How to Turn Dry Jan Into a Year of No Drinking, According to Someone Who Did

No drinking for a year Sangeeta Kocharekar

I woke up on New Year’s Day 2023 hungover. I couldn’t remember chunks of the night before, nor how I’d even gotten home. After my friend Vicky, who was visiting from Queensland, explained that another friend had kindly walked me home, even making sure I was safely inside, Vicky asked if I wanted to head to the beach. I tried to stand but I felt so dizzy that I had to lay back down.

I didn’t move for the rest of the day. My mind was swirling with thoughts about what I might’ve done or said the night before. I felt guilty for not spending time with Vicky. Annoyed at myself for having to waste the day in bed.

The next couple of days, I still felt out of it and could barely stomach food, let alone another drink. I decided to try for a month off drinking. Somehow, the month flew by, and I still didn’t feel ready for a drink. So, I did February off booze too. And then March. And then April. Before I knew it, I’d done a year and was celebrating New Year’s Eve once again without even a glass of sparkling in hand.

I’m now writing this in January 2024 and have yet to have a drink. I’m not sure when I’ll start again — if ever. My life has improved immensely since I stopped and I think drinking would only stand in the way of what I want to achieve.

If you too are thinking about turning your Dry January into a year of no drinking, or maybe you drank in January but are thinking about giving it up another month or forever, read on for my tips on how to uphold your quitting and how I managed to stop drinking for a whole year.

Up Your Self-Care

I loved my self-care routines — taking a long bath after work or spending a Friday night in with a hair mask and a good book — even before I quit drinking. Now, I treat myself more to massages, blow dries and manis and pedis, knowing I’m saving on not drinking. I think of pampering myself as a reward for not drinking, which helps me resolve to keep it up.

Exercise More

When you quit drinking, you might find you have a lot more time on your hands, especially on weekend mornings when you wake up fresh as a daisy, bouncing with energy. I filled these mornings with pilates at a studio near me, which certainly isn’t cheap. But again, I justified its membership price tag by the fact I was saving on not drinking.   

Find Drink Alternatives You Love

I tried a lot of alcohol alternatives last year and, out of everything I tried, I’ve decided to stick to plain sparkling water, NON and, on special occasions, non-alcoholic sparkling. I was never a big juice drinker and didn’t love cocktails (other than espresso martinis), so when I ordered sugary, non-alcoholic drinks because I felt like that’s what I should do, I felt like I was forcing myself. NON isn’t wine with alcohol removed, it’s its own drink combination and the natural fizz in the bottles makes it feel like I’m drinking sparkling.

Rediscover Childhood Joys

When I was a kid, I used to love going to the library and taking home a stack of books. I used to love babysitting. I loved going op-shopping. Then I discovered drinking and stopped doing a lot of those activities that used to make me so happy. Last year, I rediscovered them. I felt like I was getting back in touch with the person I used to be before I started drinking. 

Be Okay to Smokebomb

When you stop drinking, you get tired and often bored a lot more quickly on a night out. I found that while my friends who were drinking at dinner would be happy to sit at the table for hours after the meal was finished, I soon became ready to leave. While at first, I felt annoyed at myself that I wasn’t having fun, I learnt to be compassionate with myself and be okay with wanting to go home when I got tired. There was no drink high pushing me to stay up and that was fine. To avoid arguing with drunk people who might try to convince me to stay, I would often check they were safe and then just smokebomb (leave without telling anyone).

Be Kind to Yourself

On not beating myself up for not having fun being sober at parties, in general, when you give up drinking, be kind to yourself. It can feel uncomfortable to break a habit of having a drink in hand at a party, a wine at dinner with everyone else or, for me, a little “who knows where this night will end up” to an event. Remember though that the period of feeling uncomfortable will probably be far shorter than that of being hungover the next morning.

Really Think About the Good in Drinking

Finally, think about what good has come from drinking. Sure, you might occasionally have an amazing night and meet some new friends or even a potential partner, but what about all those other nights? Did you need that last drink right before you went home at 4am?

I do believe in “you’re only young once” and doing whatever you feel you need to experience, which might be nights where you have too much and make mistakes. But I’m saying that if you take stock of the benefits that come from regular drinking, you’ll find that they don’t amount to much.

When I’m asked when I’ll drink again, I always respond, “When I think the benefits of drinking outweigh those that come with not”. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Related: 3 Women on the Moment They Decided to Quit Drinking and What Life’s Been Like Since

Related: I Haven’t Had a Drink in Over 3 Months — This Is How I’m Feeling

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