Quitting alcohol is one of the best decisions I’ve made, along with getting into the gym, getting into minimalism, and getting back on Twitter.
Everyone knows the obvious benefits of sobriety: Hangover-free weekends, saved money, and losing body fat. You don’t spend money on drinking empty carbs that make you feel like shit in the morning.
Oh, and you get to brag to people about not drinking.
Now for some less obvious benefits.
You gain power over your life
“I hope Jane doesn’t cancel on me!”
“I hope Steve is free to go out tonight!”
“I hope this’ll be a fun night where I meet fun people!”
Yeah, fuck that “I hope” bullshit.
Going out to drink is a ritual. It’s the weekend (or not), you get with some friends, you drink at one of yours, then you go out to a bar or a club for some more drinks.
But what if your plans fall through? What if none of your friends want to see you? What if you get really drunk hoping for a fun night but the night ends up being lame?
Your Friday/Saturday night’s a damn waste, that’s what!
When you quit drinking, your social life isn’t defined by that ritual anymore. Alcohol doesn’t enable your social life, you do. You stop choosing your social experiences by how drunk you can get at them with your friends, but by better metrics: The people, the shared activities, and their energy.
If I don’t have weekend plans these days, I’m fine just staying in and doing something low-key by myself.
Instead of spinning a slot machine where I don’t get to choose who I meet, and going places where I can only drink and maybe dance as rapport-building activities, I choose to have more stable weekend nights.
Here’s the point: The quality of your drunk experiences is proportional to the quality of your sober experiences.
If you feel like a needy, low-self esteem loser when you’re sober, you won’t become confident after a few drinks. You’ll get a rush of dopamine, but your confidence will only be a drug-induced performance, not honest self-expression.
If your life feels genuinely great and your insecurities are weak, then some drinks won’t do much to you. Drunk you won’t contrast against sober you too much. Maybe you’ll say something dumb or mildly offend someone, but you won’t be causing damage to yourself or anyone else unless you’re blacked out. You may even feel like shit after a few, then stop and wait for them to wear off.
Try this: Go to a bar or a club or a house party without drinking. I may write a separate post about my observations from that:
- I find it unethical to flirt with girls who are drinking while I’m sober.
- I’m irritated by drunk people, not invigorated by them.
- Without alcohol, social activities are just as fun or more so.
- Drunk fun isn’t worth the hangover.
- I feel more power over myself when alcohol isn’t in me.
The truth about social drinking is that it isn’t fun! The initial dopamine rush and numbed senses from alcohol only give you the illusion of a good time. The real fun comes from sharing an experience with your friends. If they’re friends who are only fun or tolerable when you’re drinking together, you’re probably only fun or tolerable after some drinks yourself. In that case, re-evaluate your values and your behavior.
You stop doing dumb shit under the influence
For every night I’ve gotten blackout drunk, I’ve probably written at least a few cringy drunk texts. And those aren’t the dumbest shit I’ve done after 9 too many vodka shots.
The only way to stop yourself from doing dumb shit when you’re drunk is not to get drunk in the first place.
The only way to quit drinking to the point where you lose control of yourself is to identify and heal the emotional wound(s) and insecurities that make you want to drink. Anything else is a band-aid solution.
Mundane life gets better
When I’d drink every weekend, my life would be a cycle of being responsible during the week, going wild on Friday and/or Saturday (maybe even Thursday or Sunday), hopefully not being too out of service with a hangover, then repeat.
Responsibilities were what would keep me busy between highs. I wasn’t living for them as much as for the moments where I could lose myself and forget about the larger world.
Now that I don’t have the weekend partying to look forward to, I live for every day, not just 1 or 2 of them. I’m not out of service for 1 of them before going back to waiting for the weekend.
My mental state during the week is much better than it would be as a weekend drinker. I feel more connected to reality, I think faster and more clearly, and I appreciate the mundane instead of only seeing it as a responsibility.
When the memory of your last time being drunk gets further and further away, you compare your current sober moments to it less and less. They become your baseline of fun and happiness, not the drunk nights. Hopefully, you’ll fall in love with your sober life instead of only lusting for your drunken one.
Your relationships improve
Most importantly, your relationship with yourself improves.
Alcohol doesn’t kill neurons, but it impairs their growth and communication. The relationships between your neurons become your relationship with yourself, so your growth and communication is impaired.
Removing alcohol from your body keeps your cells hydrated, unharmed, and working properly. Your body has more potential for growth. The interactions between its parts become more stable.
Consequently, your interactions with other people become more fluid, healthy, and proper. People unconsciously pick up on your potential for growth. Removing alcohol from your life stabilizes it.
I agree with the idea that “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything”.
If your relationship with yourself is constantly waiting for the next drink-worthy occasion to feel like you belong somewhere, your social life will be built on alcohol, not on literally anything else.