By Mark O’Brien
AS we head out this evening to enjoy the New Year’s celebrations around the country, a lot of people may be thinking that they’ve overdone it on the booze over Christmas and have decided to knock it on the head and have a dry January.
The Irish Heart Foundation have launched their second annual On The Dry campaign where participants can raise money through sponsorship by giving up drinking for the month of January.
As well as raising money for charity, a survey of last year’s participants revealed that 62% said they had better sleep and more energy after taking part, 49% reported losing weight, 79% saved money and 82% said they felt a sense of achievement.
There’s no doubt that a lot of us could do with easing up on the booze, especially after the festive season but in a nation where so much of our social interaction revolves around alcohol people may be worried that they will be sacrificing their social life if they give up drinking for a month.
This doesn’t have to be the case at all. Here are five alternative ways to enjoy your social life that don’t involve drinking. If you can think of any more, please let us know in the comments below.
Grab a late night coffee
If you still want to head out for the evening and have a chat with friends you could still go to the pub and not drink but the temptation to cave in and join everyone else may be too great. Also, people who have had a few drinks can become very annoying to someone who is sober. This usually happens from around the fourth drink when they tell you the same story for the third time. Stick around longer and you’re bound to hear that story several more times in more slurred tones. Fortunately there is an alternative. You can head to a late night café and enjoy a booze free evening with friends. There are more and more of these places popping up, such as Accents and Tea Garden in Dublin and The Secret Garden in Galway. They’re great places to go and relax in a comfy setting and catch up with friends – and you’re far more likely only here the same story once!
Go to a sober rave
Yes these are a thing – and a thing that is becoming very popular. Just because you’re off the drink doesn’t mean you can’t still go out and enjoy a good boogie. In fact, if you want to start your dry month off a day early, Funky Seomra are having a New Year’s Eve Celebration in Filmbase tonight. The event is completely alcohol free and features two floors of DJs and live bands, massage areas, a juiced bar and art installations. The only thing that you won’t find there that you would find in a normal club is a hangover. Later in the month, why not check out Morning Gloryville? This early morning event allows you to get your dance on before you head off to work, which isn’t a bad way to start the day.
Head to the theatre
Ireland has a host of brilliant theatres, so no matter where you are in the country there’s bound to be one close to you. Yes, theatres do serve alcohol but it’s usually more hassle than it’s worth to queue up and then knock a drink back during the interval so you won’t feel you’re missing out if you don’t have a drink. Of course, you don’t have to go to a big theatre either. There’s bound to be local amateur drama groups who are putting on performances in your area that would love your support. Which brings us on to our next idea…
Join a group or club
Why not join that drama group? Or the local photography club? Or check out your local library to see what writer’s groups they have meeting there? There’s bound to be something that you’ve wanted to explore further so now is the time to really throw yourself into a new hobby. You’ll be amazed by how much time some of these things take up once you get in to them and as well as learning a new skill or honing and improving an existing one. You won’t even be thinking or drinking – unless you join a winemakers club, that is.
Do some volunteer work
Now could be the time to give something back. There are thousands of charities out there that would no doubt be grateful for your help. Start by looking locally to see if there are any groups in your area that could do with a hand or you could get in touch with Volunteer Ireland who would be happy to guide you. Whatever you decide to do, your sense of achievement at giving up drinking for a month will surely be enhanced if you also dedicate that time spent boozing to helping others instead.