‘Wet February’ and beyond

Maddy Lawson | February 2018 | 7 minutes

Social media is awash with memes encouraging us to binge-drink now that Dry January is done. Catherine Gray gives three tips for dealing with the pro-alcohol pressure.

In the past few weeks, I have seen the following 'Wet February' posts:

1. Gifs of people screaming with delight and dive-bombing into pools about it being February 1st. Whoopee!

2. Ron Burgundy from Anchorman blowing a seashell like a horn and announcing, 'Drinking friends ASSEMBLE'

3. Memes saying, 'You can't get hungover if you don't stop drinking' and 'I can't wait to get home and pour myself some dinner'.

4. Mad Men's Don Draper saying, 'Shut up liver, you're fine' (back in real-life land, Jon Hamm is now teetotal)

5. Pub signs with messages like 'I saved some beer today, it was trapped in a bottle' or 'Soup of the day: whiskey!'

OK, so some of these are funny, to be fair. Some of them did make me snarf with laughter. I particularly liked the Ron Burgundy one.

But they are also insidious, since they get inside our heads... and make us want to drink. What about if you don't want to deep-dive into a bottle of wine - or two? What about if you want to be totally alcohol-free, like me, or you want to attempt to actually 'drink responsibly' rather than get smashed?

Here's how I have stayed sober since 2013, despite all of the booze-a-ganda that bombards us daily (honestly, keep an eye out for it, at the risk of sounding a little Mel Gibson Conspiracy Theory, it's everywhere).

The 'Dory method'

It's really, really easy to forget why you're not drinking tonight – or indefinitely – because of the constant pressure and messaging that drinking is fun, and being sober is terrible. I keep a top ten 'bad drinking memories' in my back pocket, and whip them out whenever I find myself romanticising alcohol. For me, these feature the night I got into a strange car because I was smashed and couldn't find a cab, plus the night I snogged someone other than my boyfriend during a blackout bender.

What are your top ten reasons for cutting down or cutting out alcohol? It might even help to write them down, so you don't forget them in the heat of a pub.

Ask yourself: 'Is this real?'

It really helps me to remember that even though Bradley Cooper's character in The Hangover is slamming shots and having a wild Las Vegas adventure, he's actually teetotal in real life, having quit booze in his twenties and found he got a helluva lot happier. Same with Christina Ricci, who plays the martini-swilling Zelda Fitzgerald in Z. Then there's Kerry Washington, whose character in Scandal manages to down two bottles of red wine a night on the regular, while still crushing her working life and looking flawless; the real Kerry is actually alcohol-free.

Once you find out about all of the celebrities who are actually sober, but play drinking characters, you start to see it's all smoke and mirrors. The reality of heavy drinking does not match the Hollywood glamorisation of it in any way. That red wine? It's actually blackcurrant juice.

Exercise before you go to boozy places

It's a sorcery that works. Going to the restaurant with a floor-to-ceiling display wall of wine, or to a work party where the only thing twirling around on the trays is champagne? If you work up a sweat beforehand, you are less likely to want a drink. One study found that even if you don't have time for a long work-out session, just 10 minutes kiboshes a booze craving.