Tina shares her experiences with Dry January, her discovery of Soberistas, and how giving up alcohol for good has changed her life for the better.

In 2013 I knew I drank too much, but I did not see quitting alcohol as a viable option as I felt it was the cornerstone of my social life. A month without alcohol in January 2014 was possible as many of the people I drank with also stopped or took it easy during January. Dry January legitimised an opportunity for me to stop drinking. However, I was also convinced that if I was able to stop for a month, I had good control over alcohol.

February the 1st was a drunken blur of celebration. I drank with no guilt, thinking I had done my body and liver a favour by taking a month off. Come January 2015 I did Dry January again, but this time I extended it a little further and really began to feel the benefits of abstaining altogether from alcohol. At the same time I discovered Soberistas, and I was gobsmacked to see that there were hundreds of women like myself who somehow held it all together while drinking too much every week. But these women had actually managed to stop drinking, and what's more, they appeared to be living more fulfilling lives.

Again, I could not quite envisage my life without alcohol and I started drinking again in March 2015. The following seven months were filled with many drunken horror stories and regrets. I rejoined the Soberistas community on 14 November 2015 and I have not looked back since. In hindsight, I believe a Dry January provided me with space to reflect on my drinking. Now I think people should think about Dry January and beyond.

At present, many people believe the only way to experience life fully is to do it with glass of wine in one hand. Dry January is currently seen by many participants as an agonising, deprivation challenge. Like a marathon or a fast. Something you have to "finish". But I was never more deprived than when I spent all my leisure time and piles of money drinking. Since giving up drinking I have travelled the world, run marathons, and I have nearly finished a doctorate. I have made some amazing new friends who also enjoy life without alcohol. I could not have done that while spending all my free time "relaxing" with a glass of wine.