At this time of year most people’s thoughts turn to their weight, their drinking and their New Years resolutions, which invariably involve drinking and eating less. Not surprisingly many more people start Dry January than complete it. That’s because changing any habit is hard. Really hard! And if you don’t consider yourself to be the type of drinker who actually needs to change your drinking habit then it’s all too easy to quit before you really gave it a go.
It much easier to figure out if you need to do Dry January before you embark on such a big commitment. Is Dry January for you? Should you embark on this month of self-denial? Let’s explore these 5 types of drinker. What type of drinker are you?
In no particular order:
The Retired And Bored Drinker
You retired from work or went part time in order to enjoy the latter years of your life. There are no children requesting your attention or draining your bank account. With so much more time on your hands, that bit more spending money, alcohol fits in easily. There’s less reason to say no and suddenly a world of ‘me time’ has opened itself up to you. Alcohol has become a companion. A friend. After a while, every first drink of the day is a wonderful comfort.
Since you retired, you feel less useful, less relevant and less interesting. Your job was a bigger part of your identity than you realised and now with your title removed, you are disappointed to realise that you are just another grandparent / parent / mature person.
But rather than being your companion or your friend, alcohol is just feeding your insecurity and fuelling your sense of disconnection. It is undermining what was supposed to be an amazing journey into the elder stage of your life experience. You are not truly here because alcohol lifts you slightly above the ground, keeping you floating over the uncomfortable bits but also the joy. It is not allowing you to fulfil this part of your development.
So, Is Dry January For You, Retired And Bored Drinker?
What do you reckon? Give it a go. Find out what all that time is really for. Yes, boredom is a pain but it’s also a giver. Get creative. Find a hobby. Join a club. Reignite old interests. What have you got to lose? You will regain so much – your confidence, something to share with others also doing Dry January, time for making plans for your future, better health, improved memory, weight loss (probably) and the list goes on.
The Binge Drinker
You can go a whole week without alcohol but when you do decide to drink, look out! You count all the reasons you deserve a drink and they add up to a massive night out (or a few days). Alcohol is waiting for you, dancing on a table in some dark corner, ready to lift you up where you belong.
You may be a social binge drinker or a lone binge drinker, it matters not. The point is that alcohol will be your focus for that time and you’ll lose yourself to its reverie.
Life is hectic and your mind is an ever-growing list. Alcohol’s arms are open wide with the promise of joy, comfort and escape.
You’re not the type to drink daily because you have more self respect than that. But that’s how alcohol keeps you under its spell. Guilt and shame quickly follow your binges and keep you on a tight rope, from which you eventually fall.The pattern is as predictable as it is comforting and the illusion of control that you labour under means you never see any of this as a problem. Especially since you see it in many other drinkers you know.
So, Binge Drinker, Is Dry January For You?
Heeeeeell yeah! Come on. You know it’s not the regularity of the drinking, it’s the weird relationship you have with alcohol that’s doing you absolutely no good. The only way to shake yourself free of its grasp is to break the cycle. Stop drinking for January and in your particular case, maybe February too.
You never get stupid drunk (or rarely) but you do enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner or as soon as the kids have finally gone to bed. Maybe a whiskey or Baileys for an occasional night cap.
Alcohol is a sophisticated accessory, which appears to have very little impact on your life. It fits in very nicely and your consumption levels are reflected back at you in every alcohol advert and meme you see.
Friday and Saturday nights may demand a few more glasses especially if you’re out to dinner or at a party but in that case you’d probably have Sunday and Monday off. Socialising without alcohol is a waste of life and you always drink plenty of water before bed to ease your hangover.
Add up all the drinks you have on an average week – 1 glass on Tuesday, 2 Wednesday, 2 Thursday, 3 Friday and can’t recall how many on Saturday because you went out, out, … Sunday and Monday off.Let’s say it comes to 14 glasses. Isn’t that the NHS recommended amount? 14 a week?
No, it’s not! The maximum amount of alcohol you should consume, according to the NHS, is 14 UNITS a week, not 14 glasses, and there are about 3 units in a glass. You drank 32 units. 3 times the maximum! Creeps up doesn’t it.
So, One Glass A Night, Is Dry January For you?
Of course it is. You more than most because you have such a fixed habit. You will find the evening trigger the hardest to beat and that’s the very reason to quit. This type of drinking leads to more serious dependency and health issues.
The benefits to you will be felt keenly. You will change the subtly but insidious relationship you have with alcohol and come February, you will be able to take it or leave it. That self control and personal choice will be a big boost to your confidence. Not to mention no hangovers, better parenting, more focus in your work and weight loss (almost certainly).
The Morning Drinker
I write this with great sadness because really, I am writing about my dad. In the last years of his life he awoke every morning with a physical requirement for alcohol. This was a medical need which could only be dealt with by a chemical detox in a hospital, of which he had a few.
If you battle with the need to drink before midday most days then you are in a terrifying zone of physical addiction and you cannot beat it on your own. Your body aches to be relieved of the withdrawal symptoms and even the people you love dearly are cast aside for your relationship with booze. Nothing else matters but your drinking.
You may be able to function in many ways, normally, but your life has shrunk to the limitations alcohol puts on you. You don’t drive anywhere, you always make sure you’re near alcohol or somewhere that sells it.
So, is Dry January right for the Morning Drinker?
Dry January is a complete break from all alcohol and you would be putting yourself at great risk to embark on this sort of detox without help. Please get the help you need with your drinking by speaking to your GP, going to AA, telling your family and friends that you need help.
My dad died of liver and kidney failure at 52. It’s very hard to forgive someone who knew he was dying but continued to drink himself to death anyway and subsequently missed his grand children and children growing and thriving. I have made my peace with him because I know how much he suffered. But if you are a drinker of these proportions, seek help. There is life after alcoholism.
The Moderate Drinker
You hardly drink. Maybe once a month at a nice restaurant or a party you will have a couple. You spend many nights out on tonic or mocktails because you’re used to having a great time without the need for alcohol. When you do drink you feel the effects keenly so you hardly need more than one drink and you always make sure it’s something you love.
Alcohol is just not a major character in your life.
So, is Dry January for the Moderate Drinker?
Why bother? You have the enviable position of being able to genuinely take it or leave it and I am very jealous of you!
Whatever you decide, keep looking on Voice of Calm. There are so many hints and tools to help you through Dry January. Here are a few…