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My name is Charlie and, just over eight months ago, I decided to stop drinking for good. Alcohol and I had a love-hate relationship: I loved it, it hated me (and my life, job, body, family, friends, belongings, etc.). It took a few wake-up calls, but eventually I had good enough reason to believe that alcohol wasn’t doing me any favours. So, a few days before New Year’s Eve 2020, I said goodbye forever.
I’m a 23-year-old master’s student living in booze-soaked Liverpool in the UK. Getting pissed with your girlfriends at bottomless brunch and stumbling around town barefoot is the norm in these parts. It used to be the norm for me, too; I was your typical party girl showing the world I could drink anyone under the table.
Getting drunk was an integral part of my life and personal identity. I thought drinking made me better; I thought it made me more… me. I thought it made me confident, happy, sociable, and likeable. I thought alcohol amplified the aspects of my personality that I actually liked. I absolutely didn’t want to give that up. Who would?!
After a while, I realised alcohol was, in fact, making my life worse, not better. In reality, it was making me more insecure, unhappy, anti-social, and unlikeable.
At first, I thought it was just me who was struggling. After discovering Over the Influence and all the other wonderful AF communities, I found out I wasn’t alone – not by a long-shot.
I suddenly realised that I didn’t have anything to lose going alcohol-free, instead I had so much to gain.
It’s not easy, navigating young adulthood without a boozy blanket to keep me warm, but it’s so much better. I am kinder, healthier, and a more interesting person. I’m also calmer, more present, and better equipped to deal with life. I have more fulfilling relationships and opportunities seem to present themselves left, right and centre.
I don’t spend five nights a week partying these days, but that isn’t the life I want. I still go out and have fun, don’t get me wrong. But I only do it when I feel like it, and it’s never fake. My lifestyle has changed, but only for the better. I actually have way more fun now that I don’t drink; my social life is filled with lunch dates and yoga retreats and cinema trips and bouldering and board games and mocktail nights… the list goes on and on.
In terms of my personal growth, going alcohol-free has been the most amazing thing I have ever done. Each day I heal a little more; my mental health and physical health are the best they’ve been to date. I’m also learning to be confident, fun, and happy within myself, without needing a consciousness-altering substance to get me there.
I want to make it known that no matter your age, it is never the wrong time to make a positive change in your life. I intend to be part of the alcohol-free revolution, sharing the triumphs and pitfalls of being 20something&sober along the way.