What I learned about my mental health when I gave up alcohol

Like many Britons, alcohol has played a big part in my life. I’ve used it to socialise and also to self-medicate, but after lockdown I decided it was time to cut it out and start caring for myself, writes Harriet Williamson

<p>After more than 250 days alcohol-free, Harriet Williamson feels like a different person </p>

After more than 250 days alcohol-free, Harriet Williamson feels like a different person

In Britain, we have a specific drinking culture. If you’ve ever been on a British high street after nightfall, or to a pub, or to watch live sport, or to a university, or a holiday destination favoured by Brits, you’ll have seen it. It tends to be immoderate, even excessive, about group identity and one-upmanship. It seems to be volume consumed, rather than about complementing food, as is the case in, say, France.

We drink at virtually every occasion: from weddings, christenings, birthdays and wakes, to cans in front of the telly, G&Ts after work, weekend bottomless brunches, and wine and ice cream after a breakup. Whether you’re celebrating or commiserating, bored or anxious – there’s a drink for that.

Last year, I decided to stop drinking alcohol. I’d spent the past 15 years boozing – almost always at “binge drinking” levels – and I could no longer justify the negative impact it was having on my life. I’ve now been alcohol-free for over 250 days, and I feel like a different person. That’s not solely down to packing in the drink, but it’s been a big part of it.

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