Sunday 31 December 2017

Dry January


Welcome to a brand new decade. A clean sheet of paper. A fresh start. A chance to be a new you, or to rediscover the old you.

Is your New Year's resolution to do Dry January?

If so, you're not alone. An estimated 5 million people in the UK are taking part in the Dry January challenge in 2020.

Whether you want to quit just for for the next month, or whether you've realised you've got to give it up forever, here is some advice on how to get through the first 31 days.

It's really hard to condense this into just one post, but there's more information on all of this - and very much more - throughout this blog and on the SoberMummy Facebook page.

1. Preparation

Getting your head in the right place is crucial. If you start the month with a sense of dread and deprivation you'll never make it.

You are doing an amazing thing. You are about to change your life for the better. Be excited!

If that last sentence is just incredibly irritating, and you can't imagine feeling anything like excitement right now, then read Jason Vale's book: Kick the Drink, Easily.

In fact, read it anyway. It'll completely change the way you think about drinking, and make the whole process of quitting much easier.

You could also read The Sober Diaries (click here) about my first twelve months off the booze, which will give you a really good idea of all the downs, and the ups, that you can expect, with a few good laughs (and some tears) along the way.

Write down, right now, while you can remember, all the reasons why you want to stop. The big ones (like health concerns) and all the little ones (like being embarrassed about all the empty bottles in your recycling bags).

Over the next few weeks there will be many moments when you will think "why am I doing this?" You'll need that list as a reminder.

2. Know what to expect

The first two or three weeks after quitting drinking can be physically and mentally gruelling, but it's much easier if you know what to expect, and know that it's all perfectly normal. After years of flooding your body with addictive toxins, it's bound to fight back a bit when you quit.

You will probably feel more tired than you can imagine. By mid afternoon you'll want a nap - like a toddler. You'll feel muggy headed, like you're wading through soup, and your concentration levels will be completely shot.

Don't worry - it'll pass. See it as a sign that your body's recuperating.

Ironically, you may find that you also have problems initially in getting to sleep. Again, this is temporary. Soon you'll be sleeping like a baby - better than you have in years. And no more waking up at 3am with the night horrors.

You might get headaches and/or constipation. That's all part of your body detoxing. Drink lots of water, fresh juices and smoothies.

You may be a bit (or a lot) tetchy and snappy. Like a bad case of PMT.  Try to avoid taking on anything too crucial or stressful over the next week or two.

You'll constantly think about drinking. Or not drinking. And, generally, the more you try NOT to think about something, the more you do.

I found that the best thing to do is to indulge the obsession - at least initially. I read endless books, articles and blogs about drinking. My favourite drinking memoirs are Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story and Sarah Hepola's Blackout. For great drinking fiction read Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, or Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes.

3. Find Some Friends

It's really difficult to quit drinking on your own. You might be lucky and have someone 'in real life' who's doing it with you. The problem with that, however, is if they cave they're likely to take you down with them. And they might not need to quit as much as you do....

Luckily, there's a huge amount of help online - a whole Soberverse!

Why not sign up to where you'll find huge amounts of help and support, or the wonderful Facebook community of Club Soda at

There's a fabulous group of sober people on Instagram too. You can find me @clare_pooley, and check out @soberdave, @soberfishie, @janeyleegrace, @sober_and_social, @thegaysober and many more.

There's also AA. I have to confess that I've still not been myself, but they've helped millions of people and saved endless lives. With AA you get all the help and support you'd get online plus real hugs, not just virtual ones.

4. Be good to yourself

You are doing a phenomenal thing. And it's not easy. So, for the next few weeks at least, don't try to do anything else. Don't worry about dieting, about getting a new job or redecorating the house. Just concentrate, for the moment, on NOT DRINKING!

Give yourself some rewards - you deserve them. And you're saving money! Eat cake. Drink lots of hot chocolate (it has magical properties - you'll see). Have hot baths with bubbles and candles. Book a massage. Whatever makes you feel good.

5. Watch out for cravings

You're bound to get them, especially at your main trigger points, like 'wine o'clock' or when you're hungry, tired, stressed or bored. Or pretty much anytime, actually.

Remember - THEY WILL PASS. You just need to distract yourself for as long as it takes.

Bake cookies. Or, the more healthy option, do some exercise. Go for a long walk, or a run. Getting away from the fridge or any drinking environment is a good idea.

Have a hot bath. Check out the SoberMummy Facebook page here for daily information and inspiration ('like page' to stay updated). Log onto Soberistas, Club Soda (see above) or your favourite blog. Take up knitting, colouring, the guitar - whatever works.

6. Wait for the miracles to happen

Just take it one day at a time and you will, slowly slowly, start to see the benefits.

You'll sleep better than you have since childhood. Your eyes will be brighter, skin fresher and hair bouncier. You'll look five years younger.

You'll lose the puffy face and the wine belly. You'll feel calmer and happier.

But the best things about being sober don't happen in the first month. They keep on coming, over the weeks, months and years.

So don't just do Dry January. Consider making it forever.

Just think about it....

Good luck to you all!

Clare x

By the way, my novel - The Authenticity Project - is out soon! You can pre-order here (UK), or here (USA)

Original post updated on 1/1/2020


  1. Thanks SM and Happy New Year for everyone here. I usually spend some time around about now reflecting on what went well in the past year and what needs to be done in the coming one. I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to say 2017 was the year I quit drinking. It ranks up there with the very best decisions of my life. There are just so many positive and good things that flow from that decision.

    In 2018, well, I'll be keeping an eye on the wine witch trying to tell me I can now drink in moderation ( ha!). Otherwise looking forward to doing a lot of things that I should have done years ago, if I wasn't permanently anaethsthetised with alcohol. Also, I have three shirts that I haven't fit in for years. One down already, and its definitely looking good for me to get into the size M ( slim fit ) before too long.

    Thanks again for the blog SM, and the book. I'll be watching your stellar rise with keen interest :)



  2. Thank you SM. Just what I needed to read right now. PDTG

  3. "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  4. Thanks for posting over a busy time. Happy New Year to you and your family! Xxx

  5. Happy New Year from a long time lurker and also fourth time trier to give up the dreaded wine. I am determined this will be the year it happens, I am fully armed and ready to go! xx

  6. Happy new year everyone! The things that got me through the early weeks of giving up were, Jason vales book Kick the drink, hot chocolate, becks blue, early nights, and of course this blog which was my go to read anytime I had a spare minute. After the first few days I decided that I wanted to focus more on being healthy and exercise and that also helped to boost my mood and keep me on the right track if ever I felt tempted to stray and start drinking again. I did lots of challenges like 10k runs and a tough mudder, by focusing on those it distracted me from thinking about drinking and just kept me focused. My life has changed beyond belief and I feel the healthiest I have ever done! My only regret is that I didn’t stop sooner. Thanks sm for posting and happy new year! Xxxxx

  7. I keep trying to comment but it doesn’t seem to be publishing. Sorry if this appears several times! I’m doing Dry January and hope to succeed this time round - I need to. Annie from A Dappled Path x

  8. Happy New Year and Dry January :-) I used to 'do' January regularly, all the while counting the days till I could drink again. When I gave up for good (!) I had changed my mind set to counting the days getting greater and greater whilst feeling betterer and betterer!! As above .. Not looking at the whole staircase. 30 days, then 60 and before you know it you are at 100 and changes are occurring :-)
    Jason Vale was a pivotal read for me, I then had the luck to come across SM and her team of readers who are all so supportive and honest ... So if you are here already, you are in safe hands .. X

  9. Wait for the miracles to happen ... what a perfect description! They really do happen -- I am living proof. 💕

  10. Loving the book. I've made it through day 1 though I had to resort to cleaning the windows to keep myself busy! Now feel extremely tired but I know that I will find it hard to sleep. I'm determined to persevere even though at the moment it's more 1 hour at a time rather than 1 day at a time. Very small steps! Thank you SM for inspiring me.

  11. Good luck to everyone embarking on Dry January. It really is worth it.

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  13. Just finished your book in 2 days and I’ll probably re-read over and over! Dry jan normally results in wet Feb but maybe this is the year xx

  14. Well, two tadio shows in a day. I heard the first on R4 this morning from my beloved M4 (I’ve changed- no swearing). Next was Steve Wright. Your book will be on my Kindle tonight. Clearly I need some further guidance and inspiration so I’ll be back haunting my favourite blogs, hi Ginger, DP, TWTIK, Red. Really well done SM. Please tell me they fidn’t Offer you a drink in the green room? Love and hugs.


  15. Sorry SM, been away too long and struggling with posting.


  16. (Northwoman here): Oh my! Just listened to the BBC afternoon interview. May I step outside my midwest USA self and say....Bloody Brilliant!! (Hope that translates as a compliment!). Such a great interview, you came across sooooo well, sounded just as you do when we all sit here at our typepads and 'listen' to you (via keystrokes).
    Well done, friend!

  17. Just finished your audiobook! I’m sure I’ll listen again. So many relatable moments. Today is day 30-something..... it’s not been easy but I feel so proud. The wine witch is real. Don’t know that she’ll ever shut the fuck up. Sorry, I know you’re not a fan of cursing lol

  18. Was in the car wash of all places listening to you on Steve wrights show.I downloaded your book onto the kindle and about half way through it now(im loving it) im so so scared to do this i love a drink i really do but again can't do it in moderation ( only have one bottle then can stop) but i cant,i am only 3 days in to stopping and the wine witch is calling.Wish me so much luck I'll try my damnest to beat this thank you for a wonderful book xx happy new year

  19. Just came across your blog through your radio interviews.
    I used to drink a bottle a night and I've reduced it to just weekends and social occasions, but I would love to stop that too as I find I'm waking up stupidly early on a Saturdays and feel groggy all weekend when that need not be the case. I associate a Friday night with a celebration that it's the end of the working week and I can't imagine not doing that - so I will try Dry January and see if I can carry it on!
    Is there a post here to help deal with 'mummy meet ups' that are basically a call to get drunk? It seems my social life is basically just mums getting together to drink and I'm not sure how I could do that and not drink! Even book club is just a guise for wine club! Will I still get invited out?!
    Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  20. Hey Clare, you won't remember me but I worked you briefly at JWT and your brother was a client of mine at Leo Burnett. Heard you last week on Woman's Hour which led me to checking out your book and blog. For the record, I've been sober for 25 years after having a serious drink problem - that's advertising for you. Great to hear your story. Keep writing and Seedlipping. Best. Simon Brooks (worked with Blaise)

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