Embracing Dry January - all JOMO, no FOMO!

January 2020 | 9 minutes

This blog is a selection of stories from people working in the advertising industry who have chosen to stop drinking. All are members of a digital advertising industry group called Sober Party Industry Lads and Ladies (SPILL), which is a community of sober-curious people who are keen to show that you don't need alcohol to have fun!

Julia

Now that Dry January is coming to an end, you might be thinking that you want to start drinking alcohol again. Before you do, just know that being sober does not mean missing out. In fact, being sober for January, or forever or even just for today has huge benefits for every part of your life. I made the decision to become a non-drinker at the start of 2019. During that year, I became a member of The Sober Club, a co-founder of a small community on Facebook called Perfectly Imperfect, and also co-founded a digital advertising industry group called SPILL (Sober Party Industry Lads and Ladies). This was set up as a community of sober-curious people who are showing a booze-fuelled advertising industry that there is another way to socialise and network.

Working in the advertising industry I am surrounded by alcohol all the time. It’s freely flowing and I wanted and needed to find a way to feel happy in those situations sober. I love socialising and believe that if the people, atmosphere, venue, entertainment and conversation are all good, then it makes no difference what liquid I happen to have in my glass. I think a boring evening will still be boring with a glass of wine. You just won’t remember it! What I have learnt from not drinking is that when I’m tired; I sleep. If I feel overwhelmed with work; I take time out. If I have had enough of socialising for one day; I go home and chill. I have lived my life as a drinker and now I have lived as a non-drinker too I would absolutely choose the latter.

I will leave you with one final thought: this time last year, I thought I’d miss drinking. I don’t, at all. To me, there is not one single negative about becoming a non-drinker. So to all those started out on their alcohol free journey in Dry January; keep going and focus on every little win and all the positives which may include pride, money, productivity, glowing skin, weight loss, self-respect, empathy, health, happiness, energy and above all else, freedom. Here’s to being sober curious!

Michael

I can proudly say I have been sober for 26 months, and wow, what a difference it has made to not only my life but all the people around me. I no longer commit ‘wine crimes’ or wake with the ‘beer fear’! Instead I wake every day with no apprehension, regret or remorse from the actions of the previous evening. That is a million miles away from where alcohol took me. It stole so much from me (and my family). It stole my honesty: the morning after a heavy session (which was most mornings) I would swear off booze, and if I took a lie detector test while saying that I am 100% confident I'd pass.... Only to find myself back in the pub by lunch time. It stole the peace of mind of my loved ones when “I’m only popping out for one or two” turned into me at 1 or 2am staggering through the door. I woke on 20 September 2017 in a hotel room in Germany hating who I was and what I had become. So much so I couldn't even look at my own reflection.

It was at that point I knew I needed help. One week later I was sitting in my first AA meeting (I’d been to CA 10 years previous but for all the wrong reasons). I haven't looked back since! It’s not all been plain sailing, but life isn’t one smooth ride! A little over a year into sobriety I bumped into a good friend of mine (Julia, above) who was also considering chucking in the towel and stopping drinking. Fast forward a few months and both of us are sitting having breakfast talking about how proud we are to be non-drinkers. Over breakfast we were talking about our industry and the lack of alcohol-free options at events and how everything we do is always centred around drinking… And so, SPILL was born! The group brings together people who've said no to booze or are drinking mindfully. I was honoured when Julia asked if I would like to be a part of it.

Nick

Why would you do Dry January? How do you get through the weekend, let alone the week without booze? What about client lunches? What about hanging out with my mates, dinner dates, birthdays, family get-togethers… christenings, weddings, funerals... The concept of not having a drink was so alien to me it felt I really had no choice, and in reality towards the end of my drinking it was probably true - I didn't have a choice. In order to justify and normalise my relationship with alcohol I ribbed non-drinkers as being ‘no fun’, ‘boring’ or ‘anti-social’. Anti-Social! That sums up my drinking pretty well… utterly and unforgivably anti-social. In order to become ‘social’ or ‘sociable’ I needed to calm my fear of people, and I thought I needed at least one drink to bring out good-time-Nick.

Eventually my rock-bottom came and hit me between the eyes so hard I nearly lost everything that was important to me. With support, I put the booze down one day at a time and started to get better. I learned to address the causes and conditions which kept taking me back to alcohol and today my life is full of the things I nearly threw away in favour of ‘just one more drink’. I’d heard Julia had started a group of like-minded people who were supporting each other’s choices around alcohol in an industry which, on the face of it, appears mildly obsessed with alcohol-centric entertainment. Since becoming a member of SPILL I’ve had so much encouragement it has on occasion brought a lump to my throat. I have learnt a sizeable pocket of our industry is revelling in not drinking or mindful drinking, and they are still excelling and achieving.