Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
Now that the month of festivities is well and truly over, it appears that we are taking our excessive behavior to the other extreme and signing up for an alcohol-free January. All in the name of charity, of course. We may only be three days into 2014, but over 7,500 people in the U.K. have signed up to Alcohol Concern’s Dry January initiative, and Cancer Research’s Dryathalon already has over 50,000 followers on its Facebook page.
If you’re not sure if a stint of sobriety is for you, let health writer Jill Stark’s story be a lesson in the life-affirming benefits of this exercise. The Melbourne-based journalist decided to embark on a three-month abstinence stint (which she ended up extending to a full year) after waking up with the mother of all hangovers on New Year’s Day 2011.
This experience prompted her to write a book, High Sobriety: My Year Without Booze and, as she explains to The Independent, it was life changing. “Giving up alcohol changed everything really, in ways I hadn’t expected. I thought it would be a case of getting a bit healthier but I actually found out a lot about myself along the way. I realised that some of my friends weren’t really friends, they were just drinking buddies.”
She also found that sobriety gave her an unexpected confidence boost: “Because I’d always been that party girl, it forced me to look at my identity. Who was I without a glass in my hand all the time? It actually also taught me to be a lot more confident, which is surprising, because at first it was very confronting to be someone who always socialised with alcohol to suddenly not have that social lubricant or that social crutch.”