Top tips on giving up alcohol please??

I have decided to stop drinking in preparation for my HM in October. I drink ALOT and I am really aware that it hinders me considerably. The worst was when I am sure I was breathing pure alcohol over my fellow parkrunners....

The first day was yesturday, I have bought a packet of herbal tea ( time to party eh!!!!!)

Any help or tips to survive very welcome....Thankyou



53 Replies

  • Is it wise, or even preferable, to give up totally? Better surely to limit yourself to a given amount per day, and then perhaps abstain a day or two before the big day.

    The problem is finding something to drink instead of wine with an evening meal. I'm not really a beer drinker ('southern softie' I can hear our northern firends snorting... ;) ) and every non-alcoholic alternative seems so artificial and sickly. Fruit juice and tonic is a possible pre-prandial drink but then what? Some ciders are pleasant during the day, but can have quite a high alcohol content.

    No, I think that moderation is the answer. Here in France their laisser-faire approach is sometimes surprising. The drivers in the historic car races at the Circuits des Remparts in Angouleme have access to a free bar, but are advised to be moderate if they are racing that day. Seems to work OK... :)

  • Brilliant advice, thankyou... My plan also combines a financial saving too!! I only drink red wine and alot!!! I will see how I go. I don't like fruit juice- too sweet so I may get fizzy water..??

    Hope your hamstring injury is better??? Take care

  • Tonic water has a slight bitterness which negates the sweetness of the fruit juice to some extent (of course, fresh orange juice is nicer still).

    But, reading below, if you are concerned that it's taking over a bit, then abstinence for a period is a good way to go - if only to prove to yourself that you have it under control. And, as you point out, you'll feel better on the mornings after and save a bit of money (in theory at least). And it'll definitely help your HM prep (which is an amazing achievement in itself and one of which I am in awe).

    Talking about edging towards 50 (horror!), this might be of interest -

  • Thankyou...and I just read that that is totally inspiring, and a real inspiration to spur me on!!!!

  • what about Cranberry Juice mixed with fizzy water, then you can pretend its red wine LOL

    Personally, I would just go for the moderation option LOL x

  • That sounds sort of nice , can't say I'm mad on that stuff but thankyou!!

  • I always have plain water with my meals... To be honest, I hardly drink anything else. And I love it!!!!

    Perhaps you could try and moderate your alcohol intake by just drinking when someone else is around (and then, of course, don't drink more than one or two glasses). I drink a glass of wine or beer every...2 to 4 weeks without any conscious attempt to keep my intake that low, I simply don't have cravings. Oh, and I never drink when I'm alone (I would feel a bit poor if I did).

    I hope you find a way to lower your intake :)

  • I am convinced I don't need it- that is really inspirational and I know I will still be just as naughty, I don't need alcohol to do that!!! Thankyou !!!

  • Hmm, difficult one. Mrs OldNed and I used to have a glass of red every weekday night and regarded it as our 'medicine'. Good for the heart, don't ya know. Then there was the Friday night G&T (supplemented, because it's still a weekday, innit, by the glass of red) and the decent bottle on Saturday night. Makes us sound like a couple of dipsos. It all adds up of course, and in calorie terms as much as alcohol terms. So we, or mostly Mrs ON, decided to cut back. She now doesn't have any during the week and I, mostly, don't either. It's certainly helped us lose weight, and we're spending less too. And haven't become noticeably grumpier either. We didn't use substitutes, just went cold turkey (which is a very nice Bourbon, by the way!). But if you wanted a substitute - Rooibos Earl Grey tea is, rather to our surprise, very palatable.

  • Thanks Oldned that is exactly why I don't want to anymore... We are fed up of having no money, fed up of always feeling groggy in the morning and I just want to look after my body to keep it tip top as I edge towards 50!!!!! MR juicyju is joining me but he's not doing quite so well!!

  • Don't make arrangements to meet strange men in pubs.

  • Good point!!!!!

  • I gave up completely for four weeks a few years ago and it felt amazing - brilliant sleep in particular. It wasn't amazing enough for me to give up forever, though it has been easy to keep a much lower limit and have more alcohol free days after knowing that I can live happily without it.

    Some tips for giving up for a period: 1) Get all alcohol out of the house; 2) identify social situations where you will fin it very hard to not drink and avoid them for a few weeks until habits are broken; 3) If you can, tell your friends what you are doing and you may be surprised how much others will help (or even want to join in)

  • I agree with Julia. Each to their own but i knew that i could not cut down - it had to be all or nothing. A glass of wine was just a taster I had to drink the full bottle. I had been drinking fairly regularly most nights for over 40 years. On average i would drink a bottle of wine 5 days a week while abstaining on the other 2. My wife was concerned about my drinking stating that i was an alcoholic and to cut down. I said that i would give up for a month. . I actually gave up for 100 days. I now drink a bottle of wine 1 or 2 days a week. I also do the local weekly 5k park run which helps as i try to abstain from drinking 2 or 3 days before the event. I once did turn up totally drunk and ran my slowest time of 24:00 well below my normal times probably because i wasn't running in a straight line, although i did feel sober by the end of the run.

  • Fantastic response.... And so true of me too, I can drink that and more..... Not good and I've started to worry I have a problem. It numbs the difficult stuff in life but I've decided that I just need to deal with it.... Day 3 now and that's saying something as its the weekend!!!! I wish my slowest parkrun time was 24.... I'm aiming for a tad under 30 today!!!! Well done you...

  • Great tips, thankyou... And there is never any in the house anyway as we just drink it, and we lead crazy lives and rarely get out socially so that's not a problem either!!!! Oh dear now you all know what a sad life I lead!!!!

  • Half juice, half fizzy water is a really refreshing drink and stops the juice being so sweet. If it's orange juice, a few drops of Angustura bitters added can make it a bit more exotic. Good luck! Think of the money and calorie savings.

  • Ill look for that angostura stuff, never heard of it, thankyou!!

  • Tonic with angostura bitters is a fair alternative, have it in a good glass as if it was a single malt whiskey. Or a wine glass if that fits more readily into the hand.

    But personally, moderation is a good way to go.

  • Thankyou, good advice!!

  • I did this during the pre-graduation phase of C25k and it made a real difference.

    There's no magic solution but you need to have a good reason for doing this so that you'll stand a chance.

    Mine was a determination to graduate well and a bit of a competitive nature.

    Post run, just stick to water and have some distractions so you don't think about the red wine.

    Clear the house of temptation before you start so you give yourself a fighting chance.

    Have some different drinks around that you haven't tried before (non-alcoholic).

    Accept the fact that you may carry on drinking but that this is about reduction.

    Realise it will take some time.

    Finally, have a sense of humour about it.

  • Brilliant advice thankyou, and I am very determined to succeed on this HM and this is part of my plan. Because if the fact that I'm a very determined person only IF I want something then hopefully that will drive me through......thankyou!!

  • We used to have a drink every night for years. Decided three years ago that it had to stop and just went cold turkey. We still drink at weekends, and I now average between ten and fifteen units a week which I am quite happy with.

    I actually don't like drinking at all on a work night now as it makes me feel noticeably more lethargic next morning! X

  • That sounds very sensible and I am really hoping I will see a difference, after my HM I will aim for that!!

  • Hi Juicyju, Sometimes I feel just like you are describing - then I do the "drink only at weekends" thing and it helps and I lasts - ooh maybe 3 weeks before the numbers of days per week creep back up.

    Have you seen the McMillan "Go Sober for October" challenge? I just looked at it and am half tempted as I know it's good for me although I don't know about the fundraising bit. If you want a look the website is

    Good luck!

  • Yes I had seen it and good idea.....We have tried that so many times and the 'days off' just creep up so easily!!!! Thankyou

  • Malcy...Wonderful words and they do so resonate with me. I won't tell you what I worked out as saving - more than your £80.00 ( did you REALLY spend that much on sweets???) on my red wine. I would love a new car, my slutty skoda is sulking having failed its MOT ( I didn't realise not being able to open the door was an automatic fail). I would so love a holiday too. So taking your advice I am going to put my favourite pic I have ripped out of Vogue of Jane Birkin with Serge Gainsbourg

    in France when their kids were young on the fridge: To aim for her beautiful body, and for the beautiful French holiday!!!! Thankyou so much that has spurred me on....I will have to save my chocolate addiction ( Freddo frogs) for a later date!!!!!!

  • You and I are extremely similar. I too gorge on red wine every night and after concerns that my weight is increasing very very slightly I have decided to knock it on the head for a bit. It's sooooo lovely and relaxing having about 5 glasses of red in the evening but I'm sure it's just one of those habits that needs breaking. I'm gonna join you. Let's see how it goes......yikes!

  • So naughty aren't we, but such a slippery thats great that you are too, someone to spur me on, and I will you..... check out Malcy's suggestions, get that pic of your desires on the fridge!!!!

    I went for a lovely lunch at the Lido today with a great friend. We drank our green tea and had far more fun than all the others quaffing back their huge glasses of red.....Well done you, lets go for it!!!

  • Great to see so many people supportive on this one. I went through exactly the same issue - drinking pretty much every night and I also thought it was hindering my running. I looked at my calendar and chose a fortnight with very few drinking opportunities and I refused to accept any further invitation to drink during that time. I only drank for two evenings over two weeks. Since then I have made sure that I have at least 3 days off a week and tried to moderate what I drink on other days. The running is a real motivation. I did have quite a bit to drink last Sunday and, combined with not very much sleep that evening, I failed my w7r1 run on Monday - the first run I'd failed of the programme. So now I'm careful to have no or limited alcohol the day before I run!

  • well done you, it does really make a difference doesn't it???

  • I am going to do the go sober for October. Staying in a hotel all week is doing nothing to help me cut down. For me it is whisky. Easily two bottles in a month.

    Hope this will help with weight loss and general health.

    Good luck.


  • Are you going to change your name?

  • well done...when I first read that I thought you'd said 2 bottles a night!!! Good luck you too.

  • Hey Jju,

    Wow, look at you with all the personal challenges and goals!

    The minute I tell myself I can't have something, I crave it with a vengence. I find myself NEEDING to have the banned item (whether it be sweets, alcohol or crisps) and probably end up having more as a result!

    For this reason, I suggest palying a wee mind game with yourself, saying that you're not abstaining from alcohol, and then each time you want a glass of red, choosing to say no (if it feels like a choice, it might feel easier to say no).

    I was sober for all of September and most of August due to financial reasons (holidays, car insurance and a million birthdays, weddings and babies to buy for all in one month) and set myself the goal of enjoying normal nights out without alcohol. I became slightly addicted to being the designated driver, but staying out as late, dancing just as much and partying just as hard as my drinking pals but with the smugness of being hangover free and healthier the next day (no post-alcohol carb binges either!).

    Now that payday has arrived, it will most likely be a different story, but just give it a go and see how you get on, try to think about the benefits of not drinking, but don't berate yourself for the odd glass either. Good luck!

  • well done, and yes its a real drain on the finances too....very very sensible advice too, thankyou!!

  • Great topic - it's something a lot of us struggle with but maybe don't want to mention in public! And you're so right about the financial side of things, it can be frightening to think back and tot up the cost!!

    Keeping alcohol out of the house is a good idea & try and make sure your route home from work doesn't offer the opportunity to stop and get any! Communities like this can help as it gives you an accountability to others - there is a podcast where someone details their struggles with giving up here :-

    I've reviewed it here :-

    Good luck!!!!!

  • Thanks podcasts that's really helpful!

  • I've been where you are.

    For some people, cutting down in one way or another is an adequate option but I knew that this just wasn't going to work for me. Sooner rather than later, I'd drift back to where I started.

    By luck or good design, I read a book "Easy Way To Control Alcohol" by Alan Carr and totally changed the way I think about alcohol. I haven't touched a drop since.

    The Kindle version is about £4, about the same as a bottle of wine. I'd highly recommend it insofar as it worked for me; I hope it does for you too.

  • Oh wow I might get that but bizarrely I'm doing ok.... Day 6 now .... I can't remember the last time I went this long and I feel fine!!!!

  • I quit smoking 10 years ago with his book! Amazing! Changed the way I thought about smoking too and I never looked back. Never a craving, never a sly one since! :)

  • I have been down that road. I started by telling myself 6 weeks to abstain. That's how long it takes the liver to recover. I then went on a did a total abstain for 12 weeks. Since then I have never gone back to what I call full time. I will have an odd glass here and there. If I am at home I have a 125 ml (I have a proper pub measure) and normally only have no more than 2. If I go out I try and steady myself. I'm not saying I've never had a hangover again but I never drink 2 two days in a row. That's a definite rule now. On the initial giving up I craved sweet stuff to replace the sugar. So I had a couple of boiled sweets but tried not to over do it and also (sounds strange). I took up sewing. I am terrible at it and have never done it since but it kept my hands busy. It's a bit like giving up smoking you don't realise when you like a wine at night you are so used to holding the glass. Good luck but most of don't stress

  • Wow that's so sensible and sewing is a great idea. I did alot of patchwork when I was off work ill for a year and made everyone their Christmas presents as I had no money!!!!!!

  • Brilliant Topic. I'm new to this forum but had to reply as i can totally relate to it. I am now in smug mode as i still drink to excess but only when i want too not out of need, habit or necessity. I then read some of your other blogs jj and you are truly inspirational, giving up alcohol for october should be soooooo easy for you. I wish i could make the effort to get up at 5.30 to go running. How do you manage to run the distances that you do every week ? I pat myself on the back if i ever do as much as 10 miles a week. I thought that you must be an accomplished runner but no you only started this year. You are even going to do a half marathon I think i read somewhere. I thought that you must be very fortunate not to have any injuries or ailments but no again did i read that you had some form of arthritis ? As well as this you have a demanding job plus children to raise. You are going to feel so good in yourself and about yourself at the end of October. However badly you need that drink in the evening for what ever reason avoid it, it only takes one drink to fail - you'll be pleased in the morning if you don't. Your my role model JJ you can't let me down.

  • Wow- fantastic words thankyou so much.... Lthink we have all had our fair share of life's troubles and for me running has just been what I needed... I should be out there now but I felt I needed my time in bed....!!!! It's been 6 days now and so far so good.... I realised too that panthers don't drink either.....!!

  • Hi sorry no advice for you stopped drinking as my kids are still quite little and wake up at night and I felt I need to be Tiptop to deal with them ! (Ps kids much dearer than wine) but just wanted to wish you luck

  • Well done.... When mine were little it was the wine that helped although I did drink less then especially when breast feeding, although it helped that too as I relaxed more!!!!!!

  • my wife used to drink a fair bit of sherry when she was breast feeding. She called it her Bristol Cream. It was great they used to sleep for hours afterwards.

  • I drink too much when I get stressed. Gin or whiskey. I do try to keep it all in moderation. I'm too old to afford to loose the next day feeling terrible. What helps me is my job. When a third if the patients are in with alcohol related problems I suddenly find I go right off drink, no matter how bad things are.

  • Yes that must have an effect on your outlook... When I used to work in A and E as a nurse in London I was really quite shocked at how many people came in with alcohol related problems.... Really sad. Really good advice, thankyou......

  • I've quit on numerous occasions and for varying reasons. Sometimes for up to a year.

    It's all about your outlook. Sometimes nights out were very hard especially when everyone else is drunk. They get very annoying. Other times I've thrown myself into the spirit of it all and had some of the best nights ever. Plus I have all my memories intact and don't suffer the next day.

    I rarely drink now as I'm getting older and the party lifestyle is less frequent. Most of the time I'm in a pub now is more for eating than drinking. And then I'm happy with tea or soft drinks. I would prefer a run to a hangover now anyway so it doesn't bother me.

    In fact for the last few months I have been toying with quitting forever. But I put it off for someones wedding or birthday or Christmas...

    I wish you lots of luck and hope you gain a lot from your experience.

    Keep us updated. :)

  • Hi JuicyJu,

    First of all, really well done on your six days ...almost seven now !

    Keeping hands busy helps, rather than just relaxing in front of a good film on telly...some things just make you want to automatically reach out for the wine bottle..... so if you are sewing , knitting , crocheting..... now, before you say the sentence including the words "hell, freeze and over " ....these things are really cool now !!!

    I taught myself to crochet with t'internet nearly two years ago now and have recently re-learned to have to stay sober otherwise everything you do ends up being ripped out the next day because of the mistakes and dropped stitches.

    I still tipple , though I'm coming round more and more to thinking of knocking it on the head....hangovers are even less fun as you get older :( and I'm sure my running would benefit.

    Lots and lots of luck ....the longer you go without ,the easier it gets ( I stopped for over six months when I went to WW some years ago ...didn't miss it ,even over Christmas...and never been as thin since :) Not sure why I started*t happened I expect ).

  • Top tips required. Well, I found a very helpful thing to do was to set a particular month or length of time. Then I started a diary and tick chart, and just seeing the ticks start to cover the page gave me a huge buzz (sad I know) I told myself that if I drank I would have to start all over again. If you see a hell of a lot of ticks and feel that you;ve gone back to square one it does prevent you from having a drink. Also I wrote a comment every night on the chart/diary to say how hard or easy it had been, or anything that I noticed that was different. I also marked each day out of 10. 10 was that I found it really difficult and almost caved in and drank and 1 was it was dead easy and I didn't even think about drinking. It was fascinating looking back over the diary as time went on and at the end of the 80 days. It gets easier for sure.

    I loved being sober in the end. I loved the feeling of having complete control, feeling clear headed in the mornings and feeling fitter than ever.

    Then I went on holiday and thought that I would be able to drink in moderation. To be honest I did for a while, but now I'm pretty much back to how it was before. I think that now I;ve started running again I will feel less inclined to open the wine. We'll see.

    Good luck with whether you chose to moderate or cut it out completely, both will require support so let us know how you get on. The number of replies on here show just how common this issue is, and it's good to know that you;re not the only one going through the worries of drinking too much.

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