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  • Charlotte Jackson

My Journey with Alcohol and Navigating an Alcohol Free Life when Everyone Else is Still Drinking

You would think as a prior crystal meth addict that I would have been sober as long as I have been clean, but that's not the case.

I know that addicts are generally advised to never touch alcohol even if they have been addicted to something different entirely and although I personally don't agree with this 100%, that is a discussion for another day. But today, I want to specifically talk about my own journey with alcohol. I have been clean from crystal meth for about three years, but I only stopped drinking alcohol completely in April this year.

Club had shut but why not change into PJs and continue drinking until the sun comes up?!

When I was younger I was very much the classic binge drinking Brit. I discovered alcohol around the age of 13, got drunk for the first time when I was 15 and after that I could genuinely count on one hand how many weekends I spent sober over the next 15 years.

Someone who was most certainly not my boyfriend

I used to drink so much that I would completely black out, not remember what I had said or done and spend the following day with my head stuck down the toilet for about eight hours. I thought this was normal and no one ever told me otherwise. I would wake up covered in bruises, with my knees ripped to shreds, my partner not talking to me, feeling like death... every. single. weekend.

I have no idea who this person is

In fact, for the vast majority of my social, adult life the only memories I have are those documented on camera. I don't remember my friend's weddings, my own engagement party or any other important events because I was perpetually wasted whenever the opportunity arose.

When I started taking drugs I remember going out and, for the first time, seeing how drunk everyone was. I remember specifically walking down Chapel Street in Melbourne and seeing the girl in front of me stumbling, slurring, vomiting, falling over, arguing with her partner and shouting outlandish things when I had this epiphany moment. It was like the Universe was holding up a big, fat mirror... "holy sh*t, that used to be me".

And it was in that exact moment that I was completely put off getting wasted drunk for good.

I obviously then had my own journey through addiction but once I got clean and came home people were always offering me alcohol. However, the memory of that girl stumbling down Chapel Street had never left me. I didn't drink for about a year as I was completely indifferent towards it, then I would occasionally have the odd drink here and there on special occasions. Never getting black out drunk the way I had in the past... but every time I drank I would regret it the next day - I'd say things I'd never say sober, I'd be attracted to people or kiss people that I would never go near sober, I'd call people I wouldn't normally call - it was cringe inducing... and not in a good way.

In March this year I started meditating every day and by April I had absolutely no desire to touch alcohol ever again. I'm not saying that this is necessarily the reason I've gone alcohol-free but it's certainly a very interesting "coincidence" :)

So what does life look like now that I no longer drink and have there been any challenges?

At first, not drinking is incredibly uncomfortable. In social situations you are suddenly aware of exactly how you feel... especially when meeting new people. Awkward silences, not knowing where to put your hands when you're talking, etc etc. But then... as you start to get used to this you realise what a superpower it is to be sober in a room full of people who aren't... now when you meet people you can actually trust your intuition. Do you warm to them? Are you attracted to them? Are they acting kind of off? Do they make you feel comfortable? How do they react when they realise you aren't drinking?

A lot of people who go alcohol free say that they experience push back from their friends. This isn't something I can really comment on as I came home and had to start afresh in the UK so most of my friends have only known me since I've been clean - having said that - if you are friends with people who actively pass judgment on choices you are making in your life (especially those that better it)... are these really people you want to be friends with?!

I know it can be a little lonely starting down a path that is different to the path your friends are on but most of my friends, family and work colleagues drink and I still do all the things I used to do when I drank except now I really enjoy and remember them... I still go out, I still go to raves, I dance at weddings etc etc. My confidence has grown so much and I am so comfortable in my own skin in any situation now and that is probably the greatest gift I have gained.

At a rave with my best friend (both of us completely sober)

So if you are just starting out on the alcohol free journey, or if you've been on it for a while or if you're just a little curious... I'm so proud of you for doing something for you!

People can harp on about the health benefits and the money it will save you but no one tells you that going alcohol free will be the single most greatest thing you can do for your self-confidence and that, in itself, is priceless.

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