David McColgan never had a problem with alcohol, but after Christmas Day 2022 he decided to take a break. Fourteen months on, he hasn't looked back.

"I got to the middle of December 2022 and I'd been out a lot - I was feeling tired and not terribly healthy.

"I decided that Christmas Day 2022 would be the last time I would have a drink for an undefined period.

"I didn't say I was doing 'Dry January' or 'I'm never drinking again' - I didn't put a time frame on it.

"But Christmas Day 2022 was the last time I had a drink and it's just grown from there."


The 38-year-old, who lives in Dunfermline with his wife and two children - aged seven and four -  is one of a growing number of Scots who have adopted sobriety as a lifestyle choice.

Like many other Scots of his generation, Mr McColgan went to university in an era when binge drinking was the norm.

He recalls "50 pence vodka nights and all-you-can-drink for £10 nights" at the student union, and found that his drinking habits in adulthood continued to swing between periods of consuming little or no alcohol to clusters of drinking to excess during parties, holidays, and nights out with friends.

In the weeks running up to Christmas 2022, he was "consuming way over 14 units a week" - the recommend maximum for both men and women.

After quitting, he lost half a stone in the space of four weeks and noticed other benefits too.

“My skin was a lot healthier, even my hair felt stronger – less greasy. I could go on a night out and climb into bed at 2am and wake up at 8am ready to go, whereas before I’d have been thinking ‘today will be an effort’.

"Within a few weeks I was sleeping better. Mentally, I was feeling much more positive. I felt much more present for my kids, and once you start to feel those benefits it’s hard to say that you’d want to go back."

The Herald: David McColgan said his relationship with alcohol has changed for good since quitting at Christmas 2022David McColgan said his relationship with alcohol has changed for good since quitting at Christmas 2022 (Image: Pics: Stewart Attwood)

After making it through a golfing holiday to Lisbon and a stag party in Liverpool without alcohol, Mr McColgan - who heads up the British Heart Foundation charity in Scotland - decided to commit to sobriety for a full year, which included another two stag parties, a family funeral, and two weddings.

He credits the "explosion" in alcohol-free beers for making the transition easier and believes his relationship with alcohol has changed forever.

"I started to say to myself ‘do I need alcohol to socialise?’ and the answer was ‘no’.

"I was always that person, from university days, but I started to question that narrative that to have a good time in Scotland you have to be in the pub, five pints down with a bag of crisps.

"I haven't sworn off alcohol forever, but I'm not in any rush to go back.

"There’s moments, like when you turn up at a wedding and there’s a champagne reception, where you think ‘I wouldn’t mind a glass of champagne’, or if I'm out for a nice meal sometimes wish I could have a glass of red wine.

"But if I ever do decide to have a drink again, I would be much more confident to go out and have one or two pints and then move onto non-alcoholic beer. My consumption habits would change drastically. 

"I feel fitter, I feel healthier, it doesn’t really appeal to me right now.”