This week has brought my biggest expected challenge for Dry January: my friend’s birthday. In my first post I mentioned my friend’s dismay when I announced I was doing this challenge as it meant I was going to be sober for their birthday; I really expected them to spend the night teasing me and tricking me into drinking but in reality, no one said anything. I know a lot of people try to give up alcohol and the initial reaction of the people around them is to mock, to be confused, or sometimes even be angry, and this puts a lot of people off. The reality is this wears off really quickly. People stop asking the questions and the only comment I hear is they’re happy I’m a cheap round at the pub. A lot of people I have worked with have said they don’t want to give up alcohol because all their friends are at the pub, or they only know how to talk to their family over a drink, but I would always encourage people to find ways to communicate with those in your life without alcohol, you’ll find the relationships improve and develop in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Discussing triggers is part of my daily life at work and became part of my life at home. If someone drank around me I wanted a drink, but if they asked beforehand I had absolutely no desire. People hiding their alcohol drew my attention to it more than just asking me and this made me want it infinitely more. I always encourage my carers to ask what triggers the person using in their life rather than assuming as sometimes it won’t be what you expect.
One thing I did not expect when starting Dry January is when I don’t drink, the people around me drink less. Part of me was worried I would feel self conscious, like I was missing out, but people started drinking more water or soft drinks, drinking less quickly, and knowing their limits more than I have ever seen (I love my friends but this is not always their strong point). I noticed that by having a different attitude to alcohol, the people around me were influenced in a positive way. Even if you are not interested in abstinence or Dry January I would recommend having the odd sober night with friends, just as a social experiment- plus it’s fun being able to remember everything embarrassing that happened.
Three weeks in and I have already raised more than my final fundraising goal! I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of people, and the lovely comments people have said about this blog. If you are still interested in donating, the link to the fundraiser is here.
I’ll be back in touch next week for the final few days!
Kai Markanday – Concerned Other Support Worker