Reflections On An Alcohol-Free Year

I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol. A year later, I honestly can’t imagine my life with it.
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A year ago on New Year’s Day 2016, I decided to make a serious change - to give up alcohol. I had been drinking since I was 14 and to me, drinking regularly and getting drunk just seemed an integrated part of normal life, a rite of passage you under took in your teenage years and then continued with throughout your adult life.

I was one of those people who drank to party and have a good time, I drank to celebrate achievements, I drank to commiserate bad days ― I drank for many different reasons. Alcohol is deeply integrated into the world we live in, every culture, every corner of this earth you will be able to find yourself something alcoholic to drink. A challenging prospect when you want to quit! My initial thoughts ― How will I go out? What about parties/birthdays/weddings/funerals? What about if I have a s**t day? What about if I have a good day? What about Christmas? New Year? The list goes on and on.

I did quit and haven’t had an alcoholic drink for a just over a year now. My reasons are personal to me but simple enough, I had just had enough of it. I’d had enough of the wasted money and hours spent boozing, I felt like I was drinking my life away ― drink, wake up, feel s**t and repeat, week after week. This last year I have had good days, bad days, been on holiday, celebrated my birthday, attended weddings, celebrated Christmas/New Year - all without the need for any alcohol at all. If you had spoken to me a year previously, I genuinely wouldn’t have believed it to be possible.

Sobriety to me has been spiritual, emotional and mental journey – where you learn not to rely on a mind altering substance to get you through the bad days and help you celebrate the good. Is it worth it? In short, my answer is yes. Is it possible to do? Again, my answer is yes. It takes determination and support from family, friends or other agencies if necessary such as recovery support groups like AA but it is more than achievable if it’s something you are considering.

For anyone considering sobriety or a break from alcohol, for whatever reason, there are many benefits to this decision. Here are a few from my personal experience over the last year:

The hangover free life

Seriously, one of the biggest perks. I remember some days, I was so hungover I thought it was game over, everything was an effort and the FEAR of What did I do last night? What did I say? Hungover anxiety ― that hellish place where things are a bit of a blur and you just want to curl up in a ball and not take any responsibility for drunk you. I don’t miss those.

Looking and feeling healthier

I wish I had a pound for every person who said to me this last year “You’re looking really well” Seriously though, quit drink for a while and watch the compliments roll in. I feel both physically and mentally healthier now I don’t drink.

Mental, spiritual and emotional growth

Sobriety changed me and continues to change me as a human being, in a positive and enlightening kind of way. I’ve started to see things differently, handle things and understand people differently. I’m more in tune with my emotions and continue to develop my spiritual side, in a way I never experienced when i had the crutch of drink. The change pushed me to remove further toxic habits, including people, situations and things.

Life feels positive

Quitting alcohol made me feel positive, energized and productive. It’s a liberating experience. I have a lot of gratitude for the little things this last year and more time to nurture the important things in my life like family and friendships. Life feels more positive as a direct result.

Life feels easier to manage

My stress levels and anxiety levels have decreased dramatically – alcohol is after all a depressant. By removing it my mental health automatically started to improve. A combination of all of these factors mentioned meant that life became more manageable, enjoyable and relatively stress free. Life has it’s ups and downs, don’t get me wrong but everything just feels easier without alcohol as a part of it.

Anyone who wants a short term, long term or permanent break from alcohol – I share my experience to highlight it is possible and it is achievable. A year ago I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol; a year later, I honestly can’t imagine my life with it.

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