Quitting drinking can seem daunting at first. Going against the grain often is. But it has a large number of benefits. It comes down to the personal choice of whether the pros outweigh the cons.
*Tip* If you want to quit drinking but are finding it hard then try writing out the pros and cons. I have used this approach in many areas to get a better understanding of a situation. Also, to minimise kneejerk reactions.
I have reviewed this list and amended it as the years have gone on. After six years since I last had a drink the positives still vastly outnumber the negatives.
I’ll start with the con’s so that the blog ends on a high and hopefully fills you with some encouragement and positivity.
The con’s (I honestly struggled to get to three con’s.)
1) Losing friends – When I first quit drinking people still contacted me to see if was coming along to the old places I used to haunt. Eventually, I stopped going and they stopped calling. I stopped going because standing in a bar full of drunk people, sober, is the antithesis of fun. On reflection, I got drunk so much because I think you have to be drunk to have a good time with drunk people. I realised over time that the people I viewed as friends weren’t actually friends at all. There was no deep connection. We just used each other to fend off loneliness and to normalise my drinking habits. There can be times of isolation. The question is whether those moments are bad enough to offset the destruction of drinking?
2) Explaining why – All the time. Everywhere. No matter what country. “You don’t drink? Why?” Let’s get it straight, alcohol is a lot of fun for a lot of people. Poison or not, people love getting drunk. It is the backbone of entire countries and the heart of many communities. It is the glue that holds things together. Many cultures are built on the fluidity of alcohol. It is the reward for the mundanity of routine. So to profess that you don’t do it must mean you are ill, religious, a health nut or worse… an alcoholic. I don’t get as annoyed by the question anymore.
There is an innate fear of isolation within humans. Isolation means starvation, loneliness and death. And that fear of isolation is exploited to ensure people don’t go against social expectation. Ironic really that a substance with potential to destroy is portrayed as the substance that builds.
3) Dealing with life – This was only a con initially. The thought of having to contend with work, life, debt, expectation and personal pressure was the weight that kept my lips pressed to a bottle. In the end, drinking took it’s toll and was no longer available as the temporary fix that I had been permanently using it as. The tsunami was on the horizon and I braced for impact. Rebuilding and repairing after all the years of destructive behaviour was difficult at first. But much like learning a new skill, it was trial and error, falling, failing but plenty of getting back up. And plenty of hope.
1) Weight loss – Initially, I didn’t notice much change as I was eating so many sweets but when that subsided I started to see a change. After years of poisoning my body, I now saw it as a thing to be cared for and I was its carer. I changed the sweets to fruit and veg, quit smoking, started exercising and now I am in the best shape I have been in for twenty years.
2) Better sleep – Waking in the morning and being refreshed is a great feeling. I used to see sleep as the thing I did between the pub closing and work starting. Now I realise it is an integral part of maintaining a healthy life.
3) No hangovers – No more waking from an unrefreshing slumber to a banging head and remorse. I used to be religious when I woke with a hangover. I would start the day with a prayer “Please God, don’t let me have done anything to fucking stupid last night.” Now I start my day with meditation to set me up in a positive mood.
4) Finances – I was terrible with money when I drank. “Carpe Diem. There ain’t no pockets in a burial shroud. You can’t take it with you,” were my mottos. I was spending the banks’ money to escape the fact I was skint. I brutal cycle. Quitting drinking has allowed me to identify the difference between “Wants & Needs.” Am I buying something because of an advert? To fill a void in my life? To make me feel better? Or is it something I need? This learning of financial responsibility has removed the fear of financial insecurity and the need to drink to escape that fear.
5) Confidence – Alcohol stole what little confidence I had and kept me in a constant state of self-doubt. I never tried anything and anger at my own passivity would manifest internally. My internal world was a toxic bile-filled environment that I escaped through drinking. When I quit alcohol, I had to try new things to fill my time. Each achievement gave me another level of confidence. Until eventually I was happy to be me. A position that I could never have thought possible.
6) Meeting other sober people – I remember walking into my first AA meeting and expecting to see a room full of stereotypical tramps. It was a huge surprise to witness people who looked “Normal” after speaking to them it was obvious that they weren’t normal and that is exactly what I needed. I needed people who owned their shit and made no excuses about it. I needed people who could admit their failings and work on themselves. I needed that because I needed to become human again.
7) Clarity – I ran on autopilot for the entirety of my adult life. I had relationships I don’t really remember. I spoke to people who knew me yet I couldn’t recall. I was present physically but mentally I was checked out. When I first quit, I knew why I drank. I drank because my mind was like an unsupervised circus. All the acts were trying to perform at the same time which left it in chaos. I used meditation, counselling, AA and a change of lifestyle to try to generate some calm. Over time, continuing meditation, healthy eating and talking about things, I became the ringmaster. The urge to escape from my own thoughts didn’t become a thing anymore.
8) Connectivity – When I drank I was a stone golem. I was isolated from the world by a constant veil of inebriation that gave life the look of being viewed through a frosted window. My inner world was tainted by this obscured view of life.
Quitting drinking brought clarity and a whole new world became available. An awakening to reality I didn’t know existed and a world full of beauty, abundance and opportunity. The dark clouds that followed me around dissipated, the weight around my shoulders lifted and life became an adventure. The relationships I had with people became deeper as I presented a true version of myself to them and shared experiences brought life lessons. I now experience life and don’t try to hide from it. I accept good and bad things will happen in life, all I can control is my part in it and how I react. I accept myself and the world for its imperfections and understand that is part of the tapestry that makes it so wonderful.
9) Freedom – All of these things combined are the recipe to freedom. Freedom from a lifestyle that was unfulfilling and detrimental to my human experience. I am free from the poison of drinking and the toxic thinking that comes with it. I can point my ship in the direction of my pleasing and understand I cannot control what is in the water. The knowledge that I can’t control everything used to fill me with fear and now it liberates me from the expectation that I have to. I am free to experience life as intended and hopefully share a positive message along the way to help people to their own realisation of the beauty that lies both inside and outside of us all.
If that isn’t enough of a reason to quit then I don’t know what is lol
Have a great day,
P.S. If you can think of any more then that would be great