668160 minutes sober… here’s my story

464 days 
1 year, 3 months, 7 days
11136 hours 
668160 minutes 
However I look at it, I cannot seem to shake the pride. The number is massive to me. Not only because of its numerical value, which looking at it in writing seems pretty high, but also because of the change those numbers have had on my life. 
464 days ago, today, I decided to go sober. 
I don't mean settle for sobriety 90% of the time, with the odd drink here or there on celebrations, birthdays, Christmas etc... I mean completely and utterly 100% sober. Not a drop of alcohol has passed these lips! 
Before I decided to make this change in my life, I had the mindset that I needed to have a drink to enjoy life - I didn't want to be sober at parties, it wasn't unusual for me to get home from work and drink a bottle of wine to settle down, I'd have a glass with meals, always had it on hand at home and at our holiday home. Sitting down with a glass in hand was just a normal part of daily life and routine for me. I'd get to the van and before unpacking the food shop I'd pour a glass. I didn't think I had a problem, nor did I think it was affecting my life in a negative way at all. It was, after all, the only way I knew... I started drinking at a very young age, as I think is normal for so many people in my generation to be honest, and it's something that just stuck. 
What was the turning point?
 
I didn't really have a singular moment or "epiphany" truth be told. In hindsight I couldn't pinpoint the exact moment I'd decided in my head to make this change.
I was getting fed up of the hangovers, the tiredness, the bloating and gut problems. Tensions seemed to always be high at home and I wondered whether drinking was a factor and if changing that habit would change home life.
The world was starting to grey, quite literally physically in how I would see it, but also inside myself and my head - dark clouds were looming and I wasn't sure how else I could shake that. I ended up in therapy, medicated, struggling to survive and I knew realistically that the amount of alcohol I was consuming wouldn't have been helpful at all. It may not have been the underlying cause to all my problems, but definitely wasn't helping them. 

So I decided to give sobriety a go and the positive impact and changes were instantaneous.
My outlook on life and the way I see the world changed overnight. It might sound crazy to others but I started seeing the world in colour again, the darkness was shifting, the grass seemed greener, the sky more blue ... as though alcohol was changing the way my eyes worked and how my brain was processing that information. It was clouding my experience of living and enjoying what this life has to offer. 
I'll never preach to anyone for them to change their drinking habits, I think it's a very personal experience for each individual and impacts people in different ways. What it was like for me isn't necessarily what it's like for others. This is just my experience.
There isn't a part of my life untouched by the positive impact, I feel like I've changed as a person at my core for myself, but also for others around me. Home life is so much calmer, so much less tense, and more connected than ever... I think it helps that Michael has also stopped drinking at this time for his own personal reasons so the entire household is now a completely sober one! Neither of us are spending time in bed hungover, we're not as short fused with ourselves or each other, Alfie really is getting the best of us both because we are present every moment. 
This isn't a temporary change for me... I'm asked all the time if I will ever drink again and I can say with certainty that I absolutely won't. This is a life-long lifestyle change. I'm better for it, we all are! 
If you're struggling yourself with alcohol addiction, over use or struggle with moderation or attempts for sobriety, you can seek support from the following places: 
  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups offer support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they're still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12 to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person's drinking, usually a parent.
  • We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and local support groups.
  • The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
  • SMART Recovery groups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.
 
There will be more. These were the ones recommended on the NHS England website so will have proven track records of support and services to help. 

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