A Not So Alcohol-Free January

Millions of us decide in January to go booze free.  In the UK this is headed by the Dry January campaign in which participants are encouraged to take a month off the booze.

In the New Year, after much Christmas overindulgence, I made a commitment to myself to give up the booze, not just for January but for the long term.  I’ve tried this unsuccessfully before.  Last year I underwent hypnosis for my birthday and was surprisingly (for me) alcohol free for six weeks.  The hypnosis in many ways was a success.

I drank mainly white wine and lager, but after two years of personal difficulties, I’d found that the alcohol was creeping into my life more and more, particularly during the weekdays.  To help make the life changes I needed, I had hypnosis, which for the most part has been successful as I stopped drinking copious amounts of white wine and lager.  Unfortunately for me I decided that as a treat every now and again I would drink red wine (I mean, I’m always hearing about the “healthy” benefits of red wine in the media).  And that was the slippery slope downwards….I acquired a taste for red wine.

During the course of last year my alcohol consumption was less than it had previously been but I would still have the odd weeks of overindulgence.

So, this year I decided to make the commitment to edge my way towards sobriety.  The first two weeks started very well, but having my birthday mid-January was a bit of a pitfall, as I spent my birthday weekend boozing.  Not to be defeated however, I got myself back on track, albeit not entirely alcohol free, indulging in a few glasses of wine on a Saturday night, smattered with a few weekends here and there abstaining totally.  Six days a week being alcohol free is a huge accomplishment for me, however I am determined to do even better and stretch my sobriety further.

In my quest to stop drinking I bought a book called “This Naked Mind”.  Rather than it being a book giving instructions on how to quit, it gives the facts on why you should quit.

This is a summarisation from the book, which in turn was taken from Jason Vale’s book Kick the Drink……Easily.

“Alcohol has been proven to:

  • Depress your entire nervous system.
  • Undermine your courage, confidence and self-respect.
  • Destroy your brain cells.
  • Break down the immune system, making you less resistant to all kinds of disease.
  • Interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, resulting in bones that are weaker, softer and more brittle.
  • Distort eyesight, making it more difficult to adjust to different light.
  • Diminish your ability to distinguish between sounds and perceive their direction.
  • Slur your speech.
  • Dull your sense of taste and smell.
  • Damage the lining of the throat.
  • Weaken your muscles.
  • Inhibit the production of white and red blood cells.
  • Destroy the stomach lining.
  • Cause obesity.”

Makes you think doesn’t it?  For me, I got fed up with continuous sleepless nights and the constant tiredness dogged my life.  I was constantly tired, grumpy and irritable.  Not only that, it just didn’t make sense what I was doing to my body.  I’m not a health nut but I do exercise regularly, take supplements, drink green juices and meditate every day, and then undo all my good work by poisoning my system with alcohol!

The following is taken from The Naked Mind by Annie Grace:

“Your liver acts as your first line of defence.  It breaks down the alcohol so that your body can rid itself of the poison as quickly as possible.  When breaking down alcohol, your liver releases toxins and damaged liver cells into the bloodstream.  These toxins are more dangerous to the brain than alcohol itself.  The toxins released are responsible for bad sleep, mood imbalance, personality changes (like violence or weeping), anxiety, depression and shortened attention span”.

Since cutting back on alcohol I’ve found a new lease of life.  I’m sleeping so much better.  I’m not as tired or grumpy each day and I’ve seen a marked difference in my fitness levels.  My friend commented on how, at the gym, my face used to go the colour of a tomato when working out, but now I’m less red in the face, less sweaty and able to complete fitness classes more ably.  Cutting back has definitely made a difference in my fitness; I can jog much further now without having to stop.

The other thing I’ve found is that I actually enjoy having alcohol free evenings.  I can watch TV without constantly battling to keep awake, I can read and retain the information and my concentration has improved.  I’m more productive with my time. For the first long in a long while my overall levels of happiness and contentment have increased. And my bank account looks much healthier!

I’ve found there are lots of resources out there to help you cut down or quit alcohol.

  • Hypnosis. There are many hypnotherapists who can help you quit.  Choose a reputable hypnotherapist, personal recommendation is best.
  • Self-hypnosis CD’s and MP3’s. Always check out reviews prior to purchase.  It’s best to listen daily for the first week or so.
  • Quit drinking apps. Many are free to download.
  • There’s a wealth of books available on the subject of alcohol and addiction.
  • Facebook Groups. There are groups on Facebook that give support and advice, and help you connect with others.
  • Online resources. There’s a wealth of information available online. Allen Carr’s Easyway website for example has lots of information.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous. Check out their website to find a local group.

If you want to quit or just cut down, there’s lots available out there to help you.

References:     Grace, A., (2018), This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Harper Collins, London.

Vale, J., (2011), Kick the Drink….Easily, Crown House Publishing, Wales.

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