Dr Sarah Weldon was suffering a hangover late in September when she decided enough was enough.

The clinical psychologist was feeling low when she got in touch with Liana Harkins, who she knows through friends.

Harkins sent her inspirational talks and pointed her towards social media accounts that featured people living sober.

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Weldon said: “The more I read about it the more I felt like it was a healthy lifestyle choice.”

She decided to use Sober October as a jumping-off point but at nearly three weeks in, she doesn’t see herself stopping.

She said: “It made sense to try it for the 31 days and because other people are doing it too you feel like you’re part of a community.

“We all want to belong to something and so many people we know drink so when you start to be more aware of people that are making that choice it’s more appealing.”

A drink after a hard day or a dinner with friends started to take its toll with lack of sleep and bad anxiety but Weldon is enjoying sober socialising now.

“I still kept all my social arrangements and I’ve had a great time.

“It’s fascinating that we celebrate with a depressant. Alcohol has a harmful effect on your mental health and your behaviour. I do think it will be one of those socially conscious changes where less and less people do it.”

 

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Jennifer Stewart first stopped drinking in 2013 and stayed sober for two-and-a-half years.

After giving birth to her son in 2016, she felt she could start drinking moderately.

She said: “I did for a while but found myself drinking more and suffering horrendous hangovers so I stopped again.”

It was the “hangxiety” and stress caused by trying to drink in moderation that made Stewart call a halt to alcohol.

A former colleague of Harkins, Stewart started following the Sober Buzz blog and now regularly attends events.

She said: “It’s great to meet with like-minded people and share where to get the best alcohol-free options. It’s hard for grey area drinkers like myself to fit in somewhere and Sober Buzz is perfect.”

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Stewart’s family and friends were supportive of the lifestyle change but she still harboured fears around giving up alcohol again, especially when telling people who sometimes appeared to be “offended”.

She said: “If you say you’ve stopped smoking or are vegetarian it’s celebrated, whereas when you’re not drinking people seem to try to encourage you to just have a few.”

Now Stewart looks forward to nights out. “I always did but now I know I’ll wake up hangover free – even if I do get woken up at 5am by two toddlers.