Five Reasons I Failed Dry July (…And What I’m Doing About it).


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I’m mad for fad.

I love getting on board with a trend just to feel the experience for myself, and so I can form my own opinion of the whole thing. In the early days I planked… I photo-bombed… I uploaded ‘Fridance’ videos (not necessarily in that order).  I’ve ridden my bike to work on national ‘ride your bike to work’ day.  If I could, I would grow a moustache in November. I had my fingernails ‘shellacked’, even with my ring-finger painted a contrasting, yet somewhat complementary, colour to the rest. There is a suggestion that I may have actually invented the trendy-term ‘Happy Friday’, proliferated through my workplace of influential people at the time. I’m trying to launch another at the moment, being ‘Onesie Wednesday’ – the inaugural occasion running successfully in my workplace last week.

I’m just waiting for the right cause to ‘shave’ for. You know it’s coming.


When it comes to healthy trends like Feb-Fast and Dry-July I’m a seasoned professional. I’ve taken part in these ‘trends for a cause’ since their early inception. I’m a work-hard play-hard kind of girl so the opportunity to look after myself, and my liver, for weeks-at-a-time always seems like an easy choice to make.


This July, however, my Dry-July alcohol abstinence commitment failed.

As I type this article, I’m utterly disappointed in my usually unwavering discipline  … but I have to share my  failure story, to hold myself fully accountable and to try and help other people like me who have either failed Dry July or are unwilling to entertain the idea of an abstinence period for fear of failure.


Here are the Five Reasons My Dry July turned WET…

#1 I Did it for Someone Else. This Dry July I made it a statement to get involved to help support someone else’s efforts. In hindsight, this commitment should only have ever been for me (sorry Emily!).


#2 I Ordered from the Mocktail List. One of the cool restaurants in Melbourne were offering a ‘Dry July’ list of virgin mocktails so you could feel part of the dining & drinking experience even whilst abstaining. This was good in theory until I ordered one, and they accidentally served me up a fully loaded cocktail of tequila and vodka – which I couldn’t recognize on your palate until it was too late. I sent it back to the bar with a serve of my own, but the damage was done.


#3 I Always Planned a ‘Day Off’ Dry July. The Dry July online fundraising campaign offers a feature of a ‘Golden Ticket’ to help those people who want to be involved but have an occasion that they are keen to “have a sip” at. For me it was a birthday for a friend that I wanted to go all-out for, so I made a deal with myself to undertake Dry July with the caveat of this one night off.


#4 I Gave In. This is the big one, the moment when I turned my back on my original commitment. Perhaps reasons #1 #2 #3 led me to this, #4, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I let ‘an occasion’ become more important to me than my commitment. It was my choice at the time and I have to accept my responsibility for that. Crucially, in my mind I did a little deal with myself at the time to make it okay (“add another week in August to make up for this.”)


#4 Once I was Gone I was Gone. It’s like Chocolate-Abstinence-Dieting (I can feel a C.A.D Trend coming on…). Once we break our commitment to ourselves and have a Tim-Tam we feel like we’ve written the day or the week off so it all goes out the window until we ‘start’ again. This happened to me, after I’d done my dash and slipped up beyond my original commitment it was on and I was back into regular my regular swing.



So, what I learned, for next time and for anyone out there considering a period of alcohol abstinence;

–       Do it for yourself

–       Don’t order from the mocktail list (you don’t need to pretend),

–       Avoid committing to a deal with a caveat ‘day off’.

–       Don’t give in (there’s no such thing as mini deal on top of your original deal, breaking is breaking)

–       Finally, if you do slip up, let it be just that – one slip up, it doesn’t need to mean the ‘The End’… that whole thing is over and you’ve got to start again next time.


In holding myself fully accountable I’m opening up to your creative suggestions on what I can do to make-up for Failing Dry July! It might be every Friday off-grog for the rest of the Year, a monetary donation, undertaking HungoverYoga, even Octsober. Do you have a better idea that you’d like to see done… let me know 🙂




10 Responses

    • Julie Anne

      July 31, 2013 4:54 pm

      Hi Joanne – just wanted to say big thanks for reading and commenting 😉 I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding the drinking culture around occasions! In some cases it was easier for me to stay home than to go to an event and have people trying to twist my arm. Thanks again for taking the time to comment 🙂

  1. Rosemary

    July 31, 2013 3:12 pm

    I have to confess, I find it a bit surprising / disappointing that so many people find it so hard to manage just one little month off alcohol. But maybe it’s because there’s no real motivation for it, when it’s just a deal you’ve made with yourself for no reason other than because it feels good. I’ve been through several periods of total abstinence, mostly for longer than 6 months, and they have all gone along with other consumables being banned – typically the alcohol was EASY compared with quitting coffee (and tea), and all the associated food groups I couldn’t have. My most memorable dry times were for a) health reasons – I was put on a very severely restricted diet of 6 drinks of something resembling baby formula for over 6 months, b) health reasons – a less strict diet (food was permitted, YAY) where all carbs were prohibited and I could have tea and coffee this time, and c) trying to conceive / pregnancy / breastfeeding – maximum of one caffeinated drink a day, and no soft cheese / sushi / seafood / etc for the pregnancy bit.
    I can tell you, when you’ve been told that abstaining could be the difference between health and illness (for you or your future child) it does help keep you on the straight and narrow. Do you think you’lll ever want to have a child? If so, you’ll need to master the no-booze thing for upwards of a year, and then only the occasional one for a few more months if you breastfeed too.
    My challenge to you would be to try another month with no alcohol, and ADD an extra challenge – maybe quit coffee too or some other part of your diet that is nice but not healthy.

    • Julie Anne

      July 31, 2013 4:52 pm

      Hi Rosemary, thank you so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment – it really means a lot to me. You raise an interesting point about pregnancy and alcohol abstinence. I do hope to have children one day and I have always wondered how difficult the 12+ months off alcohol would be. A few pregnant friends have told me you really don’t ‘crave’ or desire a drink during pregnancy – any truth to that?

      I can imagine it would be easier to say ‘no’ to alcohol at occasions and events when pregnant too (i.e. no one trying to twist your arm into drinking). Sadly I find that the hardest part – people being disappointed to hear you’re not going to have one or two for their special occasion.

      Thank you so much for your ‘challenge’, I’ll add it to the list of ideas – think this is a great one though, adding an element to the abstinence period.

      Thanks again for your read and reply!

      • TG

        July 31, 2013 11:40 pm

        “Sadly I find that the hardest part – people being disappointed to hear you’re not going to have one or two for their special occasion.”

        Perhaps you should find some different friends… if they are more ticked off about you not having a drink, than being appreciative that you’re present to share the occasion, then something’s wrong.

        • Julie Anne

          August 1, 2013 9:06 am

          Hi TG – thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and make a comment. It’s so interesting because as I was typing that very line that you’ve highlighted in your comment I was thinking “that can’t be a good thing surely”!
          I absolutely agree with you, people should be more happy with your presence at an occasion than your willingness or decision to consume alcohol. In saying that, I have to be honest and admit there have been times in the past where I found out a friend wasn’t going to be drinking and was thinking in the back of my mind ‘oh they’re not planning on having a big/fun night’… I’m flabbergasted that this could be my own opinion at times (not often, but at times) – and I wonder… what is that? Are we trained as a society (by advertising or movies or whatever) to think that if someone’s not drinking they’re not going to be as much fun? It’s certainly something I will look at very differently from now on! Thanks again for your comment, a refreshing point of view to consider. Jules

  2. Roger

    July 31, 2013 3:57 pm

    Definetly easier said than done, and I’m finding my wetsuit’s become tighter in the past three weeks, whoa behold I’ve somehow managed to put on 4kg – the only change in my diet is not drinking a bottle of bubbly each night, and instead drinking carbonated water.

    No more dry July’s for me that’s for sure.

    • Julie Anne

      July 31, 2013 4:48 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read and reply! So you literally put on weight during Dry July? I thought we were supposed to lose KGs 🙁 I say good on you for giving it a go, we have to do these things. So will you give it another crack next year (I’m not sure yet?).

  3. Liam

    July 31, 2013 4:37 pm

    What happens to those people who sponsored you? I completed it last year, having not had a dry month in the previous 20+ years, and it was the thought of letting everyone down that kept me true. My girlfriend decided to do it this year, and it was the threat from me that I would want her to refund my sponsorship if she failed that got her over those early doubts. It would’ve made that first lapse a hell of a lot more expensive!

    I’m happy to say she’s lasted the full month and feels all the better for it.

    • Julie Anne

      July 31, 2013 4:46 pm

      Hi Liam! Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading my blog. Now that you mention this, it’s probably the ‘sixth reason’ I failed… I didn’t have any paying sponsors this year! I actually agree this is quite a big factor in success or failure, as you mentioned! I’m so glad your girlfriend has done it successfully… she can be my inspiration for 2014! Thanks again for taking the time to read/comment.


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