From duck-in-gin to swan: Josie’s Dry January story

Josie | December 2018 | 6 minutes

Before I did Dry January, I’d say I drank the standard British average; loads, all the time.

I was 25, living in a city and working in media, which made for a lot of parties and after-work drinks and vomiting in cabs (which is more expensive than you’d think!) But I seemed to be the one to get drunk and out of control while everyone else seemed to swan about like big, sensible swans.

As someone naturally anxious and easily cajoled, I first took to alcohol and its culture like a duck to gin. So I wasn’t sure how I’d survive Dry January – I didn’t know how I’d stand up to people trying to get me to drink, or act like a person and not a ball of anxieties.

To make things more challenging, I started doing stand-up comedy. My first ever open mic was on 3 January and boy would I have liked a drink. The gig was in a pub basement in Shepherd’s Bush where they didn’t even want us to perform because Arsenal were playing Chelsea. My nerves were fried - it felt like anybody else would have had a drink, even just the ritualistic ‘once more unto the breach’ nip of something strong.

That gig was… not great. Neither was the next one, or the one after. And as for socialising, it was hard sometimes. I’d be anxious and people would moan at me for being sober. (Pro tip: a real benefit of doing Dry January is that when someone gives you the stink-eye as you sip your apple juice, you can snap “Dry January!” at them and they have to leave you alone.) But as time went on, I felt anxious for shorter and shorter periods each time. I realised that with my close friends, people I really click with - I don’t need to drink at all.

When you’re tempted to overindulge in something because you’re sad or scared, you can just let yourself feel the feeling instead of using the substance. You don’t have to ignore it. I realised that I was often drinking because I was anxious, or somewhere I didn’t really want to be. But if you’re dreading a party and think you have to drink to get through it, just… don’t go? Or only go for a little bit, or bring a friend. If you’re feeling a bit nervous, it will pass – just take deep breaths or crack a joke!

Speaking of - as for the stand-up gigs, I started substituting beer with coffee or a soft drink. I didn’t have to worry about getting drunk and I learned to work with the adrenaline rush. It gives me the burst of energy I need to do a decent job! And although I didn’t stay totally sober after January, I drink far, far less now, and I’m better at it. More than anything it feels amazing to know I don’t have to rely on alcohol to do something I love or to spend time with people I love.

I’m finally a big, sensible swan!

Have you downloaded our app yet? You can use it year-round to track your drinking, savings and more! Find out more and download it here. You can also buy our book, Try Dry: the Official Guide to a Month Off Booze, here. It's full of handy tips and advice for giving dry a go - whether that's January or any other month!

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