Try not drinking for a while

How many of you reading this are recovering from the excesses of the holidays. Quite apart from the consumption of feast foods and such things as polvorones, mantecados, turrón ( I am guilty of these), for many, Christmas is also a period in which the excessive consumption of alcohol is common.

In 2013 a fashion started in the UK of “Dry January” in which people abstain from the use of alcohol for the month of January. In the UK in 2023 it is estimated that some 9 million people stopped drinking alcohol on the first of January for a month.  Interestingly enough, in spite of the scare stories of the  dangers of stopping alcohol promoted by interested partie,s we didn’t see the streets of the UK filled with convulsing and dying humans. In fact, for most the experience is overwhelmingly positive.

For many drinkers it has given them an opportunity to re-assess their relationship with alcohol. Most of us start drinking alcohol during adolescence (the median age for starting is 15). This leads us to the alarming fact that most people in our society have no experience of adult-life without alcohol.  Great for the alcohol industry and crap for society, alcohol is the most harmful drug in our society (David Nutt 2008).

Quite apart from the obvious benefit of giving the body a rest from the toxic effects of alcohol (defined by the WHO as a class 1 carcinogen), it has given many the opportunity to reassess their relationship with alcohol. A common experience is that people realise that life is so much better without alcohol: more energy, weight-loss, a clearer mind, more active, more productive, better relationships, also a sense of peace and an experience of joy, something they didn´t even realise was missing until they stopped drinking. An interesting and common effect is that many decide to simply to extend dry January to “dry rest-of-life”. One person I spoke to described their experience as freeing themselves of a low-grade chronic depression that they were not even aware they suffered until they stopped drinking. Others, who never believed that they were dependent, realised that were in fact dependent, as in fact are most habitual drinkers.

We are at the beginning of the transformation of society’s relationship with alcohol. About twenty-five years ago smoking started to become unfashionable in Spain, something that would have seemed impossible just five years earlier. The same has started to happen with alcohol. This is a wonderful development; it fills me with hope.

Each of has within us a deep and natural desire to live the best life we can. Alcohol makes this difficult if not impossible.

Are you curious about how your life might be without alcohol? Why not give yourself a dry month or four weeks but do it with the right attitude: with open curiosity, a sense of kindness to yourself, and always with a sense of humour.

I suggest that you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Wishing you the very best for 2024.

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