A Hawke's Bay man has sipped his first alcoholic drink in more than a month after completing Dry July.
Luke Farr, who had upwards of eight alcoholic drinks a day during lockdown, signed up to the alcohol-free challenge after his drinking began to take its toll on his mental and physical health.
The 32-year-old, from Taradale, had been a regular drinker for 15 years before his habit worsened during lockdown.
"I was having a red wine by 11am and would have seven-plus beers during the course of the afternoon," he said.
"I saw out the whole month – but, it was extremely difficult as I'd been a regular drinker my whole life," he says of Dry July.
Farr, who was one of 56 people to sign up to Dry July in Napier, raised $6104 – finishing second among the 7600 fundraisers across the country, which he celebrated with "more than a glass".
"That's not to say I'm back on the boozing bandwagon."
Farr, who said the amount he had been drinking had caused mental health issues, anxiety and panic attacks, said easing back into social situations without alcohol has been the most challenging part.
"Learning to relax and be at ease in a social environment without relying on the calming effects of alcohol has been hard as I'm a social creature by nature," he said.
"I've learnt to trust myself and found confidence without alcohol in my system.
"My celebrations were to acknowledge I'd accomplished something quite challenging considering my circumstances."
A total of $970,000 was raised nationwide through the 2020 campaign, with Napier the sixth highest earning region ($8948.53).
Farr said he will be moderating his drinking after realising how severe it was.
"I'll still be drinking to celebrate at a wedding or someone's birthday," he said.
"But I understand the negative impacts. It's a powerful drug and it's not to be taken lightly.
"It's a depressant, it's expensive and it can ruin your life. Tread with caution and try to stay in control of it without it controlling you."
Since its launch in 2012, the Dry July NZ Trust has raised more than $6 million through 45,000 partakers, with all funds going to cancer charities.
The money raised by this year's participants will help fund the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand programme Prost-FIT, Bowel Cancer New Zealand Charity specialist nurses and Look Good Feel Better free community-based programmes for people facing any cancer.