I’m now on day 24 of Dry January. For those of you that don’t know, Dry January is an annual campaign/challenge organised by Alcohol Concern that asks members of the public to give up alcohol in January. The idea is to get people to take a time out from drinking and reflect on their relationships with alcohol and raise awareness (and possibly money) for Alcohol Concern’s charity works.
I decided to take part in Dry January, not because I think I have a serious (dependency) problem with alcohol, but because I think that my relationship with alcohol has become ‘mis-judged’ in recent years. Dry January therefore, for me, is all about giving me the opportunity to take a time-out from alcohol and ‘re-align’ that relationship.
I’m not a regular drinker, I’m not someone who comes home and opens a beer or pours a glass of wine. I’m someone who drinks when they go out to social occasions, which is usually one night at the weekend and maybe a weeknight once a fortnight; and when I do go out I binge drink. I hesitate to estimate how much I drink when binge drinking as I think I’m embarrassed to admit it, it’s enough though to make the later parts of the nights hazy and the journey home vague. In itself this isn’t a particular problem, I enjoy the haziness. The real problem is the 2+ days of come-down afterwards, the headache and the dodgy stomach; but especially the depressive effects that affect how I look at myself/life and how I interact with those closest to me, predominately in negative ways.
The experience of Dry January so far has been fantastic and eye-opening. I’ve slept better, I’ve had more time to do things – last weekend I was up and had done all the housework and chores for the weekend and sat down relaxing before the time when I’d usually be up – I’ve had more energy, but most importantly, I’ve had a much more positive outlook. The only difficult times have been in social situations when I would normally have been drinking, it feels strange and disconnected not to, but I’ve still been out and had fun.
The take-away from this experience is that I need to be much more aware of the cost of each drink in terms beyond just its monetary value. It’s fine to have a drink but without care it can take up more of my life/time than I’m currently willing to give it. I’m not looking forward to February because I can allow myself a drink, I’m looking forward to February because of all the things I can do without drinking.