Sober Sprint – Where could your relationship with alcohol be in five months?

This is Part Two of my follow-up from last year’s interview with four people who were taking part in Sober October, all for completely different reasons and with different experiences.  Two of those people I interviewed were Club Soda members who I interviewed for Part One back in January, to see how they were feeling three months on – which you can read here.

Here I catch up with the two non-Club Soda members from the original interview, who were only taking part for the month to take a break from excessive social boozing – so where are they both in their journey now, over five months later?

“I never really knew about alcohol-free beers before I did it”

First up is Jed, the guy we know from our shared office space. When I spoke to Jed in October he was taking part in Sober October because he’d had a boozy holiday with his mates and fancied a challenge…

1) Last time we spoke, you were doing your first ever Sober October – did you make it all the way to the end?


2) How did you feel by the end of it?

Very good psychologically – it was a level of great achievement.

3) Did you start drinking again straight away?

Yes. On the hour, almost.

4) When you started drinking again, did you notice any changes in the effect it had on you?

I would need very slightly less to feel the effect but that was over fairly quickly.

5) You said you’d possibly do Dry January, did you?

No, I didn’t.

6) Have you made any changes to the way you drink, what you drink or how much, since you did the sober sprint?

A little, I always try and have some alcohol-free beers in the fridge. So that’s a change, I never did that before. I never really knew about good alcohol-free beers before I did it. I’d love to tell you that I’ve changed loads but I’ve not. I’ve been on holiday a lot and there’s an extreme correlation between beaches and beer for me. But it definitely hasn’t gone up which is good! {laughs}

7) How’s it making you feel talking about this with me now?

Umm, 1% ashamed {laughs}

“Big Drop IPAs are f*cking phenomenal”

Non-alcoholic beers and wines 8) Have you continued to drink any of the alcohol-free options you tried during your sober stint?

Everything Big Drop, particularly Big Drop IPAs. They’re f*cking phenomenal. Huge thanks to Laura (Club Soda) for introducing me to them. I was thinking of having a night out where I experiment by drinking a Big Drop, then full-strength beer, then Big Drop, and so on – because I always want to drink too much.

9) You said last time that your girlfriend was proud of you not drinking, has she commented on it at all since?

No, I don’t think so.

10) You also said you were going to try to steer away from drinking as much at home – how’s that going?

There’s been a small decrease during the week where I’ll drink a Big Drop instead of booze.

11) Have there been any events since October that you’ve ended up drinking at but had kind of wished you didn’t, or that you wish it had been a bit more acceptable to not drink because you didn’t really feel like it?

I was in Nicaragua a couple of weeks ago and I got pi**ed on St Patricks Day which was amazing, I was being hauled around on the back of an ox in a parade – but I got pi**ed again the next day and I wish I hadn’t done that because then the day after that I was SO hungover. So that was a moment of self-reflection.

12) Last time we spoke you’d just come back from a holiday where you’d indulged a little too much in the booze so were glad to have a break…did your recent holiday go like that too?

Yeah, yeah it did. It was another beach holiday which always tends to involve excessive drinking – and yes I’m not drinking this week as a result.

13) Is there something specific about beaches and holidays that trigger you?

It’s an almost unavoidable pull towards sunsets and beers and margaritas.

“Illegal to drive but remember all my actions”

Valentines Sober

14) So it’s just at sunset you want to drink? You’re not a daytime drinker? 

God no, I rarely drink during the day.

15) What sort of drinker are you when you do drink? Are you anything and everything, do you get blackout drunk, are you capable of just having a couple and then calling it a night?

I’m a beer and wine guy, I never do shots, I rarely drink spirits. I have got blackout drunk before but it’s extremely rare. Typically I’d be at a level where I would be illegal drive but I’d remember all my actions.

16) Does it affect your focus or anything when you drink?

When I’m at work I’m working but because I’m my own boss it will cut down my working hours if I’m hungover. So I’m not less focused as such but it does cut into my productivity.

17) Finally, what’s your plan for the rest of the year – are you planning another Sober October, a slightly less boozy summer, or are you comfortable with where you’re at with drinking?

I will do Sober October again but other than that I’m quite comfortable – I’d like to keep alcohol-free beer in the fridge to keep my weekday level low. I don’t gamble, I don’t any drugs at all, I run a reasonably successful business – I lost my wallet this week when I was stone cold sober, so it doesn’t really have a massive effect on my life. A doctor would possibly say different!

“That theme of deserving something is a theme I’ve now recognised”

Next up is Jude, a 30 year old American living in London who had taken a break for Sober October because he wanted to challenge his drinking pattern which was causing him to make choices, such as recreational drug use, that he wasn’t happy with.

1) Last time I saw you, you were having a pretty successful Sober October – did you successfully complete the month?

I got about 3 days from completing the month but went to Halloween party and decided I deserved a few drinks. Those few drinks then turned into a few more and next thing I knew it was 6 am, so I would say it wasn’t necessarily successful. That feeling of “deserving” something is a theme I’ve now recognised and am learning to understand more.

2) What happened after October?

I carried on drinking and had a few big blowouts, including my 30th birthday and New Years. I think something shifted though when I turned 30 and I started thinking about whether or not I wanted to continue this kind of behaviour into my 30’s or if I wanted to start shifting things.

3) What’s the reason for you choosing to give up drinking for a year, is there something specific you’d like to achieve?

I think what it came down to was that I was tired of being in the way of my own potential happiness. I realised that although I didn’t necessarily have what you would consider a classic “drinking problem,” it had become a problem nonetheless. I didn’t drink often, but when I did I was binge drinking which oftentimes led to drug taking. The same nights, the same people, the same comedowns, the same mindless conversations and big ideas that never went anywhere. There was no longer any richness or meaning in any of it and it just wasn’t serving me anymore. It was a sort of disillusionment really. I recognised that booze was the first piece of the puzzle, the stepping stone that often led to foolish decisions. The big shift though came on a long drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in early January when my girlfriend suggested I listen to Russell Brand’s audiobook “Recovery”. I connected deeply with a lot of the things he was saying about addiction and recognised that something needed to change in order for me to live a happier and more fulfilling life. When I returned to London I made the decision to give up everything mind altering for a year – although I feel so good at the moment I can’t see myself going back to any of it, even after the year is over.

4) Whenever you’ve had a blip or have come close to it, what was the cause and how did you overcome it?

I think I’m generally so much happier than I ever was that I just won’t let myself f*ck this one up. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t fantasised about drinking or taking drugs and that the temptation has just disappeared. It a big transition and a process that is sometimes up and down. I’ve just become more mindful and aware of when, where and how these desires come up and trained myself to recognise them and let them pass.

“There are things I’ve obviously suppressed for a long time”

Meditation5) What’s kept you on track the majority of the time? Any tips?

Regular meditation has helped massively. Exercise too. I think the biggest thing for me though has been having honest conversations with my friends and family about the whole process, so it’s out in the open and I’m not just keeping it all to myself. My girlfriend has been instrumental in this process and unbelievably supportive. I think it would have been much harder without her.

6) You said last time that you were feeling more emotionally stable, present and motivated – has this continued or evolved?

I definitely feel more conscious and aware. I feel like there was a sort of fog before and that has lifted and I am seeing things a lot more clearly. I’m sleeping better, I’m more motivated, I’m more engaged with others and more in touch with myself emotionally. It hasn’t been easy though – there are things about myself and my past that I’ve quite obviously suppressed for a long time that are now rearing their little heads. But I guess that’s all part of the process and I’m thankful for it nonetheless. It’s better, in my opinion, to feel all of this stuff and experience the range of emotions it brings up rather than living in some kind of self-induced blissful ignorance.

7) You weren’t socialising that much in the evenings when we last spoke because it made you feel a little isolated, has this changed now?

Still not socialising as much as when I was in the midst of it all, but when I do socialise it’s much more meaningful and rich rather than just getting wasted or high. As I mentioned before, having a partner has made this process feel a lot more supported as well.

8) Have your friends and family continued to be supportive now that they know you’re doing it for the year or have you noticed some peer pressure?

Family and friends have been really supportive, basically zero peer pressure, although I have noticed certain friendships have fallen by the wayside. I think these were probably based more on our shared love of substances, although there are a lot of people I really miss and should probably reach out to.

9) Any new drink or venue recommendations?

Loving Big Drop Pale Ale and those non-alcoholic German wheat beers when I’m socialised with friends who are drinking. I was sipping on Seedlip and Tonic’s when my parents were in town last and really enjoyed them. Seedlip Spice 94

“You can’t just stay at home and watch Netflix all the time”

10) Have you taken part in any events or activities that you wouldn’t have done usually?

I’m definitely being drawn towards more spiritual-based events like gong baths, meditation groups etc. I’ve also been seeing more films, plays and talks. Wholesome activities. You can’t just stay home and watch Netflix all the time.

11) How do you see this panning out for you long term, ie beyond your year off?

This is definitely a decision that will set a precedent for the rest of my life. It’s getting easier and easier and I’m really making it a part of who I am and embracing the whole process rather than acting like it’s a pain in the ass.

12) And how are you feeling generally, what have been the most noticeable changes in you or people/things around you?

I am way less apathetic about stuff. One of the things I’m actively working on is becoming more empathetic. Since I’m no longer feeling sorry for myself on a regular basis I’m becoming more interested in the way other people are feeling. I’m listening to an audiobook right now called “The Art of Empathy” which is really interesting.

13)What would you say to anyone who is thinking of taking a break from drinking, cutting down or changing their relationship with it in some way?

Try it for a couple weeks and slowly work your way up. Make sure you’ve got a strong support network of friends and family because that’s the most important bit. Enjoy this time, it might just be the most meaningful and profound time of your life. Go inward, don’t be afraid of what you might find because it’s you in all of your beautiful complexity.

“Do it! Just do it!”

14) Other than what you’ve already touched on, have you read any useful material, joined any groups or experienced something that you’ve found particularly useful?

Dr. Gabor Mate’s book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” and “The Biology of Desire” by Dr. Marc Lewis are all excellent reads if you’re interested in learning more about addiction and the way the brain is wired for pleasure and desire.

Mindful Drinking Festival

15) Can we expect to see you at this year’s summer Club Soda festival?

Yeah, I will be making it this year for sure!

16) So out of everything that you’ve experienced over the time that you’ve started to step away from drinking, what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned?

It’s pretty scary taking the leap – and to be honest, only 10% of people have addiction issues so it might not even be something you feel as though you have a problem with. But if you have ever considered that drinking or drugs have negatively affected your life or the thought of being drunk or high has taken precedence over meaningful things then, as Shia Labeouf says, “DO IT! JUST DO IT!”

17) Finally, if you could magically be granted one wish for this whole experience, what would it be?

Nothing at all, everything I’ve ever experienced and done whether negative or positive in my life have brought me to this point and I’m grateful for the journey and for the first time in my life, genuinely excited about the future. That sounds really douchey but I’ve become a lot more sentimental throughout this process so f*ck it.

It’s still about choice, support and understanding

The outcomes are quite contrasting, which shows that there are so many layers, stories, reasons, and motivations for mindful drinking, moderation, quitting drinking completely or for people wanting to take some time out from boozing. There is no one-size-fits-all categorisation, there is no blanket recommendation that works for everyone, and some people are comfortable with how much they drink but will occasionally take a break. It’s still about choice, support and understanding.

If you drink but you’ve taken an honest assessment of your behaviour and feel that you’re healthy, happy and that it doesn’t affect you or those around you, then that’s great.

If you feel like you might like to make some changes to your drinking, then look up our information below – we’ll help provide support and information on where to start and how to stick to the goals you’ve set for yourself. There are so many reasons why people feel the need to stop, take a break or cut down and no one should feel out of place if they make that decision.

Use our Club Soda discount for 5% off all purchases from DryDrinker.com: CLUBSODAVIP.

You can take a month off drinking at any time – and our Sober Sprint online programme will help.

If you’re thinking of doing a sober sprint, would like to cut down your drinking, stop for a while or quit completely – you can sign up to our FREE mailing list for advice, inspiration, events information and more. You can also join our private Facebook group to access our webinars live and to share stories, advice and support with like-minded people on different stages of their journeys. Want to keep socialising but not sure which places are good for alcohol-free drink choices? Head to our Club Soda pub guide where we list the best places for mindful drinkers.

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