3 months. That’s how long it’s been since I last had a drink of alcohol.
It’s kind of crazy to think I haven’t gone more than a month without a drink since I was 17 21. That’s over a almost a decade of consuming alcohol without a serious break. I’ve taken longer breaks from cannabis, a drug way less harmful than alcohol.
Removing alcohol from my system was an eye-opening experience. It started with a definite period of withdrawal. September was a rough month, just ask my coworkers. These 3 months I’ve learned so much about myself, and have begun to understand a lot of the motivations for WHY I drink alcohol. I also quickly realized how much alcohol is deeply integrated into American culture. I won’t say I was blind to it, but I certainly wasn’t as aware of it as I am now. I have a lot of respect for recovering alcoholics thanks to this experience.
You might be wondering why I took this sabbatical of sorts. Well, a couple big reasons which many of you know:
- Alcohol killed my father, and could kill me too. My genetics (which I inherited from him) make me predisposed to alcoholism, and increased damage from alcohol on my liver. And considering he passed from chronic liver failure due to “extensive alcohol abuse”, it makes me want to be incredibly cautious.
- I’ve made way too many serious mistakes when drunk. I’ve hurt people, I’ve ruined friendships, and I’ve harmed myself. I don’t always like who I become when I drink. In fact I’ve become the antithesis of myself on more than one occasion when drunk.
Through this 3 month experience I was tested. I celebrated my 28th birthday. 2 different ArcView investor forums occurred. I experienced the 1 year anniversary of my father passing, along with my father’s birthday. I also spent the last week of it in Las Vegas. Through all of it I turned down hundreds of drinks from friends, from strangers, and ordered lots of pineapple juices, Sprites, and tonic waters (usually with a garnish to go ninja).
Now that it’s over, I’m definitely not rushing to have a drink. But I’m not done drinking, not by a long shot. I understand my relationship with alcohol better now than I ever did before. Responsible consumption is now a million times easier.
The benefits of this 3 month sabbatical have been huge. I encourage all of you to consider making a similar commitment sometime. Here are some of the big benefits I’ve felt since taking on this commitment:
- I understand the nature of my anxiety a lot more now. Without a depressant in my system, it’s easier to recognize what makes me uncomfortable and why.
- My memory is much richer now than it’s been in some time. I’m remembering conversations better, and can more quickly recall past events.
- I’ve lost weight. I’m down 6 pounds (3%) or so since I stopped drinking alcohol. Considering beer was my main drink of choice it’s not surprising.
- I haven’t gotten stuck in an emotional state since the initial withdrawal. I still get mad at things, still feel sad, but they don’t control me as much. This isn’t just a drunk thing. I’m better at recognizing my emotional states now, and understanding why I feel the way I feel.
- I generally feel more in control. Committing to the 3 months was hard, but just by doing it I feel like I can accomplish just about anything. It’s an interesting ego boost.
There are more benefits I’ve experienced, but these are the big ones. It’s been a powerful 3 months for me to say the least.
I’m going to have my first drink in 3 months tonight, with my loving partner, and major supporter through this. She put up with me as I was dealing with everything, stood by me when I was begging for a drink in September, and never gave up on me. She’s amazing, truly.
Until next time y’all…
2 thoughts on “Taking a Break from Alcohol”
Good post. Moderation and balance are the name of the game. I’m sure/hope you’ve already considered this but the way I see it, not drinking on the anniversary of your father’s death is probably one of the best things you could do to honor his life. Kudos brother. He’d be proud.
Coincidentally, I’ve been on an almost parallel journey with you. The last night I had a drink was October 25. Like you, alcoholism runs in my family, and while I’m pretty sure I don’t have it as bad as some of my relatives, I realized that I have trouble stopping drinking once I’ve started. I also often feel bad the day after heavy drinking, whether from the hangover or the unrestful drunk sleep or the embarrassing things I did the night before. So I decided to take an indefinite break from alcohol as an experiment.
I’ve noticed a lot of the same things. The first week was especially hard emotionally, but since then I have felt more even-keel. Less weighed down by the bad things, more buoyed by the good things. I also feel like I’m sleeping better and benefiting from more mental acuity. And without changing anything about my diet save the fact that I stopped drinking and I stopped eating fast/junk food late at night while drunk, I’m down 6 lbs (4.7%) since Oct 25.
I don’t intend to be 100% sober forever, but I know that I don’t want to return to the mode where, “Let’s drink tonight,” is an activity in itself. A drink while doing something, sure. Drinking as the main thing I’m doing? Not any more.