Four people tell how they lived their first month without alcohol and why they did or not repeat the experience. Most have become aware of their consumption, sometimes excessive, if not regular.
“I lost the urge to be drunk”
Pierre, a 31-year-old general practitioner, lives in Saint-Quentin (Aisne). He took up the Dry January challenge with his partner in 2020 and has not resumed alcohol since.
“At the start, with my partner, we did not do it to have better health or to save money. It was just for personal glory. What struck us quickly was that we realized that we drank a lot, before: a beer in the evening when we got home from work, and two or even three outings to the bar each week. We had no withdrawal symptoms, on the contrary: the quality of sleep improved rapidly. And in terms of money, we had to save around fifty euros per week.
“On January 18, 2020, my partner got pregnant. We haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since. Except once: I drank a beer but found that my body was no longer tolerant of alcohol. I have also lost the desire to be drunk: it is a state that does not last long and the consequences of which when I wake up cost me more than the pleasure I get.
“Today, when we go out, we drink diabolos. We throw a little joke like this: “We’re going back to childhood.” I did not urge those around me to quit alcohol. It has to be a personal choice. Ten years ago, with my brother and one of my best friends, we challenged ourselves to quit smoking all January. At the end of the bet, I thought it would be silly to continue. That’s how I quit drinking and smoking: it didn’t even start with a good resolution, but with a challenge. ”
“The hardest part was in the evening”
Paul, 36, is a music press officer in Paris and has two Dry Januarys on the clock. For 2021, he hesitates because the bars are closed, the temptation is not strong.
“The alcohol-free month is a breath after the holidays marked by excess and a whole year where I drink regularly – a beer or a glass of wine when I cook, and I cook a lot, two evenings in the week… The first that I did, in 2019, was not too complicated. There was a “new experience” side. To compensate, I tried the non-alcoholic wine, which is not yet up to par, and the non-alcoholic beer which is not bad. I also like kombucha, a slightly sparkling fermented tea. It took three weeks before I felt the real effects: waking up clear and crisp, thinking faster.
“The second Dry January was a bit like the second confinement: the surprise side gave way to resignation. I was sometimes in need. The hardest part was in the evening, when I was the only one sober, that I saw people sort of go into another wagon while I stood on the platform. 1is February, my buddy threw a party to celebrate the end of Dry January! But we did not want to take a murge: we were no longer used to it, after three glasses we were tipsy. After a period of abstention, we want to return slowly. I have been asked why I don’t regulate all year round: because there is a pleasure in depriving yourself and then rediscovering something that you have missed.
“The third upcoming Dry January doesn’t amuse me anymore. As the bars are not open, it is not the same challenge. My consumption is no longer excessive, because I mainly drink alcohol to accompany a good meal. “
“I drink less and enjoy more”
Sandrine, 50, is a school teacher in Rennes. The Dry January triggered in her a reflection on the relationship of society to alcohol.
“I am an occasional drinker. I drink when I go to a restaurant with friends or to treat myself on a Friday night. A friend who had tested the month without alcohol offered me to participate in 2020. I thought it was not going to benefit me, but it made me aware of all the occasions when we drink alcohol by tradition or so as not to be excluded from the group. During the galette des rois, for example, I prepared apfelschorle, a mixture of sparkling water and apple juice, quite common in Germany. About twenty people tasted it, found it good, but preferred to drink cider, because it is the tradition in Brittany. I didn’t miss it and it didn’t change the fact that I’m having a good time.
“The problem is, we have few alternatives that make ‘feast’ apart from fruit juice and Coke – but it’s very sweet. I tried the Tourtel Lemon Twist, but it bothers me that it looks like beer, and that my daughters (aged 14, 17 and 22) can taste it, first without then with alcohol. . It scares me for children when big manufacturers bring out soda, ice cream or mojito-flavored candies. It pairs the mojito with something good that can be consumed very young. Alcohol is not trivial.
“What this experience changed is that now I think before drinking alcohol. I wonder if I really want to or if I do it through socialization. Today, I drink less and enjoy more. ”
“People are laughing at us”
Jeanne, 28, lives in Paris and works in communication. She has taken up the Dry January challenge twice on her own and intends to do it again this year.
“Some people don’t like the New Year. I adore. I like to party. And I used too big drums until then. I was sick to death. I came home from New Years Eve and was throwing up until 7 a.m. I felt like I was 15 years old and going back to the time of my first binges, when I was 26.
“I did the Dry January twice. It allowed me to realize my alcoholism. Managing not to drink a drop of alcohol is a source of pride. When you stop, you think about alcohol all the time and you see that there is a problem. When you walk into a cafe, you wonder what to drink. So we order a Perrier or two. No more. And we realize the liters of alcohol we used to drop. Hell is other people too. Those who remind us all the time: “Why don’t you drink? Don’t you want a drink?” Even my boyfriend told me I had to start over. He was afraid I would quit forever.
“People tend to laugh at us when we say we’re doing Dry January. Looks like we’re having a grape cure or telling them we’re going vegan. In the evening, people are not on the same frequency as us. You can feel a bit isolated. Alcohol is a social lubricant. It also allows you to reach out to others. There, suddenly, it can be less easy. But even if you don’t drink, you can sometimes get caught up in the game and enjoy the intoxication of others. ”