I grew up in the beer capital of the USA, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, I observed alcohol use and abuse is fairly commonplace.
I joke my baby bottle had beer in it, no milk, so my BAC level has been high since birth. Yes, I’m kidding about that, but you get the point. I believe alcohol abuse there is the norm and somewhat accepted.
I started drinking at 14. I got hammered, and I absolutely loved it. It was the best night of my life. It helped me to overcome my shyness and social anxiety. I would go on to use and abuse alcohol for the next 26 years.
I was mainly a “weekend warrior” for the most part, and thankfully I didn’t ruin my life. I consider myself somewhat lucky because I do have an addictive personality. I actually had an insane amount of fun, but as the years went on, the fun became less and less. There were moments when I lost control and the lights went out (blackouts). I would sometimes get ridiculously awful hangovers, often lasting two days or more. My 40th Birthday party in Austin, I can barely remember the first two days of the three-day celebration. It was time to make a change.
On March 19, 2016, I decided to give up alcohol for good. I downloaded an app called “Nomo,” which kept track of the days and helped keep me accountable. I’m happy to report that I just hit one year with no alcohol. This is what I learned from one year of no drinking.
• You will lose some friends. Sad but true. Some of the folks that you “party” with are party friends, not real friends. When you remove the alcohol, you will figure out who is who.
• The only people who have an issue with you not drinking alcohol … have issues with alcohol.
• Your diet will improve. Gone are the day after cravings for greasy or crappy food, so you can eat cleaner (if you want to)
• You can quit smoking. This was a biggie for me. I used to light up when I drank and only when I drank. No alcohol = no smoking.
• Quitting alone is not recommended. With AA and other resources, it’s important to get help and have a support system of folks who want to see you succeed.
• Your finances will never be better. You save so much money not drinking alcohol, it’s ridiculous. It’s a great time to get out of debt or save for a major purchase.
• You will be sharper than ever. There is no more brain fogginess. I have never been sharper. You will excel in school and/or work because of it.
• Sex can be more enjoyable. You are present and more in tune with yourself and your body and partner’s body.
• You will be a better person who makes better decisions. You will be the best version of yourself.