I recently had three months off from alcohol. I expected it to be a struggle. I expected to really, really miss drinking. Funny thing is - I didn’t.
Here are a few things I learnt during those 3 months:
1) Damn I felt good without alcohol
Even one or two drinks makes me fuzzy in the head, both at the time of drinking and when I wake up the next morning. I may not even feel it perceptibly, but it happens. It took several weeks of not drinking for me to realise this. I was amazed at how much energy I had and how I felt able to stay on top of things. [Click link below to read more....]
2) It’s sometimes awkward to say no to alcohol
Have you ever not wanted a drink, but found it easier to say yes than to face the barrage of questions from those you are with?
“What’s up with you?”
“Have you gone all healthy on us?”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Are you sure you don’t want one?”
“Go on, you can have just one”
Often the only possible way to avoid this is to be designated driver, and that’s only possible if you happen to have a car.
3) Alcohol does make socialising easier
During my three months sober, I found that there were some social situations where I didn’t feel comfortable. Maybe I didn’t know what to say to people, or I was conscious that I didn’t really fit in with a group.
A bit of dutch courage would’ve been welcome, instead I made the occasion an exercise in taking my late-developing self-confidence to the next level – having self-confidence while sober. It’s not easy, but everything improves with practice.
4) We do spend quite a lot of money on alcohol
I live near a famous pub in Surry Hills; known for its Sunday sessions. Walking past early on a Monday morning, the sound of the bottle bins emptying in to the recycling truck is deafening, and goes on and on. It makes you think about just how much money was spent over that bar last night.
Does this count as ‘spending money on experiences not things’? Only up to a point. If you like the taste of alcohol, then enjoying a nice wine, beer, cider or spirit would count as an experience. Knocking back average drinks is often more about seeking the experience of social inclusion, or about seeking the experience of getting drunk – sometimes it’s totally worth it, sometimes your wallet wakes up with serious regrets.
Many of us spend a disproportionately high amount of our income on alcohol, to the point where we end up saying we can’t afford to attend social occasions because we can’t afford to keep up with the drinking – which we might not even really want to participate in anyway.
5) Going out for a drink might just be going out of fashion
Several of my friends are taking a break from alcohol this year, maybe for a few weeks, a few months, or even for the whole year. Everyone’s got their own reasons – but their overall intent is the same – giving up a long time habit in order to have time / energy / money / good health for something else that’s important to them.
So where am I with alcohol now? I was surprised at how, after only 3 months, drinks tasted a lot stronger and I didn’t enjoy them as much as I thought I should. I am back to drinking, on occasions when I feel like it, but I’m also really enjoying this feeling of being clear headed, alert and getting stuff done. I want to hold on to this feeling!
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Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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