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S1 Ep1: Getting started

Sharon Hartley  0:13 

Welcome to Over the Influence! This is an alcohol-free podcast and I'm Sharon Hartley. I am 46 years old, and from Lancashire in the northwest of England, I’m married – a mum to three children. And, I no longer drink! With me is Freddie...


Freddie Bennett  0:54 

Hi, I'm Freddie. I'm 37 and I live in Liverpool in the North-West of the UK. I'm a dad, I've got two boys, age five and seven. And I'm married to Sarah. And I’m unbelievably coming up to one year alcohol-free. If you asked me this time last year, if I was able to do that, I would have said hell no. But I'm excited to be here. And I can't wait to start this next step of the journey.


Sharon Hartley  1:20 

OK, so first question, What on earth is Over The Influence? What on earth are we doing sitting here talking about not drinking, as Freddie just touched on, then, you know, rewind more than a year in my case, when I was a daily drinker, a big drinker. And the same with Freddie, I think it's fair to say, why on earth did we want to record and talk about this? From my point of view, the amount of questions, you know that I still get asked about "why are you not drinking", "why did you stop drinking", "when are you going to start drinking again?" And I think it's just fantastic. What an opportunity to open up the discussion about not necessarily removing alcohol completely, but it’s about trying life without alcohol, reducing alcohol intake and knowing that there are options out there. And also, that life, incredibly, still goes on. And guess what, it's still really good, if not better!


Freddie Bennett  2:14 

Yeah, I totally agree. I think certainly when I started to think about changing my relationship with alcohol and stopping drinking. There's so much out there that talks about alcohol being bad, and how you can never drink again, and how you've got to stop doing all those fun things. I think that is absolute rubbish. And like you said, Shazza, so many people come up to me and they say, well, first, when I say I've stopped drinking, they start laughing. And then when they stop laughing and realise that I'm actually being serious, they're like, actually, how? How do you do this because there is so much pressure in society. Alcohol is so ingrained in everything we do in terms of our social activities, everything in terms of birthdays, weddings, christenings, funerals, everything revolves around drinking.

People think you've either got to be hitting it hard and living your best life and partying and drinking, or you've totally got to stop and live this dull, grey boring existence. But it doesn't have to be like that. And that's why we've been talking for ages about this. And that's why we've bought Ben in as well. It's about helping people to realise there is another way it's not about ending your life or being boring or anything like that. It's about just doing things differently. And once you start doing that, and realising you don't have to go and live in a cave and become a monk and everything else, then, then you can do things differently. I think and I hope that's what we're gonna do in terms of spreading that message around the world and helping people understand that, you know, life's a game, and we can all change that game to live our best lives.


Sharon Hartley  3:51 

So, this isn't just myself and Freddie, banging on about alcohol free life, it's really important that we look at all angles of life without alcohol, with a reduced alcohol intake. Some people are still drinking, you know, and that’s okay, it's whatever works for you. Interestingly, we've got Ben here with us our producer… Background Ben, I do like that.


Ben Anderson  4:13 

If you don't mind me in the background, listening!


Freddie Bennett  4:14 

It's better than back-alley Ben, which has a totally different meaning.


Sharon Hartley  4:21 

Ben, it's the year 2020. And those numbers are of particular significance to you. Just explain why.


Ben Anderson  4:28 

So, I'm not giving up drinking completely, but I've chosen 20 days out of the whole year where I can have a drink. Now, that doesn't mean I'm going to get absolutely blasted on those days, but it's like a stag do. I've got to go on my brother's birthday. So, it's essentially cutting out the unnecessary beers for me, the amount that I've already cut down and how different I feel just by reducing is incredible.


Freddie Bennett  4:51 

Yeah, I totally agree. And I think one thing that I really want to do with this podcast is be totally honest with people because there's so much crap out there. And there's so much of this ‘you’ve either got to be this or you've got to be that’… ‘you've got to put yourself in this box where you drink or different box we don't drink’. And what we really want to do, which I don't believe anyone has really done before, which is really tell it how it is and be honest with people. And even though I'm, I'm coming up to my first anniversary of being alcohol-free, I can't sit here to everyone yet and have my hand on my heart and say, I hate alcohol, I'm never going to drink again. Yeah, I can say I'm not gonna drink in the near future, because my life has changed so much for the better. And I quite frankly, don't want to go back to that old way of living. I don't want to have that old Freddie. But it is about talking to people, honestly, and in terms of real life and saying it how it is. And that's how we can hopefully communicate with people and help them to see that there is another way.


Sharon Hartley  6:02 

So, this is our first episode of Over The Influence. Let's pick up on firsts. When was the first time Freddie or what prompted you to say, ‘you know what, I'm going to stop. I'm going to stop drinking alcohol. I'm going to make a change.’ At what point did that happen for you?


Freddie Bennett  6:20 

Glad you clarified the whole thing about firsts and alcohol. I thought we're talking about first other things which could be taking this podcast the wrong way.


Sharon Hartley  6:28 

Stay focused.


Freddie Bennett  6:29 

So, the first thing is, I had 1000 firsts before the proper first. And I said to myself, and we've all been there, like Sunday morning, when the room is spinning, and you've got your head down a toilet and you're like, right, this is it. I'm gonna stop drinking now. And everyone kind of laughs and then you say, yeah, no more drinking. And then we're going to go to the pub, I'm just going to have one. And then I'm going to be definitely having my first alcohol-free day, but then the day after, it doesn't happen.

For me, I think it was a Thursday morning. And in my in my previous corporate life, it was the sort of work hard play hard culture where, you know, you're working in an office, and then you're, you know, going out with your teammates, or your clients or whoever, and I loved that life, it was great. You'd be in the bar, watching the football with your mates still drinking, and I woke up on a on a Thursday morning with a killer hangover. And I just thought, this isn't how I want my life to go. And I've got like everyone does, I've got these hopes and dreams and goals. And I told myself that 2019 was gonna be a big year for me. And again, like in terms of first we've all been there with our new year's resolutions and focused on how brilliant life’s gonna be, but it doesn’t happen. I'd got to march 2019, and I thought, hang on, you're lying to yourself here. You talk about living this amazing life and having no regrets. And here you are, once again, hungover, not able to do your job properly, grumpy with your family, not sleeping properly putting weight on?

And I thought no, I've, I need to make a proper change. So that was why on the Eighth of March, I said, right, this is going to be a proper first for me, I'm going to take a big break from alcohol. And to be honest, I was terrified. I was just like, how am I actually going to do this because all my all my persona and my personality and everything revolved around drinking. They say in life, it's great if you can find something that you're passionate about and that you're great at. And for me that was drinking, like I loved it. And I was really good at it. And from an early age I sort of found that I had this talent for, you know, being the first person in the bar and the guy that got the shots in and the guy that was the life and soul of the party. And that was brilliant. But then I thought I don't want this life anymore. I want something different. And that's why I had to make that change. And, and that's why that day one for me – that first alcohol-free day – was momentous… but Bloody hell, it was scary as well.


Sharon Hartley  9:01 

I think what you said there about the fact that the firsts don't happen overnight; they don’t happen immediately immediately. For myself, I've taken a run up there several times… I've done, you know, dry January. I'm like I'm gonna nail it. I'm going to do it this time. This is the time I'm going to start. Come February. Back on it. So, October, I'm going to do it. This is the this is it. It's gonna be my first you know, I'm going to I'm going to nail this year, I'm going to do sober October and then carry it on for the first of November. But predictably, I can't remember November turns into drunk December and you end up back at the beginning again. But I think once you've made that decision, and once you've committed and gone you know what, I'm done with this. I'm a bit bored with this. Let's just give it a real go and take that jump into doing it seriously and properly and without compromise. I think that's when things start to change. And you know, fast forward for me 500 days. That's what's brought me here today, recording a podcast about not drinking. You know, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of work. But I think it takes a real commitment. At first, you have to get that first step under your belt.


Freddie Bennett  10:11 

I think you're totally right in terms of that commitment, because when I, I flirted, let's say, with the with the alcohol-free life, I always gave myself excuse. I'd be there saying, right, I'm gonna have this first day off. But hang on, it's my mate’s birthday in a couple of weeks time or it's someone's wedding coming up. There's always a reason. Whether it's a Sunday or it's a Monday or something good’s happened or something bad's happened, there’s always be an excuse. And I, as we'll learn on this podcast, I love to come up with a few phrases. And one of my phrases for this was, ‘if you want to leave your house and start a journey, you never wait until all the traffic lights are green before starting, you just have to go, there's never going to be a perfect time’. And that's the thing, you have to just tell yourself that and accept that. There's never a perfect time to have your first alcohol-free day, you've just got to go and do it, take that leap of faith, and tell yourself that you are going to be able to get through it. And the rewards, be they short term or long term, they are going to be amazing.


Sharon Hartley  11:11 

I remember my first day on this journey. It was a Monday. I think it was about Monday, the second or third of September 2018. So, it was the day the kids went back to school. I've been off all summer. And I've been in Ibiza with the family for my brother's 40th.

I can tell you now, I remember the Sunday before my first day, it was an afternoon drinking sesh. And it began at two o'clock in the afternoon, where I live around the pubs it was a beautiful sunny day. And it ended badly in a friend's back garden on that Sunday evening. And I was just crying for no particular reason. It was one of those drunk moments. And I woke up that Monday morning looking like a corpse… like I'd been dug up. And that that was it. That was my first day. And that's when for me, I say it ended. That's when this whole journey began. And I am forever grateful for that killer hangover.


Freddie Bennett  12:11 

But it's scary. Like because there's the positive first. But there's also the negative. I'm not going to call it a warning sign because we're not going to go down the whole doom and gloom route on this podcast. I'm very happy to be honest. But yeah, it's like, it's like when you're a teenager and the first time you're sick because you've drunk too much or the first time you have a two-day hangover. Or in my case, the first time you had a gun put to your head by a drug dealer. And all these little things like the first time you missed a flight or the first time you locked yourself out of your hotel room naked and all these things that you kind of laugh about. And then you think right. Crikey, that was you know, that was a big, a big no, no, I definitely cannot do that again. But then you sort of find yourself in a similar situation. Haven't had a gun pointed at me more than once, thankfully. There are these things that happen and you get these little things in the back of your head. And I think anyone that's listening to this podcast may or may not have had it, there'll be something in there. Not even necessarily saying, oh, crikey, I need to give up alcohol forever. But there is something that we all tend to get that says ‘definitely, maybe you should do something a little bit different’. Maybe you should cut back a bit. Maybe there's a few things in your life that aren't quite going as you think they should do. And maybe that might be linked to alcohol and that's horrible to admit that to yourself because I was happy to blame anything else. I blame my family, I blame the kids, I blame the government, the weather, anything else? All these terrible things, but definitely definitely not my drinking.

Eventually you have to take that first honest look at yourself. And that's really where you can where you can grow and where you can develop…

We know this episode is all about firsts. And one of the biggest first hurdles to overcome. Is your first alcohol free social occasion shares or do you remember yours?


Sharon Hartley  14:14 

Like it was yesterday. Terrified? Absolutely terrified. Just going back to what you mentioned before Freddy, about there never being a right time. When I started my alcohol-free journey there was always something going on at the weekend. I had a wedding, a christening, my son's 18… There was all this stuff happening. But it was a case of well I either do this or do it half assed and I refuse to do anything half assed so if this was it, this was my first social occasion with friends. It was a house party. And it was going to be a boozy do, obviously, so I took my little bottle of… you know that stuff you can get… what's it called? No Seco? So fake Prosecco. Took it in a gift bag, had it in the corner of the kitchen. Swigged on that on that… it was fun. I felt a little bit odd, a little bit weird, a little bit out of things. But I survived and nobody died. And it was okay. Two weeks after that, I was invited to a friend's wedding. And I told my friend that was getting married that I wouldn't be drinking. And I think it's safe to say she lost her mind. And she was like, but we were bringing in extra gin for you. You cannot come to this wedding and not drink!


Freddie Bennett  15:22 

The guilt trip, isn't it? Yeah. People will turn around, you think people will turn around and they'd be like aw I'm so pleased. You're not drinking. Like, I'm so happy for you, I'm going to help you on this journey. Like, that's crap. People turn around to say what's wrong with you, you're not drinking, hang on, like, you know, do you need to get some, like some support or something?


Sharon Hartley  15:42 

She didn't believe for a minute that I could possibly come to her wedding and enjoy it. But when I said to her, actually, I'm really serious about this. And please just drop it, I can bring my own alcohol free, you know, options if needed. And I think then when she got the fact that I was serious about this, I remember going to the wedding. And where they had, they had a beautiful alcoholic punch, there was an alcohol-free punch just for me. We got to the bar for reception drinks, and there was all the cocktails. And she'd gone to the trouble of making alcohol-free options just for me. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done. But it turned out to be one of the best weddings I’d been to. And she came full circle and was so supportive and pulled out all the stops. And as a friend, that was brilliant for me. You know, it was it was superb. And at the end of the night, I remember I was in the taxi. I was like, right, I could take you home because you're very very drunk. And it was brilliant. And I sober danced, and sober laughed. I just laughed my rocks off all night, and we had the best time. So what was a really scary first big social situation turned out to be probably one of the turning points for me. No, I can do this. I can do this sober, I don't need alcohol to have fun. It was so good. What about you?


Freddie Bennett  17:00 

I wish I could say it was something quite as deep and meaningful. My first was, I think a barbecue that was for like friend’s 40th birthday. My first was mainly based on lies. Because you know, you get some people supporting the alcohol-free journey. Some people like love it and they’re there flying the flag. They're shouting from the rooftops; they've got the T shirts and everything else… I was quite different… I was really nervous about it. And as I've said it was because so much of my life and my personality was based around alcohol.


Sharon Hartley  17:36 

‘Fun-time’ Freddy I was used to.


Freddie Bennett  17:39 

Even when ‘fun-time’ Freddy was not feeling very ‘fun-time’ whatsoever. I was like, I don't want to drink but I have to because people are expecting that. So, suck it up and get that first drink down you. And so, this first event, I didn't tell people I was making a big change in my life. I just thought right, I'm going to have to lie here and white knuckle it. I'd be I'd be getting a couple of bottles of alcohol-free beer, pouring them into a pint glass, like a pint of beer. And I just be kind of like sipping on that. And to be honest, it wasn't the most sensible approach, but it got me through, and you know, you had to do that thing when you're around sort of like 10:30/11 at night when everyone's like, Oh my god, I'm so wasted. I'd be there going, Oh, yeah, me too. Yeah, I'm feeling it now. Like 10 bottles of alcohol-free beer. And then I think it must be the weekend because my oldest boy was still up and I sort of created this whole thing about the fact that, yeah, Fun-time Freddy’s still here on my alcohol-free beer! And then my little boy ran up and he was like, Daddy is alcohol-free! Brilliant. You could have heard like a pin drop in the room is like it's like I kicked a cat or something. Everyone just stopped what they were doing in slow motion, and all turned to look at me. And they were like, what did he just say? I'm like yeah, look, you know, I'm not drinking at the moment. And it wasn't sensible to lie about it, but I'm telling you how it is. And I think if you need to be economical with the truth to get you through that first social occasion, then then why not?


Sharon Hartley  19:22 

Yeah, I agree. You've just got to you've got to go with it.


Freddie Bennett  19:25 

Yeah, I've done the whole like I'm on antibiotics or I've got a big work thing. I've got some sort of race coming or whaever. I think whatever excuse you need to use is fine. Again, This isn't the official ‘how it should be’ advice. But for me, it’s what worked. It was just saying whatever I had to say, to be able to get through that first event alcohol-free because it's all about growing your confidence. The way you grow confidence is by putting yourself out of your comfort zone doing new situations again and again and again, to grow that inner strength. And now I'm quite proud to say look, you know, that's just the way. Yeah.


Sharon Hartley  20:01 

And that comes with time, doesn't it? Yeah, definitely. Have you experienced that again? Or was it just that one hellish time?


Freddie Bennett  20:08 

I mean, that was that one hellish time and then I had a bigger event, I think, I think it was a wedding as well, but I was being a bit more open about not drinking, and even then you still have people coming up to you. And you get that thing where you say, right, I'm not drinking at the moment and people say, yeah, that's okay. But you can still do shots can't you? Yeah, cuz that's not really alcohol. And there was that first time where I was more open about it. And people were like, once they realised I was serious, and you do get a bit of a, like a good feeling about it when people say Oh, actually, you know, fair.


Sharon Hartley  20:41 

Yeah because not everybody’s dismissive are they. You know, it's I think it's really important to say, there's a lot of support socially isn't there. When you're brave enough to actually say, you know what, no, I'm just not drinking for the time being. Yeah, not everybody shoots you down.


Freddie Bennett  20:55 

No, definitely not. And yeah, there are there are tactics you can use, like you say, like you can bring your own alcohol-free drinks. And when I first went through this alcohol-free journey, I thought at the start, right, I'm gonna have just a white knuckle it. I'm gonna have to develop an addiction to Diet Coke and Fanta and then you go to websites like And you start to see the the wide range of drinks.


Sharon Hartley  21:19 

The choice is mind-blowing! You can still be a grown up when you go to these parties, which I think is so important. You know, like you say, you're not nursing your can of Diet Coke in the corner.


Freddie Bennett  21:27 

No, exactly. I say to people, I still drink beer I still drink. It's just the number on the bottle has changed. Now that number on the bottle doesn't say 5% or 6%. Or, if you like me, you'd be looking down the supermarket aisles trying to find that bottle of wine, the biggest alcohol percentage… I found the 16.5 I love I still drink. But now the number on  my bottle just says zero. Or if I'm going crazy, it just says 0.5… That's just the way I roll now. And you know what? After you get through those first events when you can, you can come out of the alcohol closet and be like yep, I'm, I'm out and proud my alcohol-free beer.


Sharon Hartley  22:07 

Takes balls to do that. It really does.


Freddie Bennett  22:08 

And you know what, I also find, like, we get so worried about stuff – a lot of it's in our heads, like any wedding or party by 10 o'clock at night people don't care!


Sharon Hartley  22:21 

When they're three drinks in, nobody's bothered. Exactly at all. But he's that initial, isn't it that when you first arrive or it's just that awkward? You know, I would have a couple before any party or any social event a couple just to warm me up.


Freddie Bennett  22:33 

with beer in the shower like that. Then if you have a you have a beard in the shower.


Ben Anderson  22:39 

Yeah, in Vegas, that was my one of my favourite things to do actually, have a beer in the shower.


Sharon Hartley  22:48 

How does it work?

I've never done it


Ben Anderson  22:39 

You get a beer and you have a shower.



We're just going to take a short break during this episode of over the influence. And politely ask for your help. If you're enjoying what you're listening to, and you’d maybe like to help us out. Because as you know, listening to podcasts is free. But there are some production costs involved in terms of marketing and setup. Go to the website forward slash over the influence. And click on that great big button on the website that says buyers an alcohol-free beer. It's just a case of putting a couple of quid in the parts which would help towards our production costs. And we'd be very, very grateful for any assistance you might be able to offer.



Yeah, we love doing this, we hope you're loving it as well. If you're able to head over to that website, hit the button that says buy us an alcohol-free beer. And that will give us a small contribution towards our costs. So, we can keep going on this journey. Back to the episode.



Freddie Bennett  23:45 

Despite starting this podcast talking about total honesty, and as part of that I've just embedded being like a liar to all my friends, ( I'm not a liar these days, obviously). But chances are you've got any more sensible tips for people that are just starting out on that alcohol free journey…


Sharon Hartley  24:25 

For me, and this goes against everything you've just said, I found that honesty has been the best policy. You know, I have not felt the need to say to somebody I'm on antibiotics or you know, I've got a really severe problem. I need to stop drinking. I've just told people as it is, you know what, I've been drinking for so long, too fast, too much, too often. And now for the time being, I'm having a break from alcohol. So, once I put that out there, people know that I'm not drinking but you still get the odd person, you know, invariably they're drunk, by the way… I had a friend. Tell me to come to one side twice, twice this person's done it now, asking ‘Can I have a quick word?’ And I’m like yeah, of course you can no problem. What is it? She’s like, ‘What's wrong with you? What is wrong with you? You're not drinking, there must be a problem’. No, really isn't a problem, um, things are really good. And it just prompts various reactions in different people. But I still stand by that. For me, honesty is the best policy and I think you've got to do what works for you. That worked for you, Freddy. Fantastic. You know, no problem whatsoever. For me, as I've just said, I'm done with alcohol for the time being, just please leave me to it. You know, how else can you prepare for these events?


Freddie Bennett  25:36 

So, I've got one in terms of like, it's a little bit life coachy. And I'm not going to go down the whole like life coaching route, because there's people in California with much better Botox and much better teeth than me! But I think for me, it was, it's about getting it straight in your head while you're doing this. And it's, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to be hitting rock bottom and losing everything and wake you up on a park bench. But you do have to have a reason. Because if you just say to yourself, well, I feel like I should give up alcohol. So, I'm just going to try and do it and sort of try and white knuckle it, it'll work for a bit but because I do know a bit about like psychology and behaviour change, and, and that doesn't tend to work. And that's why I'd failed so many times in the past, because I was like, yeah, you feel a bit crap. I'm going to try and stop drinking, but then I know what will make me feel good again. So the real game changer for me was working out why? And it was, it was essentially I wanted that new life more than that old life. And that's when it becomes more of an instinctive decision. It's, it's not they're saying, Oh, I've got that temptation. And if you can just tell yourself, you know, whether it is you want to run a marathon or do better at work, or be more present with your kids, or just lose some weight and be healthier.


Sharon Hartley  26:52 

Or just see a Sunday morning. Which is joyous!


Freddie Bennett  26:54 

Yeah, exactly. Like, yeah, totally any of those things, having that goal in your head is important. So that makes you think, I am not drinking today, because I'm choosing to drink alcohol- free beers today. And if that because is, ‘because I sort of feel like I should’, it might not work as well as if you have that goal in your head. And it doesn't have to be big and scary. But it's just something that's important to you. And that helps you decide. It's almost like you've got that crossroads in front of you. And you can take that path that you've always taken, or you can take that path towards your goals and your dreams and living that life that you want to live. And for me that was a real game changer.


Sharon Hartley  27:30 

I'll just jump in there for it and say the talking about doing what works for you. In my early days, in those first few weeks, I actually hibernated a little bit and I said no to quite a lot to invites, and if that's what it takes, if that's going to make it easy for you, then do that. One thing I would really really suggest is that you don't go to the pub. It sounds really obvious but if you're trying to change your relationship with alcohol, cut it out or cut it down a pub surrounded by drunk friends maybe encouraging you isn't going to be the best place to go. So, if you need to say no don't be scared of doing that because you're doing this for yourself really and nobody else.


Freddie Bennett  28:07 

That’s a good point. I really struggled with that like I say my whole personality was revolved around it and there was that worry that my friends aren't going to talk to me anymore if I say I'm not going to be at a party then people aren't you know, they're gonna cut me out and they're call me boring, but then you know what actually it's not that bad – all these things you build them up in your head and it's not that bad at all you just say you know what guys I'm not coming out tonight I've got other stuff on or whatever you want to say but once you make that first decision to start saying no to a few things then saying no to alcohol is a lot easier as well.


Sharon Hartley  28:58 

It's fair to say when you jump into this at first oh my God it is difficult. Let's not you know skirt around that, it is really really hard and for me it was the first I don't know first five or six weeks but then you've got to weigh that up with with the benefits of not drinking or cutting down alcohol or removing alcohol and for me, I found pretty much within the first hour… I was a daily drinker so I noticed the benefits straightaway… sleep oh my gosh oh yeah. Oh my God!


Freddie Bennett  29:32 

Glorious teenager level of sleep amazing.


Sharon Hartley  29:36 

And but also things like extra time, waking up fresh, weekend's doubled in size because you no longer either hungover or looking at the clock thinking when's it acceptable to drink on a Saturday? Four o'clock because it's early doors. It's these small wins in the beginning. I think that is so important. Freddie, you must have felt the same.


Freddie Bennett  29:55 

Oh yeah. Like I still remember now that first Sunday morning waking up with a clear head, I was like a machine. I was like the Terminator… I was like 6:30 on a Sunday morning. I was like, What? What is this strange time like the birds are singing and the sun shining. I'll just like Bang: ironing, dishwasher, kids fed. And I was like, wow, I feel like a superhero. And to be honest, that's still my biggest thing. Like now I love Sunday mornings where, you know, criteria wasn't that long ago, I'd still be going on a Sunday morning. And you know, some people may have been there where you’re kind of, you're in that lounge with your friends with the curtain closed at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning and you think woah, where did the last 18 hours go? But now, I never thought I'd say this. But Sunday mornings now are so fulfilling and so refreshing. And it just builds your confidence and I'm not being evangelical about it and saying I am out there hiking the hills talking to the animals with like a little sparrow landing on my hand or something. Like even if it's just like sitting on the sofa watching a movie with your kids. Yeah, not feeling like you're gonna die.


Sharon Hartley  31:04 

It's being there, yes, being present, as opposed to just be in a bit foggy a bit below a bit below par.


Freddie Bennett  31:11 

Definitely. And that was a massive big first… Bank balance has gotta be another one. I was burning a lot of money on alcohol. It wasn't just that then it'd be the next day when you think I can't be bothered to cook, let's go and get a takeaway, or it'd be your taxis at four in the morning. Or, you know, the hungover or drunk and Amazon shopping, then you know, you wake up and 15 vacuum cleaners turn up and you're like, What are they doing here? And I think bank balances is something that you see as well. So actually, in those even after that first weekend, I was like, hang on my bank balance isn't saying minus 100. It's just saying zero, which is quite a victory for me. So I think yeah, having that a bit of extra cash to spend on what you want really makes difference.


Sharon Hartley  31:58 

I’ve got to say as well. I mean, this isn't great for a podcast because you can't see, but if I was to show you my day one photograph where I was hanging, I look like Tollund Man… remember that guy that was dug up about a million years ago. I looked like a corpse it was horrendous. And it only took a week two weeks for my face to actually start changing my chins deflated slightly, and my skin! I lost these like quite red blotches on my chin and my cheeks…I just looked I looked terrific. The free facelift, it's given me has been glorious for that reason alone, man. It's been Yeah, it's been wonderful.


Freddie Bennett  32:36 

That's awesome. I think in terms of your appearance as well and also what's inside. Stress is probably the final one for me and I think in terms of like we all know that alcohol is a depressant and yet but you know, we still we don't think so at the time. The stress that we mentioned earlier… you know, that whole, ‘what time does the bar open?’ What time can I start drinking? Am I allowed to go to a bar or not? You know, Can I drink today? Where am I going to get a drink? Right? I don't totally mean like that. But it's, it does add a bit of extra complication to your day. Yeah, am I gonna drive am I not gonna drive? Just all of it.


Sharon Hartley  33:25 

It's all those crazy internal arguments. Yeah. And not drinking. It just removes that noise. Simple as that. It stops the arguments in your own head. They just stop.


Freddie Bennett  33:35 

Exactly. And it's bliss. I know. And it is so weird to say that because I get I, I thought I was never going to the person saying I'd given up alcohol for a year. But if you can get that mental clarity that it gives you then you start to think well, if I can give up alcohol, then really what other changes can make in my life. And that's when it really starts to get cool.


Sharon Hartley  33:55 

I didn't think I could do the first weekend. I didn't think I could do it. But I think once you've jumped in, hold your nose and you won't drown, you will swim once you've got that strength. Actually, I've done that first weekend. Let's go for the second. And it does get a bit easier, doesn't it?


Freddie Bennett  34:12 

Yeah, absolutely. It does get easier. Now I talk a lot about the alcohol free magic and I was there saying you know when's my alcohol free magic that happened because you know, I've given up alcohol and it's like, you look up to the heavens you're like hang on, we had a deal here! I'd give up alcohol and you make my life amazing, but it doesn't work like that. You still have down days, crappy things still happen, you learn that life does go on but it gives you that strength to deal with it and I say it does get easier. Even if you’re saying that you thought you’d never be the person that stopped drinking but then you can and it does make life so much better.


Sharon Hartley  35:12 

So, that was the very first episode of Over the Influence, our alcohol free podcast, in association with Now it's all very good and well me and Freddie and background Ben talking about this subject, but we want you to get involved. Please get in touch, send us an email on over the influence at Tell us what you thought about it. Tell us what you'd like us to discuss. Please get involved. And give us a rating and a review on your podcast app. Because this is all about you. We'd really like to hear from you.


Freddie Bennett  35:47 

What we want to do is really reach out to help as many people as possible and really create a community and engage people around it, it'd be lovely. Not just the three of us talking every episode. We want to get people's questions, people's opinions, anything that they're struggling with or need help with. Let's make this all about you. So I think we're going to have an amazing journey.


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