So, it’s the run up to Christmas 2022, and the usual invites to nights out, drinks in the pub, food then drinks and general festive merrymaking start to come in via email, WhatsApp and so on. This year, for whatever reason (maybe still post-pandemic excitement?) there seemed to be more than normal.

Now, I like beer, I like drinking beer, I also like the atmosphere that pubs have. I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we’re lucky enough to have some fantastic pubs, serving a great, wide selection of ales, beers and other libations.

That moment, when the bar tender pulls your first pint. Lines it up on the bar beside your mate’s one. A pint. That perfect amount, served exactly, precisely, in a straight sided glass. Waiting on me. Waiting on me taking that first sip. The anticipation. Looking at the colour of the beer, depending on what I’ve ordered, either a creamy head on a pint of stout – luscious and lip-stickingly creamy – or a foamy, crisp, sharp head on a pint of blonde beer, promising that the first taste of this magickal liquid is going to start the night off.

Have I whetted your appetite?

In the UK, and in Scotland particularly, we have a culture of drinking. Although not at home, where alcohol was seldom consumed, this was the culture I was raised in. Have a drink? Are we going for a drink? Friday night drinks? Monday night drinks? Ach, aye, go on then.

I think that I can honestly say that for most of my adult life, I’ve had a complicated relationship with alcohol. It’s led me to some dark places, but it’s been there at highlights and high points in my life too. It’s been my drug of choice for a long, long time.

But this January something changed.

The run up to Christmas 2022 had seen me invited to more ‘drinks’ than usual, and it felt that at when I was at home, I was drinking more than usual as well.

It was New Years Day 2023, and I was hosting family lunch. I looked at the can of Camden Brewery IPA I was holding, and something, something from deep down within me said – that’s enough now.

As I write this I’m on day 71 of not drinking.

So – did I have a drinking problem? Was I drinking too much? Let me tell you how much I’d been drinking and see if any of it sounds familiar to you.

A few years back, my other half and I took the decision to stop drinking throughout the week. We’d only drink alcohol at the weekends, so, Friday, Saturday and most likely Sunday too.

What happened, gradually, was that there was (for me anyway) a general feeling of just-get-to-Friday-so-I-can-have-a-beer. I’m not sure when this started, but I began to look forward to getting home from work on a Friday, and opening a beer straight away. I’d follow that one with maybe 4 or 5 more, depending on what size of can I was drinking.

The same was true on Saturday – just get to 5pm, then I can open a beer.

And I love beer. I’d visit craft beer stores, chat to people about beer and select and buy beers from breweries I’d read about online. I brew my own beer too. Trying different style, flavours and geographies was incredibly exciting.

I’d fall into the same cycle on a Sunday afternoon too.

Over time, it became clear to me that I was in-fact binge drinking. Nothing during the week, lot’s at the weekend.

Does that sound familiar? I’d love to hear if that’s the norm for you – feel free to comment.

So I stopped. I wondered what would happen. Would it be difficult? Would I crave alcohol? Would I crumble at the first Friday and accept my boozy-fate?

In short – it’s not been easy to say no. But I’m managing. If you’re struggling, and reading this because you’ve come here via Google or Reddit, then you can do it too. If I can, you can. IWNDWYT.

I’m not spending as much money at the weekends.
My sleep is better.
It is lovely to wake up on Saturday mornings and not have a fuzzy head.
Not drinking feels more compatible with who I’m becoming.

Will I ever drink again? I’m not sure. But, I think I like where this is going. There are lots of new things to learn and do. How does one act in social settings like pubs when you’re the only one not drinking? I have certain friends who I only ever saw for drinks – what do I suggest now?

I’m going to leave this post open ended and update it going forward. For now. Cheers.

UPDATE – July 2023. I’ve still stopped drinking. Officially, it’s been 205 days since I have consumed any alcoholic beverages. The biggest change that I’ve noticed is that I fall asleep much quicker than I used too. And the evening/weekend cravings have pretty much gone too. Being out in pubs is still weird. But that’s just a time and repetition thing. I’ll update here again soon.

UPDATE – October 2023. It’s been 294 days. I’ve honestly not had a beer. I can’t quite believe that I’m here, writing this. You know how your phone shows you photos of “Memories” or whatever? Photos of the old you in prior situations. Aye. Well. Most of mine, or a lot of mine, revolve around beer, booze, pubs, and so on. I can’t quite remember how that happened. It’s weird.

UPDATE – January 2024. It’s been 378 days since I last had an alcoholic drink. Yes, dear reader, this means that I’ve successfully navigated the traditionally tricky bevvy season of Christmas, Birthday and New Year, all sober. To be honest with you – it was great. I really wish I had stopped drinking before now. The difference is the morning after. I know, I know, that’s a bloody obvious thing to say. But see just waking up and being able to get up right away, do some stretches, then come downstairs and say hello to the dog, then make coffee. All without a fuzzy (at best) or banging (at worst) hangover… That’s a game changer. It’s bloody awesome. I feel like I’ve discovered a new super power and I feel silly for not realising it before. Will it last forever? Who knows? Nothing does. Everything changes. As it turns out – even me.

If you are struggling with addiction issues and want a way of keeping yourself accountable the Nomo App is what I’ve been using. I think you might find it useful too.