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Bryony Gordon: My life is better without booze

Bestselling author Bryony Gordon is celebrating two years since giving up alcohol - and life is so much sweeter, she tells Hannah Stephenson

Saluting sobriety: writer Bryony Gordon
Saluting sobriety: writer Bryony Gordon

By Hannah Stephenson

Last week, Bryony Gordon celebrated two years of sobriety. After years of necking pints of beer, champagne and wine, Gordon checked herself into rehab, started attending AA meetings on a regular basis - and has not touched a drop since the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2017.

The 39-year-old award-winning author and columnist - who has a six-year-old daughter, Edie, with her financial journalist husband, Harry Wilson - has written about being a 'binge pattern' addict, and about how she didn't drink during the day or even every day. Nor did she drink spirits - but when she went on a bender, it was always a humdinger.

Towards the end of her booze-fuelled days, she was drinking alone at home, she reveals, not using it as a prop to be the life and soul of the party with friends. The hangovers had got worse and she knew it had to stop.

Here, Gordon - who says her life is so much richer without alcohol - talks to us about life after booze...

Has giving up drink been difficult?

"Obviously, it's been hard but not harder than the alternative. I love it. The thought of picking up a drink is as unthinkable to me today as not picking one up was when I was drinking. Life is just so much richer and better without alcohol.

"Of course, there were moments when I'd want to have one, but just play the tape forward. What was really hard was waking up every morning in a state of heightened anxiety, wondering what I'd done and loathing myself. That was hard. This is wonderful."

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Did friends fall off when you quit drinking?

"Not really. A lot of my drinking at the end was done by myself in the garden. Nobody said, 'I don't think you should give up alcohol'. Everyone was really happy that I'd made that choice."

You've recently written your first book for young teens, You Got This. What advice would you give them about drinking?

"Teenagers are way ahead of me in terms of views on alcohol. So many of them are now teetotal. I'm not going to tell them, 'Don't do it' - that would be like a red rag to a bull. Just think about why you're doing it and what you're trying to solve by doing it.

"Ask yourself: Is this going to help me or hinder me? I feel very much, with me, what would be the point of drinking now?

"If I were to pick up a drink, whatever I was drinking would still be there tomorrow, but it would be there with interest. I think of course you're going to experiment with alcohol, but be aware of it. And it's not the only way to take the edge off life."

What was your view on alcohol when growing up?

"Growing up, all I saw was adults saying, 'Oh, I've had a tough day, I'm going to have a drink now'. That's all we've ever grown up learning. But now we are all much more aware of there being different ways of dealing with it. If I've had a bad day, maybe I'm going to go for a run or watch a box set on Netflix."

Has giving up alcohol changed family life?

"It has made my relationship with my family better. It's made me more present. My husband does drink, but not massively. He's one of those strange people that can just have one. He's just so relieved (that I've given up drinking). I used to think he drank as much as me and then when I stopped, he just looked relieved. Then I realised he was just trying to keep up with me most of the time."

Do you avoid certain situations now?

"I don't really go out in the evening that much anymore. I feel like I've had my social life. My ideal night is to eat dinner with my daughter about six-ish, have a bath with her, put her to bed, maybe watch an episode of Game Of Thrones, then go to bed at 8.30 with a book and read for an hour-and-a-half then go to sleep. I'm like a reverse vampire. What good can come of being out after dark?"

Have you ever been tempted to fall off the wagon during the last two years?

"No. I've spent a huge amount on rehab (around £8,000), and I didn't have that money just lying around on the sofa."

Will you share more about your experiences in the future?

"My next book is going to be about getting sober. For me, the most important thing is giving myself advice."

You Got This by Bryony Gordon is published by Wren & Rook, price £9.99

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