For me the sad truth is there is no moderation, I can’t drink again, ever.
Jon Tittley talks about his attempts to give up the booze, his realisation that for him he could never have another drink and the help there is available for anyone who feels they have a problem with alcohol.
So, what did you get for Christmas? If all you can say is “I got drunk” then this article might well be for you! January is traditionally a time to reconsider our future and generally make (half-hearted) promises and if anything, you are probably all too broke to drink after the festive period.
In January 2017 I had made my mind up that I had had my last boozy Christmas and my last drink ever (again). I was well into the month, and had my last weekend with drink twice, before I made my way to the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting spot in a Church Hall in a municipal town in Kent.
When I arrived, there was a dance class for a group of 10-year-old girls in progress that would need negotiating around to get to where I assumed the meeting would be. I was a little nervous and this spandex and glittery obstacle only served to detour me to the nearest Weatherspoon’s, where over a few pints I justified, correctly, that Tuesday was a much better day for a fresh start.
For me drinking was a full-time event that took concentration, it was readily available, and I am only grateful that my lifestyle had meant that I had no regular access to other substances, without connecting to the unsavoury.
Moderation was never an option for me as my on/off switch always seemed to default to ON and stay there until the job was done. Fantastic. It frightened me that this was the case, but it frightened me more that my one true loyal friend would have to depart.
I later found out this so-called friend was lying to me and having multiple relationships with numerous happy and unhappy people across the globe. I took an online test, pushed out by Alcoholic Anonymous, it asked me various questions on my levels of drinking and lifestyle choices. It was easy and I passed hands down. The next step was to do something about it.
People had pointed out to me that I went too far on a night out – I was usually the most drunk in the room and my friends who could go out for a couple of beers didn’t get this. As time went on their inability to drink properly infuriated me and I would drink alone to do the job right.
If you have just woken up with another hangover, lost your phone or had relations with a traffic cone again, maybe it is time to have a little think.
There are various government sponsored schemes that identify with the issues faced by long term immersion in drinking and addiction. Here in Somerset the good people in the council identify with these programmes not just in Stoptober or Dry January but as an open forum for people to communicate any issues.
The government offers sound advice and actually talking about it out loud can offer that moment of clarity. Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service (SDAS) exists as a place for referrals for those who have reached out to professional help via a GP. It is a no-nonsense drop-in centre for counselling and an open ear, there is NO stigma or judgement, and it exists as another option of sanctuary should you need it.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an open-door place where help is available, it is not for everyone and I found the steps awkward but a good way of quantifying my path to sobriety. Although step 1 is the one you do need to start the journey, accept step 1 and you’ve pretty much cracked it. Inevitably the choice is your own, you are not handed sobriety, the only person who can break the circle is you, although if you are lucky enough to have a support network it can’t hurt.
There are many beer users out there who are in denial and those who just want to cut down their consumption levels. For me the sad truth is there is no moderation, I can’t drink again, ever. The cutting down schemes mentioned would have never worked for me but I fully endorse them as a time of reflection, maybe you will find that at the end of January another month dry wouldn’t hurt. It wouldn’t hurt your health and there will be a few extra fivers too. The statistics suggest that those who practice abstinence regularly are more likely to have manageable drinking habits or actually remain permanently dry. That is definitely more fivers.
Whichever category you put yourself in, if you have any issues with addiction of any description, there are good people out there who genuinely want to help. Moderation is as much as a gift, as sobriety is and an enviable advantage.
I hope all your dreams come true from this Christmas and well into the New Year.
Those who take on the official Dry January with support are twice as likely to stay dry throughout the month and to enjoy all the benefits, compared to those who try to do it alone. You can sign up for the brilliant Dry January coaching emails or download the free app, Try Dry. Through the app you can track your units, calories and money saved throughout the month and set your own goals year-round.
If you drink very heavily regularly, Dry January may not be for you, check with your GP or local alcohol service before you start – help is available locally at: www.turning-point.co.uk/services/sdas
If you experience physical symptoms when you stop drinking (which may include but are not limited to shakes, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, stomach cramps or hallucinations) you should seek medical help urgently.