Heidi's story: "A step back is good to see the bigger picture"

February 2019 | 6 minutes

I went dry for January to prevent the start of a habit, the same habit that killed my Dad five years ago. I drink socially and, being in my mid-twenties, find that often social events involve going to the pub and, more often than not, drinking. I enjoy a beer, or a gin and tonic, and I love dancing (often on tables) until the early hours of the morning. However, at the end of last year, I became conscious that I might be starting to dance with the devil.

Just as Dry January ends, we will hit the five-year anniversary of my Dad’s death. Sadly, he battled and eventually lost the fight with his addiction with alcohol. He faced many obstacles in his life and, not knowing where to turn, turned to drink. His addiction crept up on him slowly, but at the same time, hit all at once. He tried to manage it by going to Alcoholics Anonymous and eventually rehab, but the help that those around you offer isn’t always enough. A highly intelligent, creative, successful man became a puppet of alcohol and it controlled him until he died.

I will always be mindful, and I will always work on my relationship with alcohol.

It’s a strange logic that though I know the devastating effects of alcohol, I still drink. In the same way, we know we could be in a car accident, yet still drive, or could drown in the water, yet still swim. I think the difference is, if you have felt the harsh blow of what could be, in cold hard daylight, you’re always aware of it. I will always be mindful, and I will always work on my relationship with alcohol.

Like with any relationship, if you’re not happy or in control you need to take a step back. I hadn’t lost control over my relationship with alcohol, and I wasn’t unhappy, but a step back is good to see the bigger picture. Dry January does just that: I have been able to gain perspective. I know that I can socialize without alcohol, even if those around me are drinking. I know that I am myself without drink (if I hadn’t been, I know that I would have had a problem). I know that at the start of February, I can have a beer if I want to, but that I don’t necessarily have to have it.

In this dry month I have been far less tired, I have had less anxiety and I have had improved concentration. I’ve been to the gym more, my skin is brighter, I have saved a lot of money and I have been far more productive with my time. But the most important thing I’ve recognised is that alcohol is a strong force, and it’s not something to take lightly, or take for granted. Everyone should take a moment to realign, checking that their relationship with drink is okay. Dry January has given me the perfect opportunity to do that.