We’re approaching the end of Dry January – how was it for you?
Whether you’ve found it hard or easy, I know that by this point in the month many people start to wonder:
- “Does taking the whole of January off prove I don’t have a problem?”
- “Will this break from drinking make me great at moderating now?”
- “I miss the taste so much. I can’t wait to pour my first glass of wine.”
- “Phew, it’s nearly over. I can get my life back!”
Today’s blog isn’t about nagging you to stay sober or making you feel bad if you’re ready to go back to booze. But it is about helping you make wise choices, because sometimes our minds play tricks on us.
Before I quit drinking for good, I did a couple of Dry Januarys and Sober Octobers (with mixed results) and there’s so much I wish I’d known back then.
If you recognise yourself in any of the statements above, this blog will help answer your questions, so you can move forward with intention.
“Does taking the whole of January off prove that I don’t have a problem?”
This train of thought stems from the idea that there are two types of drinkers – ‘normal’ drinkers and alcoholics. Quitting for a month proves that you’re not a raging alcoholic, so that means everything is totally hunky dory… right?
Here’s the thing – at the height of my drinking career, I also quit for a month. Lots of people do. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I did it. I needed to prove to myself that everything was FINE at a time when things really weren’t fine.
Rather than worrying about whether you do or don’t ‘have a problem’, focus on how you feel instead. Write down what you loved about this month, what you disliked and why you want to drink again. Get it all down in black and white so you have a record.
If you decide to drink again, make sure you journal about it. Record how you feel in the moment, the morning after and in the days between drinking sessions. This is important data about how alcohol affects your quality of life – and that’s what really matters.
“Will this break from drinking make me great at moderating now?”
Here’s what you need to know: if you go back to drinking after a month off, your tolerance to the drug is going to be much lower, so you won’t need as much in order to feel the effects. This will make it seem as if you’re ‘controlling’ your intake better, but you aren’t really.
Once you’ve put this powerful drug back into your system, your body (and that booze loving part of your brain) will say something along the lines of “let’s do this again, soon…” and so before long, you will drink again.
Next time, you’ll need to drink a bit more in order to feel the same effects, so it will be harder to stop at one. The time after that you’ll need even more… and all of a sudden, you’ll be back to where you were before.
The slide back into your old drinking patterns may happen slowly, or it may happen fast (it’s different for different people) but it will happen. (I wrote more about why moderation doesn’t work here).
“I miss the taste so much. I can’t wait to pour my first glass of wine.”
If you’ve been fantasising about pouring a glass of your favourite wine at the end of Dry January, here’s my tip for you: take your time over it. Ask yourself, how does this taste? Is this as good as I remembered it to be?
Here’s the thing: most of us had to work quite hard to acquire our taste for wine, which means most of us also lose our taste for it over time. After a whole month off, you might find your favourite wine isn’t quite how you remembered – perhaps it’s vinegary or has an unappealing smell.
If that much-longed-for glass of wine tastes disappointing – but you force it down anyway – take note of that. This behaviour suggests you’re not really drinking for the taste.
Of course, people drink for many reasons other than taste and that’s ok. My point is simply, don’t kid yourself it’s all about the taste for you if it isn’t. If you’re going to use this powerful drug again, it’s important to know why you’re doing it.
“Phew, it’s nearly over. I can get my life back!”
This blog isn’t about shaming anyone who’s tried alcohol free living and has decided they’re happier keeping the drug in their life. But I do want you to make a decision you’ll feel good about.
Before February 1st arrives, take some time out to write down how Dry January has benefited your health, happiness, finances, free time, sleep, wellbeing and self esteem. Has it improved your outlook on life? Get this stuff out of your head and onto paper.
Double check you did the work. Did you read at least one book about AF living? Did you challenge your beliefs about booze and educate yourself about the drug? Did you do the all-important mindset work?
When I coach women to stop drinking, we spend a lot of time getting clear on the myths, illusions and romanticisation that surrounds this boozy world we live in. It’s so important you give yourself the chance to do that too, before you decide that alcohol-free living isn’t your thing.