'I quit drinking after feeling I was going to die - I've never been happier'

Sober Buzz founder Kirsty says she is the 'healthiest and most social she has ever been' since she quit alcohol.

Sober coach who quit alcohol after drinking ‘spiralled’ says ‘I’ve never been happier or healthier’ STV News

An Edinburgh mum who says her drinking habits left her feeling like she was going to die said more help and alternative support bases are needed for people struggling with alcohol.

When Kirsty Mulcahy stopped drinking six years ago, she says that’s when she felt her life truly began.

She has since set up Sober Buzz – a support base and social club for people who are sober, or sober-curious.

The 47-year-old mum is one of many people leading the way for people to give up booze and embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle.

It comes as interest in the “sober curious scene” continues to grow.

Research shows 19% of Scots now claim to be non-drinkers.

Despite this trend, the number of people dying from alcohol is rising, with 440 female deaths in 2022 according to the National Records of Scotland.

”I just knew I could not go on’

Kirsty said she suffered from a “bad relationship with alcohol” between the ages of 27 and 41, which she said “spiralled” after the sudden death of her mother in 2009.

At her worst, she was drinking three bottles of wine a night.

“I was known for being the person that drank. I drank at every occasion,” she said.

“I had bought into the whole ‘mum needs a wine,’ ‘wine o’clock’ thing.

“I thought I deserved a drink, that I needed a drink. Rather than stopping, I didn’t think about what I actually deserved – help at home, someone to speak to.

“I had really good friends who told me they were worried about me.

“I would lie about how much I drank and would hide empty bottles under the sink.

“I would Google ‘am I an alcoholic?’ and I wanted it to tell me that I wasn’t.”

On December 27, 2017, Kirsty realised she had to make a change.

She had woken up with a hangover which made her think she was “going to die”.

Kirsty went to the Crisis Centre in Leith that day to get help.

She said: “My heart was racing, I had terrible anxiety and like my body was giving in. I just knew I could not go on.

“I thought ‘this is how I’ll die.’

“When I went, it was the first time someone said ‘you’re not that bad,’ just don’t drink that much,’ ‘you just need to take a break.’

“They took it seriously and said ‘we hear you.'”

Kirsty visited the doctor in January 2018 and was prescribed medication to manage her mental health.

She took time off work and avoided socialising for a few months as she began her journey to sobriety.

“When I started telling people I hadn’t drank for a period of months, they couldn’t believe it. It was not on the books for anyone.

“When people say they are ‘in recovery’, I don’t want people to be scared of that.

“I was recovering from years of drinking, my mum’s death, really bad self-talk. I was just looking after myself.

“I thought my life I was destined to feel really low and fed up. I thought I was destined to have a miserable existence.”

At 47, Kirsty said she is now the “fittest and healthiest” she has ever been.

She runs half marathons, swims in the sea and regularly attends gigs and nightclubs.

“I used to think I wouldn’t be able to go to a bar without jumping over the bar and drinking straight out of the optics,” she said.

“I’m actually more social now – I used to stay at home drinking but I go out all the time.

“I am so happy, I feel very positive. I like who I am. I now feel like I’m thriving.

“It’s a whole new chapter in my life.”

Kirsty said more must be done to improve support for people hoping to cut out alcohol from their lives.

“I think we should have more alcohol-free spaces, particularly for LGBTQ people,” she added.

“They often feel safer in a bar but they might not want to drink.

“I think we are getting better but I think Scotland could keep improving.”

In 2023, Kirsty registered Sober Buzz as a community interest company.

The group host meet-ups, yoga sessions and brunches for people who are curious about cutting down on drinking alcohol.

“It’s a place where people come, talk openly about living alcohol free or come if they are sober curious,” she said.

“It’s a really empowering decision. I feel the most empowered I’ve ever felt since I stopped drinking.

“We aren’t talking about feeling disempowered or ashamed, we’re talking about making a really positive choice.

“It’s for that middle ground for people that don’t feel like they need rehab, 12 steps and want to make a change.

“People really enjoy coming together for our group – they know they are not alone.”

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