Don's story: "I look forward to doing Dry January again. It was a great experience."

Don | December 2019 | 7 minutes

Don took part in Dry January in 2019 and it's had really positive effects on his health, wallet and long-term drinking. This is his story.

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Before I had heard of Dry January, I was struggling. At 49, I was having issues with my weight, and my blood pressure was high. I was on three different medications for it and my doctor said that if the numbers didn’t come down, it was either more meds or going to a specialist. I was also at risk of developing diabetes. I hadn’t thought that it might be connected to my alcohol consumption.

I thought I had my drinking under control, but looking at it now, I really didn’t. It wasn’t drinking out with friends that was a problem, it was what I would drink at home. During the week, when I got home from work, I would have a glass of whiskey. Then another one while making dinner, and another before bed. On weekends, I would indulge in a martini or two...or three.

When I read about Dry January, I thought I would give it a try. It sounded like a challenge, and I wanted to do it, just to see if I could.

"I thought I had my drinking under control, but looking at it now, I really didn’t."

The first week was the hardest. I realised that my drinking had become a habit, and I was having cravings. When I was driving home from work, I noticed I was looking forward to a drink. Weekends too: at 2pm, it was “martini time”. To help with those cravings, I purchased non-alcoholic beer and would drink that instead. I also took all my whiskey and put the bottles away somewhere not easily accessible. That way if the urge to drink did come, the time it would take to retrieve a bottle gave me time to get my mind in gear and stop.

The Try Dry app was helpful as well. Being able to update each day to indicate I stayed dry was a motivation to keep the streak going. Once the first week was done, it became easier to not have a drink and, well, I just had to keep going!

One thing I also did before starting Dry January was really get in the right mindset for it. About mid-December, I kept telling myself: “I’m going to do this challenge.” The more I worked it up in my mind, the more I felt obligated to myself to do it. So when the time came, I was determined. I also let my partner know of my plan so that I would be accountable to someone other than myself.

By the end of the month not only did I have a Dry January app calendar full of teacups, but many other benefits as well:

  • I had lost weight - about seven pounds - and my clothes fit better.
  • My blood pressure was down to normal levels. I’m still on medication, but potentially moving off one of the three.
  • I slept better at night and woke up refreshed in the morning, rather than groggy and grumpy.
  • I had more money! Near the end of January, I looked at my previous month’s bank statements. I calculated I was spending on average £200 a month just on alcohol.

"The more I worked it up in my mind, the more I felt obligated to myself to do it. So when the time came, I was determined."

Since completing Dry January, I did start drinking again, but my drinking habits have completely changed. I enjoy a single malt, but I now limit myself to one bottle per month. Essentially, at the beginning of the month, I buy a bottle and make it last the month. If I finish it sooner, then there is no whiskey until the next month. I have also redirected the money I was spending on alcohol each month into a separate savings account.

I have continued to lose weight. Overall, I am down 12 lbs, have clothes that fit better, I’ve saved money, and I have more energy.

I look forward to doing Dry January again. It was a great experience, a fun challenge, and it helps to become mindful of what I’m consuming.

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