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  • Writer's picturePaul Burston

20 months, still sober

Today I am 20 months sober.

When I began this journey, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I still be able to socialise? Would life without alcohol be too dull or become too difficult? Would I fall at the first hurdle?

20 months later, I’m here to tell you that it’s been far easier than I anticipated. There’s been the odd wobble, but not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips and for the most part I haven’t craved it. I’ve been happy, sad, lonely, stressed and anxious – all emotions that used to have me reaching for the bottle.

I’ve been to bars, clubs and parties. I’ve traveled alone. I’ve declined the complimentary drinks in first class. I’ve spent time with friends and acquaintances in various stages of inebriation and enjoyed their company – for the most part. I’ve learned that being sober when someone else is really hammered isn’t much fun, but seeing as I was often the drunk one in this scenario, I’m in no position to judge or complain.

I’ve learned how to ‘blend in’ and not draw unnecessary attention to the fact that I’m not drinking, lest it prompts someone to demand an explanation or urge me to have “just the one”,  “just to be sociable”.

This happens more often than you’d think – and it’s really tiresome. In some social situations, I’ve drunk alcohol free beer, alcohol free wine and gin free gin. But mainly I’ve stuck to soft drinks like ginger beer and sparkling water.

I’ve learned that some venues and party planners really need to up their game when it comes to catering for non drinkers. I’ve been to publishing parties where the champagne flowed freely and the only non-alcoholic option was water. I mean, surely it can’t be that difficult to cater for the growing numbers of people who don’t drink alcohol?

But let’s not dwell on the negative. For me, this past 20 months has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I’ve learned that everything Annie Grace writes in This Naked Mind is absolutely true. I’m a far happier, healthier, less anxious person without alcohol.

I sometimes think that if I’d known then what I know now, I’d have quit drinking years ago. But then I remind myself that what matters is the present. One day at a time. One week at a time. Until suddenly it’s 20 months later and here I am. Still sober.

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