Oh boy, here we go. I’m about to tell you 6 things that happened when I stopped drinking. I’ll start by admitting that if someone had tried to tell me to stop drinking 3 months ago, I would’ve laughed. I would’ve made a sarcastic remark, brushed it off, and thought “They just can’t drink like me.” I never considered myself an alcoholic but more of your above average social drinker. I was able to pay my bills, hold a job, never in trouble with the law, and had a close circle of friends. With all that going for me, how could drinking possibly be negatively effecting me?
I went through phases where I’d say I was quitting, which usually lasted 3-4 days depending how many people texted me that for happy hour plans. It was so easy to give up on quitting because again, how could drinking be negatively effecting me? It wasn’t until recently where I decided to enter another “quitting phase” except this time it stuck. To this day, I’m not sure why it stuck with me this time. I do know, however, that things changed; I changed. Here are 6 things that happened to me when I stopped drinking.
1. I had more energy
When I complained of being tired people would tell me it was from drinking. Obviously I realized when I stayed out until 3AM, I was tired the next day but I didn’t realize the extent that I was being drained. When you pass out drunk, you may think “Wow, what a good night’s sleep” because you were out cold until your alarm reminds you of the responsibilities you have to attend to. The reality though is drunk sleep is bad sleep, you’re not able to enter your REM cycle. I was ALWAYS tired. I used to say “Drinking gives me energy!” and this is true to an extent; but in the long run, alcohol is a depressant.
2. I strengthened relationships & lost relationships
Drinking or not drinking, I always had plenty of friends. I don’t say this to brag, I say it because a lot of people can probably relate. People naturally tend to gravitate towards people with similar interests. It’s no surprise I surrounded myself with heavy drinkers. From nightly happy hours to weekend benders, my friends were always on the same page. Naturally my response was to assume my drinking was “normal” because the people around me were doing the same. Due to my lack of desire to be at a bar, I did lose some friends. On the flip side, I’ve strengthened a lot of relationships too. I’ve had time, energy, and desire to reach out to old friends, make plans I typically would avoid, and connect with people of my past.
3. I lost weight
This is probably not a surprise but wow. I always considered myself to be of average size but the weight I shed from not drinking is incredible. The thing is, I didn’t drastically change my diet, or double down on work outs, I honestly just stuck to my normal routine. As more days passed, I watched POUNDS disappear, my stomach was flatter, and even my skin started to clear up. I didn’t think drinking was weighing me down (pun intended) but I quickly learned (like in about a month) that it truly was. Oh and when you’re not eating 4 slices of pizza at 3AM, that helps too.
4. I developed new hobbies
Surprise! I like things other than bars. It’s kind of incredible to think about how much time I spent in bars and just drinking in general. A “quick happy hour drink” would often spiral into a minimum of 4 hours of drinking, until I would drunkingly decide I needed to “eat dinner,” which entailed drunk pizza or ordering greasy food from anywhere I could get my little paws on. Now my evenings after work could consist of an easy hike, gardening, puzzles, adult coloring books, bowling, going to the movies, playing Frisbee golf, reading a new book, going for a bike ride.. (you get the hint right? LOTS MORE HOBBIES).
5. I felt more emotion
This one, woof! It really felt like a double edged sword in the beginning. I used drinking to mask emotions and let’s be honest; sometimes not feeling is easier than feeling. When I was drinking, every slight emotion was another reason to drink. “What a shitty day, I need a beer,” “I had the best day ever! Let’s celebrate with a drink,” “Wow, what great weather! Let’s drink.” “Weather is crappy. Might as well bar hop.” “I am PISSED right now, happy hour anyone?” and so on and so forth. Maybe you just read those statements and thought, “And you didn’t think there was an issue?” To answer you, NO, I really didn’t. And I really had no idea how much of my emotions I was suppressing by drinking through them. The truth is, sometimes it’s still not easy, but it’s also the best thing I’ve done for myself. I’ve gotten to know myself better, developed stronger coping mechanisms, and have more time for self-reflection. So yeah, maybe drinking was negatively effecting me.
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