Dry 2016

Posted: December 19, 2016 in Blogs

Unless something very wayward happens over Christmas and in the build-up to New Year, I am looking a year of alcohol abstinence squarely in the eye. I’ve got roughly ten days to hold its gaze and I have every confidence in my imminent success. What then? Some friends have shared their amusement at the thought of me taking on board alcohol with a significantly decreased tolerance level and most assume I will drink again. I’m not so sure though.

I can honestly say I’ve not missed drinking alcohol. Before you wonder that I have become a wallflower and avoided any such relevant situations, I have been on a ski holiday, celebrated a birthday, been out with my hockey team, been to the pub with friends, been out to dinner and many other things that one might do in a year of life where alcohol is generally the expected common ground. As an experiment my results have proven very interesting! In truth I have not found it hard at all and when lots of people have asked me about being close to giving in to temptation, my answer is not as typical as might be expected. I have managed nights out without any hint of giving in, but when my Mum offered me chocolate liqueur on ice cream as the grand finale to my birthday meal something inside me waivered! Saying no at that point was hard but I did.

In the past when I have opted to drive on a night out or simply chosen to not drink for whatever reason; a hockey match the next day, an early start or just because I can exercise my right to say no, my decision has been met with scorn. People generally don’t get it. They might try to persuade me into the steely claws of a cocktail’s grasp, or even be heavily critical about my obvious insanity. It can get a bit tedious fighting my corner. However, when I have an ‘excuse’ and my explanation is rooted in dry 2016 most people are suddenly filled with admiration. When it’s a choice society may see it as odd, crazy, weird and totally undoable. When it is turned into an achievement and in their eyes a huge feat of personal accomplishment, suddenly I become a hero to them! This is what I have found most interesting about my alcohol-free year.

I understand that some people like drinking; they like the taste of alcohol, they like how it makes them feel, ultimately, they enjoy it overall. I’m fine with this but I don’t share this experience and I don’t see why I should do it because everyone else does – this seems more to me the definition of insanity! I have quite a bad allergic reaction to a lot of wine and some spirits, I am told it is the sulphites. I used to drink it and try and power through some of the ill effects. This to me also sounds a bit like madness – I don’t see people with nut allergies seeking out their next thrill by making a date with a Walnut Whip (the most sadistic nut) and an EpiPen. In general I don’t seem to get a consistent feeling of elevated confidence or fun – I just feel bad about myself. As anyone close to me will know It’s not unusual for me to be able to go out and dance all night or shock horror be able to converse at a basic level, without drinking. It would be nice if this could be more widely accepted.

‘What’s the point?’ Someone asked me. Well, a lime and soda generally costs less than a whole English pound, add that to never getting a taxi and you do the maths. There’s also calorie maths to be considered, no wine equals more wine or a pudding! Feeling healthier and no hangovers for a year; that’s addictive stuff. The challenge to what society considers normal is the bigger point for me. Anyone can go out and have a good time sober if they challenged their own perception of it. I’ve had moments of mental elevation observing drunk people, sounds snobby but I just mean it is very eye-opening. At a time when the NHS is struggling to support our lifestyles because we are too fat and too drunk, we could all lend a hand by not drinking so much. Dry January is a snapshot of your life – I challenge you to dry 2017! It’s very liberating.

New Year’s resolutions can be a bit wishy-washy and now that dry 2016 is nearly over I am wondering more and more about 2017. Some very wise people tell me I should try adding to my life rather than taking away, which made me think. Then I thought some more and actually not drinking does add to my life! Maybe I will learn Spanish or something in addition. I have signed up to Veganuary but if I was taking my own advice being Vegan for January would be somewhat easy and maybe vegan 2017 would be more notable. For now though I’ve got one last hurdle to jump; the tradition of champagne breakfast on Christmas day. At least my Mum has made me my own brandy-free Christmas cake.




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