I’ve avoided all booze since 2014. That’s 5 years alcohol-free. But the first thing to say is there is no -5 years- That number is just an abstract idea. There is only yesterday (when I didn’t drink, hooray) and today (when I’m not going to drink whatever happens.)
This way of thinking has worked out well for a long time, which is good. Guess you may be thinking
‘you jammy bugger, I can’t do 5 weeks/days/minutes’.
And maybe I’ve had some luck. But there was a time when I couldn’t quit. I was forever making new vows and schemes to cut down or stop, and they never worked.
So what has been different this time?
Just deciding. The day came when I realised I was done, and decided without any drama that I would simply never drink whatever happened. No exceptions.
No ‘if I’m out on a long walk’
No ‘just when I visit my favourite pub’
No ‘one shot a week for health reasons’
No ‘try interesting booze on holida’
No ‘just check in with what the craft beer guys have been up to’
No ‘if a major upset happens and I need a fallback for mental health’
All of that was just an attempt to keep ‘good alcohol’ while avoiding ‘bad alcohol’. This time the whole lot went.
I moved away from the alcohol country, even though there were parts of it I liked.
This was painful. A sacrifice. Losing a whole person: the drinking me I had grown up with for 30 years. There has been grief, exactly like bereavement. But I’ve stuck with it.
And it has been worth it.
Clarity, equanimity, spare cash – all good.
Facing life raw isn’t all fun and games of course. There’s anger, boredom, and sadness. But having made an absolute decision not to drink whatever occurs, when these states go eventually (as everything does) at least I’m not left with a ‘sore head and a pocket full of sticky pennies’.
So I’m here to say you can make an absolute choice with no loopholes. It can work and it’s good when it does.
For me, if it wasn’t simple I couldn’t do it. If there are any fallback positions, any get-out clauses or loophole, I don’t get past the first hungry/angry/tired/ecstatic moment – the old pathways are too well established. But a simple, always-on ‘no’ answer to any urge or question about drinking I can manage – so far anyway.
If you’re drinking too much too often and want to stop or slow down, come talk to us.
Alcohol is the only drug that people question you for NOT using but you don’t HAVE to drink. Alcohol free is possible. Don’t stay trapped because the stigma of not drinking seems worse than the cost of drinking too much.
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