I love alcohol. I like social drinking. I enjoy a glass of wine while watching my favourite shows and the feeling of a cold, refreshing beer after a long day. Although I drink fairly often, I’ve never really considered giving up alcohol. However, I also like a challenge.
I’ve never had a bad habit to kick – or that I wanted to kick! I’ve definitely never had an addiction to quit. But the idea of quitting alcohol and being ‘Sober for October’ for Macmillan Cancer Support did daunt me a little. Especially as for some reason my social life actually got busier, and I had a party, gatherings, and celebrations to join. You certainly don’t need alcohol to join in, but as I have always been a social drinker, I dread the questions or the people asking if I’m sure I don’t want a drink and having to explain myself over and over.
This is a bit of a cheat as I didn’t give it up forever. But it was a challenge nonetheless. One friend in particular said she didn’t think I would do it, that I had no willpower. Well, thanks to her, my stubbornness allowed me to take on the task! She came round a few days later trying to offer me wine! She was celebrating a work promotion and it was long awaited. While it would have been great, as we often try different red wines together, I was…strong? Stubborn again maybe!
Giving up alcohol.
The first week was odd, as I was doing it, but not naturally. I ended up just drinking a lot more tea in the evenings than I usually do. That, and pineapple juice. I was surprised at how much more difficult I found choosing a drink with no alcohol content. Usually I fancy a wine or beer or a spirit, but this time I just had to drink out of necessity – boring! It’s not that I drink every night, but the option is always there when I fancy something refreshing that’s not tea.
I thought it would begin a health kick, but it didn’t at all. It just became normal, I still ate loads of junk, but accompanied it with tea rather than wine. After the first week, especially weekend – when my boyfriend and I would usually get some beers in and relax – it felt completely natural.
I went out for a birthday party in town, but just had lemonade without the usual tequila! Although I went home quite early, I think that was more due to the company and my mood than lack of alcohol. I still stayed up all night listening to music and having fun with my boyfriend. I also tried an amazing mocktail in Brown’s that I’ve had a few times since.
My flatmates seemed to be drinking more than they ever had, and I felt I missed out on that hanging out with drinks a bit.
The next weekend, I had a big birthday party to attend. I did miss drinking a bit, just because everyone was so drunk, and I felt far too in my own mind, and think I looked a bit stand offish too. However, I danced all night and was there until the end, getting home in the early hours.
I finished the month with a big Halloween night out, and some awful, cheap cocktails at the venue, but after a month of giving up alcohol, it was fun to have some again!
With all these nights out, the thing I missed most was coming home from work, going to the fridge, popping open a beer and relaxing for the evening. I could do that with any drink, but it wasn’t the same. It did seem that this month even people who don’t usually drink were doing so, and I got offered some constantly!
How did it feel?
I didn’t miss or crave alcohol, which does surprise me because I really like the taste. I also didn’t feel any health benefits, but I think you’d have to drink a lot more usually to notice.
Did I manage easily because I knew I’d be allowed again soon? Either way, it didn’t become quite the challenge I thought. I enjoy the taste too much to give it up for good though. I’m not sure what it would feel like to give up something you like for good, but I imagine it would be a lot harder and take much more strength than my little experiment.
One thing I did realise is how prevalent alcohol is in our lives. Celebrating? Drink! Relaxing? Drink! Watching a film? Drink! Hard day? Drink! Imagine if we replaced that with something slightly better for us?
Have you ever tried giving up alcohol? Would you try a monthly challenge to give up something you love?