Dry July Progress Report: Why Failure Was Essential To My Success

Dry July Progress Report: Why Failure Was Essential To My Success

I made a resolution at the end of June to stop drinking for Dry July, and hopefully quit smoking for good at the same time. I fell apart just one week in, but I haven’t given up. It turns out it was necessary for me to fall in order to succeed.

One of the rules of Dry July is that if you want a hall pass for one day in the month to drink, someone has to buy you a Golden Ticket at a minimum cost of $25. This Golden Ticket allows you to drink for one night, as nominated by the person making the donation. I initially requested that nobody buy me a Golden Ticket so as not to derail my progress, but I cracked last Saturday when I went to a friend’s place to do my tax return (since the ATO still hasn’t made a native version for Macs yet).

As I mentioned previously, seeing friends who smoke makes me want to smoke. That association is extremely difficult for me to resist. While I was doing my tax return, my friend headed out onto the balcony to have a cigarette, and instantaneously memories of all the good times we’ve had together talking and smoking on his balcony into the wee hours of the morning came flooding back. I was out of willpower.

I asked him to buy me a Golden Ticket. He said no. I asked my boyfriend to buy me a Golden Ticket. He also said no. I messaged my girlfriend, who is on my Dry July team, and whined about how much I needed a cigarette and a drink right now. She was sympathetic but also said no. So I bought myself a Golden Ticket, with money I didn’t have – on the credit card. I really was that desperate. My boyfriend then offered me a $50 donation to “suck it up and be strong”. I turned down his offer. Selfish, right?

I felt partially relieved and partially guilty. I tried to make myself feel better by telling myself that I was aiming for progress, not perfection. Still, I was letting down people who had made donations and were counting on me to make it through the month. That night, I had one beer and a handful of cigarettes. They didn’t even taste good, and my lungs paid for it hard the next morning.

Do I regret my actions that night? Not at all. Quite the opposite in fact. Thanks to my lack of self control, I ended up getting a donation that I wouldn’t have otherwise – even if I was the one who ended up making the donation. I also realise now that falling down served the purpose of reminding me why I was quitting in the first place; drinking and smoking don’t make me feel good. I like the fact that I’ve been going to bed each night without having to use the inhaler. I don’t wake up wheezing and struggling to breathe anymore. I no longer worry about wasting half the day due to hangovers.

To be on the safe side, I’ll be avoiding temptations for the rest of the month. No seeing friends. No Friday night beer. No going out on a Saturday night. I’ll appreciate all motivation I can get, so if you want to throw a few bucks towards the Prince of Wales hospital, you can do so here.

If you’re also doing Dry July, tell us how you’re coping in the comments.


  • “memories of all the good times we’ve had together talking and smoking on his balcony into the wee hours of the morning came flooding back”

    There’s no reason you couldn’t sit out on the balcony talking all night – without the cigarettes and alcohol.

  • I’m 22 years old and I quit drinking just before I turned 17. I also quit smoking January 1st 4 years ago, cold turkey. My girlfriend still smokes and drinks, along with everyone else in the house. I never get tempted though. I have convinced myself that smoking makes me feel sick and alcohol will make me physically ill. I now sit with my girlfriend and friends while they smoke and drink, I participate in the social side of things without the smoking or drinking. The important thing is to participate in the social without the smoking/drinking as early and often as possible. That way, you are not craving as bad as you would two weeks in and you can break the association with social situations and drinking/smoking.
    Good luck

  • I don’t begrudge anyone having a drink – I enjoy a few from time to time. As for the smoking, think of the good you are doing for others around you who don’t smoke. I’m 44, never tried a cigarette – and I’ve just been diagnosed with emphysema. Most likely cause is from exposure to second hand smoke around my parents who were heavy smokers.

    I’m probably ignorant but I just don’t get how people can enjoy something that can completely fuck your life up.

  • Whilst I appreciate your justification of a donation you would not have ordinarily got – you would have got more if you had accepted your boyfriends offer to “suck it up and be strong”, so I don’t think it really works.

    I’m doing Dry July too. As someone who usually drinks (to excess) most nights of the week, it IS hard. The key for me has been to surround myself with people in the same boat, and do things that don’t revolve around drinking – which was surprisingly hard at first! Movies – there’s a bar at Event Cinemas, board games – that’s more fun drunk, zoo – can I really be around that many children sober? …but we’re almost at the half way point, so I’m feeling pretty good about it all.

    • That’s why I said it was selfish! 🙂

      I don’t really drink that much, but I’m finding it surprisingly hard to know that I don’t even have the option. Like today on way home from work I thought about grabbing a beer somewhere before realising – oh hey I can’t drink!

  • I gave up binge drinking (more than 4 units/day) 18 months ago. It is hard at times around people that are drunk, but I have got used to it. Keep going, stay strong, it isn’t easy…

  • I have to say that Alcohol is a big big problem here in Australia,and I come from Ireland. I have lived in Sydney for nearly 4 years now and I think a lot of people’s lives revolve around drink.
    Before anyone asks I do drink, but not regularly and almost never to excess.But at the same time I can go for weeks without having a drink. To the person who said that they drink to excess most nights of the week, I think its professional help you need, not dry July!
    I also gave up smoking about 6 or 7 years ago, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It took me years to stop completely. But I think that every time you give it a go you get that little bit nearer. Best thing I ever did.
    So if your trying to quit, keep on trying and you will get there.

  • Take a survey and get good information on quitting smoking and not gaining weight! I did and am very happy. Google; quit smoking and lose weight. Lots of good information on how to avoid the pitfalls after you quit, like bloating, weight gain, constipation, etc.

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