Alexandra Salisbury finds that being sober might not just be for October, she reveals why she is banishing booze for the other 11 months of the year too…

Dear Hip & Healthy readers, I am proud to announce that I did it; I passed Go Sober for October with flying colours. Nope, nu-uh, not a single drop of alcohol. You might be surprised, however, to learn that it’s November 14th and I’m still dry. Weirder still, I intend to be for a while yet. It’s an outcome that nobody, not even those closest to me, could have ever second guessed, least of all me. This is my sober journey and an honest look at the reasons why I’m not quite ready for it to be over.

My sober journey began with two birthday celebrations on the first weekend. I shrugged off the barman’s bemused smirk when I requested “just a lemonade” and the first Friday passed by smoothly. In a crowded Camden bar on the second night, however, I found myself- stifled by the noise and unnerved by the crowds- throwing nervous glances at the door. Feeling like an awkward outsider, I left early, relieved yet disappointed to be going home before anyone else. It was clear that total sobriety wasn’t going to be as easy as originally anticipated, especially when you’re going it alone.

Just like my first weekend, the entire sober experience was lined with ups and downs. There were days when I revelled in feeling so alert and energised and yet there were evenings when not drinking inhibited my desire to go out and interact, consequently letting fatigue stand in the way of what seemed like fun and freedom. Naturally there were times when I craved a release. It’s clear that this is what alcohol symbolised; an escape from the 9-5 monotony. I realise now that the only person suffering from this childish act of rebellion was me. Then, on the dawn of my third weekend, I suddenly stopped talking about being sober and started getting on with having a good time. Turns out you can dance the night away when you’re in good company and the right frame of mind- though it helps if the music’s good, too. What’s more, I began to see weekends as an opportunity to achieve a lot creatively. I was more mentally alert and able to absorb a lot more information in one sitting.

I confess that up until the last few days of November, I talked with real enthusiasm about how much I would relish my first drink on November 1st. It wasn’t until I met a girl at a party on the very last weekend that the idea of actually staying sober- or even the concept of being ‘tee-total’ -struck. She had been dry for about 6 months; she was great, full of energy and ready to party, nobody even questioned whether she was drinking or not. She told me how much easier she found social situations now compared to when she first started, a testament to the fact that it is possible to be 100% comfortable with not drinking when you’re around those who are. I paused; socialising had become easier with time and I was still having a lot of fun. I mulled over our conversation for a couple of days afterwards.
As I reflected on the past month, it was clear to see that sober me was a better version of me, a more level headed, productive me. Once I had stopped sulking about supposedly missing out on all the fun, I had simply brushed off any lingering social anxiety. Not only that, I felt strangely calmer than before, probably as a result of a new found sense of control. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. Truth is; sobriety had actually empowered me to become the person I aspired to be. So, as October came to an end, I asked myself why I would let anyone- or anything- stand in the way? The answer was clear to see and this, dear readers, is why I’ll happily make mine a water for a good while yet.