A Northampton man, who has been drinking since he and his boarding school friends used to buy cheap Martini on the weekends in the 1980s, has not touched a drop of alcohol for more than four months.
Owen Jones says drinking had always been a part of his life, as it was for his parents too.
At the height of his drinking, Owen would consume two bottles of wine every night and then go to work the next day, as well as going out for drinks on the weekends.
But the dad-of-two went cold turkey in the middle of September last year.
Owen said: “I went out with a group of lads, some old friends. We got drunk and then the next day we were straight back in the pub.
“It was blatantly obvious that drinking was not working anymore and was not working for me.
“That was the night where I just flipped the switch and I just thought now is the time.
“I texted home to say I will be coming home soon and I’m going straight to bed and I’m never drinking again.
“I decided about five years before to do it but it took a lot of time to get there.
“That last weekend was a monster.”
Around the same time, Owen’s oldest daughter got a new job but was not yet able to drive.
Owen said: “My oldest daughter got a new job and I needed to take her to and from work.
“I could not have been a proper father if I was still drinking.”
Ironically, Owen actually describes the journey to becoming a non-drinker as ‘like learning to drive’.
The 53-year-old said: “You can’t just get in the car and drive, you have to learn the controls, the theory, about other people around you and about traffic.
“Once you have got to that point and you have learned everything then you can become a driver.
“So I decided to stop drinking then I had to go through a period of understanding and learning.
“I was content and happy with my decision. There was no argument anymore in my head.
“The decision was simple once I shut up the part of my brain that believed alcohol was a relaxant and a social lubricant, so there was no need for will power."
Owen, who lives in Queen’s Park, tried a number of ways to cope with his decision including Alcoholics Anonymous, therapy, talking to people and researching in medical journals.
He added: “Some worked for me, some didn’t.
“The main thing was understanding in my mind that my problem was my own jigsaw puzzle so if I found something that didn’t fit, it didn’t matter, it was somebody else’s piece.
“The thing that has been a massive help for me was the Be Military Fit sessions in Abington Park.
“The fresh air and like-minded people was really important to me.
“I could go home and drink a bottle of wine or I could put my shorts on and run around a park.
“Going outside is so good for the mind and that has been massive for me.”
After kicking the drinking to the curb last year, Owen says he feels ‘one hundred times better’.
Owen, who works as a project manager, said: “I’m sleeping better, I’m more alert and more physically active.
“And the kids and I have had much more fun going out and doing stuff.
“My friends could not believe the change either.
“We went to one of the friends I was with on the night in September on New Year’s Eve and he was concerned I would be no fun and would look down on him for having a drink.
“But that doesn’t bother me. He likes a drink. I actually took him some wine.
“We had a cracking evening and it was just as much fun as any other.
“I realised Owen doesn’t have to be hidden behind alcohol to be Owen.
“I’m not recovering, I’m not an ex-drinker. I am now a non-drinker and looking at it like that helps me.”
Now Owen is hoping to help others by sharing his journey on a website he launched at the start of the year.
He said: “The idea behind that is to share my experiences so people can read and relate to them.
“I want to build up a library of resources for people to understand and look into.
“I would like to get out in front of people in different environments to talk to people about my experiences, not just those who drink but those people who have contact with them too.”
To read more about Owen’s experiences and find help with drinking, visit his website DrunkDadToDryDad.