Alcohol is infamous for serving as a social lubricant or as a way to have a good time with others. But for some individuals, drinking loses its appeal or becomes a negative influence in their life -- and that can be a catalyst for kicking it altogether.
Ditching alcohol can be a tough subject, that's why it's important to understand a person's rationale behind the decision in the first place. The bottom line? It's different for everyone.
We asked our social communities to share a few of their own experiences with quitting drinking, whether they did it briefly, just stopped recently or are recovering from something more serious, like addiction. Below are just a few things people who have given up alcohol want everyone to understand about their choice.
1. Alcohol and fun aren't mutually exclusive.
There's an unspoken pressure when it comes to drinking and social settings. As fun as it is to be at the bar with a beer, it can be equally as entertaining to be at the bar with a glass of club soda.
2. The decision might be more than just a simple lifestyle change.
"[I am] four years without alcohol, and 16 without illicit drugs. For a long time I didn't think alcohol counted. I even became a chemical dependency counselor. When I worked in the treatment center, I started hearing my story in the clients, but didn't want to face the music. Years later, after my drinking spiraled during my divorce, I became so self-loathing at my inability to quit beyond the stretch of the next work day, I contemplated the notion that the world might be better without me. But I knew that fleeting ideation was a pitiful illusion that the veil of alcohol would try to embed in my waking, slightly more rational thoughts." -- Jenna Sheldon, via Facebook
Drinking is more than just a social habit for some people -- and that requires proper treatment and change. Individuals with addiction or dependency issues need to cut themselves off, because there may be dangerous consequences if they don't.
3. The taste of alcohol can be repulsive.
"Alcohol doesn't taste good to me. I want to live my life to the fullest, so I don't need to spend time acquiring that taste when there are so many things I do like." -- Lexi Scialdone, via Facebook
Sometimes beer, wine or liquor just doesn't satisfy the palette. So really, what's the point?
4. Quitting allows you to make better decisions.
Alcohol can affect the brain's frontal lobe -- the area involved with decision-making -- which lowers inhibitions and sometimes makes it difficult to make a good judgment call. An alchol-free mind is a clearer mind.
5. Giving up alcohol can lead to changes in your body.
The reality of drinking a little too much is that it takes a toll on the body. Alcohol can cause dehydration, weaken the immune system and lead to sleep disturbances.
6. The hangovers aren't worth the drinks.
"I had the hangover from hell that lasted two days. Swore I wouldn't put alcohol in my body again ... That was five years ago. Never will." -- Aline Roberts, via Facebook
Hangover tricks -- even those with a little bit of science behind them -- can only take a person so far. And hangovers are a tangible sign of overindulgence, which can lead to major health consequences.
7. Being sober allows you to experience every emotion.
"I gave up drinking for good because I wanted to experience my life again. I wanted the beauty, the laughter and the joy. I really just wanted to feel again, to experience real human emotions with clarity and presence. Today I continue to remain abstinent because the feelings I found, both good and bad, were felt." -- Tony Farmer, via Facebook
Research shows alcohol can alter the brain's reward system as well as the amygdala, the area of the mind responsible for triggering fear or anxiety, essentially affecting emotions.
8. Ditching alcohol can be totally transformational.
Ultimately, everyone's decision to drink or not is uniquely their own, and that's totally OK -- as long as a decision in favor is not interfering with their wellbeing through an alcohol use disorder. For some people, giving up alcohol can be life altering. For others, it's a social pleasure. Either way, it's their choice.