Back in September of 2019, I decided to take 30 days off drinking completely, inspired by Joe Rogan and friends’ ‘Sober October’ that they do every year. Back then, I thought it would just be a good idea to take a break just for the sake of taking a break...
Look, I never considered myself somebody with a drinking problem, but I’m definitely a social drinker who enjoys getting drunk from time to time with friends. Because I’d consider myself a pretty self-aware person, I began to notice myself cracking open a cold beer after a long day’s work or having wine with dinner, or looking forward to weekend drinks or going out with friends more than usual.
That’s when I knew that if I continue like this, I will more than likely suffer from alcohol addiction in the future. So I decided for 2020, I would do at least 2 months completely sober.
Below are 9 takeaways from actually extending that 2 months into a 90 day period from February - May. If you’re too lazy to read all this text, watch the video that breaks all this down on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEZHkuPIdvs&t=442s or check out the podcast at https://itsnotthatdeeppodcast.com/
- The initial adjustment period can be strange - We are creatures of habit. If you’ve been drinking since your teens, you may be close to a decade into your drinking career. If you’ve never consciously taken a break from drinking for health reasons or otherwise, it can be very strange to just...not. If you’re used to cracking open a beer on a Friday evening, partying with friends on the weekend, or simply enjoying wine with dinner, this can take a little getting used to and you can almost feel incomplete without it.
- Alcohol is EVERYWHERE - If you live in an urban setting, every major street is packed full of bars, liquor stores, restaurants, and now even grocery stores that offer beer/wine/liquor. I’m not casting a judgement on this; there should be a level of responsibility on the part of a grown adult to not allow the availability of something to overcome ones will power. However, when you’re actively avoiding alcohol, you begin to notice just how prevalent and ingrained it is in the fabric of western society. On that note, once I became aware of this, it wasn’t all that difficult to compartmentalize.
- Alcohol is literally poison - We lose sight of the fact that by drinking, we are intentionally poisoning ourselves. Sure, it’s fun to let loose and there is certainly a time and a place where this poison can enhance our experience, but I’d argue that it has become so normalized to drink, that we lose sight of our own biology. I’m no doctor, but I know that our internal organs have to work overtime to process alcohol, and this has negative effects over time.
- You realize who’s really got your back - Social situations were absolutely the hardest part of being sober. Once you’ve gotten past a few weeks or a month, it’s actually quite easy to simply….not drink. The hard part is when you still want to take part in social situations where everybody around you IS drinking, and there is an expectation for you to take part. Most people are understanding once you explain, but that won't stop well-meaning friends from urging you to take “JUST 1 SHOT” or to “JUST TAKE 1 DAY OFF, C’MON!” The big takeaway here for me was you get to really see who can take a step back from whatever the setting to respect your decisions and even encourage behaviour that’s positive.
- Your Productivity Skyrockets - Even if you’re simply a social drinker on Friday or Saturday nights, the following days are an absolute write off. Even if you’re somebody like me who can operate the day after drinking without too much of a hangover, the lack of sleep, dehydration, and hormone changes dramatically influence how much you can get done in those days. If nothing else, going sober can buy you an extra 2 days of the week and skyrocket your growth in different areas of life. Think about the opportunity cost of getting smashed on a Saturday the next time you feel you absolutely have to.
- Alcohol keeps you from dealing with your own emotions - When you stop drinking, you FEEL everything. All your thoughts are amplified, especially in the evening when you might numb them with a drink to “take the edge off”. Being sober allows you to become comfortable being uncomfortable, especially just being alone with your own thoughts.
- Alcohol is EXPENSIVE - I’m not proud to admit this, but including going out and purchasing alcohol from liquor stores, some months I might spend anywhere between $250-600 on this habit. That's $3000-7200 a year on something I’d have nothing to show for. I’d even argue that going sober is a powerful financial investment with a very high ROI.
- Taking Ownership - You are 100% in control of your decisions and therefore your life. It’s nobody's fault you enjoy drinking, but all the credit is yours when you decide to stop (hey, it’s hard!). The major takeaway here is that when you go sober you can start to see things clearly for what they are and evaluate your own relationships, what you’re doing with your time, and what you want to get out of this one life we have.
- Alcohol makes you stupid - There’s no other way for me to put this, I’ve realized that alcohol is stupid juice. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, if you really are okay with just letting loose once in a while (You shouldn’t take yourself too seriously either). The best way for me to illustrate this point would be like this. Just picture the last time (if ever) you were out somewhere around a bunch of people who are quite drunk while you were dead sober. You start to see things a little differently right? People act silly, say stupid things, and make questionable decisions when drunk.
I’ll end off this rant with one final thought. I’m not better than you in any way. I’m not saying I’m about to become some zen monk and never have a sip of alcohol again. In fact, if you watch the Youtube/Instagram episode of the podcast I released on this topic ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEZHkuPIdvs&t=442s ), you’ll see that I actually broke my 90 day sobriety by drinking some expensive scotch. That directly contradicts many of the lessons I’ve shared here with you.
The bigger point is, my relationship with alcohol will never be the same. I took the time to learn what my reliance on the substance was, and only I know how difficult it was to say no and deny myself the pleasure. I won’t ever be the same drinker I was, and I’ll be a lot more mindful and selective about when I do partake.
All that said, It’s Not That Deep!
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