Jo’s story: “Taking part in Dry January 2020 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Jo | December 2020 | 7 minutes

Jo shares how Dry January has helped her cope with COVID-19, improved her health, and made her family proud.

Being brave and making the leap to take part in Dry January 2020 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My husband had made a few comments to me about the amount I drank which started to make me stop and think. And from hearing and observing my friends’ drinking habits, I could tell I drank more than them which concerned me. I knew I was drinking too much and that it wasn’t good for me, but I felt as though I wouldn’t be able to cope with the stresses of life without alcohol. I didn’t think that I could be happy without it. Although I didn’t have a ‘rock bottom’ to speak of, I knew that my relationship with alcohol was an unhealthy one, even if I was often in denial – so I decided to take on my dry month.

Once I got over the initial hurdle of not having that evening glass of wine after a hard day’s work, and more on the weekends after a hard week’s work, I started to relax and feel more confident in my ability to achieve my goal.

"Hearing others talk about their positive experiences of giving up alcohol and the wider benefits that this brings really inspired me to go further."

How did I do it? I read a lot of ‘quit-lit’ books and learned more about alcohol. I used the Dry January Community group on Facebook, run by Alcohol Change UK, a lot. Being able to check-in and know that others were going through the same process helped me massively. The support in that group was, and still is, fantastic! They helped me to overcome cravings or feelings of uncertainty. And I think it was being in that community that got me thinking about my alcohol-free journey. Hearing others talk about their positive experiences of giving up alcohol and the wider benefits that this brings really inspired me to go further.

By the end of January I was feeling great, inside and out. The benefits were too precious for me to quit now! So I decided to keep going for 100 days. In the early days I found that having a challenge or a goal focused my mind and I felt I was less likely to give in. I’m pleased to say that I’m still going strong to this day. I’ve been completely alcohol free now for over 300 days and I feel SO proud of myself!

"I no longer wake up with a pounding head and a racing heart, piecing together the night before."

Even though 2020 has been hard with the global pandemic, my income dramatically reduced and losing our dear family dog, I’m pleased I've kept at it. Yes, there have been cravings here and there but with the support from the Facebook group and my family it’s been manageable. I have learnt that having a craving doesn’t mean I WILL drink. They pass and I continue on my way. These feelings have got less and less and I can see the bigger picture now and know that the effects of alcohol will never improve any situation for me.

The positive benefits of doing Dry January have also had a ripple effect into other areas of my life. For example, I am now far more enthusiastic about keeping fit and maintaining a healthy diet than ever before.

However, my most treasured benefit from this whole journey, the biggest gift, is the feeling of freedom and control I now have over my life. To be rid of that draining voice in my head of, “How much wine should I drink tonight?” or, “Is today a wine day...?” is just the BEST thing ever! Freedom from the circle of torment, anxiety and self-loathing that excessive drinking created for me is BLOODY AMAZING!

I feel excited for each day ahead of me. My outlook on life is generally much more positive and my relationships with my husband and family are healthy and more meaningful. I can see that my husband and sons are so proud of me for making this change and that means the world to me.

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