Dry January as a student: a diary 

Alcohol is my best friend and my worst enemy. Sure, it leaves me with a little less energy, money, and dignity, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a cheeky pint (or four) when the opportunity arises. This January, as my New Years resolution, I planned to arm myself with mocktails galore to save some pennies, and hopefully my liver.

Day 1

So I guess technically I’ve already failed. I was still celebrating the arrival of the new year at 2 am which means I was still consuming tequila shots when I should have been starting my new life as a sensible, sober student. If I wait until 2 am on February 1st to start drinking, does it still count as doing the whole month…?

At least the consequential hangover is preventing even the thought of alcohol consumption from entering my throbbing head. At this point it’s easy to vow that the next 31 days will be nothing like today – I’m ready to enter every day with a fresh face rather than mascara smudged down my cheeks.

Day 5

So far so good. Not a drop of liquor has touched my lips. I’ve spent my evenings curled up in front of the telly with my family, sipping on a hot chocolate without even adding Baileys – are you proud of me?

Day 9

On the train back to uni and it can’t move quick enough, as much as I love my family, they’re incredibly irritating, and the concept of personal space seems to have evaded them.

Now I know that continuing with my month of abstinence is likely to be slightly more challenging considering that the majority of social interactions for students revolve around consuming their recommended intake of water in the form of alcohol.

I’m apprehensive. I’ve already been invited to the pub for a welcome back pint and much-needed catchup with my coursemates. I haven’t yet mentioned my conquest to complete dry January due to fear of the inevitable teasing, ridiculing and questioning. I don’t want to seem like the fun sponge of the evening, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need ethanol in my system to be the same witty genius I always am. Fingers crossed it gets to the point they’re too drunk to notice my sobriety.

Day 10

Success! I went the whole night without a bev while my pals gulped their weight in cider! If I’m honest, it was less enjoyable being the only sober one. Not just because of the predicted interrogation of my motives and the constant jibes I received throughout the night, but because alcohol steals an inhibition you don’t even realise you have. While everyone else belted out some bangers in tuneless voices, I sat embarrassed for them and how ridiculous they looked. I was completely ignorant to the fact that I probably looked the stranger one sat in the corner pretending not to know them.

Day 18

Still going strong. Well, sort of. I did have a glass of wine with dinner a few nights ago, but only because it was part of a set meal and it would have been silly to waste it! But it was just the one glass. To be honest, I didn’t actually realise until one of my friends – having held her tongue until I’d gulped the last drop – pointed out that I’d screwed up. It was then that I felt ashamed, partly of myself for being so idiotic, but mainly because I’d seemed weak and stupid in front of my friends.

Day 21

Finally, exams are over, and of course, the only way to celebrate is by getting blind drunk, ensuring you forget all your mistakes and stop regretting all those hours you wasted revising topics that didn’t even come up. So last night we went to a bar to mark the occasion, and I was ready to save money (and face) by ordering a delicious mocktail.

Why does nobody tell you that it’s more expensive to get a soft drink than a pint in most of these places?! I felt punished for trying to avoid alcohol. I sat there sulking with my diet coke which cost £3 (a pint was £2.20), watching my friends laugh drunkenly, buying more jaeger bombs than was advisable and tottering off to the clubs. I followed them begrudgingly due to severe FOMO and pushed my way through the woozy students to the middle of the dancefloor.

And finally, I had fun. I decided that I wanted to have a good night. So, I let my hair down, ordered tap water and danced like my Dad.

Day 31

And I couldn’t be more pleased that this month is over. Not because I’m gasping for a bev, but because I like having the choice.

But I did learn a few things:

1) If you want to go sober, make sure you know why you’re doing it. Without decent motivations, the temptation will override willpower.

2) Surround yourself with people who respect your choice, even if they’re not avoiding alcohol themselves.

3) Alcohol isn’t the only thing that makes you feel like trash in the mornings. I was no more productive this month than any other. You’ll probably just find another habit to destroy your plans for a stress-free AM.

4) You can have a good time without alcohol. It’s completely down to you though; you just have to forget that you’re the only sober one and pretend to be drunk. Bonus points if you can do sober karaoke or perform the Single Ladies dance in the middle of a club without being intoxicated.

To all teetotalers out there, I salute you.

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