After over 20 years of drinking, last summer I made the decision to stop drinking completely. There were many reasons for this, but there were obvious advantages. I’ve lost weight, slept better at night, and no longer have a terrible hangover.
But some life changes happened that I was totally unprepared for. And I thought, when these hidden effects started to appear, I would probably be off alcohol forever.
But first, before I talk about the benefits of not drinking, I have a more important question. What are the benefits of drinking alcohol?
For me, the benefits were social.
I started drinking when I was a teenager. And for me, who struggled with a lot of social anxiety and codependent issues, alcohol was the only thing I felt comfortable socializing with in large groups.
And in college, I discovered what I thought was psychic powers. It means that you can hold sake. I was able to drink it. many. than most people. For some reason it still works great.
I never blacked out. I almost never got sick or fell down. I was a happy drunk, funny, gregarious, and totally uninhibited. This, combined with a social environment that gave status to the ability to drink, established my identity as a “party goer” by my early twenties. Every night from Tuesday to Saturday I would go out, drink, laugh and have fun.
This life continued throughout my twenties and early thirties. By this time I had moved to New York City, and as anyone who has lived in New York City knows, it’s a haven for (ridiculously expensive) alcoholics.
In my case, I am now in my thirties, married, a successful writer, traveling the world writing and promoting books, speaking at conferences and large companies, and re-entering new social conditions after new social conditions. encountered.
During all of this, the alcohol kept flowing, constantly quelling my anxiety and being the social lubricant that helped me get through a high-stakes situation.
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The ‘Party Guy’ identity begins to crumble
But something started to change around this time. My “party-goer” identity has helped me overcome my twenties anxiety and insecurities. It helped me build the confidence and social experience I needed to be successful in my 30s.
But it started destroying me in my thirties. Because by then my life had changed, my values had changed, my career had changed, my body had changed.
My body and mind couldn’t stand the booze anymore. I have gained a lot of weight. I got really sick. I slept poorly and was constantly stressed. By the age of 35, I began to experience mild health problems related to my weight, unbalanced diet, and alcohol consumption.
Like many people, I decided to use 2020 as an opportunity to lose weight and get back in shape. Cutting back on my drinking was a big part of that, and I went from 10-15 drinks a week to just 3-5 drinks a week.
But then, around the same time, a few things happened and I quit completely.
1. I started to realize how alcohol was making me feel worse.
It may sound paradoxical, but if you have 15 or more drinks a week, you’re almost always either partially drunk or partially hungover. Therefore, they are unaware of how much they are harmed each time they drink.
But when you cut back to three to four drinks a week, you start to open up enough clarity gaps to realize how awful even one drink can make you feel. And not just that night or the next day, but even a few days later.
2. New Research Makes You Rethink Your Relationship With Alcohol
This study has shown that alcohol is actually much worse for us than originally thought.1
When I was younger, it was common knowledge that drinking a few cups a week was good for you. It turns out that drinking a glass of red wine a night was supposed to keep you healthy.
But now we have better data, better research, and… well, it’s bad. It’s all bad. to the last drop. And not only is the day or week bad for you, but if you’re a heavy drinker like me, alcohol can affect you for months.
3. I left New York. Then I moved to LA.
Now this will sound silly to many. But I can’t stress enough how much this move has impacted my day-to-day health. Everything in New York revolves around bars, restaurants, parties and shows. Alcohol is everywhere, and everyone is drinking. That’s how you meet people there and build relationships.
LA, on the other hand, is in many ways the opposite. First, I have to spend hours in the car wherever I go, so I don’t drink much because of that. Secondly, the weather is always perfect, and with beaches and mountains a short distance away, you can do wholesome fun activities in the sun that require energy, clarity, and an early rise. . Hangovers suddenly have real social costs and downsides.
In New York, drinking alcohol makes your social life easier and more fun. In LA, alcohol makes social life more difficult. In New York, alcohol has made boring activities more interesting. Alcohol can be an interesting activity in LA, but hey, it’s kind of dangerous.
Add to that the fact that everyone here is so beautiful and health conscious, and it starts to feel weird ordering a Double Rye Old Fashioned on a Tuesday at 5:30pm. .
Weird means you feel completely decadent. People look at you funny.
5 Unexpected Benefits I’ve Seen from Quitting Alcohol
Finally, last summer, it all came to a head.
First, there were obvious advantages. I lost a little weight. I slept like a baby The cost of a date with my wife suddenly dropped significantly.
But there were some unexpected benefits that surprised me.
1. It reduces anxiety
In fact, I started noticing this when I cut my drinking down to a few times a month. A few days after drinking alcohol, even if it was just a few glasses of wine, I was more emotional. I would be moodier, more agitated, more embarrassed, more guilty.
Since quitting alcohol completely, I have remained incredibly flat. If something goes wrong, I don’t get too upset. This has had an unexpected benefit to my productivity and work. Less energy spent controlling your emotions can be spent writing and writing. recording.
2. Your values and priorities become clearer
Perhaps the biggest side effect of having a more stable mood is feeling more clarity about what you care about. During his heavy drinking days, he would have 3-4 project ideas per week. I feel anxiety and FOMO about missing opportunities. Sometimes I devoted myself to a new idea, only to start questioning it after a few days. I was on this emotional roller coaster, one day feeling like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and the next I had an existential crisis that it was all a waste of time.
Now I have some goals that I want to achieve. And I focus my work on them. I say no to any occasion to the contrary. No drama. No bullshit.
3. Few Friends, But Better Friends
In my twenties, I used to drink at social events to mask my anxiety. In my 30s, I used to drink to fill my boredom.
One thing that struck me when I stopped drinking was that if spending time with certain people was boring, I should stop being friends with them. For some reason this idea never occurred to me in the 15 years I was drinking, but now that I’m sober, it seems like the most obvious shit in the world.
It goes without saying that if you need to drink to enjoy a person or thing, you are not actually enjoying the person or thing. And you should stop doing both.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a stronger bond with my friends who spend time together in sobriety without the distraction of booze. Sober socializing is definitely a case of quality over quantity.
4. Hobbies and interests have changed
For years I thought I was really passionate about food and haute cuisine. After all, I loved getting drunk in restaurants. I thought I loved theater and live performances. It turns out that many of them are not so sober. I thought I loved certain events, networks and parties. After all, sober Mark is not.
Removing alcohol from my life replaced social energy with physical energy. I started surfing. I started running again after 12 years. Well, lately my favorite thing to do with my friends is go hiking.
Overall, my life probably looks boring and dull from the outside, but strangely I am much more satisfied and happy.
5. Better sex
Let me tell you, when I’m at bat these days, I don’t have to worry about the bat swinging on my swing…
So if you’re considering quitting sauce, even if only for a little while, give it a go.