Sobriety coach Veronica Valli originally from King's Lynn shares her views on Dry January
A sobriety coach spills the truth to reporter Jenny Beake about Dry January and answers the question: how do I know if I have a problem with alcohol or not?
On a recent run around the village where I live I saw two women pouring bottles of wine and cider down a drain in the street outside their house.
It was the bank holiday, the second day of the new year and the beginning of Dry January when for many, an abstinence from alcohol begins.
I wish I had stopped and asked them why they were pouring all that beloved booze down the drain. What had caused them to make that decision. Was it a benign decision to get healthy after the excesses of Christmas and New Year, a resolution to ‘never drink again’ at least for January anyhow.
Or were there more malevolent reasons for pouring away unopened bottles of booze. Had alcohol caused family rows, getting drunk, troublesome and vowing never to make the same mistake again, at least until February.
I often write about my own sobriety, having been through the processes of trying to give up alcohol and finally doing it on July 7, 2017.
My journey to becoming alcohol-free was that I had to face it and say to alcohol, it’s not me it’s you, firstly admitting I had a problem to myself and secondly asking for help.
Everyone has their own experience and mine began when I talked to my GP and was diagnosed with alcohol-related depression. Now that I no longer drink alcohol I have been able to find other ways to cope with the stress and strains that life brings to all of us.
I have now been alcohol-free for six years and re-evaluated my perception of alcohol, almost in the same way as reading The Emperor’s New Clothes, that alcohol has deceived me, the marketing of it now no longer makes me part of the deception of fooling myself that it is good for me. Alcohol no longer serves me.
I no longer believe that ‘one drink won’t hurt’. One drink will hurt, it does and it has.
I read as much as I can around the subject, one such book being Soberful by Veronica Valli.
Veronica is a sobriety coach who used to live in Lynn before re-locating to Nevada. She hosts a podcast of the same name with recovery expert Chip Somers.
Her own experience of drink and drugs is portrayed in detail and she has now had a long period of sobriety, more than 20 years.
A short video she posted on TikTok, with her views on the truth about Dry January, recently went viral with hundreds of thousands of views.
Veronica explains: “Only people who have a problematic relationship with alcohol do Dry January.
“They think it resets their relationship with alcohol, that if they don’t drink for 31 days that they don’t have a problem.
“What people are generally doing is just misleading themselves.”
In it she answers the question that some of us have asked ourselves: how do I know if I have a problem with alcohol or not?
She says: “The clue is in how much you think about drinking and think about not drinking.
“Thinking about drinking and thinking about not drinking is a red flag that there may be something up with your drinking.
“People who don’t have a problem with alcohol think of it in the same way I think about a sandwich.
“They just don’t think about it. They might have a sandwich today and enjoy it and tomorrow might have a salad and don’t give it much more thought.
“When you have a problem with alcohol you do four things.
“You drink. You think about drinking. You think about not drinking. You recover from drinking.
“It is the thinking about not drinking that shows that there might be something up with your alcohol consumption.”
When I gave up drinking permanently, my life was unmanageable, relationships had soured, I was in the constant cycle of those four things, drinking, wanting to not drink, thinking about my next drink and recovering with sickness and hangovers that blighted each day.
Throw in the guilt and remorse and it is not a fun way to live in the grips of an insidious addiction.
I had tried to give up on New Year’s Day many times after drinking heavily and becoming belligerent, only to crack open a bottle of cheap wine the same day. That should have been a rock bottom but there would be more to come.
Why was 7 July 2017 different? Mainly because I just knew I had to stop, that it was a slippery slope I was on.
Difficult as it was, I know now, six years on that it was hard but worth it.
If it wasn’t worth it I would simply pop to the shop and buy a bottle of my favourite poison.
Alcohol is legal and therefore we have conflicting feelings about being addicted to a highly addictive toxin, ethanol, like The Emperor’s New Clothes, disguised to make us believe it is the answer to our problems.
Veronica goes on to explain: “By all means drink but don’t dress it up that it doesn’t have an enormous cost and I don’t just mean money.
“People have a misconception that there is not a cost to drinking. Money is just minimal.
“Time is the biggest cost. How much time do you spend drinking, not remembering, time recovering, the time it takes away from people you care about.
“The impact on relationships, on parenting.
“Alcohol is catastrophic to your health and we need to dispel the myth that a couple of drinks here and there is not a problem.
“Dry January can be an opportunity to get sober but it is just another way for people to convince themselves they don’t have a problem.
“We are culturally conditioned to believe we need alcohol to connect and if we don’t have alcohol in our life then we fear missing out.
"This is a faulty belief system. Drink by all means, but you have to be prepared to pay the cost.”