Nearly 2 years ago I quit drinking.
I wasn’t (and never have been) an alcoholic
I didn’t wake up in strange women’s beds not knowing how I got there
I wasn’t having nights where I would blank out for hours at a time not knowing what I had done like Ed Norton’s character in the Fight Club Movie
In fact, I hadn’t gotten proper drunk for probably 1 – 2 years prior to giving up.
I had a couple of reasons to give up to begin with that were pretty decent but since then, a few other reasons have come to me and I thought my journey from the seemingly obligatory beer, wine and liquor to “mineral water with some fresh lime” might be useful for others considering it.
Firstly, before I tell you why I gave up, let me highlight a few things that will probably happen if you do give up. Which, if you are considering it, you’ll no doubt be interested in knowing.
So rather than start with the great things about giving up I’m going to start with the negatives.
You’re going to lose some friends
No, not in the literal primary school sense of the term “You’re not my friend anymore” but in a more subtle way, your former drinking buddies are not going to want to hang out with you as much and you’re not going to want to hang out with them as much either.
It’s weird because the friendships don’t end, but they definitely change.
Because your sobriety holds up a mirror to your friend’s behavior that’s confronting to them.
First, they will try to convince you to “just have one” or the common “maaaaaaaate it’s (insert important drinking worthy date here) don’t be boring”
Incidentally, if any of your friends really get in your face about it, the best thing to say is “are we still friends?”
This put’s the ridiculousness of the idea that you are somehow insufficient for not drinking fairly and squarely on the table in a way that is empowering for you and shakes your friends out of their stupid position on you making a great choice for your life.
Secondly, when you do catch up with your mates or any other social group, the moment you sense the alcohol taking over the overall conversation across the gathering, you’ll probably want to get out of there.
To start off with you’ll probably feel like you’re being really boring but after a while you’ll realize that the cool fun part of the eventing usually peaks at between 9 or 11pm max anyway and after that, things tend to go pear-shaped. (I remember a Chris Rock line where he says when you go to at ATM at 1am that the ATM should talk to you and say “c’mon man what are doing man are you sure things are going to go well if you draw this cash out?)
Thirdly, the hardest part is well and truly training those around you (in particular those closest to you that no, you do not want a drink)
Fourthly, you are going to have to get good at explaining why you don’t drink anymore.
My suggestion is not to announce it, just answer it if you get asked and understand that it’s really not that big a deal.
So here is why I did it – first I will explain my own personal reasons and then I will explain my overall philosophy on alcohol and why I don’t intend to go back to drinking.
So my reason is this…
The reason I stopped drinking is I started getting headaches after as little as having 1 drink. Sometimes it wouldn’t happen but it got to a point where more often than not, I would get a headache after just one beer, glass of wine or glass of spirit.
So it did two things 1. It made for a good story and 2. it was a pretty big incentive to simply give it away.
I mean I wasn’t getting anything out of it at all.
The other reason I gave up at the time is I was trying to lose some body fat and discovered that when you are trying to lose weight when you drink you stop fat loss dead in its tracks for 72 hours.
But as I said, since then, some other things have occurred to me that weren’t part of my original decision-making process.
When I think about alcohol and I believe this would be the same for most people, when you are growing up, it serves a purpose. I think It’s a useful purpose.
It helps you socially, you meet new friends and members of the opposite sex and while you are broadening your network it can be a useful thing.
But once you are in your late 30’s early forties, if you ask those questions again regarding the usefulness of alcohol – you get different answers.
Do you still need alcohol top talk to people? – for most adults that should be no
Do you need it to meet or talk to girls? – certainly not as much
Do you need it to have a good time? Well, you might have a better time on alcohol but if you need alcohol to enjoy your friends and family then there might be a problem with that.
In fact, if you have ever observed anyone on alcohol you will notice a 90 minute to 2-hour window where people peak in terms of charm, humor and fun and then things go steadily downhill from there toward the inevitable hangover the next day.
More importantly, is it doing your health any favors? I think we can agree the answer to that is no.
As my strength and conditioning coach Andrew says regarding drinking…
In Australia in 2019 they announced that alcohol posed the single biggest problem to public health. Not sugar. Not smoking. Not any drugs like heroin or methamphetamine.
If you say you want to be fit and healthy you wouldn’t go smoke meth so why would you drink? Drinking just has no place in a lifestyle that is designed around health and fitness any more than casually injecting heroin or smoking cigarettes does.
So what’s been good about it personally?
I now never miss anything due to being hungover
I have so much more mental clarity
I am easier able to lose weight if I need too
I don’t get sick hardly as much as I used to
My wife has cut her drinking back to under a quarter what she used to
After the initial reactions, my friends no longer care or even ask me if I want a drink
I have saved a shit load of money
My kids are proud that their dad doesn’t drink anymore and I am proud of the example I am setting for them.
So there you go. It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s well worth it.
So if you are considering it, I suggest you do it. And contrary to the Dry July or the sober October people that just do it for a month, consider giving up indefinitely.