Dry January

Yes, I know, it’s the 18th December, but I found my Dry January worked better when I went into it with A Plan. Plans are good. It stopped Dry January being a grim trudge through 30 days of “how long until I can have a drink?” and saw it become an honest reassessment of my relationship with alcohol.

I signed up to The Alcohol Experiment from This Naked Mind and committed to doing the work for 30 days. TNM is about flipping the narrative – it’s not what you’re giving up, but what you gain by being sober. It’s a mindset change.

If that seems a bit much, then Alcohol Change’s 10 Tips for a Successful Dry January are a good place to start. I would suggest (because I can never resist fiddling with things), adding in a few of the things listed below (not all of them, you’d never get anything else done, and I don’t want you shouting at me that you’ve run out of clean pants on the tenth).

Quit lit:

“This Naked Mind” Annie Grace

“Alcohol Explained” William Porter

“The Unexpected Joy of being Sober” and “Sunshine Warm Sober” both by Catherine Gray

“Quit Like a Woman” Holly Whittaker

“Drinking: A Love Story” Caroline Knapp

“Tired of Thinking About Drinking” Belle Robertson (she also does daily emails and a podcast. I am not really a podcast person but the emails are good).

“Sober is the New Black: A Then and Now Account of Life Beyond Booze” Rachel Black

“We Are the Luckiest” and “Push off From Here” Laura McKowen

“Sober Diaries” Clare Pooley

“Glorious Rock Bottom” Bryony Gordon

Podcasts (I keep thinking I would like to be the sort of person who listens to podcasts. I have finally admitted I am not a podcast person and deleted all my podcasts, but when I was trying to be a podcast person, I listened to these).

This Naked Mind

The Recovery Elevator

Sobriety Uncensored

Tracker apps:

I Am Sober (daily pledge, badges for milestones, tracks how much you’ve saved in units, calories and money, and there’s a community, but I’ve never used the community. The calorie tracker is not front and centre, you have to go looking for it, if that would be an issue for you).

Easy Quit Drinking (different badges for milestones, a health tracker that tells you when such and such a risk has reduced based on your time stopped, tracks money, calories, drinks not drunk. The calorie tracker is on the front page of the app. Has a little object-matching game for you to play with to beat an urge. The ads on the free version can be a bit much, make sure your volume is turned off!)

Try Dry from the charity Alcohol Change. Badges for milestones, you can set your own goal (eg sober October, or dry for X days), tracks units, calories and money saved. The calorie tracker is on the front page of the app. Has links to blog posts and similar on the Alcohol Change website. Very yellow.

emails and newsletters

Recovering” by Holly Whitaker

Love Story” by Laura McKowen

Tired of Thinking About Drinking” by Belle Robertson

Make sure you have some nice alcohol-free drinks in. I like a high-end kombucha, and alcohol-free beers don’t have me craving alcoholic beers, but your mileage may vary so be mindful there. These shrubs are amazing (I mix them with tonic water). You could experiment with mocktails, or herbal teas.

You may find your sugar cravings go off the charts (dark chocolate truffles worked for me). You may find that on Friday night you have a severe case of the fuckits when it comes to dinner. There’s nothing wrong with lying on the sofa eating crisps in front of a David Attenborough documentary or seven. The only thing that matters for 31 days is that you don’t drink.

You don’t have to do everything I’ve suggested, January is only 31 days long after all, but I found learning to live alcohol-free required trying different things, keeping what worked, ditching things that didn’t.

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