‘Giving up alcohol was like waking from a spell’

Liz Horsman Picture: Liz Horsman

Liz Horsman Picture: Liz Horsman - Credit: Archant

Sales on wine, beers and spirits have risen in lockdown but, says blogger and music producer Liz, life without booze can be better than ever

Liz in her favourite place - her studio Picture: Riley Spencer

Liz in her favourite place - her studio Picture: Riley Spencer - Credit: Archant

The alcohol industry is one of the few business sectors punching the air right now and it’s no wonder. During the lockdown drinkers have consumed 31% more alcohol than normal. Thanks to the government declaring alcohol an ‘essential item’, off license sales figures are riding high but at what cost to drinkers?

If you drink then you’ll probably know the costs: anxiety about your behaviour the night before, anxiety about running out of alcohol during lockdown, low energy and poor concentration, crashing headaches and nausea, guilt because you drank more than you meant to, wishing your kids would go to sleep so you can have a drink, more guilt, perhaps mild or even severe depression.

I gave up alcohol two years ago for all of the above reasons. When I made the choice to quit I imagined that life would be boring, unrewarding and lonely. How wrong I was! In fact, since quitting alcohol my life has been an upward spiral of self discovery and, dare I say it, success. As a songwriter and producer, I have discovered that sobriety is a major boost to creativity. I was not expecting that!

There has never been a better time to take a month (or more) off alcohol. With social distancing measures very likely to be in place for the foreseeable future you can benefit from a complete absence of peer pressure to drink. Online support for non-drinkers is wide ranging - from one to one counselling to group courses and forums, plus, non-alcoholic drinks are better and more widely available than ever before.

Liz Horsman with her family two months after giving up alcohol Picture: Liz Horsman

Liz Horsman with her family two months after giving up alcohol Picture: Liz Horsman - Credit: Archant

So? Why not you? What could you gain from taking time away from alcohol? Honestly, there are too many reasons to list here so I have narrowed it down to just three wonderful benefits I hold dear.

1 My children love my sobriety

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Parenting a child is an opportunity you only get once. I stopped drinking when my sons were 12 and 14 and I feel that I did it just in the nick of time. Don’t get me wrong, my drinking was never a big part of their lives. We’re talking evening drinking, mostly after they’d gone to bed, and then some pretty major partying with friends at the weekend, most of which they were blissfully unaware. 

If you ask them they’ll say they only saw me drunk once (how I managed that I’ll never know). But I knew the reality: I wasn’t really there. I was hungover and tired, a lot. A short temper from wanting to rush them to bed so I could have a glass of wine, I’m ashamed to say, was not unheard of.

Now? I am present. I am attentive and genuinely here for them, with my whole mind, not just the part that isn’t dealing with ‘hangxiety’. I am much more patient and most crucially, I am not setting the example that alcohol fixes everything.

Yes, kids are hard work and at times repetitive and ungrateful but is alcohol the answer? Of course it isn’t. My father died of liver failure at 52 from drinking. I learnt my wine-swilling tendencies from him and it has lead me to ask myself,  Why on earth would I teach my kids to drink? 

2 I am no longer a slave to the alcohol industry

Brainwashing us into believing that alcohol - a substance which poisons the body - is an essential part of life, is the lynchpin of the alcohol industry. Without that core belief, which, let’s be honest, most of us hold, drinks companies would be on very shaky ground. As it is, the global alcohol industry is worth approximately £1.2bn and counting. 

When I gave up alcohol it was like waking from a spell and I knew I would never go back. Not just because of all the underhand ways the alcohol industry keeps us worshipping at its alter, but because deep down I knew, that poisoning myself no longer felt like a good idea. Go figure!

Now, I make much better choices. Instead of wine I enjoy healthy alternatives like kombucha and naturally flavoured tonics. Where I used to enjoy a beer after a day of gardening I now love my alcohol-free Heineken 0.0. At social events I am very happy with a Champagne glass of soda water with a dash of elderflower cordial. 

In short, I make my own choices about what to put into my body and I am no longer fooled into poisoning myself to generate profits.

3 I am the happiest I have ever been

I didn’t think I was unhappy before. I thought life was fine. It was normal. I got through it. Yes, I giggled more when I was drunk and loved dancing in the kitchen with my friends but the bits in between? When can I have another drink?

The truth about alcohol - apart from breast cancer, infertility, stroke, diabetes, stomach cancer, and many other horrific illnesses - is that it’s a depressant. The more you have, the more you need and the worse you feel when you’re not drinking. 

Without alcohol I am stable, even tempered and consistently happy. Of course I have down days but they are far fewer than previously. Since I have learnt to deal with negative feelings like stress and boredom instead of drinking my way through them I have found inner resources that sustain me. You can’t put a price on that. (And I still dance in the kitchen – I just don’t do it until 4am, writing off all of the following day.)

So, is a break from alcohol right for you? Of course it is and there are now so many different ways to get support on your journey. I have an instagram account called @TheAlcoholSpell which gives daily advice and tips on quitting and there are so many wonderful resources and courses you can tap into. Good luck.

Follow Liz’s blog here and also find here on Instagram here.