Alec's Dry January® Story: I decided enough was enough, I had to change.

Alec | December 2023 | 9 minutes

Growing up, Alec saw alcohol's effect on his father and found himself beginning to mimic this difficult relationship with booze. Find out how Alec used the experience of one very bleak Christmas, along with the help of Try Dry®, to help reshape his life going forward.

*This story talks about cancer and loss which some readers might find upsetting.

My name is Alec, and I am 34 years old. One of my earliest memories of alcohol in life was my father, Kevin, always having a drink in his hand. He would come in from a hard day at work (he was a chef), and one of the first things he would do was to crack open a beer or pour himself a whiskey and ginger ale. It was so often in fact, that I thought it was a completely normal thing to do.

My father would walk in, tired, in a grumpy mood, and get himself a drink. As soon as that drink hit his lips, it was as if a completely different person stood in front of me.

My father used alcohol as a crutch to help him get through life.

It wasn’t until much, much later on down the line - in fact almost 20 years - that I realised my father was ‘an alcoholic’ and that he used alcohol as a crutch to help him get through life. I, like most young men at that time, idolised my father and wanted to be just like him. Little did I know that I was going to realise that dream and watch it turn into a complete nightmare.

I started experimenting with alcohol in my mid teenage years. At 17 or 18, I went to college to become a chef (just like my father) and qualified a year later. I was a little bit of a jack the lad, made lots of good friends and we would always find ourselves down the local pub boozing the afternoon away.

By this time, I was just drinking casually, a couple of pints, some food, a good laugh - it was all a pleasant experience. I went on to work in the kitchens until 2016 until a workplace accident ended my catering career. It was at this time my drinking went on to become a problem… Life seemed to be throwing out curveballs left, right, and centre, I couldn’t seem to catch a break and began to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The once warm tingle and laughter associated with meeting up with friends and having a few drinks and a laugh turned into drinking heavily at home alone to dull the pain of a life I was increasingly becoming unhappier in.

The once warm tingle and laughter associated with meeting up with friends and having a few drinks and a laugh turned into drinking heavily at home alone to dull the pain of a life I was increasingly becoming unhappier in. Jump forward to 25 December 2018, the first Christmas my father was away in hospital dying from cancer, so a very bleak Christmas indeed. We got news that he was likely going to pass away in the next few days. I began the day at 9.30 am with a gin and tonic. I didn’t stop drinking until I passed out in the bath only to be woken by the news that in the early hours of the morning of 26 December 2018, my father had passed away.

I missed my one and only chance to say a final goodbye to him because I was drunk. I continued drinking throughout the subsequent years, throughout the pandemic, and it wasn’t until 2022 that I decided to go to see a doctor about a medical issue that had been bothering me.

I had become just like my father.

Fast forward to early 2023, I had a polyp removed and tested for cancer. I realised at that moment, I had become just like my father. My father’s cancer was discovered in the same way and his lifestyle had contributed to his diagnosis. I realised that the same lifestyle that I had chosen to lead, had ultimately contributed to his death.

I got off lucky, the polyp showed signs of pre-cancerous cells but hadn’t developed yet and was able to be removed. That is when I decided enough was enough, I had to change. I decided to go sober. I discovered Alcohol Change UK and their Dry January® challenge and thought I’d give it a bash.

The Try Dry® app is an excellent tool to help you keep track of your goals in January and beyond should you choose.

The information I gained from my experience was invaluable. It really got me thinking differently about alcohol and its effects on physical and mental health and relationships. The Try Dry® app is an excellent tool to help you keep track of your goals in January and beyond should you choose.

It’s free, easy to use and filled with super handy information, tools, and communities to help you set goals. It can give you an accurate, visual representation of just how much change you can make to your health and bank balance just by committing to change. It can also offer support in the forms of programmes and online communities and really is a fabulous tool that I would highly recommend to anyone who is considering making a change to their drinking habits.

As of writing this, I am still going strong at nearly 10 months sober and fitter and healthier than I have been in recent years.

*Loss and bereavement can cause significant changes in our lives and can be a trigger for us drinking more. If you have experienced a loss or bereavement like Alec, speak to your GP for advice and support. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy also has information and advice on its website, as well as a directory of counsellors near you. For further support with grief and loss, you can also call Cruse Bereavement Support’s free helpline on 0808 808 1677.

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