I enjoy social drinking. I enjoy a glass of wine while watching my favourite shows. I enjoy the feeling of a cold, refreshing beer after a long day.
Yes, I drink. I probably drink more than most people I know, but not to the point of a problem. Just to the point that they don’t drink enough! It seems that when people don’t do something all that often, but you do it more than once a week, it can be seen as excessive.
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 Reds together, I was…strong? Stubborn again maybe!
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 spirit, but this time I just had to drink out of necessity – boring!
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! I went home quite early, but 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 Bar in Leeds, that I’ve had a few times since.
The next weekend, I had a big birthday party to attend. I did miss it 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!
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 seemed this month that even people who don’t usually drink were doing so, and I got offered constantly!
I didn’t miss or crave alcohol, which does surprise me because I really like the taste. I guess that’s because I’ve never actually relied on it, I just have it because I enjoy it. I didn’t feel any health benefits, but I think you’d have to drink a lot to notice. And while I drink often, it’s not a crazily unhealthy amount.
Anyway, I don’t know if I managed easily because I knew I’d be allowed again soon, but 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. I’d be interested to hear from people about it and wish you all well on your challenge.