Today marks the day that I quit drinking one month ago. It’s been exactly 4 weeks since I downed my last cocktail and my last glass of wine and vowed to stop the binging for the next thirty days. And it’s been quite a month, I dare say! Why did I do it – why did I stop drinking? There are several reasons as to why I had enough of alcohol. Here we go:
1) The Social Stigma of NYC
If you didn’t know it before, now you know: NYC is a town filled with a bunch of alcohol-addicted junkies! Since the day I arrived here more than six years ago it’s always been about how to take advantage of happy hour, events with free drinks, cheap booze and and and… It seems like this mentality is engrained in the city life style, where you rarely have to use a car and drive anywhere and can take the subway 24/7 instead. Which also means, you don’t have to worry about drunk driving, just drunk staggering when walking back home.
2) The Distraction
I don’t know how I ever completed projects on time before. Drinking is an absolute distraction, be it the same evening or just experiencing the hangover the very next day. Just having to socialize with people, forgetting all about time, momentary worries and how to get home is already bad by itself. But then waking up not feeling 100 percent and having to complete a project within a deadline when not feeling great is now an absolute horror idea to me.
3) A Healthier Life Style
I don’t really believe in the “one glass a wine makes you healthy” crap. It might be true, but it actually just makes me tired and distracted and therefore also more frustrated. What really makes me healthy is joining a gym, working out or just running a few laps around the block. I don’t connote “healthy” and “alcoholic beverage” when I think about either, but hey, that might just be me.
4) The Mood Swings
After drinking since I’ve been a teenager I can’t deny it: I had mood swings when I downed a few drinks too much and woke up groggy the next day. It’s part of a hangover, perhaps, but I don’t really like the feeling of being teary-eyed over stupid bs and not having proper “control” over my emotions. Not experiencing a single hangover with these depressing feelings the next day actually did wonders. I am now at a point where I am fearing the next drink again just because of the mood the very next day, but let’s see about that….
5) Socializing for the Heck of It
When going out to happy hour or attending other alcohol related events it seemed that alcohol made it easier to socialize. In the past few weeks I’ve attended quite a few events without drinking and I’ve also stayed home quite a few times because there was no point in me attending them. For example, attending a birthday party was fine, I didn’t have a problem chatting up strangers and exchanging ideas on certain topics. But I didn’t participate in day drinking with friends at a brewery because … why? This made me realize how dumb and distracting certain activities are. I guess if you do them in measure, it’s fine. But most of the times, day drinking is a significant part of a Saturday or Sunday brunch here and then … what do you do with the rest of the day? More drinking? You’re certainly not producing much after. Which leads me to my next point…
6) The Blame Game
When drinking it was always easy to blame the alcohol on how distracting it was or how my body felt the next day (see all the points I made above). But quite surprisingly, I am still very easily distracted when sober and this month I couldn’t blame it on the hangover or the jitteriness of nerves or whatnot (you get the idea). I’ve also started listening to my body more and trying to figure out why I am always so exhausted during the week and why I don’t allow myself much sleep. Overall, I have to conclude that I am a very easily distracted individual and also that I don’t like to grant my body enough sleep from Monday through Friday. So there are a few problem areas I am finally acknowledging and which I am ready to work on. I might have blamed my exhaustion on the happy hour I attended the day before but now I can only blame it on me not being kind to myself and going to bed early enough.
7) My Body
Last but not least, I have to say that my body was at a point where it couldn’t take more than two drinks a night. And I’m talking about beers (with less alcoholic percentage) – not cocktails. It seemed that even after only two beers or two glasses of wine I spent half of the next morning vomiting over the toilet seat. Not in a bad way (since I didn’t actually have food in my stomach to puke out). But more in a way of my body giving me an all-too-subtle warning that enough was enough. It’s been a real pleasure not having to experience a hangover or the stomach sickness in the morning for four weeks straight.
Overall, these 7 points above summarize my feelings towards alcohol in the past four weeks. Although I’m sure I’ve gone without a drink for even longer periods of my life, this is the first time I am consciously choosing not to drink for such a long time frame. And believe me – this conscious decision makes out a lot. Not only do I see the need to sometimes explain myself in front of others (and perhaps inspire the one or other person) but I also tend to be the most sober person during most occasions. At first it was an odd role to fill. But as time passes, I don’t mind it as much. I’ve also spent way less money in those four weeks than I usually do. Whether or not you want to acknowledge it – alcohol can cost a bunch. Especially here, where a beer is $8 and upwards and a cocktail starts at around $12 at a bar or restaurant.
I still haven’t decided yet when I want to end my chosen refrain from alcohol. Be it tomorrow, next week or next month – it will likely not to end with a bang but moreover with a single drink because I don’t think I can take much more in the beginning. I’ve also decided that the binge drinking times are over for me. Although my 29 years of age are not particularly old, I do see myself past that stage of my life where I want to experience horrendous hangovers and the inability to exit my bed for the duration of a day.
What are your thoughts on drinking? Have you stayed sober for a specific time frame and what are the experiences you made and the wisdom you learned? Please share your thoughts if you have any.