October 1st - Day 1 of Macmillan Cancer Support's Go Sober October.
If you've found your way to this blog because you're doing the challenge, then WELL DONE! This post is dedicated to you....
Perhaps you're doing Go Sober October because a close relative or friend has died from cancer. You don't drink that much anyway, but think that a month's detox will be good for you. Well, good for you. Have fun, and raise as much cash as you can.
Maybe that's not your story. Maybe Go Sober October is just a prompt - an extra reason to address an issue that's been worrying you for a while. Perhaps your story goes a little bit like this:
You've always loved drinking. It's one of your main hobbies! It's how you met many of your best friends. You're the archetypal 'life and soul of the party,' always the last one standing (or not!).
But recently you've noticed that you're drinking more and more. You don't like to sit down and add it up, but you can easily drink a bottle of wine in an evening and - scarily - not even feel that drunk!
You're worried that it's starting to affect your health - you're overweight, not sleeping at all well, you look puffy and you've got a terrible muffin top. Plus, you're anxious and stressed a lot of the time. You wonder whether you have some sort of low lying depression. You feel like you're stuck in a rut.
Every so often you Google 'Am I an alcoholic' and do one of those questionnaires. Sure, you answer 'yes' to a few of the questions (like drinking alone - doesn't everyone?), but you know what an alkie looks like - out of control, passing out in gutters, looking like a tramp - and that's not you!
But you are starting to spend more and more of your time thinking about drinking. Wine o'clock creeps ever earlier, and alcohol free days become fewer and far between. You're losing far too much time to hangovers.
You're starting to do odd things, like watching how much other people are drinking, worrying about whether the supermarket cashier is judging you by your wine laden trolley, and having a few drinks before you even get to the party.
You've tried to cut down several times. You do deals with yourself like 'I will only drink on social occasions' or 'I will only drink at weekends,' or 'I won't drink wine, only beer,' but you never stick with the deal for longer than a week or two...
....so that's why you're doing Sober October, and that's how you've found your way here.
SO WELCOME! We've all been there.
Forget whether or not you're an 'alcoholic.' It's a red herring. The truth is, if the description above is of you, then you are addicted to alcohol. There's no shame in that - it's an addictive drug, just like nicotine.
The bad news is - it's only going to get worse. But there's good news: quitting drinking will totally transform your life - and the sooner you do it, the easier it is.
That's probably a lot to take in right now, so just do Sober October and see how you go.
If you find the first few days hard, then read Jason Vale's 'Kick the Drink, Easily.' It'll totally transform how you think about drinking.
Try reading the first few days/weeks of this blog - starting back in March. Everyone here is happy to help. And check out www.soberistas.com.
E-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like some advice, or you just want to get something off your chest.
As you go through the month you'll find that you're losing that puffy look, and the wine belly. You'll sleep better. Your skin will glow. You'll save money. And you'll start to feel calmer - less anxious and stressed.
Then have a think about whether a month is really long enough - because those positive changes just keep on coming.....