For years, I loved to drink. I was the person topping off your glass. The one saying, “Come on, don’t be a bore—have a drink!” The one who "didn’t trust people who didn’t drink."
Today, I haven't had a drink in almost two years—not a little. Not on occasion. Not at all. Most surprising? I’m happy about it.
No, I'm not a recovering alcoholic. I haven’t adopted any radical diets that dictate abstinence, or discovered religion. It’s simply that I reached a point in my relationship with alcohol when, like a bad relationship, it started taking more than it was giving.
Here are a few reasons why I no longer drink:
1. Alcohol never satisfies.
I never consciously decided to drink every night. It just happened. And anything that "happens" without my full awareness is concerning. It means—if I'm being honest with myself—that I have less control than I thought I did.
So daily drinking snuck up on me. It really started with my career in marketing. It was made clear to me that the networking opportunities at the bar were very important. So I began to drink at work functions and business trips.
I started with just a glass of wine. But then tolerance grew, and soon it was a few glasses. Eventually, I was drinking both on the road with colleagues and at home, alone, as I waited for my husband to get off work.
Soon, I was drinking almost a bottle of wine a night. The idea of taking a night off actually became scary, because I had come to rely on it. I didn't like that feeling, and when I decided it was time to cut back it was harder than I thought it would be.
It’s only when you've decided to drink less that you realize how much of a grasp alcohol has on you. You think you can simply reverse the trend of drinking more over the years. It’s not that easy. Alcohol demands alcohol. It wants more and if you don’t satisfy the craving it begins to throw a fit.
2. I wanted to focus on my health.
In many ways, becoming a non-drinker is one of the healthiest choices you can make—besides of course, not smoking.
When I was a drinker, I told myself that red wine had health benefits. But when I actually looked at the research, I was shocked. Not only is that untrue but alcohol was declared a known carcinogen in 1988.
Of course, there's also common sense: drinking something that makes you feel like sh*t the day after probably isn't good for your body.
3. My life is more fun without booze.
My drinking self would have thought this idea to be completely unbelievable. But the truth is I have significantly more fun without booze.
It’s amazing how many adults—the vast majority—believe that alcohol is key to having a good time. But through some self-experimentation, I realized the feelings I thought I enjoyed from alcohol were actually just a placebo effect. The big ah-ha moment for me was when I started to realize that my mood improved when I ordered a glass of wine. Or when I pulled it out of the fridge. In other words, I noticed the "effects" of wine before I ever took a sip.
The reality is that alcohol didn’t make anything more fun—but since I believed it was key to my enjoyment of life, I was miserable without it.
A lot of really cool things happen when you stop drinking. I started making conscious decisions in all parts of my life. I learned how to actually address my stressors instead of numbing them, and by doing so I realized you can’t selectively numb. If you numb the bad, you also numb the good.
Not only did my stress decrease, but I also began to experience natural pleasures in a heightened way. I became fully, rather than partially, present in my life and learned a lot about myself. I'm happier and have a more fulfilled life than when I was drinking.
4. I feel so much better.
These days, I don't worry about how much I am drinking, ever. That makes every night out (and every morning after) significantly more fun. Not to mention, I also have more money—drinking is expensive!
I have effortlessly lost weight (empty calories) and now enjoy all my mornings. I have more energy, am more focused and get significantly more done without alcohol. I see now that when I was drinking I unknowingly made myself slightly ill every single day.
5. Alcohol made me dumb.
Alcohol has the very specific effect of slowing down your brain function. Your brain synapses are depressed and your senses are unable to transmit information to your brain as quickly.
The truth is alcohol makes me dumb. My jokes get worse, my stories become scattered, and my nights become monotonous and unmemorable.
Being a non-drinker is 99 percent awesome, except for one thing that pains me: the constant interrogation as to why I don’t partake. Sometimes I find it funny. I mean, no one is demanding reasons why I don’t drink soda. Other times it’s downright rude: no I am not pregnant, allergic, or on medication.
It shows how saturated our society has become: booze is the only drug on earth that you have to justify not taking.
If I've piqued your curiosity about life without alcohol, here’s an idea: try it. See how much better you might feel.