Perhaps you’re considering binning the booze, and you’re at the point where you’re wondering what you can expect from the experience. Maybe you’re worried that it’s all doom and gloom and being no fun at parties. Or that not drinking will be difficult – because that’s what you’ve been led to believe. Well, if that sounds like you, here’s a list of 10 things you can expect to experience when you stop drinking… and they are all wonderful!
First, we’ll get into the physical benefits of sobriety. Then we’ll talk about the emotional and mental boosts you’ll get without booze in your life. We’ll finish up with some of the social benefits – and these are particularly excellent when you consider that most people start drinking for these exact reasons!
Stop Drinking To Eliminate Hangovers!
One of the biggest benefits of choosing not to drink is that you wake up feeling… well, normal. You don’t wake up with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth, feeling like a dead, dried up slug because you’re so dehydrated you’re literally parched. No more pounding headaches that last until lunchtime, or until you give in and get the “hair of the dog” inside you. No more dry heaving as you try to brush your teeth in the morning. No more squinting at every sunbeam and snapping at anyone that speaks to you.
Incredible the benefits you experience when you’re not deliberately poisoning yourself with a highly addictive drug, isn’t it? Just for this single benefit alone is surely worth considering giving up drinking when you think about the borderline permanent headache you’re living with.
No More Blackouts
Maybe the scariest thing about episodes of heavy drinking is the blackouts. What happens during a blackout is that you’ve drunk so much that your brain stops recording memories. Those memories quite simply aren’t in your head. It’s not like normal forgetting when they’re in there somewhere and you can’t quite recall them. Those memories were never formed in the first place. That you were wandering around drunk in real life with your brain effectively switched off.
Which means you’re left with huge patches of time that you simply can’t account for. You don’t know where you were, who you were with, or what you were doing. You might have been in danger, or endangering someone else. You might have woken up with injuries that you can’t explain, and you just draw a total blank on what happened.
When you stop drinking there are no more episodes of lost time. In fact, you get to reclaim so much time it’s like you’ve doubled the duration of your days. It’s the closest thing to time travel I’ve found – it’s like having a superpower.
Improves Your Self-esteem
We’re bombarded with marketing messages about how glamorous drinking is. People talk about how it’s a social lubricant. It’s even a common phrase that it gives us “Dutch courage”. The advertising around alcohol is a global, long term, insidious conspiracy to rob you of your self-esteem, to deprive you of your inherent self worth and to slowly chip away at your belief that you’re perfectly fine to function around other humans without any additional chemical support. You actually start to like who you are because you’re fully in control of that new, sober you.
People think drinking gives them confidence, but all it really does is remove inhibitions. But those inhibitions serve a social function of social filtering. Drinking takes away the important social filters that humans need. It helps them to interact in a decent way that helps everyone around them to feel comfortable. When you’re drinking you might feel confident, but the chances are that you’re brash, loud and probably saying or doing something to make someone else feel uncomfortable.
But don’t worry because when you stop drinking, your self confidence returns to normal really quickly. It’s like it’s been pushed down underwater, and is being allowed to spring back to the surface like a beach ball. Your confidence isn’t misplaced when you’re sober, and it’s not mistaken for arrogance because it’s tempered with your clear judgement and ability to read the reactions of people around you.
People think having a nightcap before bed helps them sleep but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’ve ever woken up after even one or two drinks and felt like you’ve had a restless night… that’s because you have. Alcohol affects the quality of sleep because it makes it harder for your brain to enter into the deeper stages of sleep. Stages 4 and 5 are where your body does all the physical repairs and healing. It even makes it harder for you to stay in REM sleep, when you do your dreaming and file away all the thoughts, memories and experiences you have throughout the day. This can make your memory unreliable and your “cognitive functions” – all the thinking, reasoning and language tasks you need to do – much harder.
When you stop drinking, you wake up feeling refreshed, energised and even more articulate. That’s what sleep is meant to do for you, so by getting drinking out of the way of a good night sleep, it can provide you with all the benefits it’s supposed to!
Your Mood Stabilises
Alcohol is a depressant. Sure, at first it might seem like it puts you in a good mood and lifts your spirits but it’s a depressant in as far as the ethanol will slow the biological functions of your body. That causes low mood, so the “booze blues” where you feel generally depressed, a vague sense of dread or malaise is caused by that.
The episodes of uncertainty about what you’ve said and done that cause a sense of profound anxiety? That stops too because you are able to take ownership of all your behaviour.
It’s not true to say you’ll never experience mood fluctuations when you’re sober. It’s normal to experience different moods. But the highs and lows are more predictable, less frequent and less extreme.
All Your Friends Actually Like You
No more “party friends” friends that only like you when you’re having a good time, enabling their excessive drinking. Those friendships that weren’t necessarily bad, but they definitely aren’t meaningful. Once you get sober you realise how many of the stories drunk people tell are just about other times when they were drunk… it’s all the same story. There is only one: “We got drunk”. You realise how boring that is.
No more saying terrible things to your actual real friends. Imagine waking up in the morning without any low-level anxiety about what you said or did the night before? Without The Fear about checking your phone messages, or the cold sweat you get in response to the heart-stopping question, “do you remember what you said last night?”
You Can Make Real Progress In Your Life
The choices you make when drinking feel fragile because you know that at any moment the decisions you make while drunk, or just the way you behave when drunk could whisk things away from under you.
When you’re sober, the things you build in your life are there to last. You can make deliberate choices about the sort of life you’d like to live and work towards it in a way which is meaningful and will last. Your life no longer feels like you’re spinning your wheels, making temporary decisions.
You’re Actually, Genuinely Sexier
If you’ve never been hit on by a drunk person while sober, this might be news to you… But drunk people aren’t attractive. They are often slurring, repeating the same boring stories over and over again, have no respect for personal space, occasionally smell bad and are definitely not in a good place to consent to anything other than getting thrown in the back of a taxi and taken somewhere safe.
When you choose sobriety, your skin becomes clearer. You smell better – both your breath and your body, because you’re no longer sweating and breathing out stale booze. Your hair and nails become stronger, making you appear healthier. You can follow the thread of a conversation, retain information and are altogether more charming than someone that can do none of these things.
You Become Influential
Initially, you might be thought of as a bit of an odd one out for stopping drinking. But soon, people will notice what you’re doing. The people around you might start to look to you for guidance on how they can make better choices in their lives… and why wouldn’t they?
What could be more attractive than someone who has the self-confidence to say no to booze while everyone around them is saying yes? Someone with the strength of will and the character to make up their own minds, and walk their own path. A leader for everyone around them, who is willing to set the example and march to their own drum. You never know who might be looking to you as an example.