Hello…I’m Kai from the drug and alcohol team at Carers Leeds and I have decided that I’m going to do Dry January.

What is it?
Dry January is where people give up alcohol for all of January to raise money for a charity, mainly Alcohol Change UK. I have decided to raise money for Alcohol Change UK as they work on projects close to my heart, such as campaigning for policy reform, improved knowledge around alcohol and reducing stigma, and support other alcohol treatment services which is so vital for people struggling with their alcohol use.

Why am I doing it?
As well as working for a drug and alcohol team where I see how devastating alcohol is when used in excess, I also believe there is an unhealthy culture of alcohol use for the average person in this country. My family are Irish, Finnish, and Indian so all big alcohol drinking nations (people are usually surprised when I include India in the list of big drinking countries but there is currently a massive rise of alcohol consumption of particularly spirits there and with British Indians) so I’ve always considered alcohol as the norm. Alcohol is there for meals, for weekends, for birthdays, for weddings, for particularly tough Tuesday nights, It’s just always been part of most events in my life. A friend once told me the joke “What’s the difference between a Finnish wedding and a Finnish funeral? At least one person is sober at the funeral”. So I want to see what a month looks like for me without a drink.

The challenges
Despite saying I’m from a big drinking background I’m not a huge drinker myself so I didn’t anticipate this to be difficult, but the day I decided to do this I shared a bottle of wine with dinner- something I never do during the week. I’ve always been good at moderation but not abstinence so I’m a little nervous. I told my friend I was doing this and their immediate reaction was horror as it meant I was going to be sober for their birthday- something I may have forgotten was happening this month- so there will definitely be times during the month I will struggle.

My expectations
I have downloaded the Dry January app to help me monitor how I do, so I’m hoping to save a bit of money, feel a bit healthier, sleep a bit better, and hopefully lose some of the mince pie weight I put on over Christmas. I have a goal of raising £100 over January so keep checking back to see how I do or if you would like to donate please do so here www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kai-markanday

Wish me luck!

Kai Markanday, Concerned Other Support Worker