Liz's story: "I can honestly say alcohol ruled my life for 10 years, but it lost the war because I have taken my life back. "

Liz | January 2020 | 7 minutes

Liz decided to take part in Dry January and it has had life-changing consequences for her.

After drinking for 10 years, I saw an advert for Dry January. I thought, “I can do this!” so I put my determined face on. I knew I wouldn't be able to refuse a drink for Hogmanay, so I set myself a starting date of 28 December 2018 to give me a challenge and a head start.

So 28 December arrived. I woke up with a positive but nervous feeling – could I really do this? I wasn't sure, but I was going to try! Who was going to win: me, or alcohol?

Grabbing a bottle of water out of the fridge, I sipped it throughout the day while people around me were drinking pints of cider. I didn't want to stop them drinking around me, but I also didn’t want to avoid people. Day one of my journey: I did it. I won’t say it was easy, but I managed it.

"...as I got into bed that night, not having had a single drop of alcohol, I felt a wee bit proud of myself. "

Day two: I woke up with a sick feeling. Was this my body starting to rebel? My body was craving alcohol. “Not today!” I thought, as I grabbed a bottle of water. Later that day I watched my husband pour himself a pint which was tough. I swear I might have been drooling watching the amber liquid filling his glass. But as I got into bed that night, not having had a single drop of alcohol, I felt a wee bit proud of myself.

Day three: I still felt rough, and even found it hard to get out of bed, but knew that if I caved and had a pint I would have failed my challenge - even though I hadn't even reached January yet. So, I carried on.

Day four: finally it felt like my mind and body were starting to be on same wavelength. I still had the sick feeling but this time, my stomach was rumbling! Because of my drinking I hadn’t been in touch with my body in a long time so hardly felt hungry - this was a strange but welcome surprise.

Day five: I started to tidy up my flat and found a whole lot of empty plastic cider bottles – I could start my own recycling plant! At £4.60 a bottle, now I know why I never had any money…

Day nine: it took me four days to tidy up my one-bedroom flat; amazing eh? When I was drinking the only thing I polished off was the bottle! Sitting bored in my clean flat I thought: “Is the month over yet?” and I decided to focus my mind somewhere else. “What did I used to do before I started drinking?” I thought. I can knit and crochet, though I’m not expert. I decided to give it a go to see if it took my mind off reaching for a drink.

Crochet cropped
"Thanks to online videos I could now crochet circles."

Day fifteen: by this time I’d gotten the hang of crocheting, and thanks to online videos I could now crochet circles. I noticed that the dog had started liking me more, too! I was going out more and seeing people who I used to drink with, but I’d I have a cup of tea instead of drinking. The desire to drink had completely gone – I’d broken the cycle!

The last day of January: I survived Dry January! “Will I have a drink? No chance!” I thought. I felt good throughout the month, even though it was a rocky start. It was great to wake up without thinking about what I did last night and who I might need to apologise to.

If it weren’t for my family and friends I’d never have done it – I’d have caved on the first day. But if I can get past Hogmanay, New Year’s Day and my birthday I can do anything.

I am now 306 days sober. I feel like a different person; my skin is clearer and I've lost 4.5 stone. I can honestly say alcohol ruled my life for 10 years, but it lost the war because I have taken my life back.

It isn’t safe for people who drink very heavily to stop drinking suddenly. If you are concerned that this might be you, please check in with your GP before taking on the challenge. If you experience symptoms like hallucinations, shaking or confusion when you stop drinking you should seek urgent medical help. Find out more about getting help here.