I stopped drinking for 11 months and this is what happened

Early in January 2019, I stopped drinking alcohol.

There was no pivotal moment, no unfortunate event, no massive epiphany, I simply decided simply to forgo the next beer order and then proceeded not to drink for awhile.

What started as “I’ll take a break for a couple weeks”, quickly changed into something longer.

To date this year, I haven’t had a drop since. Seriously, even when taking communion at church with my family at Easter, I got grape juice.

My high sober points include: going on a 7 day all-inclusive cruise with a bunch of friends (nomad cruise), my grandparent’s 75th wedding anniversary, and my sister’s wedding. Dead sober and still somehow had no issues with it.

Alcohol hasn’t touched my lips, or non-alcoholic beer, because, you know, that’s cheating kind of. There were no rules in this exercise, just simply trying something out that was new.

The evolving background before I stopped drinking

Vice habits have never really been a big part of my life.

I’ve never smoked tobacco (after seeing my grandmother die of lung cancer at an early age, I decided early on that it wasn’t for me), and always have just been a light ‘social’ drinker (rather subjective, I know).

I’ve never even been a ‘big drinker’ or had it as a big part of my life. However, when I was living in Bangkok, alcohol became more present in my life. Somehow, my weekends spent enjoying nature were replaced drinking with friends in Bangkok City. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed myself - Plus hiking and camping isn’t exactly the same in the tropics - but this was a very different person than I used to be.

I’m quite extroverted, so I don’t use alcohol for the liquid courage to talk to people, as I normally don’t have a huge issue with that. It just turned into the thing I was around and drinking whenever I was out, which was often.

But something changed when I turned 30.

My hangovers have gotten TERRIBLE in the past few years. When younger, I was very fortunate to nearly NEVER have a hangover. I’d thrive on little sleep after long nights out and it wouldn’t phase me. Now, a little alcohol makes me sleep terribly, the hangover is bad but the night of terrible sleep really impacts me. I think this was one of the catalysts behind the decision to stop drinking.

Not Drinking

What started as an exercise, now is something more. The answer to the question “why aren’t you drinking tonight?” Has shifted from “I’m not drinking” to “I DON’T drink.”

Now that I’ve had over 11 months to think about this, it’s still evolving.

It became more than just ‘not drinking’.

It became about experiencing life without filters. Raw, unfiltered, life.

Alcohol is a dulling agent. I don’t want dull. My life is extraordinary with or without the substance.

2019 was a bit of a ‘transition’ year - or at least more than normal. Many things including: the unfortunate downsizing of a company that I had worked tirelessly to create, the full embrace of a ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle & lack of ‘home base”, some turbulence in my angel investment portfolio, starting putting a lot of my time and effort into Charity Makeover, or starting a remote job with 2key in Business Development - there was a lot going on.

In such times of ‘transition’, especially those with many moving parts and variables, it’s easy to mask your emotions and distract yourself with things like with alcohol.

By deciding that I don’t drink, the temptation was removed and (in theory) would help me be a bit more clear headed.

Going forward

This is where it has changed over the past couple months. My relationship with alcohol has changed. Completely.

So, the experiment ‘worked.’

But. I miss a nice glass of wine with a great meal. I miss a high-quality IPA catching up with an old friend. These things are nice.

I started thinking more along the lines recently that the words “Never” and “always” don’t have a place in my life anymore. These words are too finite and restrictive to allow yourself to truly be happy.

I’ve learned what I needed to from this experiment, alcohol is forever changed in my life. But there’s no need to completely restrict myself from drinking ANY alcohol at all. I don’t have a great urge to start drinking again, but when I do, it’ll be different.