What it’s like to stop drinking alcohol

Brits’ relationship with alcohol has come under the spotlight, with experts calling for warnings on all alcohol – and saying that men in particular refuse to believe the risks.

This comes as data shows that millions of middle-aged men drink more than is recommended in new government guidelines – the limit was lowered in January for men from 21 units a week to 14, the same as women.

For some, their relationship with alcohol is such that they decide to stop drinking completely, either for life or for a few months. This can be for a variety of reasons – to tackle more severe problems such as alcoholism or simply for better health.

We spoke to five people about the moment they decided to quit, and how hard it was. Here are their stories.

Steve Craftman, south Wales: I never feel more alone than when I’m with a group of partying drunks

I’ve had a long relationship with alcohol – but learning I was HIV positive in 1987 made my drinking worse. I thought I wouldn’t need my liver much longer because at that time being diagnosed with HIV gave you only a few years to live.

But I just kept on living. Then last year I had to get a liver scan after my doctor noticed some problems. I had been through a particularly rough patch and was drinking heavily: I would consume about 20 units a day.

It was just before the scan that I stopped drinking. I stupidly thought that giving up then would improve the results.

It didn’t. The scan confirmed cirrhosis, and I pretended that I could have the occasional drink at an appropriate moment. Despite some fairly major landmarks over the years, there hasn’t been an appropriate moment.

On my last drinking day I had the remains of a bottle of Southern Comfort, left over from Christmas, and then finished it off with a bottle of cider. Continue reading


  • The Guardian, from an article written by Guardian readers and Sarah Marsh, social and community editor for Opinion.
  • Image: The Telegraph
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