Hav­ing a dry Jan­uary? Here are some tips

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Front Page - Padraig O’Mo­rain

If you are one of the many peo­ple who have given up drink­ing for Jan­uary, con­grat­u­la­tions and here are a few tips, based on my own ex­pe­ri­ence, that might help you through:

Be­ware of eu­phoric re­call: Eu­phoric re­call hap­pens when you take a wildly un­re­al­is­tic, rosy tinted view of some­thing you have given up. It’s an as­pect of crav­ing and it’s a very false friend. The fact is, you were not ac­tu­ally filled with joy ev­ery time you took a drink, even though eu­phoric re­call will try to fool you into think­ing you were. So watch out when you find your­self re­call­ing those won­der­ful drink­ing days: ac­tu­ally, they were just or­di­nary days.

Re­mem­ber that be­ing off the drink might not be why you are bored or rest­less. When you are “on the dry” and feel­ing bored or rest­less, it is very easy to blame the fact that you are not hav­ing a drink right now. Ac­tu­ally, you’ve of­ten been bored and rest­less even with a drink in your hand. So not drink­ing may have noth­ing to do with it.

If it’s no good with­out al­co­hol, then it’s no good. I found this state­ment very help­ful in my first “dry Jan­uary”. If I was go­ing to an event such as a meal and lament­ing that it would be so much less fun be­cause I wasn’t drink­ing, I would re­mind my­self that if it’s no good with­out al­co­hol, then it’s no good. It helped a lot. I don’t know why but it did.

En­joy your­self

It’s not how much are they en­joy­ing them­selves but how much are you en­joy­ing your­self? If you are hav­ing a meal with some­body, it is ter­ri­bly easy to as­sume that they are en­joy­ing them­selves more than you are be­cause they are drink­ing. But you’re look­ing at it from the wrong an­gle: the ques­tion is, are you en­joy­ing the meal? Are you en­joy­ing the food and the con­ver­sa­tion? That, re­ally, is what you need to fo­cus on. Whether the other per­son is en­joy­ing their drink is their busi­ness.

Not drink­ing isn’t a missed op­por­tu­nity. It’s very easy to see your­self as miss­ing out on all sort of un­spec­i­fied op­por­tu­ni­ties through not drink­ing – but it mostly just boils down to miss­ing the op­por­tu­nity to drink. What other things do you like to do that you wouldn’t have been do­ing be­cause you were busy drink­ing? Do you have more en­ergy? Do you like be­ing able to get into a car and drive it when­ever you feel like it?

The thought of not drink­ing can be more dif­fi­cult than the act of not drink­ing. If you see your­self as a drinker, you can feel re­ally strange if you’re sit­ting there not drink­ing. Also, you might be prone to an­tic­i­pat­ing that evenings are go­ing to be very empty with­out it. In fact, ac­tu­ally not drink­ing in my ex­pe­ri­ence is much eas­ier than it looks when we’re just think­ing about it. Don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing your mind tells you.

Des­ig­nated driver

You don’t have to be the des­ig­nated driver over and over again. When you are off the drink this might be good news for your pals who will now have a des­ig­nated driver to hand. If this means spend­ing hours in a pub lis­ten­ing to them get­ting drunk and wish­ing you were some­where else, just re­mem­ber: be­ing a des­ig­nated driver, or how of­ten you do it, is a choice for you to make. There’s no law that says you have to bore your­self to death just be­cause you’re not drink­ing.

Get Ja­son Vale’s book Kick the drink . . . Eas­ily. Just read­ing it can take a lot of the hard­ship out of not drink­ing. I found it made a dif­fer­ence to me af­ter I just read a few pages of it in a book­store. It’s re­ally about at­ti­tude change but it is an easy read and, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, quite pow­er­ful. And if you fall off the wagon, have a read of the book any­way – it might help in the fu­ture and, af­ter all, the fu­ture starts about a sec­ond from now.

If it’s no good with­out al­co­hol, then it’s no good

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