The short answer is, I did Stoptober to raise money for Action on Addiction. In reality, I decided to do it for a number of reasons.
At the end of 2017 I had decided I was going to do dry January to give my body and my bank account a well-deserved break. My Dad passed away just before Christmas from an illness that was linked to his alcoholism; that January ended up being the wettest on record when it came to my alcohol consumption. In September 2018 I finished my Masters and decided it was time for that long overdue and well-deserved break.
I also wanted to start conversations. In the UK, drinking frequently is normal – especially for young people. By looking at my own habits and discussing them with other people, I have managed to have some really interesting conversations about alcohol and why people choose to drink. (It is worth saying at this point that I am not telling you or anyone to give up drinking, just to be aware of your relationship with alcohol.)
I have filmed a series of videos tracking my progress and going into more detail – here’s the first one:
Before I started, I tracked my smoking and drinking so I could work out how much money I saved.
- I smoked rollies and in September I smoked 63 cigarettes (just over 2 a day on average) which cost me about £15 - £20 a month – if I smoked straights they would be at least twice that.
- As for drinking, I spend at least £80 a month on alcohol.
- This means means I have saved nearly £100 by not smoking and drinking and as a student on a budget – that makes all the difference.
At the beginning of October, I weighed myself and decided to track any other health benefits. I have not changed weight at all: I think this is because they have cancelled each other out: the lack of alcohol would have helped me lose weight, but smoking supresses your appetite so people giving up may get a little bit more snacky!
One of the other not surprising benefits is that I can breathe! At first, I was coughing a lot, this is totally normal because when you give up smoking your body starts getting rid of all the bad stuff. But after about 3 weeks, the cough cleared up and I’m breathing easy. My spots have cleared up too!
- Do not worry about what people think – your friends will support you and most people won’t care.
- Ask for mocktails – most bar tenders will whip you up something delicious!
- Get the NHS Stop Smoking App – this gorgeous app sends you motivational notifications and badges for 28 days.
- The Drinkaware app is good too – especially for if you’re trying to keep track or cut down on your drinking – it helps you keep track of your spending too.
- Seedlip is the non-alcoholic gin you didn’t know you needed (treat yourself, try it, thank me later).
If you have the money, please support Action on Addiction and the great work they do.
If you’re interested in trying it out and seeing what the benefits of not smoking and/or drinking could be for you, maybe you could try dry January – tell us how you get on and we will share your story here too!