Charlie Allen woke up in a tuxedo on the morning of December 14, 2021. He had hosted a big Christmas dinner the night before. Now he was at his friend’s house in South West London, hungover and wondering what he was doing there.
Allen, now 30, had already become disenchanted with the non-stop drinking culture he had experienced since moving to London from a small country town. “I really didn’t want to drink with customers on Wednesday, see friends on Thursday, go out on Friday, do the same thing on Saturday, have wine and roast Sunday,” he said. increase. “I would describe it as a psychological roller coaster. I was sick of riding that wave.
Recovering from a hangover, Allen wanted to reduce his alcohol consumption. But at the same time, the idea of him becoming a “teetotal” didn’t appeal to him. he liked alcohol So, his two weeks before Christmas, he decided to become “99% sober.”
Sometimes called “dry by default” or “mindful drinking,” Allen said 99 to describe his lifestyle of drinking only on special occasions, such as a weekend in Glastonbury or a night out with his girlfriend’s parents. I drink as much as I want (preparing for a hangover the next day). Outside of those occasions, he describes himself as sober.
A growing group of other, especially young men, are making the same decisions. 99% of the scientific research supporting the temperance movement is lacking, but it follows the broader trend of people seeking a low-alcohol life. In 2019, 20% of people in the UK explained as a “non-drinker”. This compares to 17% in 2015.
After he declined a celebratory shot at the company’s annual performance lunch, Allen’s CEO approached him to support his decision. Hundreds of people have sought his advice since he wrote about his experience online. After I realized it, I stopped. On a recent visit to the pub, they ordered a Coke before he arrived.
Lawrence Kelty, 32, was also surprised by how her friends reacted after going 99% sober in January 2022. The day before his recent wedding, he texted them his message on his group chat, warning them not to drink. To my surprise, no one cared. He drank a glass of champagne at the reception. Unlike Allen, he limits himself to one or two drinks if he indulges.
Kelty says she drinks alcohol once or twice a week. But when the pandemic started, its frequency increased. He drank a beer or two every night, and a bottle of wine with his wife on the weekends. This consistent consumption led to headaches that affected his work and cycling performance, irritating him. increase.
Kelty reduced his alcohol consumption over several months. The last time we spoke, he hadn’t drunk anything since the local beer festival in the summer, and the next thing he planned to drink was a bottle of wine to share with his wife. It was Christmas Day when I purchased the
Kelty says the availability of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages has helped a lot. At a recent lunch with a client, he started drinking a glass of wine from a bottle his boss ordered, followed by a non-alcoholic cocktail. He began evaluating bars in his area based on the selections he was offered. He also ordered his non-alcoholic beer for the office fridge (his colleagues sometimes drink it too).
Dr. Richard Piper, CEO of the charity Alcohol Change UK, says the most effective way to manage alcohol consumption is to be 99% abstinent. However, I avoid prescribing any specific program. He believes it’s this “all or nothing” approach that people find too restrictive.
‘The relationship between Britain and alcohol has gotten completely out of hand for many,’ says Dr. Piper, himself an ‘occasional drinker’ men’s health“We are like a big group of chimpanzees.
This culture of “sober shame,” as Dr. Piper dubs it, is problematic because scientific studies link alcohol to at least 60 medical conditions. disease, depression, and stroke. These conditions are especially common in men. twice as likely Dying from an alcohol-related condition as a woman. Before closing in 2021, public health england estimates that alcohol abuse costs the UK £21 billion each year from crime, health care and lost productivity.
Several medical conditions, including some cancers, have a “linear” relationship with alcohol. means to be However, the majority of alcohol-related illnesses exhibit a “curved” relationship with consumption. means to be critical. Beyond these 14 units, risk rises rapidly. He has 28 units a week, and 3% of people die from alcohol-related conditions. At 42 units, 6% die.
So, if you’re 99% abstinent from drinking, you’ll almost eliminate the risk of illness from alcohol consumption. Dr. Piper says, “If you drink only occasionally, your body can handle it almost completely without causing long-term problems. explains that even if it is rare, it reduces the risk much more than drinking large amounts over a short period of time.
Dr. Piper says Dry January, a campaign managed by Alcohol Change UK, was actually designed as a “liberation campaign”. Dry January is not only for those who want to be 99% sober, but also for those who want to be completely sober. According to Dr. Piper, the 30 to his 90-day abstinence period helps reset participants’ brains. “Reset associations, reset physiological addictions,” he says. Focusing too much on the prospect of an alcohol-free life can put people off.
Allen says it’s important not to let unplanned sobriety derail your commitment. He recalls one night when he and his girlfriend attended a barn dance in the Lake District. He wasn’t going to drink, but the band was playing music he liked, so he chose to indulge. ‘It makes no difference. Dust off and go again.
Being 99% sober improved his physical and mental health. In this year he lost 8kg, scored his first half marathon podium and ran his first ultramarathon. He also said that his relationships with his friends and family have become stronger.
Allen launched a running community called Run Social in January 2022 to avoid alcohol-related activities. Designed with sobriety in mind, the free-to-join community is now growing to 724 people in London, Manchester, Aberdeen, Brighton and Bristol. Allen is currently planning a Run Social trip to Switzerland next year. Drinks not included.
“It’s not about making you feel like you can’t do something,” Allen says. “It’s about making people feel like they can do what they want and giving them the power to make selfish decisions.
If you or a friend need help managing your drinking habits, Drinkline offers a free and confidential helpline on 0300 123 1110 (9am-8pm weekdays, 11am-11pm weekends). 4 p.m.).