Life Hacks

Do you think you could give up alcohol? Hear from someone who did.

Article by Miss FQ

What do Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey and Macklemore have in common? They’re all embracing the alcohol-free life just like Miss FQ digital content producer Terri Dunn. She details her ride on the wagon and what happens when you quit getting lit.

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On New Year’s morning 2017, I woke as conscious and alert as one would expect. I glanced around the room I was sharing with some of my closest friends at one of their family lakehouses. Everyone was still sleeping, so I thought, “Perfect, I’ll get the first shower and tend to my hangover before it sets in.” But as I went to slip my legs out from under the duvet, I realised I couldn’t move. Gravity had pinned my arms, legs and torso to the bed. It was as if someone had poured cement on me from the neck down. An hour or so passed, the sun beamed in, everyone woke up and we all joked and reminisced about our evening. But my state of paralysis was no laughing matter.

They went for lunch while I lay there, completely perplexed, and frankly quite concerned by my situation. It was about 2pm when the weight finally lifted and I was able to sit up in bed and start what remained of my day.

This was the moment I decided alcohol wasn’t for me.

My relationship with drinking began normally enough. My parents had been big advocates of wine with dinner. I experimented with alcohol during high school and established somewhat of a tolerance to it during university. But I was never actually that fussed about it. I didn’t need to drink to have fun. Being 12 months younger than many of my friends, I was learning to be around drunk people from as young as 15. Often the go-to sober driver, I would down a sugar-free Red Bull (or four) and dance my heart out. Other revellers assumed that because I was throwing shapes and grinning from ear to ear that I must have been absolutely hammered. Despite this (and increasing evidence that alcohol didn’t agree with me), years passed before I gave it up altogether.

Paralysis scare aside, ultimately it was the uncertainty I couldn’t deal with. Some days I could stomach it; others I couldn’t. But people choose sobriety for so many reasons — horrific hangovers, battered bank balances, traumatic experiences or poor health.

Paralysis scare aside, ultimately it was the uncertainty I couldn’t deal with

From the first sip, you’re dealing with thinning bones, brain shrinkage, sexual dysfunction, malnutrition, fatigue, stomach distress, behavioural changes and heart damage, not to mention the havoc wreaked on your central nervous system. There are also more than 10 cancers caused by excessive drinking. And 10% of deaths in females aged 18-24 are a direct result of alcohol.

Plus alcohol is fattening — seven calories a gram, in fact. Pure fat has nine.


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Interestingly, as a generation, we’re cottoning on. Statistics show that among millennials there’s a seismic shift in drinking habits with studies citing the reduced significance of alcohol to our social lives when compared to our parents’. The budding ‘Clean Generation’ is prioritising health, wellness and being conscious of the implications of their actions.

The latest findings by the Health Promotion Agency show that 29% of respondents (39% of which were aged 18-24) reported they were drinking less alcohol compared to the previous year. The same study found four in 10 adults had considered cutting back but hadn’t taken action.

Apparently, it’s all very well to say, “I’m never drinking again,” as you’re popping Panadol on a Sunday morning, but once you get a text about cocktails at six, it’s as if the nausea never happened. Maybe the big reason is FOMO. But the funny thing is, in the 14 months since choosing sobriety, I’ve strengthened most of my friendships —and the ones that have fallen by the wayside have done so for good reason.

In addition, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been — no cold or flu in at least eight months. I’ve also gained valuable insights into what used to motivate me to drink, and into how much we as humans rely on alcohol to initiate basic interactions or justify elements of our character.

I’ve strengthened most of my friendships —and the ones that have fallen by the wayside have done so for good reason

Sure I’ve copped some flack, but I haven’t been antisocial. I did a stint in the UK, travelled around Europe, worked in a media company and flatted with six boys. While most of these circumstances could easily lead to heavy drinking, my ability to say no came down to having a game plan.

“What will we do when we’re sober?” sang Lorde. Hun, pull up a chair…

Words: Terri Dunn
Photos: Getty Images

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