I tried, and failed, to do Dry January

‘How hard could it be?’ I said to myself. How wrong I was.

Every year towards the end of December I start to see the Dry January adverts, and posts from friends on social media who are giving up the booze for a whole month. This year I drank quite a lot over Christmas, more than usual, and by the time January rolled around I started to think maybe I should give up drinking for a while.

Alcohol has an astonishing amount of sugar and calories in it, and it’s scary how quickly you can go over the recommended amount of weekly units. According to the NHS, in the average 11 per cent bottle of wine there are 8.2 units of alcohol.

As a woman, I’m meant to drink a maximum of 14 units a week, so in just one night out I know I can definitely go over that. If I add that night to another evening in the pub or a meal out with a glass of wine, very quickly I drink those 14 units.

I’ve also always found that I get tired and run down after I drink a lot. Freshers’ flu hit me bad, twice. So taking a break seemed like a great idea.

“How hard could it be?” I said to myself. How wrong I was.

Goodbye novelty sangria bottle

I worked on New Years Eve, so I started off really well. So far so good. One of the main problems with Dry January is that you’ve probably already broken it one minute into January, but this wasn’t the case with me. The first two weeks I didn’t touch a drop when I went to the pub or out for a meal. I actually felt really good and enjoyed myself without drinking.

It was the first SU night back where it all went downhill. I’d agreed to go out since it was Refreshers’, and at some point during pre drinks I succumbed to peer pressure and was soon wasted. I genuinely didn’t think it was going to be possible to go to the SU sober, and that night I definitely did not.

But I wasn’t going to let this hiccup stop me. Luckily I went home the next weekend, and the friends I met up with were doing Dry January too. I had a great night and the cost of the meal was definitely a lot less due to the fact there wasn’t a bottle of wine added to the bill. The last week of January wasn’t bad either. I did go out, to the SU once again, but I wasn’t smashed and had a good night on a couple of drinks.

So I slipped up and broke dry January. Within the first two weeks. But it has been an interesting experience, and I’ve definitely drunk a lot less than I would have in a normal month. I feel surprisingly good as well. I had always scoffed at people when they say this, but I think my skin looks better and I’m feeling less tired. I hate to admit this but I think having a break from (a lot of) alcohol has done me good.

This month has taught me that my will power is weaker than I thought, and that I don’t need to drink for the sake of it. ‘I’m doing dry January’ was a really good excuse for not drinking on a Tuesday night, but I think it’s definitely something I’m going to consider more. It has saved me quite a bit of money, and like I said there are annoyingly decent health benefits to it. I will not be doing Dry February, but I will definitely think twice about always drinking every time I go out.

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Royal Holloway, University of London