Today marks 33 years since one of the most significant decisions that I ever made. On the 5th February 1990, waking up after a weekend of excessive consumption, and struggling to get myself ready for a new week in work, I made a conscious decision not to drink alcohol again.
It hasn’t always been easy to keep that promise I made myself. Peer pressure was difficult when all of my friends drank heavily as well; my parents never really understood, and still offered me a glass of wine with meals whenever I visited them (even after 25 years dry).
Conference socials and other events frequently had a focus on alcohol; with a sponsored free bar, or with tokens provided for drinks and no real alternatives to alcohol. User-group meetings held in a pub. Company Christmas parties – alcohol is a pervasive part of our culture.
There are still times (even today) when I would enjoy a drink: a gluhwein at a Christmas market on a cold December day; a cool glass of cider while sitting out in a park in the Summer, or watching the cricket; a glass of wine with a good meal; a gin and tonic when settling down to relax at home.
Or when things aren’t going so well and I’m feeling depressed or overwhelmed by life or events, it would be all too easy to slip back into my old ways: the last three years have been particularly difficult, and the temptation to escape has been very real.
Sometimes I’ve come close, and I probably wouldn’t have managed it without the help and support of friends; but I’ve now made it through 33 years without succumbing to those temptations.
So a big thank you to everybody that has helped me over the last 33 years; and I hope that next February I’ll be able to say that it’s been 34 years.