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  • Writer's picturePaul Burston

501 days of sobriety

Updated: May 18, 2022

Yesterday I reached a milestone – 500 days of sobriety. I know this because the I Am Sober app on my iPhone told me so. I stopped counting the days a long time ago.

To be honest, it didn’t feel like much of a milestone, at least not in the way that the first month and the first six months did. But I do think it’s important to mark these occasions, so mark it I did – with a post on social media. Thanks to everyone who commented and kindly congratulated me on my strength of character. It’s good to be reminded that social media isn’t all culture wars and bin fires.

But frankly, I feel a bit of a fraud. Not because I’ve cheated or misled anyone. If I did that, the only person I’d really be lying to is myself. No, I feel a fraud because when people ask me how I’ve managed it, the truthful answer is “surprisingly easily”. I honestly haven’t missed alcohol at all. Not even a little bit. I don’t crave it. I rarely think about it. I thought I would, but I really don’t.

What I have noticed is how tricky some social situations can be when you’re not drinking. I recently attended a glamorous launch party for a forthcoming book festival. On arrival, the waiter offered me a choice of red or white wine. When I asked for something non-alcoholic he looked rather put out.


“Water is fine.”

“Tap okay?”

“Sparkling, please.” I smiled ingratiatingly. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

I mean, it’s not a lot to ask, is it? But it’s a reminder of how deeply embedded alcohol is in our social interactions, now that we’re interacting socially again. Apparently, even a glass of sparkling water was a tall order. I didn't dare inconvenience him further by asking for ice and lemon.

For those who’ve asked for advice on controlling their drinking or quitting altogether, I refer you back to my earlier blog posts – and to This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. The book was recommended to me by several friends who no longer drink and it helped enormously.

Today I’ve been alcohol free for 501 days. Not quite as big a milestone as 500 days. But you know what they say. One day at a time.

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