Once you stop drinking and start to move on, you can begin personal growth in your life. You can now think ‘What else can I do whilst alcohol-free?’ It opens up new possibilities. 

July 3rd 2020 at 5’o clock in the morning, I was still at work and drinking wine. That’s when I knew I needed help and signed up to OYNB that day. I have attempted several ways to try and become alcohol-free which have been unsuccessful. I’ve tried other members groups, as well as running away to the other side of the world where I stayed in New Zealand for three years. Neither of these worked.

OYNB was the opposite of other groups I tried. I found previous groups were very focused on shame and disease, and it made me feel guilty and embarrassed. However, I found OYNB to be a positive movement, which is based on reinforcing positive feelings and supporting you to move you forward. There is an ‘all in it together’ message which I loved. It is presented as a challenge or a health focus rather than looking at it as ‘I’ve got a problem’. I was more drawn to OYNB’s nurturing side which looks at society’s alcohol problem rather than placing you as an ‘addict’ at the core of the issue. 

Seeing the benefits of being alcohol-free

I have really improved relationships with my family. I’m now in the healthiest relationship of my life with my partner Paul. It’s the most secure relationship I’ve ever had as there is no drama and only lots of trust. He still drinks occasionally, but that isn’t an issue for me. I even had an improved relationship with my dog. I now have the energy to take my dog on long walks and spend lots of time and attention on him. With friendships, I don’t really hang around with my messy friends anymore. Instead, I have matured friendships with other people that are more inclined to health and fitness. I still have some friends that question whether I’m drinking again which is a little annoying but I do feel like there is a wave of people becoming alcohol-free. 

My transformation

My self-esteem has improved, and so has my skin and weight. My personality is no longer tired, hungover and late. I have more energy, no regrets and am more present with those I spend time with. I lost 10kg when I stopped drinking which happened naturally through enjoying exercise and better nutrition. I now go on 5k runs, dog walks and local sea swims which I never managed before after all the years of living in Brighton. 

My mental health is so much better, and I am finally off anti-depressants. I feel better overall in terms of mental and physical health. I’ve also started going to a nutritional therapist. I knew my body was in bad shape due to weight gain, lack of exercise and low energy levels. I needed to help my kidneys, liver and vitamin levels. This helped contribute to my overall weight loss.

Making changes

I also changed my career. I ran a live music venue which was very successful but also came with stressful late-night hours. I am now qualified in Holistic Massage/Aromatherapy, I have also now gained a part time role with a local charity as a Recovery Co-ordinator. It feels brilliant to be in a service that will help others with their alcohol issues and continue to offer me personal growth too.

I have started ‘Curious AF’ nights at the Verdict (the venue I ran in Brighton) where I run sober ‘tasting nights’ with public speakers who can share their learnings and journey of going alcohol-free. I still love the social aspect for going out, and I just want it without the alcohol. Even my finances have greatly improved as I am spending less and better, and I’ve started learning Spanish which I find very rewarding. 

My experience of the challenge

I found it challenging at first, as you must be vulnerable and accountable. It feels like you’re announcing your journey of being alcohol-free to the world. You have to get over the first few weeks where you feel tired, and the fear of not drinking again. You naturally feel grief for the things that will now change and you are scared you might miss out. However, I accepted it as a challenge I wanted to get over. I then came to the mentality that I no longer wanted to drink, and then I found it got much easier.

The outcome

My success is my new alcohol-free life and how I have achieved becoming a non-drinker. Additionally, I have found success with my ‘Curious AF’ podcast and drinks tasting evening. Other success come from the changes in my mental and physical health which have improved for the better. I have found success on my path of self-reward.

I will continue to maintain links with my sober community in OYNB as it is hugely helpful to myself and others. I know there are people who still post in the community after a few years of taking the challenge which is so inspiring. They still say that OYNB is the best decision they’ve ever made.

Once you stop drinking and start to move on, you can begin personal growth in your life. You can now think ‘What else can I do whilst alcohol-free?’ It opens up new possibilities. 

I would 100% recommend OYNB to a friend. I sometimes see criticisms about having to pay money, but I always think ‘how much did you spend on alcohol?’ I will always pay for my sobriety. It is like paying for your own therapy. Why not invest in your own wellbeing. Payment validates your decision to continue. I think it is definitely worth it.

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