Across the news at the beginning of 2023 is the great news that data is showing that we are all drinking much less. A very well written article in the Guardian this week, by Maggie Doherty described her journey with being alcohol free for a year a woman in her early 40s.

As she points out, Generation Z have mostly  eschewed alcohol, as to a large extent have Generation Y, my son falls into this category, where there is both empathy with those like me who had a problem with it, had a far broader and better education about alcohol as a drug, not a frilly drink, but still struggled understandably as to why I hit the bottle, a late member of the baby boomer generation. My son and his peers do not seem to want to have any kind of love affair with booze, and are so connected through technology to fix stuff if both with mental health and frustrations in every day life, and way more prepared to openly discuss their problems openly without any kind of stigma.

My generation, the over 50s and 60s and beyond are unlikely to talk to others about their issues with alcohol, until other underlying health conditions give the game away. We are all living longer, but are we living well?

My clients for the most part keep this a secret. They also have busy lives and work well past their retirement age. Their engagement with social media is usually via their children or younger members of the office staff, and we forget that so many older people are still very highly functioning, not going on Saga holidays or sat making antimacassars. The cost of living crisis, bank of mum and dad takes it’s toll, if the go to reward mechanism has been a glass of wine or four, the impact is generally far more severe in the older generation, as many medics will attest.

The modern methods of sharing often do not apply. My age group are still incredibly useful, wise and compassionate, but they are hiding a very big problem in plain sight because of upbringing and a generational disconnect.

My experience internationally is that my demographic, this age group, is one of the biggest misusers of alcohol, dependent and unable to find a fix that suits them. It is a great shame that they are unable to be out and proud, and I and some of my posse are hoping to change that this year because one of our worst fears is being a burden not only on our children but also the crippled health service, which sadly has zero help in place that would be remotely effective with this very important group of people who are terrified of what might happen next.

Resolutions for 2023

As we move into the new year, many of us are reflecting on our lives and making resolutions to help us improve. For those of us who want to take our resolutions a step further, a commitment to an alcohol-free year can be a powerful way to take control of our health and well-being. From Dry January to finding support from online forums and apps and self-appointed experts, there are plenty of ways to stay motivated and committed to an alcohol-free lifestyle throughout the year. However, if all the hundreds of forums, groups, on and offline were working well, then we wouldn’t be still seeing a rise in alcohol related deaths and harms, fractured families, economic hardship, mental illness caused by the anxiety and depression from too much booze, and undoubtedly a massive part of the NHS’s demise, not just the patients but the staff too.  When I talk to corporate clients, the presentism is immense.

The Sanctuary has turned a lot of rules on their heads over the years, now I believe that if we started to concentrate on those things we managed to handle whilst pissed, we would begin to realise how remarkable we all were to not only survive but to function at all. Consider the determination we all showed, and the single-mindedness of our drinking, above anything else we would find a source. Nothing stopped us, loved ones, work, and other commitments, we ploughed on. I also believe that many folks join groups to listen to others and their car crash lives, to make themselves feel less of a fool, because they were not as bad as them. The entertainment industry picked up on this human trait years ago, and one only has to see viewing figures or social media frenzy when lives are going down the toilet. Stories about well adjusted, happy people doesn’t butter the financial parsnips apparently or our desire for comparison.

My thoughts are that rather than telling everyone in a group or Zoom meeting what a car crash your life was, you start to believe in those attributes you used to the max to drink, which can help you to stop. Give yourself some kindness and concentrate on the positives. No, it wasn’t clever to drink too much, it was genius to keep drinking for so long without being found out though. I have been using this approach over the last few months with great success, as ever one-to-one, we are all unique and need that, and have re-invented my six-week programme, that now is much more flexible.


How Much?

One of the biggest reasons people don’t think they should pay for help with alcohol harm is brainwashing that it was our choice to do it in the first place, therefore all our fault, and we don’t deserve to splash out on it. If all the free or subscription services out there, and there are thousands, worked, we wouldn’t still be seeing a rise in the problem, would we? Costing not only lives but household finances catastrophic consequences, cancers and other alcohol-related harms rocketing and the economy imploding. Many people don’t think twice about buying a car and all the maintenance that goes along with it, into the 10s of thousands of pounds, and yet baulk at paying at paying for self-care, unless it can be shown off on the outside.  My fees are less than a good mechanic’s or botox! It’s insanity. Of course, there are no guarantees with this, but do you trust a car dealer or unlicensed beautician more?? You NEED your health, you don’t necessarily need the latest swankest vehicle or a face that fakes it.


The challenges of going alcohol-free

Life is a challenge, we survive, and do our best, stopping drinking should not start with you having to say that you are shameful, remorseful, embarrassed, or useless, but with the attitude with all the enthusiasm you had for drinking the stuff, you can flip that to make you just as enthusiastic to stop. We were born to thrive not to constantly consider our faults. The is nothing more powerful than a made-up positive mind.

The rewards of going alcohol-free

No matter your reason for stopping, it’s important to know that not drinking so much is better for you.  An alcohol-free lifestyle can increase your productivity and help you get better quality sleep. You may also be able to save money that would have been spent on alcohol, our stats show the average was £4350 last year.  Staying sober will also improve your decision-making skills, allowing you to make more rational choices. Additionally, an alcohol-free lifestyle could improve your physical health. When we drink, our bodies become dehydrated, leading to headaches, fatigue and a plethora of other health conditions. Stopping drinking gives your body a much-needed break from the toxins and helps it to heal and repair itself. Finally, by staying sober, you can improve your mental health. Not drinking will reduce stress and anxiety, helping you to stay balanced and healthy. All in all, choosing to remain alcohol-free this year can be extremely rewarding, not just for you but all the other people in your life.

Happy New Year.