By Laura Willoughby MBE
Cutting down on alcohol doesn’t have to be so hard
I never thought I would have the willpower to change my drinking. Alcohol had been part of my life for over 20 years. But I knew that it was affecting me badly, and somehow it had tipped from heavy social drinking to a self-abusive challenge to see how much I could drink and still function the following day. My off-switch had broken.
It can happen to many of us at different points in our life – but it takes just a few different circumstances to collide, and we find we are drinking more and suffering more the following day. And you don’t need to be drinking as much as the guys with the Special Brew in the park for that to happen. It is a fact of life that hangovers are harder to cope with as you get older, and that health conditions are aggravated by the number of units we drink.
A recent study by the government-funded Drinkaware campaign found that one in five adults want to cut back on their drinking. Quitting always felt like an impossible task – a very lonely solution to my very social problem. But every other day as I nursed a hangover and the associated shame, I knew I had to do something.
So I made a decision three years ago. A snap decision on the day I got a tax rebate, I paid some cash for a workshop on quitting. The next thing I did right was I told my friends. The look of relief on their faces was visible. I think it was a combination of private management and public proclamation that helped. After that workshop I never drank again.
But after that, the thing that kept me on an even keel was that each and every day I felt better and better and better. I really do feel like that energetic and idealistic 20-year-old again. As I looked back on why I did not do this before, I began to see that it was because internet searches always gave me results that did not feel like me.
AA was for alcoholics, council drug and alcohol services for those at rock bottom. I still wanted to go the pub (I still do), and wanted to feel positive about what I was gaining, rather than mourn what I was losing.
This is why I have set up Club Soda. We want to support you whatever your goal. Whether you want to cut down, stop for a bit or quit. You can set your goals, track your progress, and natter with others doing the same – after all, we get pissed together so why should we get sober alone?
We also do workshops (more affordable and better than the one I did), local socials in pubs, and other events – the aim is to find what works best for you.
Here are some tips on how to cut down on alcohol (if you don’t want to quit completely like I did but you’d like to cut back):
In simple terms, how many drinks do you have on a day when you are drinking? For example, cutting down for you personally could mean restricting yourself to just one bottle of wine with your partner (rather than the two you’ve become used to having).
Changing how often you drink can also take many forms. You may decide not to drink during weekdays any more, or taking three days off each week, or only drinking on one evening every weekend. Taking three days off in a row is said to be really good for your liver, by the way!
3. Apps and such
Whatever your cutting down goal is, there are many mobile apps out there that may help with it. They can help keep track of exactly how much you drink over time (daily, weekly, monthly), on how many days you drink and don’t drink, and so on. Some also count the calories and money you save by giving up alcohol.
The Spruce app encourages you to have three days each week without any alcohol. It was originally aimed at younger people, but should be useful for everyone. And as we already said, taking three days off in a row is good for the health of your liver – that’s why Spruce is built for taking three-day breaks.
Here also is a link to a 60 second survey to help you monitor your drinking.
Month off Booze
How about a longer break from the booze, but not sure if you could manage it? Tried and failed in the past? Not sure if you would feel better if you cut it out? Then come along and see what we can offer.
We have regular online programmes supporting you to take a month off boozeand workshops like How to Create and Fall in Love with a More Sober Life designed by women who have kicked the habit too!
Mutton Club readers get a discount on everything we do. You just have to use this link. And it’s free to sign up to Club Soda. Come to our socials and start connecting with others on the same journey as you.
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Laura Willoughby MBE, is a former politician, business woman and inveterate campaigner. She was a councillor on Islington Council in London for 12 years and the Chief Executive of The Food Chain and Move Your Money UK. She set up Club Soda in 2014 to help people quit or cut down on their drinking.