They celebrated via a video call and congratulated each other with a glass of water. Here is a brief blog from them both, explaining how they found it and what they learnt along the way.
My reasons for completing Dry 2020 were simple. I was on medication at the time so mixing alcohol with that would not be a good idea. Also, I know the way alcohol makes me feel when I do drink it so I thought why not test myself and see how far I can go. I wanted to raise awareness for people fighting their addictions and challenge the stigma around addictions.
I was shocked at some of the responses I received when I would tell people that I was not drinking. I was asked if I was pregnant, because why else would a woman of my age be sober? It was suggested that I must be boring and unable to have fun because I was not drinking. At times I was often encouraged to ‘just have one’ or that ‘a few wouldn’t hurt’. I often laughed these comments off but reflecting on them all I can see how detrimental they may be to someone who has lived experience of addictions and are in recovery.
People love to pry, and it is hard to be subjected to the questioning of your choices especially if you have personal reasons behind them. I am not sure what their reactions may have been if my truth was that I was recovering from an addiction, would they still have questioned me, or would they have said nothing? Which reaction is worse?
There of course were some people who encouraged me and wanted to support me. When I shared with my friends on social media, I did have some people comment or message me, about the challenges they face or words of encouragement.
In my experience throughout Dry 2020, I much preferred when people asked me about my choice to do Dry 2020 than when they made comments about it. ‘Let me educate you and challenge your ideas around sobriety’ I would think to myself. That way I could possibly change the way they view alcohol and the stigma around it.
Having experienced this, I will think even more about the impact my comments may have on other individuals or groups of people and try to challenge those instincts to be more considerate of others. I will aim to celebrate people’s choices and successes, no matter the size or reason.
At the end of December in 2019 I made the decision to do Dry January in 2020, part of me deciding to stop drinking for January was to try and be healthier and part of it was because I didn’t drink that much anyway. I found that my first month going dry went well, so I decided to extend it to do Dry 2020.
I’ve had a lot of questions from people asking why I would want to go without alcohol for a year, and I think maybe one other person didn’t question my choice to not drink. I was often told that I was boring and a spoil sport for not drinking, but my response to that was that I never drank to the point of getting tipsy or drunk before because I didn’t like how it felt, so I’m really no different sober or drinking. After a few months’ people started to see that I was serious about not drinking this year, but I still got the odd person telling me to just have one sip or that no one will know. When being questioned about my reasons for not drinking I turned the question round on them and asked them why or how does my not drinking affect them and their choice to drink, to which I usually got the response ‘because it’s fun’. It made me question how the response may be different if I were to say that I had struggled with alcoholism; would they support my decision instead of questioning it, or continue to try and persuade me to drink?
This past year has made me realise how much drinking is engrained in our lives and is continually something that is brought up in everyday speech, from someone saying ‘it’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ or ‘I’ll need a glass of wine after today’, it’s surprising how much we mention drinking alcohol every day. I’ve also been thinking about how much alcohol is present in adverts on TV, videos and images online, which makes me think about how difficult and triggering it could be to someone in recovery from an alcohol addiction.
Reflecting on my experience over the last year, I realised that I haven’t really missed alcohol that much; and that is something I am grateful for as I know others who have/are struggling with alcohol addiction may feel differently. Since completing Dry 2020 I have made the decision to stay dry, and on the rare occasion if I fancy a drink then I’ll have a no or low-alcohol option.
Have you thought about what you drink and why you drink? Have you tried Dry January?
You never know how much it can change your views on alcohol, how present it is in media and why you may choose to drink or not to drink. Instead of questioning people’s choices, let’s make a change and support the choice of others to not drink.