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I quit alcohol for three months – here's what happened

Hattie MacAndrews saw unexpected results from giving up drinking

Young woman in a blue dress holding up two drinks
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It's no secret that (excessively) drinking alcohol damages our health and wellbeing.

It deprives us of sleep, saps our energy, wreaks havoc with our complexion and generally makes us feel bad. So why do we continue to drink?

Despite having a healthy relationship with alcohol, I had found myself getting sucked into the pressure of 'just one more', wasting days feeling hungover and just generally feeling flat.

young woman sitting on the sofa with a coffee
Hattie MacAndrews decided to see how quitting drinking impacted her health

On a mission to improve all of the above and take control of my relationship with alcohol, I set out to do one month alcohol-free.

Why did I quit drinking?

I set myself the challenge to stop drinking immediately after a painful breakup, a time I knew I would be leaning on alcohol more than usual. As a society, we have normalised using alcohol to regulate our emotions – and are reliant on it for both celebrations and commiserations.

Removing it when I was emotional and seeking comfort hugely increased the intensity and difficulty of the challenge. It meant that I really had to really feel the discomfort and confront those ugly thoughts.

Young woman in a blue dress holding up two drinks
Hattie MacAndrews realised she'd rely on drinking during a difficult time

Without a glass of wine in hand, there was no way to avoid feeling my feelings – whether I wanted to or not. In hindsight, this was the absolute best thing I could have done in the long run. It gave me complete clarity of thought, and I was fully in control of healing the way I needed to, without that boozy fog hanging over me.

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What happened when I quit alcohol?

Like with so many other habits we try to change or break, the beginning was the hardest part.

Once I knew I couldn't have a drink, it was all I wanted to do. My mind was fixated on not being allowed to have something that was so readily available to me. I started longing for an alcoholic drink at times I would have never previously considered it.

Brunette woman smiling for the camera
Hattie MacAndrews found the first few weeks of no drinking were hardest

This sense of being denied was the toughest battle, but once I had pushed through the first seven to 10 days, my mindset started to shift as I began to feel the benefits of being alcohol-free.

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How did I feel when I quit drinking?

Within the first month, I started to feel a lot better than I had in a long time.

I noticed that drinking alcohol was often the catalyst for a series of bad decisions, all of which played a role in negatively impacting my health. So once drinking had been removed, my sleep improved tenfold, I was waking up with more energy in the mornings, I was making better choices and my skin looked a lot fresher.

hattie headshot
Hattie MacAndrews felt better after quitting alcohol

I felt so much happier and healthier in myself that I decided to continue alcohol-free for as long as it was working for me. Removing the time limit for me was helpful and once there was no pressure on reaching a target or completing a goal, the decision to not drink carried less weight and became a part of my routine.

As a social drinker, I knew the biggest hurdle would be to enjoy a social situation without drinking. Thankfully through my work as a confidence coach, I had helped many clients with this in the past so had a helpful list of tips and tricks to make the process easier.

My top 5 tips to quit drinking

1. Be clear on your 'why'

This is the most important part of setting and achieving any goal. Having clarity on your motivation for cutting out alcohol is what will keep you going when it gets tough.

Deciding that you want to complete a fitness challenge or just have enough energy to run around after your grandkids - that’s what will keep you on track (as opposed to just doing something because you feel you should).

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2. Find a buddy

Accountability is key when it comes to sticking to your goals. Either find someone who wants to give up (or cut down!) to do it with you, or tell someone close to you that this is your new goal. Having someone to confide in and keep you motivated will ultimately increase your chances of success.

3. Be specific and realistic 

Are you looking to cut out alcohol completely or just cut down? How long will are you willing to commit to? You have to be clear on your goal and take into account how realistic it might be for you at any given time. It's OK to be flexible and start with small steps – for example, it might be more realistic for you to stop drinking during the week to begin with.

4. Make a plan

Before a social engagement, it can be really useful to come up with a strategy and know how you're going to approach the event. It's completely up to you whether you want to tell people that you're not drinking, but know that this can open up a line of questioning – and sometimes peer pressure.

If you're not ready for this, you can easily and discreetly swap your drinks for an alcohol-free alternative. I would often drink soda and lime – without anyone needing to know there was no vodka or gin inside.

 READ: 24 of the best alcohol-free and low-alcohol drinks 

5. Persevere

Cutting out or down on alcohol can be difficult, but the health benefits really do outweigh the initial struggle. Stick with it. Once you notice all areas of your life feeling elevated and overall health improving, it’s hard to look back.

I ended up not drinking for three months, and it was the best decision I ever made! You don’t have to do it forever, so why not try it for a couple of weeks and see how you get on?

If you are concerned about your relationship with alcohol then please do seek professional help

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