I didn’t have an alcoholic drink in 2013.
Here are some thoughts, blending a bit of ‘why’, ‘FAQ’, and ‘now what?’:
Why I quit in the first place (in order of importance)
1. to allow myself to focus more on web-based side projects, read more, and to increase my chances of being productive on a daily basis
2. to reset my drinking habits and reevaluate it overall
3. to flex that willpower muscle
I did not quite because I felt like I was out of control or had a problem. Most of my friends were surprised to hear I was making this choice. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m not a very inhibited person, so dancing until 3am whilst sober was not a problem (though I have to admit I did get tired a bit sooner).
How it felt
“Gosh, you must feel great!”
To be honest, I have fully forgotten what a hangover feels like and I’m not looking forward to remembering. I didn’t initially feel better when I started because I actually had hernia surgery in February, so while I wasn’t drinking I was out of shape. Since July I started running quite a bit more and do feel good. Thanks for asking.
“Isn’t it really tough to not drink in social situations?”
Nope, not really. You just ask for a water, or a coke, or a lemonade, or a green tea…or an apple juice in a sippy cup.
It can be tough when all glasses are raised together and you’re not raising a cocktail with the rest, but like everything else in life, you get used to that too. Perhaps the toughest occurrences of this were when I started a new job and the team toasted to me and I wasn’t drinking; also going to a shabbat dinner and not raising a purple liquid for a blessing.
“I have to drink for work!”
This is sad and true for many (advertising folks, many sales folks, I hear your pain):
“You must save so much money!”
I guess? In many ways money is like water in a container- it will take the shape of wherever it’s placed. What I mean is that while I didn’t spend it on booze, I didn’t feel like I saved significantly more either; there are other reasons for this too, but I don’t need to get too much into my finances here. I will mention that when I eat out with friends who decided to not have a drink with me, they would frequently remark on how inexpensive the bill was due to that lack of liquid courage.
1. It’s good to question your established habits. Don’t do something just because everyone else does. This piece of wisdom also could have been gleamed from my 1st grade yearbook, but peer pressure’s potency manifests a bit differently as an adult.
2. I didn’t need a year; I think 4 months would have been good. If reading this has made you ponder your own drinking habits, I would advise starting with just 40 days. This is just a general life reminder that giving yourself check-in points for the decisions you’ve made is a good practice.
3. I now know when I truly want to have a drink. After an especially hot day doing work outside, I actually wanted a cold beer. That craving happened twice in the past year. At a place renowned for the cocktails, I felt a bit like I missed out, but not much. For a few really nice dinners, I think I would have liked a glass of wine. I’ll put the total number of times I really wanted to have a drink at 10 for the year. Almost never did I want one because I was going out and, while I plan on drinking a glass of champagne on January 1st, I am going to try and wait for those cravings to kick in before indulging going forward.
I’ve seen a few other articles about not drinking (most recently here and here); what you’ll quickly find is that everyone does it for their own reason and has their own conclusions. Many people give up booze forever and I can completely understand that now- I don’t really miss it to the degree I thought I might.