Thursday 21 September 2017

'There's only so many sober brunches you can do' –Dry January participants on their attempts to quit the booze

Not such a dry January after all
Not such a dry January after all
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Every year many Irish people declare on January 1 that they’re officially "off the drink".

While some last the whole month, others don’t last one day.

From not being able to afford a night out, to the lingering fear after a very wet December, Independent.ie spoke to a number of people about their attempts at a 'Dry January'.

"There's only so many sober brunches you can do before it eventually turns into pints," says Cody Byrne, who has already broke his Dry January pledge twice.

Ray Foley says he had no choice but to do 'Dry January'
Ray Foley says he had no choice but to do 'Dry January'

"I mentally committed to doing it but unfortunately a lot of my friendships are built around socialising, which normally involves drinks.

"I wanted to do it as a means to save money but a lot of my friends are emigrating so I ended up going out and drinking. I've cut back on the unnecessary, spontaneous nights though".

Philip Timmins (27) is attempting to spend January sober for the second year in a row and admits he finds it relatively easy.

"When January comes around, I hate the sight of alcohol as I consume so much of it during Christmas, so it’s not that difficult to do.

"Secondly, it’s much easier to not be tempted by a few scoops when you have a child to take care of at home."

However, he admits the good work soon comes undone when February arrives.

"I do probably think I drink more in February. That was the case last year anyway. The Six Nations starts around then so it’s a good excuse to go to the pub!"

For some, dry January can last a lot longer.

After previous attempts to quit drinking in January, Alice Hennessy (25) has now been off alcohol for almost three years.

She says her life and health is much better for it.

"It’s great waking up and having no hangovers and I lost a lot of weight too. What I find hardest is when you go out, people will try force you to drink. People think you’re pregnant if you don’t want to drink. 

"I found I was drinking my insecurities away to give myself confidence. I felt I couldn’t do a lot of things unless I was hammered.

"I still go out; I would always be designated driver so I know that the people I’m going out with always have a lift home."

Ray Foley, who recently returned home after living in Finland, says his January off the drink is involuntary.

"I'm paying €10,000 a year for university and my car insurance is €2,200 for the year! Drink is the last thing on my mind unfortunately.

"I got home from Finland on December 20 and only went out on three nights.

"My friends are still asking me to go out for a few drinks but I can’t afford it. I think the social aspect is what I miss, more so than the drink."

Health experts encourage people to participate in Dry January, as advocated by Ireland AM's resident GP Dr Sinéad Beirne.

Dr Beirne says a sober January can reap many health benefits.

"It’s always good if someone who is drinking alcohol excessively tries to cut down. Alcohol effects every vital organ in the body, so it's no harm to see if you can actually quit it for a period of time.

"Sometimes people realise it's harder to do than they think and people may even find they have a problem with alcohol.

"Alcohol can also cause people to be overweight and causes problems with the heart, so people will probably find that they will feel a lot better and even lose a few pounds."

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