Damp February

So what happened after 31st January?

1st February was a Friday night, so the scene was set for a celebration – the wine chilling in the fridge, the restaurant table booked…but unfortunately my body had other ideas. With a headache from hell all I wanted was to lie down in a darkened room. So my Dry January carried over another day and the drink that broke my alcohol fast was drunk on 2nd February.

White wine. Two small glasses. After 32 alcohol free days, it tasted STRONG. It sounds obvious to say it, but I could really taste the alcohol – almost a vodka taste, and fume-y too. I guess my tastebuds may have changed, but it also made me think about alcohol being a toxin, a poison, a drug not a foodstuff. That said, I drank it, and it was good. I didn’t feel particularly drunk, but I did feel relaxed. Mmmmm.

That bottle of sauvignon blanc lasted me 4 nights. That’s 10 units in 5 drinks. A vodka and orange on Wednesday night (1 or 2 units) and a total of 2 alcohol-free days (Friday and Thursday) makes that well within the lower risk drinking pattern, and I’m happy with that.

There’s a theory that self-control is like a muscle, and gets stronger the more you use it. I’ve learned that in my day to day life I just don’t need alcohol.

It’s 9pm on a Friday night again and I’m not missing a drink at all. The thought was still there, the pattern and desire to but a four pack of cider and drink 2 or 3 “because I can”. But in the spirit of learning from my Dry January experience, I chose to buy a single (small – I’m not talking 2 or 3 litre) bottle instead, instantly meaning I’d drink a sensible 2.5 units instead of 6 to 8, just by having less available. That bottle’s still sitting in the fridge and I’m not even bothered. Weird.

I’m still following the Dry January facebook group, and it’s really interesting to see other people’s reactions to life after the challenge. And also to notice the reaction of others – Are you drunk yet? Have you come back to the fold?

It’s like we came to a crossroads at the end. Do we go back to our old ways and see January as a month of deprivation, never to be endured again, or do we use it as momentum for further change?

Some people inevitably did not manage the whole month, others struggled and counted down the hours until their next pint, but 80% of people who took part in Dry January told Alcohol Concern they now feel confident and positive enough to cut their alcohol intake in the long-term. What a success that is.

A significant amount of people have even been inspired by the benefits they’ve felt and the support they’ve received to continue beyond January and set themselves goals such as Dry February and even Dry 2013.

And how much money has been raised for Alcohol Concern by our joint efforts? 8 days ago, the total was a massive £23,405!

Please note you can still donate on my page until the end of February at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/bethanfisher (Total £505) and why not get involved yourself in the next Dry January? Hope to see you there 🙂