Forty odd father of two trying to find out his place in the universe. When not working for the man, can be found playing with his children and binge watching Netflix

Posts by McD

Mc D stops going to pubs

Attitude change

As time went on I found that I naturally started to drift away from going to pubs.  Sure I still go out and socialise in them, but if there are other options I will take them first.  I find that I can catch up with friends better just by going for a good walk and a cup of coffee.

I stopped being brainwashed

I stopped the brain washing that automatically assumes that being with friends involves alcohol.  It does take some time. I did have one or two setbacks, but all they did was remind me just how much I hated hangovers and how booze left me feeling rotten about myself.

Unexpected Surprise

Along with a lot of people, one of the reasons I started drinking to begin with was to combat shyness. I realise I am a lot older now and a lot less shy as a consequence.  I have found that through socialising without booze, I have become a lot more comfortable in my own skin and am confident in any social situation.  Meeting new people in new places was sometimes intimidating to me without the crutch of alcohol.  Meeting people without drinking has allowed my natural self to blossom and grow and my true nature has been allowed to develop fully.

Did I mention money?

Although it was n’t the main motivation to stop drinking, I noticed straight away just how much money I was saving by not drinking.  Not getting into rounds, no taxis, no expensive wine with meals and no drunk internet shopping meant a lot healthier bank account.  As a consequence I have been able to treat myself to a few luxuries I would have not dared buy when boozing.  The irony is n’t wasted on me, year after year I squandered pots of cash by drinking it, while thinking I was unable to afford something I really wanted.


Overall I found socialising without alcohol tricky at first, having a plan on what to drink and what to say to people when questioned is very important.  Making it a rule that drinking is just not an option and sticking to this rule solidified the decision in my mind and gave me strength in times of discomfort. 

Going to pubs does not bother me

Having said that in the beginning, I only went to events that really appealed to me so I would not be in constant temptation and I also removed alcohol from my home.  Now I am less inclined to go to pubs and when I do it really does not bother me to be around people drinking when I am not.  I thought to get to this stage would never happen to me.  Experiencing all the benefits of stopping drinking, let me know that I am missing nothing at all.

Editor’s note

Mc D does a lot of things right. He

  • Listens to what he needs
  • He makes a plan
  • Initially he avoids events unless he really wants to go
  • He accepts he will make mistakes and does not blame himself for them
  • He uses the money he saves to buy things he really likes
  • When he’s more confident, he starts going to pubs again-when he really wants to!

Photo Background photo created by jcomp –

Mc D discovers socialising sober can be done in Ireland

When I initially stopped drinking I was very nervous about going out and socialising sober. Without the crutch of alcohol would I survive?  I was sure that I would be bored senseless and also be judged boring by those around me.  However, I was determined to go about my life as normal as possible and I didn’t want to live like a hermit now that I had put down the drink.

Preparation is key

On the occasions that I did go out, I was well prepared beforehand.  I knew what I was going to drink. I also had a backup drink to fall back to if my preferred alcohol free option was not available.  I choose to drink alcohol free beers. I found they gave a good sense of beery satisfaction and were a godsend in the early days.  By filling my glass with a beer it stopped unwanted attention from people enquiring into my drinking status. Socialising sober wasn’t something that I wanted to broadcast in the early days as I wasn’t yet comfortable with my new change in lifestyle.

Growing in confidence

Every time, I socialised sober without alcohol at an event that would have been a drinking event in the past, my confidence grew.  Initially, I had dreaded socialising without the crutch of booze, but then I began to look forward to being able to drive to an event. I could enjoy meeting people, engaging with them properly and driving home afterwards, knowing full well I would wake up refreshed the following morning.  I also discovered that if a situation was boring alcohol added nothing to it.  People would just get drunk and get even more boring/morose/ argumentative as the night went on.

Questions and Answers

After some time I couldn’t hide the fact that I was no longer drinking.  I had built it up in my mind that the people in my life would be extremely interested in this new change and would be trying to get me to drink at any occasion.  Two things happened.  The first was that people were supportive and just said “fair play” and would only mention it again in passing to see if I was still not drinking.  

A mirror to our own drinking?

Others would feel the need to tell me that they do not drink that much and so there would be no point in them giving up.  It’s often said that when we stop drinking it holds up a mirror to other drinkers. It forces them to confront their own relationship with alcohol.  If they are not that comfortable with their drinking, they usually feel the need to explain or deny their drinking habits.

People are more wrapped in their own worlds

I have also discovered that people are just generally more wrapped in their own worlds than I realised.  It was quite narcissistic of me to think that they would be overly concerned with me kicking the drink.

Staying strong  & socialising sober

Having said that on one or two occasions, when I was socialising sober, I did get people looking at me as if I had lost my marbles and told me that it would only be a matter of time.  Only once did I get a person who asked me outright if I was an alcoholic and I treated this comment with the contempt it deserved.

Editor’s note

You can see that preparation is key to managing an alcohol free  social life. Mc D thought carefully about the situations he could handle and took it at a pace that suited him. He used alcohol free beers until he was comfortable saying he did not drink. In his case most people were supportive but when he got a bad reaction from people he did not take it on board. He realised it was the other person’s problem not his.

Mc D continues to not drink

Mistakes are seen as learning

I decide to continue to not drink and extend my challenge to 365 days and yes I did slip up, make mistakes, but I got up and dusted myself off again.  I realised that making mistakes was normal and were a great way to learn more about myself and also how to safeguard myself from future blowouts.  I became obsessed with all things alcohol free.

I did not drink. I did n’t need it

I listened to podcasts, read as much quit lit as I could get my hands on.  This newfound freedom and perspective on life had given me real zeal to absorb more information and strengthen my resolve. Stopping drinking was not a chore it was a revelation.  I attended many social occasions and didn’t need to drink.  I began to realise that for the first time, alcohol was unnecessary to socialise.  In fact my confidence in myself continued to grow.

I’m still at it

I’m still at it now.  I have joined other sites such as Soberful which is run by two addiction specialists Veronica Valli and Chip Somers who have years of combined experience and were instrumental in getting Russell Brand sober.  The insights they have to addiction are extremely interesting and insightful and have a weekly podcast that I listen to.

Safe places

Another is Soberistas a website started by single mum Lucy Rocca after she gave up drinking and wanted to create a safe place to meet likeminded people with the shared interest of stopping alcohol.

I find a sense of community

My journey continues.  I recently started attending AA.   I realise that it’s not for everybody but with my newfound confidence and willingness to try things with an open mind.  I take what I agree with and leave the rest and have been finding a sense of community in it.

I can never say I will not drink again, it’s a sneaky and insidious drug and I will continue to work on my sobriety and the lease of life it has given me.

What do I think of alcohol now?

What do I think of alcohol now?  I think it just a socially acceptable drug.  We have been programmed to think that alcohol is the answer to life’s problems and society has been hoodwinked by the drinks industry for too long. 

Go for it, it may change your life

It’s a nasty destructive poison that ruins people’s physical and mental health.  Taking that leap of faith and giving up the sauce has got to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I don’t know what the future holds but for me I will looking forward to it alcohol free.  If you’re curious to take a break from alcohol.  Go for it – it may just change your life.

Editor’s note

Mc D approach to AA is spot on. He’s used it to find a sense of community and people he has something in common with. He just takes what he agrees with. He does not accept the AA view, that if he fails it’s him that fails. He does not blame himself, but sees drinking when he does not want to as an opportunity to learn. For a review of AA see here  

If you would like a different type of community try Smart Recovery who focus on not drinking but do not refer to a higher power.

Mc D’s discovers the ups & down of his sober challenge

This week Mc D tells us how he got on with his sober challenge.

Confidence and Anxiety

One of the biggest revelations was in my confidence and anxiety.  I have always felt that deep down alcohol was holding me back and making me jittery. I always used it as a crutch and at times literally hid behind a pint glass when talking to new people, as my self-esteem was so low I felt like a nobody.  Only when I was a couple of pints down would I come out of my shell, slurring my words and thinking I was hilarious.

I was flawed

For a long time, I have believed that I was fundamentally flawed in some way.  I never could muster a lot of self-belief no matter what I accomplished in my life.  I realise these feelings can be caused by a number of different factors but for me alcohol magnified and exaggerated them.

Slip ups, restarts and learning

It wasn’t all plain sailing though, I had to re-start my sober challenge a number of times before I really started to get some alcohol free time behind me.  As time progressed it became easier, life was shinier and I started to feel good about myself.  The program not only got me to stop drinking but looked at other areas of my life that could be improved.

I no longer dreaded Monday mornings

In no time, I had started a regular mindfulness practise.  I started journaling and increased my exercise.  Anxiety that had been a constant in my life began to disappear.  I no longer dreaded Monday morning and went into work with a spring in my step. I slept better and started to love early mornings.

I had to start dealing with emotions

I also had to start dealing with emotions and feelings that I would normally have repressed with alcohol. This for me was a steep learning curve and it is something I am working on to this day.  Overall my confidence started to drastically improve and for the first time in a long time I started to feel comfortable and happy in my own skin.

Attempts at Moderation

I tried moderating alcohol after a slip up.  The beer monkey had me convinced that I was not that bad and compared to other people I was practically teetotal.  I understand now that this is common issue when people stop drinking and it’s only the addicted mind trying to rationalise further drinking. 

For me it was pointless

It also took a huge amount of energy to start planning when, where and how much I would drink.  It became emotionally exhausting and the few times that I did try to moderate, I failed.  I had always liked alcohol for the buzz it gave and one or two drinks would inevitably turn to several.  I would then suffer bad sleep, anxiety and the self-loathing hangover the next day.    Trying to moderate would also undermine my new healthy regimes and turn me into an insufferable grump.  In the end it was far easier to just stop completely as I knew it was not possible for me and therefore pointless.

Reduce or take the sober challenge?

Editor’s note

Mc D discovered reducing his drinking just did not work for him. Everybody is different in what works for them. For some people, like Lisa Jean just reducing what they drink can work. If you’re trying to find out whether the sober challenge or moderation is best for you. Click here


My drinking was holding me back

For a number of years after I had woken up after a session, I knew my drinking was holding me back.  Correction, I had always known drinking was holding me back.  I would have considered myself a moderate to heavy drinker.  Mainly drinking at weekends, at home or any occasion,  I was the type that would immediately get the drinks in on any social occasion. Any activity that did not involve knocking back the drinks was boring.

Drinking was holding me back

I had been drinking since my late teens and I found it really helped me to come out of my shell and allowed me to talk to people with confidence which was a revelation for a tongue tied painfully shy young man.  Once I started I never looked back and drinking alcohol was what everyone did and what was expected.  It was great for a while, but then the nagging feeling that this was not good for me was always at the back of my mind.

Questioning my drinking

After a big blowout in August of 2017, I started to question my reasons for drinking and began to loathe the automatic drinking that on the weekend. I realised drinking was holding me back. I had also become more aware of the dangers of alcohol as its general acceptance was being questioned more and more by the media.  I had become a Father and becoming aware of  my mortality and a sense of responsibility towards my children sent me looking for a way to cut down or at least take a break from alcohol.

I was not a problem drinker

A few internet searches later and I found a website that appealed to me.  It was a way to take a break from alcohol that allowed to do so without labelling myself an alcoholic or problem drinker.  Alcoholic in particular having connotations of park benches and methylated spirits and something that was completely alien to me.  After listening to a couple of podcasts and being inspired by the general message I signed up to .  They had a choice of 3 challenges 28,90 or 365 days. I selected 90 as I wanted to test myself with a decent time period and 28 was too short, 365 too long but 90 was in the goldilocks zone.

Challenge Accepted

Apprehensive as I was at the beginning of my challenge I was determined to succeed and was hell bent on engaging the process fully.  After joining I got access to the website and their closed facebook group.  I also started daily e-mail messages with links to videos of co-founder Andy Ramage giving daily tips and trick on how to start, get stuck into and crush the challenge.  I was filled with excitement as the daily mails and the instant community I had joined was filled with inspiring people living an authentic, healthy alcohol free life.  The message was that there was nothing to give up and everything to be gained.

Will McD succeed?

Editor’s Note :

So will Mc D succeed in his quest to give up alcohol?  Well, he’s increased his chance of success in the way he’s approached his problem.

He’s done his research and chosen a way that appeals to him. He has not labelled himself as an alcoholic or problem drinker.

Labels are dangerous

There’s lots of research which shows labels are dangerous. The alcoholic label is really dangerous because as Mc D says we think of park benches. We’ve seen this so often. You’ve got to be homeless and drinking on a park bench to be an alcoholic. The unfair myth alcoholics are really nasty awful people who are causing their own problems.

The alcoholic label is really dangerous

The alcoholic label stops people looking for help. Often, it even stops us getting better as the label is so negative we are defeated before we start. Hard to believe, but we’ve seen how our own beliefs can kill us.

Stop with the labels

So listen to your thoughts. Are you constantly telling yourself you’re a no good alcoholic ? If yes,  it’s time to change the label. Try McD’s approach of not using labels and focus on the positive side, that you’re now trying to manage how much you drink.

Next week, Mc D will describe how he got on.