Jen's Story on going 1 year with no alcohol 

“You know what… we made it my husband and I… we did it. 365 days sober! Not one drink! It’s been an incredible journey …..”

That’s was my Facebook post from September 2021, after my husband and I had spent a year not drinking.  It was an incredible year and taught me so much about me and alcohol.

I not sure what exactly was the trigger to stop drinking for a year but it could have been my anxiety every day, my failing marriage, my relationship with my kids, my injuries sustained from nights out drinking, my weight, the skin on my face, my bank balance, reading that alcohol is a risk factor to almost every health condition, my spiralling drinking patterns coming out of lockdown, my growing insecurities, my friendships that just seemed to comprise of drinking… who knows but the day came when I just thought … enough is enough!

I initially did Stoptober and then because I felt so good, I decided to do 90 days which took me through the Christmas period and after that I felt like I wanted to do the year, so I did.

I’m not going to lie the first few months were tough. You don’t realise until you stop drinking just how much you use it to cope with all the emotions life throws at you. But the problem was over time I forgot to let myself feel all these emotions … I just had a glass of wine to take them away, or to try and enhance them.

Every area in my life just felt a little bit easier…. work, kids, dog, house, money, anxieties, my marriage.  I just felt BETTER!! I had hardly any anxiety, could finish sentences, remember (some) dates, finish work for a deadline, remember things people said, remember to clean the kids shoes… the list was endless!

And I just felt so much happier in my skin!  It’s so hard to explain but I was no longer worried about missing out on parties or gatherings.  FOMO (fear of missing out) was a thing of the past!  I learnt a lot about friends too… friends that supported me turned out to be the best friends; those friends that disappeared and stopped asking me to gatherings weren’t really good friends after all!

The things that helped me stop and keep going were downloading the drink free days app and being honest with it about how much and when I drank.  I loved seeing the days, the money and the calories stack up as I inputted a non-drinking day.  I also read a few books about alcohol such as “The Sober Diaries” by Claire Pooley and “Alcohol Explained” by William Porter.  I found sleep hypnosis worked, as well as meditation and I took up walking again and bought myself a dog.  I also played the fast forward game where I would take nay situation, imagine me drunk at it and imagine how awful I would feel in the morning – that worked and still does!!

So I guess the big question is you are going to ask is did I begin drinking again and the answer is yes I did.  BUT …. And this for me is a huge BUT….  I have rules – rules that I stick to and rules to guide me.  I only drink beer and I never drink on a school night.  I aim to drink 2-3 nights a month and insist that I have at least 1-2 non-drinking weekends each month. 

I like the feeling of being sober and normal so much more than being drunk and hungover.  The friends I surround myself with now only want the best for me and support me regardless of my drinking status.  I love a wee sober night out now!  All the fun and no hangover!

Have I finally been able to moderate?  Yes, I think I have, but rules are rules and I stick by them religiously.  So, if you think you need to address your drinking try stopping for a month, 2 months, a year… go on be nosy …. See where that journey takes you and see what your sober alter ego looks like – I love mine!