Sunday 17 November 2019

Freya Drohan: Why I will be doing Dry January

Making a toast
Making a toast
Freya Drohan (byline photo)

Freya Drohan

After four weeks of festive hedonism, my mind, body, and wallet need a break from the sauce.

January - the word itself sounds like a groan.

Nationwide, people are dreading the return to work and reality. They’re stepping on the weighing scales cursing their gluttony or looking at their bank accounts in disbelief.

When I saw the ‘On The Dry’ initiative spearheaded by the Irish Heart Foundation, my interest was immediately spurred. The challenge was a month’s break from the giggle juice. My mind, my liver, and my depleted bank balance urged me to sign up.

Like many people, I over did it during the Holiday season. It’s not that I regret it, but after a particularly brutal December hangover when I developed an aversion to standing and questioned why I had spent so much money to feel this bad, I decided something had to change.

Here’s my disclosure: my drinking habits are in no way healthy or moderate.

I am not someone who is partial to a glass or two of wine in the evening or a few cocktails over dinner. I started to consume alcohol at the age of 15 and in the ensuing seven years I have drank blind amounts most weekends, exclusively with the intention of getting that ‘buzz’ that the social lubricant is guaranteed to deliver.

Alcohol is ingrained in our culture. You can’t go a wet week without hearing its disastrous effects and the fact that Irish people are fond of a tipple is hardly ground breaking news.

I have a wide social circle comprised of diverse, funny and interesting people yet I can name the people I know who choose to abstain from alcohol on one hand. Even more worrying, I am struggling to think of any of my friends who really understand how to drink in moderation. We laugh off the Saturday night scandals or adopt the 'I can’t remember that' excuse when we are reminded of our actions and I don’t think a single one of us really stops to think that that is not normal or mature behaviour.

On a given night, I usually consume upwards of ten standard pub measure of spirits (that is the weekly recommended limit for a woman). It won't be long before someone starts ordering rounds of sickly-sweet shots and then the hazy fog of memory loss sets in. I know I had fun, at least I think I did, but why am I openly allowing this irrevocable damage to my health?

In all other areas of my life, I am fit and healthy with hobbies and goals - but on a Sunday morning I feel like I’m throwing these things all away because to paraphrase the infamous Diageo slogan, I don’t know the one that is the one too many.

After making stupid decisions, losing phones and saying the wrong thing while under the influence, I decided to regain control of my alcohol consumption.

For me, ‘Dry January’ is the perfect opportunity. As someone who has never gone very long without a night out, I was bright eyed and enthusiastic about what a month of hangover free weekends could present.

With this drastic all-or-nothing approach, I hope to return my body to normal and really think about the effects of "social drinking".

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