Life’s too short to wait for the per perfect avocado
ahead of the curve. At my 35th birthday, there were no soft drinks, and I couldn’t understand why any adult would want one. Ten years on, I am three years dry, with an addiction merely to spicy Virgin Marys. People assure me that I “never had a problem”, as though I would renounce my sobriety. I’m not evangelical: I loved alcohol. I miss it. I’ll always miss it. And if I could drink like a sane person, I would. However, as an all-or-nothing type, nothing is unquestionably the better option.
Like many who are part of this New Sobriety, mine is a secular and solo lifestyle choice. Although I benefit from much of its wisdom, I do not do AA because I cannot subscribe to a “higher power”. My affiliations are virtual – to the brilliant Recovered podcast (recoveredcast.com), for instance – rather than meeting room-based.
Lucy Rocca, founder of Soberistas (soberistas.com), a teetotal support website that boasts 43,500 registered members, confirms this trend: “The common factor in the explosion of online resources is that they are reaching out to ‘normal’ people, not medical programmes aimed at ‘addicts’. That kind of language seems so old-fashioned now. There has been a real shift in recognising that lots of totally normal people, holding down good jobs and getting on with life, might want help in reducing, or quitting. You don’t need to call yourself an alcoholic and go shuffling off with head bowed, filled with shame.” Women are leading the way in this zeitgeist change, not
least in deconstructing our cultural enshrinement of wine as “mother’s little helper”. Soberistas’ members are 90 per cent female, with a core aged between 40 and 60. Club Soda ( joinclubsoda.co.uk), a “mindful drinking” organisation, is two-thirds female. According to Laura Willoughby, its co-creator, “women are worried about their mental health and know alcohol affects it. They can spend a fortune in the gym, and know that alcohol undoesundo all that. After all, if you could b buy a pill that helped you lose weight weight, sleep better, increase energy, imp improve productivity and make you look younger, you would pay a lo lot. Cutting down drinking doe does all of that – and saves you money money.”
When I went dry, I lost a mortifying stone and a half during the first seven weeks, havin having to eat more to put the pounds bac back on. The sleep benefits haveha been inccredible. incredible. My depressionde hass has undoubtedly bennefited benefited from n no longer sellf-medicating. self-medicating. Without suuggestingsuggesting that coupledom is the be all or ennd end all, I know I wouldn’t bee be in a happy relationshiprel weere were I still a dips dipsomaniac looon. loon.
For all the talk of red wwinewine being good for you – in which the c caveats innvariably invariably outw outweigh the beenefits benefits – abstin abstinence reemains remains an obvi obvious path too to health. Accor Accordingly, ammong among many of us who fifind find ourselves deepd in mmiddle-class middle-class middlem age, thherethere has come a ddawning dawning disbel disbelief that alcophilia shou should be a religion among individuals for whom drugs drugs, smoking, junk food and mereme lack of
Sober socialites are more anxiousanxiou than previous generations
movement would be vi viewed as unacceptable.
Up until recently, m my life’s goal was hedonism. T Today, having watched both parents die young and horribl horribly, instant gratification feels a goodgo deal less fun. My father’s d declared ambition was to drink himself to death, as it is the un undeclared ambition of so many s senior citizens, among whom consumption has rocketed.rock If it sounds like a good wa way to go then, believe me, it is isn’t: pleasure being less in evidence than constant danger and indignity. It was a lon lonely and lacerating demise thattha I would have done anything to spare him.
There may also be m more metaphysical aspects t to the embrace of abstemiou abstemiousness than its myriad practic practical advantages. “The worldworl feels serious right now,” sayssay Rocca. “People are more anxio anxious and careful than the more h hedonistic generations that came beforeb them.
“Has social media got something to do with it, too?to The worry you’re always underunde threat of being filmed? We neve never had to think about that when wew were busy getting trashed on cheapc cider and throwing up at parties.” Yet what the soberocracysoberocr most certainly aren’t about is puritanism. Britain’s growinggr band of sober socialitessocialite are learning that life can be even better without the mother’smoth ruin. I have a far better time socially than I did when I was carousing,c not least as I get to rememberrem it, as per the Soberist Soberistas’ maxim “Love life in control”.control We’re tired of drunkenness, not tiredti of life – booze being the only area in which we, the soberocracy, have reached our limit.
Sober socialiser: Since giving up alcohol, Hannah Betts has lost weight, gets a better night’s sleep and is less prone to depression
In the bar: the old British belief that nights out require alcohol is looking increasingly anachronistic. Below: the ‘Go Sober for October’ campaign