Antonio's Sober Spring story: "Sober Spring broke me out of some bad habits"

Antonio | March 2021 | 8 minutes

Antonio took part in Sober Spring last year, just as we were entering the first UK-wide lockdown. This is his story.

My generation had that ‘lad culture’ and drinking culture, so the social pressure for me to drink was strong. I started drinking at a very young age, around 15 or 16, but I always noticed I got more drunk than anyone else and once I started drinking, I couldn’t stop. At first there didn’t seem to be any downsides – I’d have a bit of a hangover, but that was it. I would almost always drink until I blacked out, and I did ridiculous things. Once, I drank a bottle of whiskey and fell in a hedge outside my home. I couldn’t get out for hours until my dad found me in the early hours of the morning. Although they are funny stories, looking back, I see that I put myself in extreme danger and I was lucky to come out of it unscathed.

I noticed as I got older that alcohol was having a serious effect on me. I had lost control of it. I couldn’t stop drinking once I started and I would regularly offend people and be embarrassed the next day. These feelings, combined with a ferocious hangover, would be a horrible experience and would last for days. I think over time the pleasure of drinking started to reduce, but the pain it brought started to rise, until the pain overtook the pleasure. I knew I had reached a point where alcohol was damaging my life and the downsides were definitely starting to outweigh the positive ones.

"I made the decision to do Sober Spring, and once I had made that decision, I couldn’t let myself down and break it."

I looked up books on how to give up alcohol and saw Catherine Gray's book, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, and I downloaded it on kindle. I could really relate to her struggles and realised I wasn’t alone in not being able to control alcohol. Her advice is excellent. I heard about Sober Spring on Catherine’s Instagram account. It was a huge turning point for me. I made the decision to do it, and once I had made that decision, I couldn’t let myself down and break it. I think I found it easier than I thought – maybe because it was a structured challenge with a clear beginning and end, it helped me focus on a particular goal.

I did all three months of Sober Spring and the cravings got easier and easier to control over time. The benefits of going alcohol-free are subtle but powerful and I did not notice them straight away. The obvious benefit was no more hangovers, which was a huge relief. My memory improved, I looked better, my eyes shone more, my skin improved and I slept better. I was better in social situations, which surprised me as trying to be more social was one of the reasons I drank alcohol in the first place. I became more productive and successful instead of feeling like I was constantly operating at a six out of ten. I felt more energised, had more clarity and focus to achieve what I wanted.

I think it was tempting to drink during lockdown because of boredom, but it was also a good opportunity for me to try Sober Spring at a time when the social pressures to drink are reduced. I took up other things like reading, going for walks and other productive things to keep me occupied. I found that the distance I put between myself and alcohol really helped me stay sober during lockdown.

"I didn't realise how much alcohol was damaging my mental health until I removed it from the equation."

Some of the benefits surprised me. Before Sober Spring I would sometimes get periods of low mood, but once I stopped drinking, they stopped completely. This really took me by surprise as I just didn’t connect the two, even though I knew alcohol was depressant. My anxiety, although it didn’t stop completely, did come down and I felt more patient and less agitated. I didn't realise how much alcohol was damaging my mental health until I removed it from the equation. I also found connections with people who I wouldn’t have been friends with when I was drinking, so I gained new friends!

I thought: “how will I fill my life when alcohol isn’t there?” but once you stop drinking you can fill your life with fun stuff instead – whatever you would like to do! The three months of Sober Spring helped me see the real benefits of stopping drinking and it broke me out of some bad habits.

I didn’t stop drinking completely after doing Sober Spring, but I did try moderation after the three months were over. But I soon realised moderation wasn’t for me. I could not control how much I drank. I think I was still buying into the myth that alcohol was good or fun, when for me it wasn’t anymore. I’ve now stopped drinking completely and I realise now that nothing good ever came out of my drinking. The three months was well worth it, and giving up alcohol changed my life for the better.

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