I COMPLETED a 90-day day no drinking challenge during the week. If you missed my first blog about health living and alcohol you can read it here.
I think from reading through some of the posts on One Year No Beer, everyone comes into this, from very different places, with very different drinking habits.
My drink habit was relatively mild and I have found the challenge surprisingly easy, once I decided I wanted to do it.
I had given up drinking before. Ten years ago when I first qualified as a pharmacist, I quit drinking for a few years. When I was at uni my lifestyle was built around drinking and on qualifying I knew my lifestyle would have to change. In pharmacy like other health professional jobs you can’t drink on a work night. You can’t risk having an off day. This transition and changing of lifestyle is not uncommon in pharmacy, and I was merely following the lead set by friends who had qualified in the years ahead of me.
During this time of not drinking I did a lot of sporting events and activities, marathons, charity cycles etc. Not drinking was easy as I basically avoided social events and filled my time with other activities. I did a second degree at night, I helped out with a political party.
After a while I missed socialising and so started drinking again. Not much, just a Saturday night out each week. Holidays changed from being built around activities, to being built around drinking and partying. I was having a lot of fun, everything was fine, however I was vaguely aware that my general mood and satisfaction in mundane daily life was better when I did not drink. But did I really want to avoid socialising again to the extent I did before? It was a dilemma.
I want an alcoholic free life and I want an active social life. I wanted this for a while but was never really sure how to go about it. I knew how to give up alcohol by doing lots of events and not socialising but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to live my life pretty much the same but I just didn’t want to drink alcohol when I socialising at the weekend. I came across Andy’s book and decided to give the challenge a go.
Right from the start I loved that the OYNB ethos as the community encourages you to socialise and recommends tips like drinking non-alcoholic beer. I have been surprised at how many pubs and clubs stock it. I find now, when I socialise drinking non-alcoholic beer requires no effort. The first month was tricky, mainly because I found I was very consciously trying to work out how I was feeling different from before, rather than just relaxing. By and large friends have been supportive. I have noticed that a lot of people think its very impressive, which I didn’t expect.
I don’t feel like I have quit drinking because I never really drank. I never drank during the week, I never had one or two drinks or a glass of wine with a meal. I used to get drunk roughly once a week. So effectively, I quit getting drunk. Which for someone in their 30s in a responsible job, is not a difficult decision to justify.
People keep telling me that I must feel great – I don’t feel great, because like I said, not a lot has changed in my life. I was already doing a lot of exercise and eating pretty healthy. The benefits have been subtle but I believe in time, the longer I go, the accumulative effect of these small benefits will be massive.
My confidence is slowly increasing. The few anxious and fearful thoughts I used to have, are pretty much disappearing. I feel more comfortable expressing my personality on a continuous low-level basis rather than oppressing it for periods during the week and releasing it at a high level while drinking at the weekend. I think I am becoming more fun and brazen at work while simultaneously having better concentration and probably being slightly more productive.
The projects I do outside work have benefited the most though. I have gone from writing roughly one health-related article a month to writing one a week. I have started doing a series of podcasts on top of the live radio shows I was already doing on hospital radio. My radio shows are now better as I have more energy.
I love my pharmacist
I have also been selected as a finalist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society I love My Pharmacist award, which may or may not be related. I am going to continue not drinking, as I still feel I’m on a steep learning curve, re-learning how to act and socialise without alcohol. I’ll try to write a post of what I am learning every few months.
One thing I have learned is that you don’t need alcohol to dance and talk nonsense loosely, you just need to relax and let yourself go. When you first drank alcohol you probably could not do those things either. It took time and practice to learn how to use drink to loosen up and let go. Now I am re-learning how to do it without alcohol. It is exciting and fun. A friend of mine recently interviewed Fatboy Slim for We are Festival and Norman Cook told him that he only drinks water and red bull now. Proof, not that anyone needs it, that you can party without alcohol. He is back on top of his game with his live shows.
I mentioned earlier that I have become more brazen since I gave up alcohol, so I’ll finish with this. If any of you, have a spare minute, I would really appreciate if you vote for me in the I love My Pharmacist competition!
You can vote for Peter here.
Peter Kelly is a pharmacist based in London. He recently started a public health campaign, ‘5 Simple Steps to Healthy Living.’ He runs healthy living workshops in London Colleges with his friend and qualified personal trainer Shea Jozana, you can follow their progress on the Facebook page: The friendly pharmacist