It was reported recently that women are now drinking as much as men, for the first time in history. With the introduction of “wine o’clock” more of us than ever are enjoying booze daily, something that has become sociably acceptable in recent years. Most people I know drink every evening, enjoying almost a bottle of wine a night without worrying about long-term health issues. At this moment in time, we don’t even know what these are and how they will affect us personally, let alone how they will affect our NHS. As Dry January is a distant memory with many of us choosing to give up alcohol for 31 days, I want to ask you all whether you felt any better about being dry. I have now been teetotal for 8 years with no intention of hitting the bottle again, so maybe now is a good time to share 10 things I discovered when I went teetotal.
People seem to have a problem with me being teetotal
I’m starting with the biggie – everyone else’s view of me being teetotal. While this isn’t everyone I know and love, there is a whole heap of people who seem to have a real interest in my drinking status. Some make a joke of it. Many seem to spend their fun time trying to convince me to have a drink. This has become so boring and I’m hoping that this disappears over time. Would they ask the question if I was an alcoholic (probably not) so why do they feel the need to ask for a lifestyle choice?
I reckon it’s their way to detract from their own overindulgence!
Nights out with good friends who are drunk, are still fun
I honestly thought that going out with my girlfriends, when they were drunk would be tricky. I thought that I’d be sitting there wishing I could join in or thinking they were daft and feeling a little smug about my sobriety. Turns out that some of my best nights out have been spent with them enjoying a bottle (of three) and us all laughing our heads off. If you’re great friends, you will have a great night without the grape.
However, it is worth saying that a night out with people I don’t know or don’t particularly like while sober, can be a lot harder. In this situation, it is hard to suffer fools gladly, and my sobriety makes their bitchiness or negativity harder to stomach.
Life is clearer in many ways
I used to feel fuzzy in the mornings, more stressed with the kids from enjoying an extra glass of wine and then sleeping badly. This has gone now (I of course still get stressed when they can’t find their school shoes) and I’m feeling generally calmer. This has impacted many areas of my life especially work.
I in fact, now work fewer hours than I used to but am achieving more. Being clearer has helped me to prioritise resulting in my turning off the laptop and having an evening with my husband with no talk of work.
I am not a taxi driver
Now let’s be clear, I have no problem driving on a night out as this is obviously one of the benefits of being teetotal. I also have no problem driving my friends back as let’s face it, I want them to be safe (especially if they have been drinking). But I don’t like it when total strangers ask me for a lift home which they do.
Friday nights on social media can be boring!
I always know it’s 5.00 on a Friday evening as my Instagram feed is full of photographs of cocktails. While I don’t care what anyone else does, it’s amazing how much everyone talks about booze. And not just on Instagram – everywhere! Memes, emojis, menus: gosh we are a nation of drinkers!
All my ailments have gone
I suffered for years with a bad lower back and sinus problems which have all now gone. Since being teetotal my back pain was from sleeping without moving and my sinus pain was also only at night. Now that I am sober, my sleep is deeper but without being comatose meaning that I move more in the night, freeing up my joints.
People forget you in a round
Before I quit, I read that the person buying the round at the bar always forgets the teetotaller which I thought would be wrong but it is alas, true. Even my husband regularly forgets me in a round! I presume booze is on their mind and sparkling water drops from their memory.
I don’t need rewards anymore
I used to have a glass of wine as a reward for putting the kids to bed. 7.30 would come and I felt that I deserved a tipple. Someone asked me what my new reward is and do you know what – I don’t have one! Surely sitting down for the first time all day is reward enough.
Non-alcoholic drinks are full of sugar
I don’t drink sugary fizzy drinks so therefore my choice in restaurants and bars is limited. My new tipple is sparking water with ice and a slice. Sometimes I have mint and lime in it, or maybe strawberries. And some pubs don’t serve sparkling water so I’m left with soda water on tap! It’s about time we sorted this out!
I am richer in so many ways!
I now save about £35 a week which is over £1800 a year! I’m sure that this has all been spent on shoes and vintage frocks but anyway, that is still a great saving.
But I am also richer in my health, my fitness and my outlook. I am enjoying moments that happen with my family so much more – Christmas and birthdays are remembered fully as I notice the small things that once would have been blurred.
And most importantly, I am happier.
Now pass me a glass of water!
(I wrote this article for Huffington Post back in 2016 but all still feels true 7 years on!)