In college we came up with excuses to drink: it's "Thirsty Thursday," or "Hump Day," or that bar has a two-for-one deal only on Mondays, so we have to go. We didn't know any other way. We all went for it and did it together because it was just the norm. Our norm. We drank daily. We got drunk, often. We were hungover often. We rallied often.
And to say that was just college wouldn't be entirely accurate; it continued through my 20s, but in a more balanced way that allowed me to maintain responsibilities and be extremely professional when necessary.
This was my past life.
In November 2013, I wound up in the emergency room with pneumonia, bronchitis and a staph infection. I was told that I needed to begin taking a hardcore antifungal drug for an indefinite amount of time to protect my body from relapsing and dealing with these infections that were harming my body.
I started taking the drug and went back to living my life after being released from the hospital. I went out to dinner for my best friend's birthday, drank two hot toddies at dinner, then went to a concert. I spent the rest of my night puking in the bathroom. Two drinks? Me? This couldn't be. I immediately acknowledged that this was my body telling me I couldn't mix alcohol with this drug.
I never thought I'd see the day that it didn't faze me to be the sober one, but the benefits surely outweigh the perks of drinking.
Here are five things I gained by quitting drinking:
1. I lost weight.
Alcoholic beverages often contain a lot of calories, and let's not forget drunk eating. I'm talking about you, pizza!
2. My memory improved.
Remembering every conversation you had, who you met the night before and what you talked about is a luxury when you're drinking too much. How many times have you seen someone and been like, Hmm, that person looks familiar. Yes, that's because you met him drunkenly last week at a party.
3. I don't have to deal with hangovers.
I won't get into details, but I think most people know that no hangover means a higher level of productivity.
4. I sleep much better.
I get consistently good sleep, not the broken kind of sleep where you wake up wired at 4:00 am (still drunk or hungover). Alcohol consumption can induce sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep.
5. I live with more control and clarity.
I'm officially in control of my life, and not allowing a substance to take over every thought and action is a wonderful feeling. Imagine that!
Your escape from reality doesn't need to be a substance; it can be meditation, yoga, a walk by the water or another way in which you clear your head.
Now, I'm not saying everyone should become sober because I did, but raising your awareness of sobriety's benefits and the harm it's doing to your body can only be a positive. I encourage you to think about that glass of wine and determine if it's really necessary for you to have every single day.
After almost a year sober, the tables have turned. I've put a serious focus on my health. I'm no longer the party girl everyone knows. I surround myself with people who love and accept me, with or without a vodka soda in my hand.
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