Jasmine's story: Completing Dry January® has been the main driver in changing my relationship with alcohol

December 2022 | 8 minutes

Jasmine knew something needed to change when it came to her drinking. Dry January® showed just what she could achieve when she wasn't recovering from the night before.

Although I didn’t consider myself dependent on drink, I will be the first to admit that I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I didn’t tend to binge drink, but I drank with worrying regularity – I struggled to have an alcohol-free day, even though some days it was just one or two glasses of wine.

“…good or bad day, sunny or rainy, that glass of wine would be in my hand.”

However, the real issue was the excuses I made to have a drink - good or bad day, sunny or rainy, that glass of wine would be in my hand by the end of the day to celebrate or console.

I’d never considered doing Dry January® before as I didn’t think I’d make it through a month alcohol-free. Since I was 18, I hadn’t stayed alcohol-free for more than a week so it seemed an impossible task.

But after a chance sighting of a Dry January® social media post at work, I signed up as a reckless, impulse action and immediately regretted it afterwards. That afternoon I had a stressful meeting and an inbox full of unanswered emails, and my usual go-to glass of wine was now out of bounds. Instead, I set up my profile on the Try Dry ® app and started reading through the motivational blogs while having a cup of tea.

One of the first blogs I read was from someone who had been through the Dry January® journey and she suggested writing down your motivations for taking part. I didn’t think I would have that many, besides breaking my reliance on alcohol, but it turned out that I also wanted to reduce my anger levels and inability to deal with stress, that I was worried about the long term effect of drinking on my health, that I considered wine as a huge waste of money on my weekly shopping bill, and that I was concerned about the bad example I was setting the kids when they saw mummy reach for a glass of wine to deal with problems.

“I was much more refreshed, alert and energised…”

The benefits from not drinking started almost immediately for me. No longer was I falling asleep on the sofa after a glass of wine and waking up grumpy, and no longer was I waking up at stupid-o’clock, not being able to go back to sleep. I was much more refreshed, alert and energised, and that helped immensely with reducing the anger and inability to deal with stress that I’d previously identified as a motivation to stop drinking. Most of all, I felt empowered by being able to tick off another day as being alcohol-free, and not even missing my regular glass of wine.

“I hadn’t been “cured” by Dry January® but it had taught me that I could beat my alcohol reliance…”

Once I completed Dry January®, I thought that I’d conquered my reliance on alcohol, but slowly I started to slip back into old habits. It all came to a head on a night out, which started with a large glass of wine and ended with being sick in the bathroom and a pounding disappointment reverberating through my head. Disappointment that I hadn’t been “cured” by Dry January® but instead, slid almost back to where I’d started. But not quite all the way, as Dry January® had taught me that I could beat my alcohol reliance and I just had to use the tools that had helped me through having an alcohol-free month.

I wrote down how I would deal with each drinking scenario to avoid that slippery slope back to alcohol reliance. I pledged to reduce to two drinking days a week, marked these on a calendar at the start of the week, and stuck a gold star on each alcohol-free day as I completed it. I bought a mini bottle of wine to refill so that I could track how much I was drinking at home rather than mindlessly refilling my glass. And I pledged to start nights out on non-alcoholic drinks, followed by only small glasses of wine on a “3 drinks and you’re out” policy.

Even though this is working so far, I know I can’t be complacent as it is so easy for alcohol to worm its way back into my life. But I also know that if this happens, I can re-assess and put new strategies in to get back on track.

“Dry January® showed me that I wasn’t just tired, angry and overwhelmed from life – this was exacerbated by drinking.”

Completing Dry January® has been the main driver in changing my relationship with alcohol. It showed me that I wasn’t just tired, angry and overwhelmed from life – this was exacerbated by drinking. It showed me what I could achieve when I wasn’t recovering from drinking the night before. Most of all, it showed me that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for.

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