I went one year without drinking. There were three separate occasions I more or less got pressured into pretend sipping or an aperitif but otherwise I was sober the whole time and didn’t really obsess about it. It took a while for friends and people around me to realize I was dead serious about not drinking but once I established the fact, people left me alone. I ended up having a shot of tequila about one week after the anniversary. That seriously messed my head up. The alcohol felt like it got injected into my veins and took me a while to ground myself. For about a week after the tequila kept popping into my head.
Now I know why alcoholics and drug addicts need to stop cold turkey. It’s crazy but you spend all this time avoiding it and you don’t realize how much your commitment and reinforcement of values are doing behind the scene. One one level, you’re freed from all the baggage of keeping your “streak” going. On the other hand, you need to make sure all hell doesn’t break loose and wait for it to pass. I was never a heavy drinker though I always had a tendency to binge. When I stopped drinking my propensity to drink was getting more and more frequent. I abstained from alcohol a couple months before. This time I was slowly getting fed up with myself at how easily I’d go for a beer or two after work to relax, rather than just let the stress go, and then the tipping point came when I had too many drinks and totally embarrassed myself. Something inside me told me that I had to hit the “reset” button. So, I said to myself, “I’m not drinking for at least six months”.
What happens when you don’t drink alcohol? This is what happened with me.
- Slept way better.
- Felt way better.
- Went out less.
- Never stayed until the morning train at a party (this being Japan).
- People around you drink less.
- You manage to socialize with people at parties anyway (you just need to get used to it at first, if you’re shy and use alcohol to loosen up)
I know that recent studies claim heavy drinkers still live longer than people who don’t drink. These studies contradict each other every other month but I wouldn’t doubt the social component of drinking leads to better health. Still, I can’t really deny that I feel a lot better not drinking because the quality of life is way better when there’s no alcohol from last night in your system even without hangovers. It’s a lifestyle choice. Although that tequila shot puts me back on a new journey, I’d rather not go back to drinking although I’m not going to be fanatic about it. Just go with the flow and right now I’m not feeling alcohol.