Dry July: Quitting drinking for my mental health wasn’t easy, but it opened my eyes

Many Kiwis gave up alcohol during Dry July.

THINGS

Many Kiwis gave up alcohol during Dry July.

OPINION: I chose to do dry July This year.

Winter can be tough on emotional well-being, and a hangover can exacerbate that downward inner spiral even more.

I decided I didn’t want to add any more anxiety to my life during an already difficult time and remove a key contributing factor – alcohol.

It is good and rewarding to have a personal challenge to face and overcome.

Most of the time, when faced with something stressful, you turn to alcohol to help relieve stress and let off steam. I know I do.

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Removing alcohol forces you to explore other ways to deal with stress.

There have been many times lately where I’ve been like, “God, I need a drink today,” and I’ve managed to resist. I often drink kombucha when I feel like this.

Socially, being sober can be difficult.

People are often disappointed when you tell them you don’t drink.

When you say you want to come home early, people don’t like that either.

Sitting with your friends all night drinking lemonade sounds really silly. It is interesting to examine how we are conditioned to think this way.

I haven’t changed my life and haven’t seen any dramatic changes in my body or my lifestyle.

I haven’t sobbed drunk coming home from a bar in an Uber at 2 a.m. on a Saturday, but neither have I really laughed with my mates the way we do when drinking together.

I avoided the tumultuous and emotional ups and downs that result from drunkenness, which allowed me some emotional stability.

I wish I could say that being sober is good. I wish I could completely eliminate alcohol from my life because it’s unhealthy and really destructive, but I don’t think I’m there yet.

It’s an eye-opening experience and I would recommend Dry July, and regular sobriety periods in general, to anyone.

Where to get help

1737, Need to talk? Call for free or text 1737 to speak to a qualified adviser.

Anxiety New Zealand 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)

Depression.org.nz 0800 111 757 or SMS 4202

safety rope 0800 543 354

Mental Health Foundation 09 623 4812, Click here to access its free resource and information service.

Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254

Samaritans 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

yellow brick road 0800 732 825

thelowdown.co.nz Web chat, email chat or free text 5626

What’s new 0800 942 8787 (for 5 to 18 year olds). Telephone consultation available Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Online chat is available every day from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Youth Line 0800 376 633, free text 234, email [email protected], or find online chat and other support options here.

If it is an emergency, Click here to find the number of your local crisis assessment team.

In case of life danger, call 111.

Joshua B. Speller