The end of Dry January is in sight – and most people are more than ready to fall off the wagon.
But for some it is a catalyst for major change, letting them address problems with booze and leave it behind for good.
Like mum-of-two Jo Jose, 52, who tried to stop drinking in the past but failed miserably.
She took part in Dry January two years ago and has not touched a drop since – but has gained new friends, a passion for running and more money.
Jo, a customer service advisor, said: “It got to the point where I was drinking my adult daughter’s vodka, which I don’t like, and replacing it before she noticed.
“I had to do something this time because I couldn’t face failing again.
“It is an addiction. I couldn’t go a day without alcohol.
“But when I tell people I had a problem, they do not believe me. I never looked like I was struggling.”
Jo began researching Dry January and discovered it was organised by charity Alcohol Change. She joined the Facebook group and downloaded the app.
She said: “I waited for January1 and had a big New Year’s Eve to get rid of the alcohol in the house.
“I actually didn’t intend to quit completely but I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol. At the start I didn’t dare think beyond the first few hours.
“But then the hours became days, the days became weeks and here we are now.
“But I had the right tools to do it this time around and I had a positive mindset as well. I was going to get free.”
Jo found that connecting with others in the group helped push her through the hard times.
She said: “People were sharing hints and tips on the group.
“We’d share achievements and milestones and became quite a group of friends.”
When it came to the end of January, Jo realised she didn’t want to go back to alcohol. And her life had changed.
“Everything seemed lighter – colours were brighter. My head was clearer and I felt I could live again.
“You have to learn how to deal with emotions without alcohol and feel things again.
“Before, even if I had set myself a target to not drink for one day, I’d be going out for a glass of wine.
“It wasn’t that I would even say, ‘I’ve had a bad day, I am having a glass of wine’, because I’d be having a glass of wine anyway. I was covering up emotions with alcohol.”
She also realised it is possible to have fun without wine – most recently at a work party.
She said: “At my Christmas party I was about ready to leave but got talking with the others who were there drinking, socialising and having fun.
“Being able to get in my car and drive anywhere without thinking about whether I’ve had a drink is a bonus too.”
And she found getting outside more, going on dog walks and taking up running, helped.
“I trained and trained and signed up for a half marathon and did it. It was one of the pinnacles of 2018 – from a couch potato to a half marathon.
“It astounds me, from being so ill to doing that. My mental health is better, my physical health is better. I’ve seen so many benefits in myself.”
Jo, from Cornwall, also noticed a difference to her finances and friendship circle, with new mates across the country.
The support group she found through doing Dry January stuck together and several of them are still alcohol free now, meeting up several times a year. She calls it her Dry January “fellowship”. “We still talk all day every day – it’s not about the alcohol any more. We met up in London most recently and are soon meeting in the Isle of Wight.
“That has been the most amazing thing. The sort of thing you do not see before you give up drinking. There’s all this support there.”