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Has your Dry January ended with a splash onto the slippery slope back down to drinking every day again?

What I’m aiming for now is state of mind I’m calling Damp February which means just a few drinks at weekends. But I actually find this harder than complete abstinence.

I’m a busy person and alcohol has become synonymous in my mind with relaxation, tension busting, reducing inhibitions and escape from the demands of my life and the voice in my head.

I tell myself this need not be the case, that alcohol has simply become a habit and there are other ways to achieve relaxation. I have survived without alcohol for 31 days after all and it has made me check in with myself and find other switch-off mechanisms such as talking to friends, talking to myself, listening to the radio, reading a favourite book, watching telly, stroking a cat and simply taking deep breaths.

So my aim is to become a social drinker, just drinking in company (because honestly when I’m the only one not drinking at a party I just want to go to bed by 9pm). Not drinking daily at home to oil the wheels of my life.

The First February Drink

So the first Saturday of February sees my first drink since New Year’s Eve. Wanting to avoid a vicious post-DJ hangover, I take it easy for once. On offer at a friend’s party is bitter and wine. I don’t normally drink bitter, too bitter for me but I spy some sparkling water and elderflower cordial and use them to knock up a grown-up shandy that isn’t sweet. In fact to me it still tasted like bitter and one bottle lasted me all night, spread over 3 glasses.

I really enjoyed the alcohol taste I’d been missing for a month, and was able to savour it – in contrast to the way I used to neck Fosters; there is so little taste satisfaction in lager that quantity seems to become more important than quality. Whereas the more taste satisfaction you have, the less you seem to worry about the alcohol.

An alternative to grown-up shandy is lower alcohol beer – for example this 3.2% Kernel Table Beer stocked by The Naked Grape in Hungerford (after a customer specifically requested it).

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