Stoptober vs Dry January

It’s only October, yet I’ve already had several emails reminding me that Dry January is not that far away: “Thank you for taking part earlier this year … We hope you’ll join us again… only 78 days to go!”

What they don’t know is that I crashed out of Dry January about six days in and spent the rest of January drinking a lot. I’d actually started off quite well and I didn’t even drink on New Year’s Eve, as I didn’t want to start the year drunk or hungover. But six days in something happened – I can’t remember what – and I thought: fuck it. This is too hard. I remember feeling like such a failure because so many other people managed it successfully. For once, Facebook was full of people boasting about teetotal nights in rather than their hangovers. It was the perfect time to stop drinking and I just couldn’t do it.

This January should be different. I hope I’m feeling as good then as I do now. I am secretly looking forward to everyone moaning and whining their way through their month off the booze while I lie back and smugly say “Ha! One month? That is NOTHING, you losers…”

One of the strange things about Dry January is that it’s something people are only expected to do for a month. Once over, it’s totally fine – normal even – to go back to drinking as you were before. The attitude surrounding the whole month is quite different to Stoptober, the NHS stop smoking campaign that’s in full swing at the moment.

Stoptober is all about stopping smoking forever. The theory goes that if you can quit for a month you’re five times more likely to stop for good. Stoptober has had high-profile coverage in newspapers, magazines and on TV. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea because it’s widely accepted that smoking is bad. Smoking is addictive. It’s hard to stop smoking and if you do, well done you. Pat on the back.

And frankly, it is annoying the hell out of me that smokers get so much unwavering support while us boozers get so little.  Alcohol is also addictive, it’s also bad for you and if you manage to stop drinking then you deserve a pat on the back too. Or a medal.

Deep down everyone knows alcohol is bad for you – why else bother with a Dry Jan? – but the idea of giving up for good is so scary that most people can’t even contemplate it. The people behind the Dry January campaign don’t even dare to suggest it.

I don’t smoke but lets pretend for a minute that I do, or did. If I’d given up smoking rather than drinking on April 6th this year then I guarantee you all my friends would know about it. They’d have been behind me all the way. If I’d struggled to quit I’d have been able to get plenty of support from my GP or nurse without worrying about what they’d think. I’d be posting about my milestones on Facebook. I would not be writing an anonymous blog because I am too embarrassed to talk about my addiction openly.

It makes me so mad…

This is turning into a ranty, moany post and I didn’t mean it to be. I wanted to tell you about the great weekend I had in London, which ended with a lovely afternoon meeting Belle and Carrie. It was brilliant to meet face to face after all this time. I also meet some other fantastic Team 100 members: FitFatFood and The Secret Place Under the Ivy. Meeting other sober people, who are going through the same thing, is pretty amazing. Meeting sober people who know about the 100 day challenge is really amazing. I felt like saying to everyone “Wow! You look so NORMAL!”  but I didn’t, because that would have been weird. Sometimes the sober blogosphere can feel a bit big and anonymous but on Sunday it was just the opposite – it was tea and chat and cinnamon buns. Good times.

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15 thoughts on “Stoptober vs Dry January

  1. vida005 October 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm Reply

    I’ve just discovered your blog – rather late in the day as you’ve been doing so brilliantly since April.. spent the last hour at least just reading random entries over the last few months. Really enjoyed it – its a great record of your journey.

    • soberjournalist October 16, 2013 at 8:46 am Reply

      Thank you ever so much for your comment. Blogging has really helped to keep me on the straight and narrow, especially at the beginning, when I didn’t want to have to post about a relapse, so I just kept on not drinking! Now it’s become a way of life and I wish I’d stopped sooner.

  2. Mrs D October 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm Reply

    Would have loved to be there. I used to be very scathing of Dry July which is what we do Down Under.. thinking it was just a white knuckling phase of sobriety rather than the big deep work required to properly learn how to live completely without alcohol.. but then I met a few people who had family members do Dry July and decide at the end of it that it was a better way to live and they pressed on and stayed off booze.. so it can have a great long term effect.
    P.S. Are you job hunting?

    • soberjournalist October 16, 2013 at 8:42 am Reply

      I wish you didn’t live so far away. It’s really interesting what you say about Dry July – I haven’t seen that amongst my group of friends at all, but I suppose there must be some people out there who do change their drinking habits as a result.
      Yes I am job hunting, but without much success so far! I haven’t actually seen that many jobs I want to apply for, and I don’t want to leave my current one for any old thing.

  3. Lilly October 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm Reply

    Oh I so, so wish I could have been there! So lovely to hear all your updates about it all.

    Yes, yes, yes re the smoking!!! Yes! Just what you said. Having quit both I feel just the same way. Why can’t I talk to people more openly about this? Why can’t I get the same kind of support? Why would it feel totally freaky to talk about sober milestones on Facebook the way I posted my yearly smoke-free milestones and got so many positive responses and likes. Grr.

    I was thinking about this yesterday actually, that I’m still too vulnerable with it all right now but as time goes by I’d like to be more ‘out there’ about having quit and why and why it’s such a positive thing. Society needs a positive sea change in this regard and by being a bit more open and honest about things ourselves – while looking so very ‘normal’ – we can play a tiny but significant part in this.

    I know I’m not totally there yet but I feel like I’m starting to take teeny baby steps toward it and I so admire those people who are out there and proud about it.

    Carrie said a great thing to me in a recent email – about how maybe we have to learn to sell ourselves and our new lifestyles as something admirable, enviable even.

    Because it bloody well is!

    Lilly x

  4. Lilly October 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm Reply

    p.s. I have seen a few pics of real life soberistas like Carrie and Amy and Mrs D and every time I have had the same thought: But you look so NORMAL. And I’m pretty sure no one would pick you or I as the stereotypical ‘alkie’ either. That’s the freaking problem though right there isn’t it?

    • soberjournalist October 16, 2013 at 8:39 am Reply

      Yes you’ve kind of summed it up there – why was I expecting everyone to look weird? Or have alcoholic stamped on their foreheads? When I know that I look normal and I’m sure you do too?! I hope that in time I will be more open about it and will do my bit to change attitudes. The thing with alcohol is that there seems to be an expectation that adults can ‘handle’ their alcohol – and know not to drink too much. Sure, every now and then it’s ok to have a blow out but generally you should be ok with your one glass of red with a meal… because you’re drinking it for the taste and not to get drunk (of course!). People who don’t or can’t do that are looked down on, and that’s where the shame comes in, for me at least. However, with smoking it’s widely understood that you can’t just have one or two a day – it will always lead to something more. Kate x

  5. D October 16, 2013 at 1:12 am Reply

    First off, congratulations on all you’ve accomplished, I’ve been reading and have loved your blog since close to when you started.

    As for quitting smoking vs. drinking, I literally wrote (sort of a book) on Belle’s blog today, partly on exactly what you’re talking about. It seriously enrages me that having a problem with alcohol isn’t on par with any other thing you’d like to change. And part of the problem is the dichotomous way in which it’s seen, as if anyone who may want to let it go–but that is a hard thing for them–is suddenly in this category of hardcore. Not only that, but if you took painkillers frequently, for example, wouldn’t that be playing with fire? Why isn’t alcohol–a drug and a poison and also highly addictive for many–at least seem somewhat in the same vein? Hopefully one day. (Not that I want people not to have a choice.) But the secrecy SO compounds the difficulty, and yes, it makes me angry too.

    Anyway, on a different note, congrats on your recent double birthday and half-marathon as well!

    • soberjournalist October 16, 2013 at 8:29 am Reply

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad it’s not just me who gets so annoyed by it all…!

  6. carrieonsober October 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm Reply

    I have written 3x comments and keep losing them!!
    I totally agree and it was fab to meet you.
    One day this denial will subside!
    C x

  7. djnewme October 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm Reply

    Hi! I am loving that I am finding so many wonderful, brave, and honest women out there going through some of the same things I am. It is so inpsiring! I have also started a blog that I would love to share with you and your readers. Everyone’s journey is different but we all have the same goal. I hope you will take a look.

  8. healthappinessober November 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm Reply

    Oh, I love this. I am finding myself at the same corner of annoyance and “what the fuck” about how pervasive alcohol is – that we celebrate kicking other addictions, but not alcohol. In any event thank you for your candor & I appreciate this community I have found out here. Xx

  9. Leanne Toner December 27, 2013 at 10:15 pm Reply

    Thinkin I might give dry January a go x

  10. Alex Neely December 31, 2013 at 4:01 am Reply

    How do you feel about the term Detoxtoberfest?

  11. […] written before about how weird I think the concept of Dry January is. All other public health campaigns encourage […]

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