Life without alcohol: five years sober

It’s funny to think it’s been half a decade since I last drank alcohol. The time seems to have gone so quickly.

There are still tiny things I miss. Being able to go into a bar and look glamorous holding a glass with a stem, rather than a tumbler. (I replicate this at home with alcohol-free fizz in champagne flutes, but options are limited in bars.) Spending silly money on fancy luxury champagne because it’s a special occasion. That kind of thing.

But that’s not what I usually did, of course. What I usually did was get a cheap crate of Strongbow and drink it straight from the can. The crate would be empty by the end of the day. It was the opposite of glamorous.

My life is immeasurably better without alcohol. It can be more challenging without that escape button to press, but it is better. I am fitter, healthier, more mindful. I make better decisions. I am calmer.

I never want to go back.

Life without alcohol: four years sober

I don’t have much to report this year – just another year of quiet and peaceful sobriety. I have settled into it now and don’t feel I need as much support as I used to, though I still appreciate reading the occasional memoir by sober public figures.

There are still occasionally moments that remind me I can’t be complacent about it, and honestly that’s a good reminder to have. But on the whole I am comfortable and happy and I don’t want to go back to drinking. Life is nice without it.

Life without alcohol: three years sober

Three years in, I have settled into sobriety a lot more. I no longer read books about it or do much frequenting of the support communities I used to follow online. It’s been a long time since I had nightmares about accidental drinking. I know what all my go-to booze alternatives are on the rare occasion I find myself in drinking establishments, and in celebratory circumstances (I had a lot of Nosecco and similar over Christmas but I usually prefer to stick to Fanta Zero in the evenings).

I have learnt to handle stress without drinking, although there have been times recently where I feel my mental health is being impacted by the lack of an ‘off switch’ and I am still trying to work out what the replacement ‘off switch’ could be. I am mostly able to look at alcohol and think ‘I don’t have that’ (similarly to not eating meat), rather than ‘I wish I could…’. On the whole, I do not think I am at high risk of drinking again, though of course I know I can’t be complacent about it.

Importantly, I don’t want to drink again. I am, thankfully, starting to forget what it felt like to be in a near-constant state of cumulative hangover, but I know my life is much better now. There’s no reason to go back.

(No picture today. I have run out of ‘thoughtful scenery pictures to illustrate blog posts about sobriety’.)

Booze Alternative: Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade

I’ve tried a few Fever Tree drinks over the last couple of years, mainly various forms of ginger beer and ginger ale. This Sicilian Lemonade was something a bit different.

Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade
Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade.

It’s a lovely, sweet drink and very refreshing! I need to start looking out for it again now that I’m gradually poking my nose back into pubs.

Booze Alternative: Freixenet 0.0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé

This is my favourite booze alternative of the last two and a bit years of sobriety. It’s an absolute go-to…

Freixenet 0.0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé
Freixenet 0.0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé.

…and in recent weeks Asda have stopped selling it, so I can’t get it regularly anymore! Oh well.

It doesn’t taste quite like alcoholic fizzy, but that’s what I like about it (it means it’s not triggering). Instead, it’s got a distinctive taste all of its own – perfect sweetness, very refreshing. I hope I find another local source for it soon.

Booze Alternative: Fre Alcohol-Removed White Zinfandel Rosé

Another light summer alternative.

Fre Alcohol-Removed White Zinfandel Rosé
Fre Alcohol-Removed White Zinfandel Rosé.

I was a bit nervous about drinking something that tastes like wine (sparkling wine is different, because I only ever had a glass or two to toast something when I was a drinker, whereas regular still wine was generally a fairly dangerous thing for me to drink). While it did taste lovely, and very light and refreshing, it felt a bit too close to the real thing for comfort. I’m okay with using alcohol-free red wine for cooking and so on, but for actual drinking I’ll stick to the fizzy stuff.

Booze Alternative: Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé

I first tried this alcohol-free sparkling rosé last summer, but it’s become a regular buy recently as it’s always in stock at the big Asda where we do our weekly shop.

Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé
Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé.

I’ve tried a few non-alcoholic rosés, but this one really stands out because the rosy taste is very strong. It’s also quite light so another good summer option.

Not to be confused with the similarly-named leggings company!

I also regularly drink the white version, which I’ll review next time.

Booze Alternative: M&S Alcohol-Free Bucks Fizz

This is another alcohol-free option that I picked up to try last summer. In my drinking days Bucks Fizz was a Christmas drink in my eyes, but I think it’s important to break those kinds of habits and attitudes in sobriety (it is taking a LONG time to get used to the fact that I can drink ‘special’ alcohol-free drinks at times when I wouldn’t have drunk the alcoholic equivalents, e.g. while working, but I’m going to keep working on that). I actually think this alcohol-free version works better as a summer drink, because it’s nice and light.

M&S Alcohol-Free Bucks Fizz
M&S Alcohol-Free Bucks Fizz.

It was very tasty (and also felt quite celebratory according to my notes, though I can’t remember what I was celebrating), but I think the next time I feel like Bucks Fizz it’d be nicer to make my own with one of my favourite alcohol-free sparkling wines. Maybe a project for summer 2021.

Booze Alternative: Fizzero Zero Alcohol Sparkling White

This sparkling alcohol-free drink was one of a selection I picked up at M&S last summer.

Fizzero Zero Alcohol Sparkling White
Fizzero Zero Alcohol Sparkling White.

It doesn’t have quite as much of a ‘fake booze’ taste as other zero alcohol sparkling wines I’ve tried, and so it feels lighter. It has an interesting grape-y medium taste, which is very pleasant.

I’ve not been in the local M&S Food for a while, but this one is well worth picking up again.