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Man, 29, Says Giving Up Alcohol Gave Him A New Lease Of Life

Man, 29, Says Giving Up Alcohol Gave Him A New Lease Of Life

Many of us have woken up with a hangover from hell one day and promised ourselves that it would be the last time - we're 'never drinking again'. But very few of us, especially over the past year, have ever stuck to our word.

James O'Donnell, however, is someone who did.

In 2019, after a heavy night while on holiday, the 29-year-old decided he'd had enough of the dreaded bouts of 'fear' that seemed to punctuate his life up until that point.

At first, he had a short term of goal of making it through that Christmas sober, and over a year later, he has kept it going - and now feels better than ever, both physically and mentally.

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Speaking to LADbible, James said he has never looked back.

"Drinking as much as I did was negatively affecting my already bad mental health, as I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety back in 2015," says James, who hails from Dublin, Ireland.

"Any time I was drinking after I found that out, it was to try and forget something was wrong."

James O'Donnell recently celebrated a year of no alcohol. Credit: Supplied
James O'Donnell recently celebrated a year of no alcohol. Credit: Supplied
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This came to a head during a trip away with his partner.

He explains: "I had a particularly bad hangover in Portugal in 2019. I spent my last day there in bed, curled into a ball of anxiety and fearing for the state I was in the night before.

"At one stage I walked to McDonald's to get some kind of pick me up and almost had a panic attack in the queue before going back to the AirBnB with my food.

"I barely touched it, and ended up going straight back to bed while my girlfriend went and watched the sunset in the park on her own because I couldn't leave the flat."

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James was never reliant on alcohol, but like many of us - likely more than would probably admit to it - he used it as a crutch to get through social situations.

Since James has stopped drinking, he says he feels much better physically and mentally. Credit: Supplied
Since James has stopped drinking, he says he feels much better physically and mentally. Credit: Supplied

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But this was his wake-up call, and he eventually managed to build up the courage to try and turn his life around, although it wasn't easy.

"My girlfriend and her friends had a Christmas party, and that was the first night I ever went out and didn't drink," he recalls.

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"It was really difficult at the start because I thought, 'I don't feel right without being drunk in a social setting like this at Christmas.' Everyone else is drinking, you look like the weird one.

"I remember getting home and feeling like I had just played at left back for 90 minutes with Mo Salah running at me all game but I thought, 'I did it.'"

Thirteen months, one pandemic, and countless lockdowns later, while many have turned to drink to get through it all, James has ditched it for good.

The 29-year-old feels much better about himself since giving up booze. Credit: Supplied
The 29-year-old feels much better about himself since giving up booze. Credit: Supplied
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He has grabbed his new life with both hands, getting fitter and healthier, but also becoming more at ease with himself - with strangers even getting in touch with him to ask for advice.

James says: "Life is a struggle right now for everyone, but I would always encourage people to look after themselves and the people around them.

"For me, being sober only has had a positive outcome. It has helped me massively with my social anxiety as well as my overall mental and physical health.

"I used to use alcohol as a crutch in social situations but since stopping, I've been much more comfortable and confident in myself."

He adds: "I definitely recognise that person in Portugal, because that's who I was for a good 10 years, and I've done a lot of stupid things while drunk that I wish I could take back. But if I hadn't have gone through it all and felt the way I felt after, I probably wouldn't have realised the problem I had with it."

UOKM8? is a campaign by LADbible, featuring films and stories that provide advice and inspiration on mental health. Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Let's talk mental health.

MIND: 0300 123 3393.

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CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.

Featured Image Credit: LADbible/Supplied

Topics: Mental Health, Inspirational, Alcohol, Health

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Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]