13 Oct 2022

With Go Sober This October well under way, here is some advice for those still ‘on the wagon’…

We all know ‘on the wagon’ is a phrase used to describe someone who is abstaining from drinking any alcoholic drink, usually in the sense of having given it up, as opposed to never having drunk alcohol. ‘Off the wagon’ describes someone who is no longer abstaining. But I was surprised by its origins.


‘On the wagon’ was coined in the USA around the turn of the 20th Century. The phrase began as ‘on the water-cart’, migrated to ‘on the water-wagon’ and finally to ‘on the wagon’.

The late 19th Century saw the emergence of several temperance organisations, notably The Anti-Saloon League, The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and The Abstinence Society, which had encouraged millions of men to ‘take the pledge’ – an absolute promise never to drink again…

“I promise to abstain from all intoxicating drinks except used medicinally and by order of a medical man, and to discountenance the cause and practice of intemperance.”

Water wagons were a commonplace sight in US cities at the time. They didn’t carry drinking water but were used to damp down dusty streets during dry weather. Those who had vowed to give up drink and were tempted to lapse said that they would drink from the water-cart rather than take strong drink. So they were ‘on the wagon’.


Over 35 years of drinking, the longest I stayed on the wagon was six days. I tried hundreds of times to jump back on but always fell off again.

This time around, I have never once left the wagon and have absolutely no plans ever to do so again. At the time of writing this I stopped drinking almost 700 days ago and alcohol is now firmly something I did in a past life.

At first glance, it seems there are several ways you could leave the wagon. You could jump off, fall off, get pulled off or be pushed off!

If you decided to jump, it’s your choice. Yes, you might well be influenced by others, but it would be you who would take this final decision.

If you fell off, it would be your choice again because you can only fall off if you’re too close to the edge, or too close to wanting to drink. You would have been careless to put yourself in this position. There’s a great saying, ‘If you hang around the barber’s shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.’

If you were pulled off the wagon, it would be because you would have given in to friends who are off the wagon; who beckoned you to come and join them. Or you would have allowed societal pressure, which continually tells you that being off the wagon is a good thing, to get to you.

If you got pushed off, you would have been influenced by someone on the wagon with you. This can happen when a couple both stop drinking and one of them decides to have a drink, thereby pushing or influencing the other to come along for the ride and give it a go. I am lucky that this never happened to me because my wife does not drink!

But on further inspection, I soon realised that there is only one way that I would leave the wagon and that is through my own choice. I am the master of my own destiny. No-one can make me drink alcohol unless they put a gun to my head.

This point is crucial to making it a much easier process to getting back on the wagon. You have to realise that it’s your own doing. Once you understand this, the method I prescribe in my book to get back on the wagon – and stay on – will work.

There’s a whole chapter on this in my book Walking Back To Happiness The Secret To Alcohol-free Living & Well-being. Each chapter has a “Steps You Can Take” section to help you on your journey to alcohol freedom. With over 75 steps in total. On the wagon chapter steps include the method of how to get back on and how to stay on for good.

© Copyright Nigel Jones 2022. The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved.


If you are questioning your alcohol consumption or already taking a break from it and seeing the huge benefits that brings please feel free to get in touch. You can contact me through


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