'I’d be dead if I didn’t' – Cornwall mother says her life is transformed since giving up drinking

A mother from Cornwall admits she be “dead” if she hadn’t decided to stop drinking.

Nine million people across the country took part in Dry January this year – the highest number since the idea began 10 years ago.

Nationwide, fewer young people are drinking with 20 per cent abstaining from alcohol because of health, financial, and social reasons.

Claire Hatwell, from Launceston, has been alcohol-free for six years and says going teetotal has transformed her life.

Fewer young people are drinking with roughly one in five abstaining from alcohol Credit: ITV News

She said: "I’d say I was a normal mum. I kept the house going, I had a job, I had a mortgage – I just enjoyed a drink every night.

"It was really hard for me to see that it wasn’t ok and that one glass crept into two and then to three, and then one bottle by myself, to two, and then some nights it’d be three.

"It was really hard when people went out and said 'let’s go and do something'. I would find excuses but I still didn’t think I had a problem because I didn’t drink in the day, the kids were safe and happy – once they went to bed it was a different story.

"What I projected to everybody else was that I was fine – what nobody else knew was that my mask was really good – it was everything that was inside, I felt really bad about myself.

"I had this argument every day. I’d wake up and say 'I’m not going to drink today' and I’d get to the end of the evening on a challenging day and I’d think 'I’ll just have one – one will be alright' but the minute I had one, well, I had no 'off' button

"I think I’d be dead if I didn’t [stop]. I’d have lost everything.

"I might make a mistake but that’s my mistake. That’s not something induced by having a drink. I might have a temper but that’s me and not because I’ve had a drink."

In older age groups, where only around 10 per cent of people over 65 reported being non-drinkers.

Chantelle Stemp, from Cheltenham, is also embracing life without alcohol - putting a pause on drinking pints in favour of a sober lifestyle.

She said: "After the first drink I would just drink so fast and obviously my family would say 'you’re drinking too much'. On average I would drink four or five times a week.

Chantelle says she's become more productive since becoming teetotal Credit: ITV News

"My preference was lager and in the beginning I could easily drink three and stop, knowing that was my limit but towards the end, it was more like eight or nine pints an evening.

"When Covid struck, where I was working was closed. I was on furlough and I wasn't working at all for two or three months and I just couldn’t cope with that.

"It’s a lifestyle change because a lot of people that drink four or five times per week are using that as an aid to get to sleep and you fall asleep really quickly – or blackout.

"But the quality of sleep is really poor so you don’t get the quality of sleep you need. So your lifestyle changes because you’ve got to learn how to get to sleep again.

"On my day off I was up at 8.15am – in the past on my days off I would wake up between 11am and 12pm and feel like half the day has gone so you waste so much time because of drinking. I feel like I have so much more time to do other things now."

People are abstaining from alcohol because of health, financial, and social reasons Credit: ITV News

Many are influenced by the growing trend of wellness and self-care - with improved education about how alcohol affects our physical and mental health.

Professor Sally Marlow, a research fellow who studies alcohol at Kings College London, says: "Fewer young people are drinking but the ones who do, some are drinking really, really heavily.

"It affects every part of the body. It affects the brain, it's a depressant and makes you feel euphoric and alters the brain and that's how addiction starts.

"It can alter the face, it can alter movement with a slight tremor and then all the internal organs it contributes to a lot of cancers."

The NHS recommends adults consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week - the equivalent of six pints of beer or six large glasses of wine.

The NHS recommends adults consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week - equivalent of six pints of beer or six large glasses of wine Credit: ITV News

Simon Chapple, a sobriety coach, started drinking in his early teens and his relationship with alcohol escalated over two decades until he realised it was affecting his relationship with his son.

He said: "Many people worry if they quit drinking then they're not going to stop drinking for a long period of time.

"Start small and take a week-long break and monitor how you feel and decide if you want to keep going.

"It's never a linear journey and keep going. Explore it and see what happens but explore it and it could be one of the best things you do in your life."