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Everything I learnt as an Edinburgh University student doing Dry January

How dropping the booze worked with student life


When I took on Dry January I didn’t quite know what to expect, having read lots about its benefits but never actually seeing anyone close to me try it. Everybody has experienced the classic “new year, new me” mindset but I honestly just had a genuine interest in how this would impact both my personal and social lives as well as my health and fitness.

While it is not quite compatible with Hive or Why Not and I’m not sure I’ve achieved enlightenment, it was certainly revealing.

Why Dry Jan?

“But why – you’re a student?”

Something I have long experienced when not drinking on a night out, is the intense need to explain yourself as people enquire about your commitments the following day, your health, or even family’s relationship with alcohol!

For me, this provided the biggest takeaway on our approach to alcohol as a normalised drug since it is more normal to ask why someone is not drinking than the other way around.

For anyone that did take part in Dry January, I hope you found joy in providing creative answers to the probing questions.

An improvement in deep sleep was unexpected but welcome!

Types of friendships

A second takeaway from this experience was about the different types of friendships and social circles that you have at uni. This doesn’t mean that some are better than others but, to put it this way, there are some people who you can club or go out with sober (controversial I know) and others that it’s perhaps not so enjoyable with.

And for your drinking friends, that’s fine! Everyone needs that group or society with which they can get absolutely plastered with and create hangxiety-fuelled memories with down on Cowgate, it just may not be the same type of connection you have with those who you could comfortably embarrass yourself soberly with.

La Beat never needed any booze

Being intentional

The month also made me realise just how common casual, unintentional drinking is.

The month also made me realise just how common casual, unintentional drinking is.

Don’t get me wrong, a pint and chat is certainly a key staple of a students’ social life, however, going sober this January made me question whether including alcohol (and its drawbacks) in these get-togethers is always necessary.

This also contribute to my growing discovery of and appreciation for non-alcoholic drinks, which leads me nicely into the next point.

Early morning views with no hangover in sight.

The potential of non-alcoholic drinks

We’ve all teased non-alcoholic beers like we tease meat-free bacon (perfectly alright but arguably not bacon) and belittled mocktails as a fun means for kids to partake in family outings, but this has perhaps led to an under-appreciation.

Forced to look for other options this month, I have rediscovered a love for some soft drinks beyond their suitability as mixers. While I have never ever felt quite as judged as I did ordering a J2O in Tron (hands down my best find this month, apple and mango of course), there was something freeing and simply enjoyable in ordering a nice drink and not thinking about  whether it was alcoholic.

A sober take on pub golf.

This also allows you to overcome that undeniable need to have a drink in your hand alongside your mates. For anyone who is feeling self-conscious about their choice to not drink, there is absolutely no need to inform your peers that there is indeed, no rum in your coke.

Money, money, money

It IS funny, in a sober world!

This benefit was pretty obvious, however, I was shocked by the real impact it made on my finances.