For those who managed to drag themselves, kicking and screaming, through the dreary days of January without a drink, February the first must have seemed like the glittering light at the end of the tunnel.
But now, a new and considerably more ambitious campaign is looking to stretch the sobriety over an entire year. Capitalising on the success of ‘Dry January’, a group of like-minded triathletes and mud racers have teamed up with the Professional Footballers’ Association and have created ‘OneYearNoBeer‘.
Co-creator and ex-professional footballer Andy Ramage tells me why sobriety is a tough, but worthy, pursuit.
“OneYearNoBeer started out of frustration,” says Ramage. “Frustration that there was nothing available for someone who is not an alcoholic – but who is fed up with hangovers and regret – to stop drinking.
“We face overwhelming social pressure in our society to keep drinking,” continues the 41-year old. “Alcohol is the only drug in the world that when you try to give it up people berate you! So it was this experience that lead to the creation of OneYearNoBeer.
“Our aim is to provide the excuse and support people need to get a decent break from alcohol in full view of family, friends and work colleagues – it’s a challenge. Nothing more, nothing less. No stigma, no labels – it’s cool to be alcohol free.”
Ramage and his team are keen to inform people of the lesser known benefits of going sober. Whilst the physical advantages are clear and well documented – from lowering blood pressure to increasing liver health – Ramage says that these biological benefits are just the tip of the iceberg.
“For example,” says the campaign co-creator, “most people have expressed that their relationships have improved, you can save money and both your energy and motivation will return to take on your goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Drinking takes time and hangovers take even more,” Ramage continues, “so when you go sober, you find that you get time back to spend with family, try out new things and generally be healthier.
“This is much more that stopping drinking – it’s a total healthy lifestyle change. The conventional wisdom that says you need alcohol in your life to have fun and be successful is, but we say that this is wrong. And there are more and more people each day proving this to be true.”
And, despite the campaign name only appearing to ban beer, Ramage informs me that no alcohol is allowed. “You can’t get around the system by drinking wine!” he laughs.
“The first month is always the hardest,” says Ramage, explaining that once Dry January is over, forgoing a quick drink becomes considerably easier. “In our society most people’s lives are built around alcohol. Every celebration, stressful event, business meeting and sporting occasion is flooded with booze. The psychological conditioning we have received over the years is massive.
“Therefore, winging it does not work. And this is why we set up the support system to offer tips, tricks, hacks and support to get people through these early stages and beyond. Bad habits don’t need telling off, they need replacing, and once you have been sober for two or three months, your world will change.
“Our aim is to change people’s perception of alcohol forever. Some have decided that their life is so much better without alcohol, that they will never drink again. And whilst others will still have the odd drink, the key is that after a decent break you regain full control rather than being dragged around by bad habits and social conditioning.”
Ramage and his team are urging more people to stay sober into the Spring and beyond, and the campaigner believes that the ace up their sleeve was teaming up with the Professional Footballers’ Association.
“We all love a challenge,” admits Ramange, “from mud races to triathlons. And this provides the excuse so many people need to beat the overwhelming social pressure to keep drinking. The Professional Footballers’ Association is helping us do that. By seeing these famous players taking part in OneYearNoBeer, we can see that role models, sporting heroes, leaders and entrepreneurs are thriving without alcohol. Sober is the new cool.”