So you've completed Dry January. Congrats! Strike up the band! Lie on the floor and let someone pour Malbec into your mouth through a funnel!
But then what? Once the first February hangover has cleared, what’s going to be the legacy of your month of abstinence?
You may not want to go completely teetotal, but you also know you don't want to slide straight back into your old habits either. Because what’s the point of surviving 31 days of dusty sobriety if you aren’t going to make long-term change? You’d like to get a handle on your drinking before everybody else quietly gives up and you’re the only boozer under 40 left.
On the one hand, life is short. But on the other… same. It’s quite a conundrum.
The answer? My friend, you need to become a One-Drink Wonder. An ODW, as the cool Bumble bios will read one day.
Not to sound too much like I’m recruiting for a cult, but I’ve been an ODW for years now and I’m here to tell you it’s possible – to go out, even out-out, have one drink and stop. It’s hard, but you can do it. It takes practice, sure; but then so did liking the taste of tequila.
"If you are trying to drink less overall, then alcohol-free days are actually easier than the days when you just have one or two drinks – for the simple reason that self-control and decision-making skills often go out of the window after a couple of drinks," says Rosamund Dean, author of Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life. She’s right of course; once you’re in the pub or at the party, it can feel as though resistance is futile. Lead a horse to water, and you might as well make it a double.
For those of us who live on a feast-or-famine seesaw, always either on the wagon or crashing dramatically off it, a balanced middle ground is the holy grail. Having one drink might not sound thrilling, but it gives you options between 'on for a rager' and 'home on the sofa'. You don’t have to sacrifice your Saturday morning for the sake of Friday night. You can join in the fun and remember it afterwards. Trust me, I’m a lightweight.
In the interests of transparency I should say that I’m a One-Drink Wonder by accident, not through iron-willed self-restraint. I became one at the age of 22, when horrible hangovers started to massively eclipse my enjoyment, and it’s taken until my 30s for my feeble alcohol tolerance to be seen as a special skill rather than a massive deficiency.
But now, finally, people want to know the secret. And I’ve learned a few things in all my years of "Honestly, I’m fine with this lukewarm water!" and "No you were really funny last night, promise!" that I’d like to share, backed up with sound advice from some experts.
Here are 10 steps to help you become a One-Drink Wonder. I only hope this goes some way to compensating for all the rounds I haven’t bought.
This advice is designed for people looking to cut down their alcohol intake, not those concerned they have a serious alcohol problem. If you are worried about your drinking, please contact Alcohol Change UK or Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.