I can’t stop drinking, my life will be OVER!

We all have our reasons for stopping drinking. It can be for our mental health, for our physical health, because we will lose our jobs maybe, or our families. Perhaps we are facing financial ruin and are at risk of becoming homeless. Maybe every time we drink we get ourselves into serious trouble with the boys in blue and have had just about enough of spending the night at Our Majesty’s Pleasure, nursing a broken hand, a broken nose and a bruised ego. It’s possible that we have simply had enough.

We’ve had enough of the daily lies, to ourselves and to those around us. We’ve had enough of the conversations we have to ourselves about easing back, promising to take a few nights off the asbo juice only to break that promise as afternoon rolls around and finding ourselves watching repeats of Family Guy, laughing manically to ourselves at 1am on a school night, wondering how you’d managed to get through another 6 strong beers and half a bottle of whiskey again.

We’ve had enough of waking up at 3am, each morning, with a sense of crushing anxiety strong enough to wake the dead from their eternal slumber. We can’t take many more feelings of exhaustion as our poor bodies, valiantly but with ever increasing difficulty, continue with their constant fight against us willingly poisoning ourselves with a toxic legal drug. God we want to stop. We really REALLY want to stop. So we try again. And again and again and again, but we keep coming back to it, in spite of everything we know. Why?

It’s possible we are addicted, I mean why else would we keep doing this ourselves? But we don’t necessarily have to be addicted to then decide to stop drinking. You might just decide that it isn’t for you. You can decide to stop drinking before you get to the stage of addiction and your world won’t suddenly stop turning. We give ourselves as many reasons as possible to put off that decision don’t we?

“What can I do to wind down?” (i)

How will I get to sleep at night?” (ii)

“I love the feeling of being drunk!” (iii)

“It’s part of who I am. It’s my identity” (iv)

“I don’t have a problem” (v)

“I deserve it” (vi)

“My social life will be OVER and I will lose all of my friends” (vii)

(i) : There are countless ways to wind down after a stressful day. Exercise, meditation, quality time with your family, a hobby that you’ve maybe forgotten you enjoyed, a walk, some music, a movie. Alcohol will of course initially help you feel more relaxed because it is a drug, a depressant, a sedative. But morphine, valium or cannabis will have the same affect. Would you happily take those every night? And because your body and brain strive for homeostasis, any drug you introduce into your system will create a reaction in your body, which will then produce natural hormones and chemicals to counteract said drug. The initial feeling of calm will give way to an increased heart rate and feelings of anxiety and a fight or flight response in the nervous system. The more you drink and the more often you drink, the higher your tolerance becomes. Meaning more alcohol is needed to achieve the same feeling of calm and, equally, the more naturally produced chemicals created to counteract the alcohol imbibed.

(ii): Your body is incredibly clever and will go through a series of processes through the evening to achieve the ideal conditions for sleep. It will release chemicals in its own daily rhythm, the circadian rhythm. Adenosine is released throughout the day and as this builds it will signal a shift towards sleep. Melatonin is then released as it starts to get dark, letting your body know it is time to start winding down. Alcohol completely disrupts this pattern, and over repeated use will create a dependency in our bodies. In time our bodies will rely on it, and not our natural patterns, to initiate sleep. However, because of its sedative nature it will also disrupt the sleep itself. It shuts down the brain, but for us to achieve restorative sleep our brains need to be active in sleep. During REM sleep for example, our brain waves are as active as they are in waking moments. Alcohol will effectively anaesthetize us in sleep. It’s why we always feel so tired with a hangover, often after many many hours sleep. When we stop drinking our bodies will, after time, achieve the most restorative sleep we can remember. If we are used to booze getting us off to sleep then the first few nights without it can be tricky, but the payoff is well worth it.

(iii): Of course you do! It’s a fucking drug! That doesn’t necessarily mean you should carry on doing it. I was prescribed morphine for back pain before and I loved how that made me feel too, but I wouldn’t take it every day. Just because alcohol is legal it doesn’t mean it’s good for you (see also tobacco)

(iv): Who are you anyway? Are you defined by what drink you put in your glass? Our identities aren’t set in stone. We can change, we can evolve. In fact the most interesting and inspiring people you’ve ever met have probably constantly evolved. And some of the most boring likely never have. Don’t allow your identity to be shaped by something as harmful as booze. Be brave. Step out of the shadows.

(v): Oh yeah? How’s that working out for you? Denial can be very dangerous. If you’ve ever wondered if you’re drinking too much, you are probably drinking too much. Someone with no problem with alcohol never even comes close to asking themselves that question.

(vi): But at what cost? Maybe flip that statement and say you deserve to give your body a break from it.

(vii): The picture on this blog was taken in Central London yesterday with two people I have met since I got sober. As you can see, we don’t look like your stereotypical alcoholics in recovery. It was taken in a pub (those are alcohol free beers we have) and the atmosphere was happy and hilarious. I regard these two guys as very good friends, and I have met scores of other people since I stopped drinking who I value just as much as any other friends I have made in the past. Your social life does not stop when you stop. It will likely change but mine is richer now than I can remember it ever being in the past. I still have a core group of friends from my drinking days, it’s just I don’t get pissed with them anymore. If your social life revolves around a pub and your friends are all drinking buddies it is possible to maintain those friendships. They will just look different to what they do at the moment. Your true friends will still want to hang out with you. And you can still hang out in the pub if you want to. I know someone who has now been sober for 5,000 days and he still sees the same friends he did before, in pubs, as they travel around the country to support their football team. He just chooses not to drink alcohol. That option doesn’t just suddenly disappear the moment you stop drinking. Personally, I don’t go to pubs that often. But then I didn’t when I was a drinker either. If I do go to the pub, like I did yesterday, I still have a great time. I just don’t drink. And I don’t stay in there for hours either. I see my friends, we talk and laugh like we used to and then I leave before it gets messy (that’s if they are drinkers). You have to accept that your social life may change, but will it be over? Nothing could be further from the truth. I have found so many new friends since getting sober and I meet them in pubs, in cafes, in restaurants, for walks at the beach, the forest or the parks. And they are honest and true friendships. They are real. They aren’t lubricated by booze, fashioned in false egos and forgotten promises.

Don’t lie to yourself if you want to stop drinking. Don’t believe the narrative that you need alcohol to live. To shape you. Alcohol will only mould you into what it wants you to be, while the real you suffocates under its spell. You are so much more than the liquid you choose to put in your glass. Just be brave and see who that person is.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Don’t forget to like my Facebook page, subscribe here and share far and wide to help dispel the myths around drinking.

With much love❤️🙏

Alcohol free drinks. Shit or awesome?


I love the stuff, I’ve got to admit. And even now I’m sober and have been for nearly three years, I still drink it. Except I drink alcohol free beer, and not nearly as much as I did when I used to get pissed nearly every single night of the week. In my previous life as a pisshead I would still make sure the beer I drank was of good quality. And more than 5 percent because what’s the fucking point of drinking beer if it won’t get you pissed right? There would be none of that Fosters or Carlsberg crap in my fridge. My personal favourite was full of flavour, and coming in at 5.9% alcohol content, packed a fair old punch. Any time I wanted to get pissed more quickly I would rely on my good friends Mr Empty Stomach or Mr Cheap Blended Whiskey. But beer really was where it was at for me.

I liked the complex flavours of an IPA or the honesty of a real ale. And in my drinking days I wouldn’t have EVER considered drinking an alcohol free beer. Because what’s the point of that? Not only do they not get you pissed (correct!) they taste like crap. Like a really shitty watered down version of the worst beer you could possibly imagine (incorrect!) Thankfully we are well into the 21st century now, in case you needed a time check, and the idea of undrinkable alcohol free beers is about as outdated as a pager. Or a facsimile. Or only having 4 channels on a television set that you were only able to change if you got up off your sofa and PRESSED BUTTONS ON THE BOX ITSELF! *shock horror! *

So. As someone who wants to address their drinking, or someone who wants to never imbibe in The Devil’s Piss ever again, is it OK to drink them? Well, that can be a complicated question, surprisingly, and just like whether your drink of choice is usually a Pinot Noir or a Snakebite and Black, it is a completely personal choice. For me, they were the difference between me getting sober or not. Or to put it in a more expansive and dramatic fashion, between completely transforming every aspect of my existence or ending up dead in a ditch after a slow and tortuous demise. Therefore, let us address some common questions and misconceptions about alcohol free drinks.

Do they taste nice?

An obvious and important question! Depending of course on how desperate you are to get sober, you’re unlikely to drink something that tastes like it’s been filtered through an unwashed stocking. I mean, that may be your thing but I would guess that it isn’t. Taste is obviously very important. And truthfully the answer is both yes and no, just like it is for every other foodstuff or product in the marketplace. Some of it is fabulously divine, and some of it isn’t.

There is an ever growing selection out there however, and sales of alcohol free drinks are increasing by 20 or so percent (sometimes nearer 50 percent) every single year. More demand means more products, it means more investment in product improvements and of course, it means more choice.

As a beer drinker there is an incredible array of alcohol free tipples. There are well known brands providing alcohol free versions of their best sellers and brand new beers on the market that only brew alcohol free beers. Some you will have heard of and some that you won’t. I have tried many different crisp and refreshing lagers and some that taste like shit. I have enjoyed beautiful IPAs with such depth and originality they have won awards at festivals that would only usually champion the alcoholic varieties. There are stouts and wheat beers, in fact there is every type of beer that you could possibly imagine, and they have often passed blind taste tests where they were indistinguishable from their alcoholic cousins.

I was not really a wine drinker but I know lots of people who are/were, and the choice of wines available is also growing exponentially. And if that is the case (it is) then with growth of choice comes quality. I have had some wonderful sparkling wines, a popular choice is a Prosecco alternative called Nosecco. When I would normally have drunk a wine I now prefer to drink a kombucha, which can also be alcoholic but most often isn’t. A couple of good friends of mine now brew and sell their own kombucha, Boucha Kombucha, which is a fantastic alternative to a white wine.

There are incalculable varieties of alcohol free ‘spirits’ out there as well. Whiskey alternatives, gin, vodka, rum and even some stand alone ‘spirits’ that are unlike anything I ever had when I was a drinker.

In short, there is an enormous choice nowadays and some of it is crap, and some of it is stunning. Just like the choice one would have if one was a drinker.

Are they safe to drink to maintain sobriety?

For me, they are. For other sobereristas, they aren’t. It is that simple. I know that AA are STRONGLY opposed to drinking them but I’m of the inclination that if they help to keep you sober then why the fuck wouldn’t you drink them?!

There is a worry that they may trigger a drinker into wanting ‘The Real Thing’ which is a very valid worry. It’s the reason I don’t drink any alcohol free versions of whiskey, so I get it. But for me, although I really enjoyed a good single malt, I also enjoyed a shit blended whiskey. I drank whiskey because it got me pissed quickly. So I would worry that if I drank an alcohol free version of it it would trigger a craving. And cravings are generally something that retired pissheads like myself try to avoid. It all boils down to personal preference.

But some alcohol free drinks say they contain 0.5% alcohol! Surely that means you aren’t sober if you drink those?!

It is confusing, admittedly. However, it is considered, not through opinion but through scientific fact, that anything up to 0.5% is considered alcohol free. An experiment was done in Germany in 2012 where volunteers were asked to abstain from alcohol for 5 days before then being asked to consume one and a half litres of 0.42% ABV beer within one hour. Alcohol was only detected in blood samples taken in a quarter of those tested. But, importantly, the maximum blood alcohol content from these samples was measured at a MAXIMUM of 0.0056%. This is approximately 13 percent of the amount of BAC needed for someone to start feeling the effects of alcohol in their system (for reference the legal driving limit for BAC in England is 0.08%, and the level at which one can generally feel the effects of alcohol is 0.04%).

These drinks contain a trace of alcohol therefore, and nothing more. Our bodies, our livers to be exact, process this trace of alcohol far more quickly than the time that is needed to feel its effects on us. We would need to drink about 17 cans, in an hour, to reach the drink drive limit, and then continue at that pace to simply maintain that level. And who the fuck is going to do that?!

Additionally, alcohol is contained in so many different foods and drinks where it doesn’t have to be declared at all. Bread contains alcohol with burger buns coming in at a whopping 1.28% ABV. (“Let’s get pissed gang! What did you bring to this party? Jonno, you got the beer?” “Yep” “Billy, you brought the vodka?” “Yo!” “Steveo , you got the burger buns yeah” “Shit yeah! I got a fuck tonne from M and S. They were on special and they’re gonna get us WASTED!”). A ripe banana has 0.4% ABV, fruit juice has it, vinegar, yoghurt, many many desserts have it. Basically anything that has gone through a fermentation process will contain alcohol. It is even used as a taste enhancer in soft drinks. If one was to try and avoid alcohol ENTIRELY in their quest to get sober, one would really only be able to live on water. We even have around 2% in our guts. 0.5% ABV drinks have also been confirmed to be entirely safe for pregnant mothers to consume.

So they are safe in terms of alcohol content, but as to whether you feel comfortable drinking them without getting triggered is something only you can answer.

I have often been asked what the point of drinking them is. In my early days of sobriety I drank two or three AF beers in the evening when I came home from work. They satisfied a craving I had and my evening rituals weren’t completely sacrificed. I also like the taste of beer! It is nice to go to a pub too, and order something other than super sweet coke or lemonade, or fucking J20. I don’t feel as left out at social gatherings, hiding in the corner of the room with my water and feeling like a social pariah.

But the bottom line is, they were, and still are absolutely vital in my recovery and my ongoing sobriety. One could even say they have saved my life. And for the record, I now don’t drink them every night. Just when I fancy them. I no longer freak out if a pub or restaurant doesn’t stock any and I’m just as happy with a tonic water. We have a misconception in our society that they taste like shit and they should never be touched because there is no point to them. And that is how I used to feel as well, as a drinker. But now that I have seen both sides I understand that they are a very important tool in so many people’s efforts to get sober. They should therefore be celebrated, and not mocked. We’ve moved on from the 1970s after all, at least I would like to think we have. If they help you get sober then use them. Drink them with pride. And if they don’t? Then don’t drink them. It really is that simple. Do what works for you!

Now I’m going to hit it hard and scoff down some burger buns because I’m such a fucking rockstar!🤘

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Sending love🙏❤️