'I can't moderate': Dai Henwood on what drinking did to his life and why sobriety works for him

Dai Henwood has revealed how working in the comedy industry helped foster decades of unhealthy drinking habits and why he's much happier a year-and-a-half into full-time sobriety. 

Appearing on Nats Levi's Fierce Fitness podcast, the 7 Days star explained how being a stand-up comedian meant he essentially "worked in a bar", and shared that contracts for his early television work included clauses that allowed him to drink and take drugs. 

"I got on the booze and a few other things for the best part of 20 years, travelling the world, telling jokes, making television shows. I was a very good pisshead. I was very fun to be around, I was the life of the party," Henwood explained. 

"Then it started causing personal issues for me around mental health and anxiety - it played a negative part in my relationship, not through anger or arguing but just through creating worry and being out drinking and so forth. 

"I'm married to a wonderful woman and have great kids, and it just sort of wasn't aligning with my values." 

Henwood said substance use was far from off-limits in the entertainment industry, and the added focus on drinking culture in Aotearoa could be challenging when performing at alcohol-centric venues. 

"I work in a bar, basically," he explained. 

"When I get to work, I get offered a drink - whatever I'd like. In my first TV contracts, I could take drugs or alcohol at the discretion of the director. It was very much not condemned."  

"Travelling around rural New Zealand doing gigs in pubs is interesting because it really defines people in smaller towns," he added. "The pub is the hub of the town, and if you go there and you're not drinking, they find it a bit weird." 

Having been on a journey to sobriety over the past five years, Henwood said he's now free of much of the mental health struggles that plagued him while on the booze.  

"I sort of feel like I want to be here for quite a while, and I want to maximise my time on Earth, and I can still go out and have a good time," he said.

"I feel a lot more chilled out, I don't have the anxious moments and the internal battle of 'I said I was only going to have three drinks last night and I had ten'.

"Zero is the easiest number for me to remember. I find all or nothing, for me." 

The father-of-two explained that he "can't moderate" - but that was part of his personality that made him a successful comedian. 

"Comedians don't need to moderate. When I'm on stage - that's what makes me good. What I've got to learn to do is take out the things that are negative for me, and just go loose when I'm doing something positive."  

"I'm a big fan of 'You are where you're meant to be' - regardless of where you are," Henwood added.

"If you're in a drunk hole at the moment, you're meant to be there because this is a sign for you to get out of there. I want to enjoy every single moment of the day, no matter how mundane it is, and I find sobriety really helps me do that."