In three weeks time I will have been sober for 11 years. That time has FLOWN by.
Binge drinking was hitting its peak when I went to university and although I wouldn’t say I was dependent on it, there was a certain euphoria that came from letting all your insecurities go and strutting your stuff on the dancefloor. At my worst, I was going out to the clubs four nights a week and binge drinking on every single one of them.
My sudden ‘change in lifestyle’ resulted in the start of my journey with epilepsy in 2006 when the doctor explained to me that it was probably the undue stress from poor eating habits, poor sleep and binge drinking that triggered the seizures.
I continued to drink and eat badly throughout my time at university. I refused to have a ‘different’ experience to my peers and often paid the consequences. However, as I approached my graduation and getting a job became a reality, I took my last sip of alcohol on my 22nd birthday.
For the first few years it was hard. As I mentioned, I wasn’t reliant on alcohol and didn’t experience withdrawal, but the social stigma put me through my paces.
These were the days before mocktails became mainstream so it was always pretty obvious when you weren’t drinking. I started to notice that people stopped inviting me out, friendships were lost and I became the ‘boring’ friend.
Being the stubborn person I was, I persevered. Generally I am quite sociable and so I became the friend who wanted to live vicariously through her friends. I was forced to let my insecurities go whilst being sober in order to be invited ‘out’.
I’ve had conversations with ‘unique individuals’ that asked me if I’d die if I had a shot of vodka. I’ve been told by a bartender in Soho that I was in the wrong place if I wasn’t going to drink. Even a date cancelled when he found out I’d be sober on it and that ‘there was no point going to a pub’.
It definitely can show peoples true colours.
Of course we live in a slightly more health conscious society now. It’s much more common for people not to drink and there are certainly more options in pubs and bars for the non-drinker.
There are also a million more benefits to not drinking:
Liver health – my liver is very thankful for me no longer putting it through its paces.
Financially – I begrudge (and refuse) to pay £1.50 for a bottle of Pepsi Max, so I can’t even imagine paying £4-£5 for a bottle of wine (is that even the going rate for a cheap bottle?!) I remember nights out sometimes costing me £50-£60 (this was 10-15 years ago) which I can’t even imagine spending now! I save on taxi fairs because I have the freedom to drive when going out and can drive home when I want to. People also buy my drinks when going out and expect nothing in return (I have offered don’t fear!) People who are under the influence often think a soft drink costs 2p, not £2 and will happily buy your drinks. There have been nights out where I haven’t spent a penny.
Weight – Your waistline will thank you – the drunken munchies are a much less likely occurrence. If I’ve had a good old boogie then I may be slightly peckish but the portion size is much smaller. There’s also no need to spend on food the next day for the ‘hangover cure’. And of course, alcohol has calories in it too.
Mental health – I don’t know about you but I could go from being one of the most popular people in the room to being convinced everyone hated me in about 10 seconds flat. I was an absolute liability some nights and I’d like to apologise to all my friends!
Some of my friends have stated that they can be quite depressed for a few days after a night on the booze. Alcohol is a known depressant so it makes sense as to why you feel down in the dumps.
Sleep – a night wining (and sometimes dining) would not only result in a late night but also a very early start as I was never one to be able to sleep through a hangover. Even now a night out always results in a slightly shoddy sleep but at least I’m not fighting the side effects of alcohol.
I won’t sit here and say you should give up alcohol. As long as you don’t make the mistakes I made and drink responsibly then I think it’s okay to relax with a glass of wine every now and again. But if you’re weighing up whether you should quit (or just reduce), hopefully here’s some reasons as to why it’s worth a try!