Why I quit alcohol
I quit drinking alcohol for several months (January, February, March, August, December) in 2020. It helped me early on in the pandemic, but I fell prey to wanting to have ice cold beers in my backyard while I tilled the garden. Not such a bad thing, I had cut way back. January through March put a lot in perspective and I had a more conscience understanding about my alcohol consumption.
When I resumed drinking, I noticed the effects immediately. I was more irritable, more prone to argue with my wife and my anxiety skyrocketed. Even after one beer, I would notice an anxiety spike. This was followed by waking in the middle of the night, heart-racing, fretting about nothing. The last straw for me was Thanksgiving night, I had a couple glasses of champagne and a whiskey and this pattern repeated itself. I haven’t had a drop since.
I have committed to being alcohol free in 2021 and I’ve gained some valuable perspective. Some things that have helped support me are: browsing online support groups, giving yourself a pep talk before entering social situations and filling the habitual drink in hand with another cold, non alcoholic beverage.
Here are some of the benefits I noticed during the alcohol free months
A sharper tool
I have a general, overarching feeling of sharpness. It’s a low hum, but it is consistent. I wouldn’t say a veil was lifted, but more like someone brightened the tint a few shades.
Somewhere around 2 weeks alcohol free, I notice that I am sleeping much deeper without waking up in the middle of the night. When I wake up, I am not groggy but it takes a little bit longer to come fully awake. The more time without alcohol, the deeper my sleep gets.
I would not label myself as “ overly anxious”, but we all have our proclivities, and left unchecked or untreated, the effect can be cumulative. I notice that anxiety is cut down to almost nothing. The feeling in my chest where anxiety grows is has been covered over like a sewer being closed by a lid.
I like sweets. I tell myself that eating that extra cookie is fine because I wont have 3000 calories of IPAs in my system. You will look and feel less bloated.
No hangovers, ever
At this point in my life, I cannot handle a hangover. I hate the wasted day, wasted time and feeling helpless on the couch. Couple that with the fact that hangovers get worse with age and it goes without saying that this is one of the best aspects of no alcohol.
Time not drinking is time spent doing something else.
Money not spent on alcohol is money spent on something else.
I like to think that the cover that went over the anxiety well was removed from the energy well.
Social is still social.
Grab a club soda, coffee, water or non-alcoholic beer (they make some great ones now — Athletic Brewing, Hairless Dog, Brewdog) and have something in your hand. It’s not the alcohol that is assuaging your social anxiety, it is the motor function. I actually feel like there is a secondhand buzz just by being in the room with people drinking, so enjoy it and don’t worry about getting arrested on the way home.
Habit building is easier
I know that the habits I build when I’m not drinking are there because I’m not drinking alcohol. Reading more, exercising, writing and practicing music have all increased significantly since I quit alcohol.
No one cares
Never feel uncomfortable explaining to someone why you are no longer drinking. It’s an extremely personal choice. Good friends will be there no matter what.
…and if they do, they aren’t important