The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Michelle Gleaves Headshot

How Completing a Dryathlon Helped Me Grow Up

Posted: Updated:

On 1 January this year I woke up in the same way as half of the UK's adult population, nursing my half-hungover, half-still-drunk self in the foetal position.

This wasn't a one-off for me, it was an occurrence that went hand in hand with student life - drinking to excess followed by instant regret the next day.

On New Year's Eve, my friend told me about his plans to quit drinking for the next month. At first I though it was a ridiculous mission, an impossible task even, but before I knew it I had taken it upon myself to do the same, albeit after a lot of debate and advice from others.

I started the month sceptical and worried. What if I couldn't finish it? What if my social life diminished into nothing? What if I raised money but had to give it all back because I couldn't stay away from booze?

Alcohol was my crutch at social gatherings, the magic potion that made me forget if I said or did something stupid the night before. I had never stepped into a nightclub sober before, ever.

But one month on I can say that my Everest was a mere bump in the road. I didn't miss alcohol, even though I felt obliged to tell people I did.

In that time, I went clubbing for my boyfriend's 21st, we celebrated our one year anniversary without a champagne toast, I went to our student union. For years I'd scared myself into drinking out of fear I wouldn't have a good time.

Before my month away from the tipple, I was very self-aware about how young and immature I was. Now I feel as though I am actually an adult. Someone who can have one drink and mean one, who can have a diet Coke instead of a shot of vodka at a busy venue, who doesn't feel obliged to stay out if in fact they want to go home.

Being sober doesn't mean being boring, it means being aware about what you're doing and not regretting things you said or did from the dreaded dutch courage the night before.

I wouldn't say this is the end for me and alcohol, but it is the end of me drinking solely for the purpose of getting drunk. No more dirty pints, no joining in with the ridiculous and dangerous internet sensation that is #neknominate, no more predrinking to save money and then spend stupid amounts anyway.

It may have started off as an impossible task for charity, but it became so much more than that. January 2014 was the month that I grew up.

You can donate to Michelle's Dryathlon page at: www.justgiving.co.uk/michellegleaves

Around the Web

Dryathlon | Cancer Research UK

Dryathlon tools and ideas | Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK's Dryathlon | Facebook

Health charities encourage drinkers to abstain from alcohol in ...

CRUK's Dryathlon (dryathlon) on Twitter

Dryathlon Diary Week Three - New Balls Please!

Dryathlon Diary Week 1 - Go Dry or Go Home?

Bloggers' best of 2013: CRUK's Dryathlon

Last chance to take on Dryathlon for Cancer Research UK

Last chance for Northamptonshire men and women to take on Dryathlon for ...