging myself through smoking, drinking and eating shite, and I don’t just mean physically. Why, as an intelligent person, I couldn’t see this before, God only knows. But hey, the light is now burning bright, shining straight into my retinas.

I have found a new admiration for my poor old damaged body and mind. By nurturing from the outside, the inside is starting to heal. I’m starting to appreciate that I look far better without poison pulsating through my veins, and that I feel much better too. I’m learning that I’m not as repulsive as I’ve felt in recent years and that unpickled, my brain is actually far more productive than I ever thought possible. 

I am actually buying organic. Yes, me. Incredulous, cynical little old me. I’m covered in only the finest natural products. I’m bloody eating hemp (I know!) and showering in Dead Sea minerals. I can’t quite believe it myself. But it’s doing the trick. 

I feel bad for the little pickled me inside but slowly, she is drying out. She knows I’m starting to nurture her and listen to her and for the first time in probably 3 decades, I am actually trying to look after her. She is definitely not crying as much as she used to and that’s a good start. We just need to work on the amount of Elderflower and chocolate ice cream she’s demanding but for now, while she’s unpickling, she can have what she wants. After all, I’ve got years of making up to do.