Don Your Way column: Why a night on the booze isn't what it used to be
So, how's Dry January going?
You might well be one of those people who've ditched booze as a post-Christmas detox and are now counting down the days until the end of the month when you can crack open the prosecco again or get a tin from the fridge once more.
To be honest, I've never been a big home boozer. The odd can here and there, the occasional glass of wine to celebrate a family occasion and Christmas and that's about it.
I prefer a night out with mates down the pub '“ but even then, those occasions are few and far between these days. Call it growing old, having kids and taking longer to recover from the hangover, whatever, I'm not propping up the bar waiting for the bell to clang for last orders.
It wasn't always the way. Back in my younger days (alright then, late teens and early 20s) nights out would be fuelled by copious amounts of stuff like Hooch alcoholic lemonade, Miller Lite and things like cider and black.
Needless to say, some of those nights were messy. Very messy.
I still like a night out as much as the next man (as long as the next man isn't Oliver Reed or George Best) but the advancing years and watching your wallet empty seem to have less and less appeal as time goes by.
Many years ago, I was in a brief but horrendous relationship with a chronic alcoholic. Not that I knew that at the time of course.
The drinking was kept secret and very much under wraps and half the time it was impossible to tell. People get the image of an '˜alkie' as some down and out swigging cheap cider from a park bench, but the reality is often very different.
Mums, dads, brother, sisters, friends, relatives '“ chances are everyone reading this will know someone who boozes to excess '“ yet still lives in denial that there's any sort of problem and hides their boozing away.
For many, Dry January is not just a month long fad, its a lifelong battle and struggle to stay off the drink. Many are not so lucky and a lifetime of boozing invariably only ends in one result.
I'm not doing Dry January.
There's no need to. Since New Year's Eve I think I've had about two alcoholic drinks and chances are I'm not going to be having any any time soon either.
Come January 31, there's many of you out there who will be looking forward to turning the calendar to February and getting royally smashed again.
But while there's no harm in enjoying a drink and a night out, don't undo all your good work and shift more booze than a small brewery to make up for a lost month.
Believe you me, your wallet (or purse) will appreciate it '“ your body certainly will.