How ditching the booze changed my life

Stephanie Chivers | November 2019 | 6 minutes

About 14 years ago my life changed; it started off as the worst day and in that clichéd way I hit my rock bottom.

Luckily, it was a massive shock, big enough to stop me in my tracks and make me think.

My rock bottom was a short stay in custody, just before Christmas 2005. I had drunk a huge amount (however I had been drinking daily for a while).

Luckily, it was a massive shock, big enough to stop me in my tracks and make me think. Think about what had happened to my life. How had I ended up here? How had I let things get this bad? In that moment, I took full responsibility for my behaviour and my life. It was my lightbulb moment.

It wasn’t easy. But in that first year I set about changing my life. Yes, pretty much my whole life. I didn’t do it in a year obviously; it took time, a lot of time and work. I stopped drinking, taking drugs and partying, that’s where the change started for me.

I got some support and did quite a lot of training. I really focused on my personal and professional development. I did a neuro-linguistic practitioner course and that really helped me cement the change. For me the key has been learning about myself and human behaviour. The more I have learnt, the better I have felt.

I went on to work in treatment services and learnt more and more about alcohol. I had access to some great trainers and research. At this point alcohol was no longer an issue for me but learning about alcohol and what it does to our bodies and brains just made my choice even clearer. In the beginning it was about my behaviour, how I behaved and the risks I took whilst under the influence. I didn’t want to be that person, that’s why I stopped. Then later on it became about making an informed choice, a healthy choice for me and my body.

There have been so many benefits for me. The biggest one is the clarity; it still is amazing.

There have been so many benefits for me. The biggest one is the clarity; it still is amazing. I very rarely get confused or am a slave to my emotions. Obviously, no hangovers and looking and feeling healthy. I am 50 and I feel great. I sleep well, I eat healthy and I exercise. This has been a constant really for the last 14 years; well most of the time, I am not perfect! Going out and not having to worry or feel bad about my behaviour is also a huge plus.

For me it’s about a mindset change. It’s about alcohol not being an issue, not being a thing. Because it’s just not worth even giving it the air time.

I encourage everyone to take a break from drinking, whether it’s a problem for you or not. It's interesting to see if you can do it. Can you celebrate, socialise, deal with life without it? If you can't and you struggle I really encourage you to get help. It doesn’t matter where or how, try lots of options, find something that works for you. But just try it for at least three months and see what the benefits are for you.

I am 50 and I feel great. I sleep well, I eat healthy and I exercise.

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