Beth's story: "I was now a single mum, and I found that a bottle of wine would knock me out."

January 2018 | 8 minutes

Beth, who is a member of the Soberistas community, shares her story. For years she struggled with alcohol, but with the wake-up call of Dry January, and the supportive community of Soberistas, she was able to give up drinking for good.

University drinking culture

My weekends at university would start at Friday lunchtime in the pub, and end Sunday evening after an all-day session watching football on Sky. Any scrapes and dodgy situations I got in because of my drinking became good anecdotes. What I was doing wasn't illegal, felt like fun, and I got a 2:1 and a good job at the end of it.

Things started unravelling

I stopped drinking during pregnancy and at the start of breastfeeding with my first child. Then I had complications in my second pregnancy. I was induced and put on medication to stop my milk coming in after a stillbirth. I couldn't drink alcohol whilst on this medication and I was really annoyed. I wanted to drown my sorrows and it was the first time I was conscious of that feeling. Things then started unravelling rapidly (my mother-in-law died; I couldn't get pregnant again; my marriage fell apart under the strain of it all). I was now a single mum and struggling to sleep at night. I found that a bottle of wine would knock me out.

I was lonely and isolated

Wine felt like a relief - it made me laugh, forget, lose my inhibitions and I started online dating. It felt like a natural progression from my student years and all women seemed to be doing this (Sex and the City, Bridget Jones), only I was a single mum so a lot of it was home alone... I would dance around my flat to music and make marathon drunken phone calls so I wasn't 'drinking alone'. It was a party for one at my flat every night.

Trying to drink sensibly

When I unexpectedly fell pregnant, I saw this as a sign to sort my act out because I sensed deep down that my drinking was not 'normal'. I stopped drinking for 14 months and really thought I was done with problem drinking. I met a new guy and, convinced I would be able to drink sensibly now, started to drink again - moderately at the start, but within two months back to a bottle of wine a day.

I was highly functioning but inwardly I was a mess

There were no outward signs: I was highly functioning but inwardly I was a mess. I was painfully aware of my own mortality and responsible for two young kids totally on my own, dragging myself hungover through the day until I could relieve it all in the evening with another wine o' clock. Life felt relentless and joyless yet I was convinced the 'reward' and 'fun' (on my own!) of the bottle of wine every evening was the be all and end all.

Dry January: a wake-up call

I decided to do Dry January 2013 and it was a wakeup call when I only managed a few days out of the month. I went to the doctor and voiced concern about my drinking but she dismissed my concerns, saying everyone drinks a bit too much (I may not have been entirely honest about quantities!), and a series of blood tests came back (surprisingly) okay. Then I read an article in February 2013 in The Sunday Times about Soberistas. I totally identified with Lucy's story and I logged onto the site.

My life has improved in every way

I thought I would learn how to drink sensibly on the site. But after months of trying, I admitted defeat and accepted reluctantly that abstinence was probably the only way for me to have any control over my drinking. The people on the site who had stopped drinking for a long time seemed to love their lives and seemed so happy with their choice to live Alcohol Free. After finding that notion unbelievable and initially finding it lonely stopping drinking in a society awash with alcohol, it has been amazing how my life has improved in every way since stopping drinking

Sobriety has delivered everything that alcohol promised

I have been sober now for four years and it is the single best thing I have ever done for myself. Sobriety has delivered everything that alcohol promised. I have gone from being scared that I will never drink again to being convinced I will never drink again because everything in my life has so much more meaning and joy now. That failed Dry January attempt really kick-started an exciting journey of self-discovery!