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Not drinking for a bit

We didn’t call it a dry-athalon or try and go on about it too much hopefully, but we did somehow end up not drinking during January. We didn’t start immediately as it seemed a little odd to not have a glass of wine with our food on New Years day but since then we avoided all contact with the stuff.

I’ve never really considered giving up booze but over the years beer, and drink in general, has crept further and further into my life. Whether working late at work, relaxing in the evening, meeting people, weekends, dinners etc, booze has very much been a part of it. A pint of Guinness there, a can of Red Stripe there, a glass of wine with dinner, a G+T after a stressful day etc, it all adds up. The worst part being that your liver needs a break I guess and it’s just not getting it. I’m not suggesting that I’ve ever had a problem with the stuff, as I’m too much of a control freak, but booze pervades almost every part of my life at times. I’ve been weak too and it’s just easy to grab a drink as a habit.

We tentatively floated the idea and both agreed to do it for at least a month, or try. So we took all the booze that was in the house and moved it to the top shelf in the kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind so they say. At least it wasn’t looking at you in the face each time you were in the kitchen.

Forbidden fruit

And yes it’s a fairly random selection of drink. The Bells is for hot drinks with lemon and not to drink with coke or anything, and the Desperados – what can I say… I quite like one every now and then.

I guess booze is like any drug. It’s bloody hard to give up and we found the first few days painful, oh so painful. Trying to break out of the habit was really difficult, especially at the weekends where we might grab a few drinks and watch a film together. It’s hard breaking those ties or links to activities that usually involve a wee drink. Aleks likened my Twitter posts about not drinking to the five stages of grief which she seemed to find amusing. Those stages being, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

So what do you replace it with? Well chocolate seemed to be a suitable substitute but it’s not quite right to replace it with another vice. But your body seems to want something else. We both ended up drinking a lot more water and have both lost a bit of weight as a result. It seems to have been a good thing to re-visit and reassess your relationship with alcohol, not as a detox* but just because you should probably have a break. I’ve also slept better, felt far fitter on the bike, had better sense of well being and not been such a grumpy arse. The latter has come back as the stress levels have risen again. It’s also a lot better for the bank balance, not shelling out all that cash at the corner shop on Red Stripe each evening.

And the strangest thing.. well we could have started drinking on Sat, but we didn’t. There seems to be a slight sense of fear of going back to the old ways, or maybe it’s just that we’ve broken that bond and we’re more able to say no? It would be nice to have a drink again but to keep it as a treat, just at weekends or something perhaps. Regardless it has been a fascinating experience to see how you react when something like this is taken away or you try to limit yourself in some way. I even had a crazy idea of trying to give up booze, chocolate and coffee but that really was scary. It does make you think that it could be quite achievable with enough will power. There’s something quite liberating about taking control of all that again. Perhaps we’re at the final stage of our grief, acceptance.

* I read Bad Science this year so avoid the term Detox at all costs now.