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Friday, October 22, 2021

My first Dry July: surviving lockdown without a drink

International student AMREEN BADANI shares her experience cutting out alcohol for one month to raise funds for cancer patients.

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

As lockdown extends to the end of the month, some of us might be turning to that evening glass of wine to wrap up a long day of work. I know I’d certainly love one to unwind and relax, but I push the temptation aside for a good cause.

This month, I’m signed up for my first Dry July. It means 31 days of sobriety, not a drop to drink.

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The rules of Dry July are fairly simple: sign up and stop drinking for the month. You can reach out to friends and family to support your attempt, and the money raised goes to cancer patients, their families, and their caregivers such as specialist appointments, access to therapy, or even a crucial hospital bed. Since 2008, Dry July has raised over $60 million for people affected by cancer.

amreen badani
Image supplied

On the outset, there are tons of medical research that outline the benefits of a liquor-free month on our physical health like our liver, our sleep, and even our mental health. But for me, the cause ran much deeper than that. While reading up about Dry July earlier this year, I found out that a friend had been diagnosed with leukaemia. That’s all it took for me to fill up the form. Raising money for her alone would be enough, imagine raising money for millions of others with this lovely initiative!

In practise, of course, a month of no drinks isn’t always easy. When I’m especially stressed, I crave a chill glass of wine, and I’m used to social interactions around a drink or two. All of a sudden, these avenues disappeared, and I had more time than ever to myself.

READ ALSO: My first Aussie summer: Battling homesickness (and sunburn)

Image supplied

Thankfully, my friends have been doing Dry July for a couple of years now and they’ve been great motivation for me to stay the course. Without societal expectations to have a drink, I found myself wanting to focus more on other enjoyable activities like cooking. Who needs alcohol to have a good time?

Contrary to popular belief, lockdown has made it surprisingly easy to maintain my resolve. When people ask me how I’m going with this, I’m happy to report that it is now five weeks into the initiative (call me ambitious, but my self-imposed drought began in June!), and there are many health benefits that I’ve noticed already. My anxiety levels have gone down considerably, and I feel like I’ve even shed a few kilos. Many of us don’t realise, but alcohol can actually hinder our body’s ability to burn fat and provides empty calories.

Image supplied

Now my classic gin and tonics have been replaced with healthier options like juices and smoothies, and I’ve even discovered a healthy alternative to my beloved glass of wine. Did you know that liquor stores have non-alcohol wines that are great substitutes for the real deal? They grow on you after a bottle and hardly have any calories!

While I would recommend any efforts for a good cause, I think Dry July provides a great way to be helpful to others. And to your own self!

To contribute to her fundraiser and help out this Dry July, click here.

READ ALSO: Between an oven and a hot place: My baking journey


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