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Stop drinking? There’s an app for that!

Back at the beginning of 2019, I decided to take a break from drinking alcohol. I didn’t have a bad New Year’s Eve that ended with me waking up in a foreign country or a disastrous Christmas where I found myself naked and covered in ornaments or anything like that. No, I just wanted to get healthier.

I’d found for the past few years that drinking was just taking too much of a toll on my mind and body as I grew older. The odd hangover when I drank too much had turned into headaches whenever I drank anything at all. I developed strange heart palpitations that my doctor said were probably caused by alcohol. I was getting bloated and uncomfortably heavy. I was frustrated with my constant mood swings. I wasted way too much time on drunken midnight descents into 1990s concerts on YouTube.

As the father of a couple of young boys, I worried about the toll of all this and something happening to me that deprived them of a functional father, or a father at all. Leave aside for the moment they were often the reason I drank….

So I decided to try to stop drinking again, at least until I could shed some weight and get healthier. I’d tried a few times in the past and been reasonably successful — I’d gone a few months here, six months there, etc. But there was always some social event or another where I felt it was time to take a drink, and then the cycle started up again.

This time I decided to try out a new app I’d read about on reddit’s Stop Drinking subreddit: NoMo. I downloaded it in early January and started using it, and I 100% credit my year of sobriety to the app.

It has a number of features that are useful. One I quite like is you can track how much money you are saving. Simply check your bank statements to see how much you spent on booze the year before, enter that number into the app, and it’ll tell you how much money you’ve saved each day by not drinking. I’ve saved the price of a holiday trip to another country in one year — that’s right, I was drinking away a vacation each year.

You can also connect with other people for support and that sort of thing, if that’s what works for you. I’m more independent myself, but do whatever works for you.

The feature that works best for me is the app keeps track of your sobriety streak — how many days you’ve gone without a drink. That alone is the thing that has stopped me from drinking many times over the past year. There’s always been some occasion or another where I’ve been at a party or event where there’s a table of open booze bottles, and the thing that’s stopped me from drinking is that streak. I’ve actually pulled out my phone, checked my app and thought, “Nah, I don’t want to break my streak of 157 days of no drinking just to have a beer or shot of rum.”

The effectiveness of this really struck home with me when I was on holiday in Iceland with some friends a few months back. We were staying in a hotel that had an executive lounge that offered free booze every night — good, expensive booze! What better excuse to have a drink — I’m on holiday in Iceland, and they’re giving away excellent drinks for free. I can just take a short break from sobriety and have some fun! I didn’t, though. I didn’t want to break that streak on the app. And I honestly didn’t want to have a drink, either. I liked the way I felt sober and I continue to like the way I feel sober. So I passed and went to bed early and got up early the next day and wandered Reykjavik and went for hikes and had a lovely, inspiring time that I still remember.

I’m not one to be an evangelist about sobriety or anything else. But I’ve been open about my reasons for not drinking and I’ve been pleased with the changes over the last year — I lost 35 pounds, I’m more fit, I’m happier and more level, and I feel I’m much better equipped to deal with stress. Many people have asked me about my experiences and what’s been working for me. It’s clear a number of my friends and acquaintances have their own struggles with alcohol and are thinking about taking a break. So I thought I’d mention the app and my own experiences here for those who are interested.

After all, it’s the start of a new year. What better time to transform yourself into that person you want to be?

Stay strong and have compassion for others but most of all yourself.