I did Dry January as a student and it was the hardest experience of my life

The tough call of cancelling your social life or braving the clubs sober


It's 2020, a new year and a new decade! So, my New Year's resolution needed to be MEGA. So, what better challenge to set myself than taking on Dry January. Can't be that hard… can it?

31st December 2019

It was New Year's Eve and we brought in the new decade with a bang! Although, throughout the evening I began to tell my friends of my new resolution (Dry Jan) and the room literally erupted with laughter. I was sat there thinking 'Oh my god, why are they laughing? Will it be that hard? Is this just they think that I'm such a slut for the bender weekender that I won't be able to cope?'

Then the comments came rushing in:

"Surely YOU, of all people, can't do Dry January!"

"Are you mad? You really think you can manage a whole month of uni with no booze?"

"Have you had a religious experience, are you going teetotal?"

The dread set in, my friends literally thought I'd gone mad…

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Finished of 2019 on a rather wavy note !!!!

January 1st 2020

As the worst hangover in the world began to set in, the thought of not drinking for a month felt positively delightful. No more hangovers, just beautiful, beautiful sobriety.

January 2nd 2020

Withdrawal symptoms were slowly starting to kick in. After the booziest Christmas ever (the UCL ski trip for killing me off) I was shaking, my head was POUNDING and I was sat contemplating whether I had just embarked upon the worst challenge ever.

The next 10 days…

We're SO fine. I stayed at home with my family, did some work ready to go back to uni. Lost so much weight through the teetotal lifestyle and I felt amazing. Never before (okay well, maybe when I was about five) had I had SO much energy.

This Dry Jan thing: piece of cake.

January 12th 2020 (The return to uni)

I'd been on form for 12 days and I felt like nothing could stop me!!! I was still sober, I'd fully forgotten what it was like to have a social life and no drinking, no problem.

I came back to uni and immediately got invited to the pub.

The reality dawned on me that I did still have a social life and that I was going to have to decide whether to become hermit or learn how to go out and not get absolutely trollied, or even a lil bit squiffy, just sober.

Term 2, Week 1 (13/01/20-19/01/20)

THE HARDEST WEEK EVER.

This week consisted of four pub trips, two birthday parties and the prospect of going clubbing (twice).

The pubs

I was filled with a false sense of security that not drinking was so easy, but oh boy, did it get hard. Going to the pub and being judged every time I ordered myself a 'slimline tonic water' and having to explain to various bartenders that I was doing Dry Jan.

My new struggle: being surrounded by drunken morons, but still trying to be on good form.

The parties

My boyfriend's 21st Birthday happened to fall in Dry Jan and if you are saying 'uh oh…', you'd be right! It was a massive 'uh oh' as I was surrounded by dozens of drunken uni students necking bottles of prosecco, shotting whatever spirits were on hand and the icing on the cake: my best friend and my boyfriend having a drinking competition until 3:30am! I just had to sit up and witness this, for fear of coming across as the biggest buzz kill ever (I can confirm every ounce of my being just wanted to leave them for dead and go to bed).

Oh, and how can I forget the amount of vomiting I had to witness? I can confirm that being drunk definitely numbs your sensitivities to vomiting. Honestly, we're all animals?!?

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My daily reaction to the drunken antics of everyone around me

The clubs

Unsurprisingly, I didn't make it to them.

My friends wanted me to go to Loop sober (this request made an appearance every week of January) HA HA HA.

Having never previously enjoyed the club without being thoroughly annihilated the thought of doing it sober made me feel a little bit sick in my mouth. I was also invited to go to a Wiley vs Stormzy night, which with a couple of tinnies would have been spectacular, and I thought maybe I can do this sober. Sadly, one of our group starting throwing up what looked like Vimto outside the club and at that point I was thoroughly out, it was time for bed.

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I am sure my friends standing on a kitchen counter top would have been SO funny if I was drunk !!

Term 2 Week 2 (20/01/20-26/01/20)

After Week 1 I was fully prepared to just give up. What I was giving up, I was unsure about. Was I going to give up Dry January or was I giving up my social life? Both at this point seemed catastrophic, as I'd come so far in staying sober but I also HATED it.

Against all the odds I stuck with it. I hosted a drinking event for my society, was handing out drinks but didn't touch a single one myself- just a pint of Diet Coke (wild, I know).

Somehow during this week I managed to find the perfect equilibrium of sober and sociable and it truly felt miraculous.

I was getting up early, going to uni, doing my uni work and I also managed to get myself a summer internship. I was ballin'.

Term 2 Week 3 (27/01/20- February!!!)

The end was so close, but so far.

I had company dinners where everyone was on the wine, what did I treat myself to, a cranberry mocktail.

I was starting to get bad FOMO on the party train as well, as all my friends were living the high life- some even going out for as many as 14 nights consecutively. Meanwhile, I was sat at home watching the Witcher/Sex Education with my cup of tea very much feeling like an old lady.

I can hand on heart say that it was not the time to be alive, solely a time to sit and watch all my other friend's Insta stories. Being sober had officially got to me, I was at a point where I was so uptight with all my friends for being so foolish and drunk, yet, simultaneously I was so desperate to be on their level.

Two days to go

I only had two days left and I discovered my friends were all going to a karaoke night and, oh boy, do I LOVE karaoke. I was in the biggest of internal dilemmas – would I be able to go to a karaoke night sober and would I be able to maintain my sobriety throughout the night?

YES! Was the answer. I even sang at karaoke, not just once, but twice. Young Hearts Run Free is too good of an anthem not to be sung.

February 1st 2020

After a month of being a teetotal, tonic drinking queen the de-sobering had to commence! I had a grand total of four glasses of wine at pres and was smashed.

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Let the bevved up celebrations begin !!!

Having previously earned the nickname 'seshgrem Em', Dry January was fully the opportunity to prove that a new year would mean a new me and that I could still be the life and soul of the party with a cheeky tonic inside me.

What I learnt from my sober month as a student:

1. It's really not easy

2. You save SO much money

3. You have LOADS of energy when you're not hungover

4. It is possible to be social and sober, not easy, but possible

5. I feel really bad for every Uber driver who has put up with me chatting utter crap in the back of their car whilst I have been smashed

6. Drunk people when you're sober are SO annoying :/

Dry January was much harder than I expected but I am super proud that I committed to it, and if you feel like you're hitting the booze too hard its a really good way to prove to yourself that you can be a good time minus alcohol.