Adela's story: January doesn't have to be dry, but you should be living your best life

Adela Meer | January 2023 | 8 minutes

In her fourth year of mindful drinking, Adela explores how Dry January helped change her relationship with alcohol

My journey began like most on the 1 January 2020. I woke up with a terrible hangover. Alcohol was no longer giving me that buzz and I felt sick, anxious, sleep deprived, depressed and guilty every time I drank.

But despite this self-disgust the truth was I didn't want to give it up completely. I didn't feel that total sobriety was a realistic approach for me. Knowing my personality type I felt this would just want to make me do it more.

The desire to do something repeatedly comes from the idea that you enjoy it. The only way to shatter these beliefs is to see what happens when you don't do it. I'd read somewhere that it takes at least four months to break any habit, so instead of Dry January, I committed myself to four months of living alcohol-free. I told myself that after I could go back to whatever the alcohol world looked like to me.

The first month was quite torturous and weekends felt dull. With the help of the amazing alcohol-free market and a diary, I got through 31 days. I felt energised to continue. I completed my four months and the rest of the year moderated so that I only drank for 5% of it, compared to 50% before. I had experienced daily life alcohol-free, and it was enlightening.

I am now entering my fourth year of mindful drinking.

Every year since I began, I have noted all the drinks I have consumed and the number of days and percentage of the year that I drank. Logging the entries became a development process which gained me entry to the other side: life without alcohol as my constant sidekick.

My aim was a realistic relationship with alcohol which I still enjoy drinking when I want to.

Alcohol is no longer my boss.

Alcohol is now just an option amongst a vast landscape which offers many more positives without it.

I gave a lot away to alcohol. Without it I have got many things back. These are now my motivations:

1. Do it for your children as they mirror all your worst habits.

2. Do it to embrace old age, without it you put your best foot forward for dealing with it.

3. Do it for peace of mind and stability.

4. Do it to embrace the mundane, it’s important to really enjoy the simple things in life.

5. Do it to define happiness. 95% of the time we are doing life admin. That's the bit we need to enjoy, the 5% party time requires no effort.

6. Do it because life isn’t a rush to the weekend. Everyday should be made the most of and can be pleasurable.

7. Do it because life is not supposed to be a chore. Consistency and predictability win over highs and lows all day long.

8. Do it because life is short and filling it with booze doesn’t make it any longer.

9. Do it because discovering yourself cannot be done when the real you is masked.

10. Do it because despite the fact everyone is doing it, you don’t need to follow the crowd.

11. Do it because you’ve always done it and trying something new is eye opening.

12. Do it because you can. Nobody makes us drink. Don't be a passenger to your habit.

Remember nothing is forever, you can always go back but I don’t think you will want to go back to how you were.

I used to be a committed drinker. It is now hard to commit to drinking: the hangover, the anxiety, the hormone disruption. Panic attacks are a thing of my past. I used to get them everywhere. I now understand that for me, they were fuelled by alcohol. It would be impossible to commit to those downsides on a regular basis again. This is the foresight of a break. You get to see what damage it is doing to your life and that is key to changing it.

Habits are there to be broken. They are routines we have assumed and have done so for many individual and complex reasons. Find yours and change the pattern.

Sign up to Dry January now to better your relationship with alcohol this month and beyond

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