Cape Town – South African consumers of alcohol are some of the heaviest drinkers in the world, data published by the World Health Organisation shows, but according to sobriety advocate Janet Gourand, all is not lost.
“The Dry January Challenge is open until the end of January. People who come on Dry January do really well, we’ve had people on Dry January who have never drunk again because they feel so wonderful after a month,” said Gourand.
Talking about how people who tried the Dry January Challenge as a New Year’s resolution are to sticking to it, Gourand said: “People keep going quite well because we’ve set up a support system for them. We don’t just say stop drinking.
“Every day they get an email with tips or inspirational quotes delivered to their inbox. It’s short but inspires people. It comes directly from me and I get interesting feedback. The WhatsApp group also works really well as various people who all started the challenge on different days can chat away to each other about their progress in the journey,” said Gourand.
To make the Dry January experience even more meaningful, Gourand, through her organisation World Without Wine (WWW) requires participants to calculate their normal monthly spend on alcohol and then divert the cash to the Earthchild charity project.
The Earthchild Project has been a beneficiary of the Dry January Challenge since 2015 and has positively affected hundreds of children who have been taught yoga.
Once the challenge is over, people who want to continue being sober are encouraged to join the Sober Curious Challenge.
Drinking – from wine with a meal to post-work beers – has always been portrayed as a way to have a good time. Meanwhile, not drinking is often seen as the refuge of people who are struggling with alcoholism, which is a taboo.
Society believes that a person is either a problem drinker or an alcoholic, or a drinker who has no issues with alcohol. But, actually, there are shades of grey when it comes to dependence on alcohol, and this is where the sober curious come in.
Sobriety coach Nick Stevenson said: “I was inspired to try an alcohol-free life after attending a WWW workshop back in 2017.”
Stevenson, an investment banker, went on a health kick just over a decade ago. He quit smoking and started exercising and watching his diet, and lost some weight. He wanted to lose more weight but found alcohol was preventing him from doing so.
“On reflection, it’s strange that alcohol was not identified as an obvious roadblock to my health objectives much earlier on. Perhaps the social acceptability of drinking helps to mask the issue,” said Stevenson.