What Giving Up Drinking Taught Me

August 16, 2011

I woke up on the 1st of July this year with a nasty, nasty hang over, threw up, then asked my boyfriend to “help me” because I felt like death.

At some point later that day I read a tweet from a close friend in Australia who had decided to do Dry July, where you pledge to not drink for the month of July and raise money in the process.

I decided it was time to accomplish that goal of mine to stop drinking.  I decided to have my own dry July. Luckily for me, I don’t often go out, so I am not that tempted.  I also don’t lead such a stressful life that I ever feel like I “need a drink”, so I found it pretty easy to avoid alcohol.

My first time at the pub with friends, I laughed at how I had no idea what you drink when you don’t drink!  I ordered a fruit juice and enjoyed it.

I found it hard when other people offered to buy me a drink.  People don’t seem all that comfortable around people who aren’t drinking when everyone else is.  I felt like they were feeling like I was judging them and had to deflect a lot of cajoling to try and get me to drink.

Being strong enough to say no to alcohol while out with my friends and some people trying to get me to join in with the drinkers made me wonder what else I could be strong enough to give up.  Like sugar.

I’ve been a lifelong sugar addict and it’s something I really would love to cut out completely.  Sugar is a poison causing all kinds of issues not to mention creating fat!

By the time August rolled round, I still didn’t feel like I wanted a drink but I had an expensive bottle of 1998 Veuve Cliquot champagne and some hand blown champagne saucers that had been given to me so I decided to celebrate with some girlfriends.

Every drink I have had in the first week of August I have not enjoyed.  I’ve tried all my usual favourites, cider, Jack Daniels and coke, red wine, I just don’t enjoy the taste.

After a night out on the town with my man, while he stumbled home at 3am alongside me, I felt sober and decided that drinking was no longer my thing anymore.

I felt I had wasted money and put unnecessary levels of sugar and alcohol into my now healthy body without even getting drunk or really enjoying the drinks.

While I’m no teetotaler, I feel good that I know when I go out now, I wont order an alcoholic drink, I wont feel run down, I wont wake up tired and be tired for a couple of days after a night of drinking, my skin will be brighter and clearer, my body will thank me and so will my wallet.

There will always be a time and a place for a really good cocktail on the beach or glass of wine over a romantic dinner but as far as drinking for the sake of it, not my bag anymore baby!

Giving up drinking taught me to be more in tune with my body, to respect myself more, to have better self-discipline and gave me confidence that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Have you ever given something up?  What was it and what did you learn from it? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Jasmine

    I gave up drinking when I was pregnant (obviously), and have never really gotten back into it. Giving it up wasn’t even a conscious choice; I conceived a couple of weeks shy of my 24th birthday, and I simply didn’t want to drink. I can remember everyone drilling me over why I wasn’t drinking at my party, and happily I didn’t give in to them, as it was only quite a few weeks later that I realised I was pregnant. That was a good five years ago and I still rarely drink. A glass of wine perhaps once a month, and occasionally when I go out I’ll have a voda/bitters, but that’s really it.

    I want to give up sugar, but don’t want to be SUPER fussy over it (people who give up fruit because of the sugar, for example … I love tropical fruits and banana and will never, ever give that up, and while I’m happy to cut back on juice, it’s something I really enjoy having a glass of on a sunny Saturday morning with breakfast!). Processed foods!

  • Pip

    Very thoughtfully written and also timely for me, I have been toying with the idea of giving up drinking for ages now and I think this post has encouraged me that it’s finally the time to give it a try. I am slightly worried that it will be anti-social but I guess I should worry more about doing things for myself and letting others deal with it x

  • Annie

    It’s interesting that you’ve written about this. I’ve put myself on what I’ve termed a, ‘booze sabbitical,’ through August. So far I’ve not been tempted to touch anything alcoholic. Like you I don’t often go out of an evening, so it does make it easier. The catalyst for me, was similar to yours. There ‘s a lot of changes going on in my life at the moment – the majority are taking place within me. I went out for a drink with an old friend – who I’ve long outgrown. I’m ashamed to say that I kept drinking and drinking red wine. Which was bloody stupid, because not only was I ratfaced by the time I got home, it’s a migraine trigger with me. Thankfully I drank loads of water and got away with just feeling vaguely thickheaded the next day.

    But it got me to thinking. I don’t want to be that kind of person who drinks because they’re bored. If I’ve outgrown a friend, then I should address the problem – either find a way to let them drift gently out of my life, or it’s up to me to try to find something good in the relationship. I can change my own reaction, but it’s not up to me to try fix them.

    So far I’ve not really missed the booze. Mostly I’ve tended to drink at home – just the odd glass of wine, or bottle of booze. I come of good, solid, alcoholic stock. Which has made me doubly cautious about my own drinking. The incident I mentioned was an isolated case to be fair to myself. Yet I’m determined that it is going to be an isolated case. I recently moved and have I’ve got an appointment for a medical at my new GP practice. One of my goals is that I want to drop a couple of stone and get fit for health reasons and this will help.

    Now whether or not I drink again come September, I don’t know. I’d like to think that this month’s embargo has made me more aware. I don’t think I’ll ever be teetotal – I’m too fond a festive noggin of sherry come Christmas. I’m going out on Sunday and I’m determined to stick to this month’s ban on alcohol. Perhaps the alternative is to see if the pub where I’m going has some non-alcoholic beer or wine. Or failing that, I’ll stick to lime and soda. Ideally what I want to do, is extend for a second month, just because I choose to. For me it’s about making informed and sensible changes in my life, that will ultimately empower me. Hope that doesn’t sound like something out a self-help book!

    I’m not going to give myself a hard time if I fall off the wagon and have a couple of glasses of wine. But then it’s time to stop. And stop I will. My parents didn’t know when to stop and that, sadly, ultimately killed the pair of them.

  • Thank you for your comment Annie, I’ll be honest, I had a couple of ciders at a week long festival last month, but as you say, no point in being hard on yourself. Those ciders made me realise that it doesnt feel good when I dont stick to my guns. I also lost 7 pounds just from cutting out alcohol for the month of July. Alcohol is laden with sugar which converts to fat. Cutting out alcohol is my first step to cutting out sugar and if I dont drink, I dont smoke, so I killed two birds with one stone! 😀

  • Thanks for your comment Pip! I think most people argue with you at the pub because they also want to be strong enough to not drink. Its an interesting situation but it feels damn good to go home sober and clear headed!

  • I could never give up fruit! I think fruit is a natural part of the human diet and very important whereas sugar by-products is not. Maybe I should be more specific and say I want to give up non-natural sugar consumption 😀 Good luck!

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