Four Things You’re Giving Up When You Quit Drinking Alcohol

four things you're giving up when you quit drinking alcohol

Always do sober what you said you’d do when you were drunk. That’ll teach you to keep your mouth shut.

Ernest Hemingway

“Don’t you miss it?” — the question I’ve been asked a bunch of times since I quit drinking alcohol.

“Sometimes, but not really.” — my usual response.

“Well, you’re much more driven than I am, I couldn’t quit drinking, I love my wine too much, how do you stick to it?” — the question I’ve been asked at least half a dozen times since I quit drinking alcohol.

“Have you ever had a wine hangover? Thinking about that makes the thought of drinking pass pretty quickly. I guess I’m motivated by waking up clear-headed, feeling rested, and without a head full of anxiety.” -my usual response.

So many people view giving up alcohol — or anything really — as being deprived. And I suppose by nature abstaining from anything could be considered deprivation. Or it could be viewed as the opportunity to gain something else in its place. It’s merely a matter of what your relationship is with that something that determines which end of the spectrum not having it will fall.

I don’t view giving up alcohol as losing out on anything. There was a period at first when I would have the impulse to want to order a drink if I was going out for a meal, but after the first few times, I noticed a few of the positive aspects from NOT drinking with my meal:

  • The bill was WAY less money.
  • I didn’t feel as bloated and awful when I left.
  • Getting home wasn’t a task, tiring or complicated.
  • Did I mention the bill was WAY, WAY less money?

Four things you’re giving up when you quit drinking alcohol

It’s almost as if when it comes to drinking, quitting is seen as giving up on a fulfilling social life or social activity. Some people can get distant when you decide to no longer drink (I’ve recently written a post about what’s going on when that happens), and that often sucks, and although that can be seen as something you’re ultimately losing out on, it’s not. People who no longer want to include you because you’re doing something positive for yourself, have their own stuff going on and all you can do is be there for them when you feel comfortable, but that’s mostly on them, not you.

So, here’s four things you’re giving up when you quit drinking alcohol.

  1. HANGOVERS. I mean, this is self-explanatory, right? If you’ve ever had one, which most of us have, you know that they suck. There is absolutely nothing positive about them. They make you feel and look terrible, isolate yourself, and steal your day (or days) away from you. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, if you’ve ever had a hangover, think for five minutes about the last one you had before you want to have a drink. Don’t just think about it, really feel it. You will change your mind. I know that I do. There is nothing I am going through that will be helped by waking up in that state. NO-THING.
  2. FRIVOLOUS SPENDING. In Scotland, the minimum alcohol price went up in the past couple of years. A bottle of wine will set you back anywhere from £5-20 a pop. If you have two or three over the week, that’s £15-60. And if you buy them at the pub or out at a meal, that number is per GLASS. I have never done the math, but if I had to take a rough estimate of how much money our household has saved in the past 19 months – it’s definitely in the THOUSANDS. Think of what you could do with that money you are literally dumping down the drain!
  3. SHALLOW INTERACTIONS. When you do meet up with folks or see family or friends you haven’t seen in a long while, you may find that they see you in a new light – on a whole other level. I am quite bubbly and chatty with or without drinking, so it is interesting when people will say that I am much more focused on my conversations nowadays. I used to say, “to make a long story short, which I cannot do,” because when you’re drinking and talking your mind tends to go off-track. I’ve noticed I don’t use that expression any longer. I still am guilty of being long-winded, but at least people can get to my point without a map and feel a genuine connection with what I am saying.
  4. WASTING TIME. I used to have a million excuses for why I didn’t read as much as I should or have a more organised home. I not only sleep better now that I no longer drink, but I have time and focus at night to read. I have read more books in the past year than I had in a decade. I was never an avid reader; I would, but not as much as I should. Now I have multiple books going at once, and I love that my mind is so ripe for new information and ideas. It makes me sad to think I could have been doing this for years and years, and I chose not to. I also used to hate cleaning. I was voted “messiest locker” when I was in the 8th grade and with good reason. Why do today what you can put off again tomorrow? I actually can’t stand living in chaos any longer. I NEVER thought that would happen to me. If you think about it, all we really have in this life is a finite amount of time. So, it is important what we choose to do with it; we can’t get it back once it passes!

Not drinking alcohol doesn’t have to be about what you’re giving up – it is an opportunity for new experiences, better health, and time and resources to accomplish more of the things you want to in your life.

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For many people, giving up alcohol can feel scary, but it doesn’t have to be. There is nothing to fear about changing something about your life that isn’t serving you any longer.

I will leave you with a quote from one of my favourite Instagram accounts @YouAreLuminous

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