And Other Truths You Need to Be Prepared For When You Quit Drinking
“There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.” — Thomas Sowell
Amazing nights on the town. FANTASTIC first dates. Vacations with “the crew.” Stories that seem almost right out of a movie.
I’ve been alcohol-conscious for over 18 months now and to say that I’ve experienced anything even close to what my life was like before just isn’t true.
News flash: Alcohol IS a fun-starter.
It lowers inhibitions and creates an atmosphere in which almost ANYTHING can happen, and this can, in fact, lead to some very exciting times.
When I listen to a podcast or read a book that says life is just as or even more exciting now that the author/host is sober, I always think, “That is such bullsh#t.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that life isn’t BETTER now that I’m alcohol-free. There are numerous things for which I wake up every day now and am tremendously thankful.
But what I want to make sure that everyone knows is there are tradeoffs. For a lot of the amazing things that you are going to gain and ways your life is going to improve dramatically, there are things that you will lose and/or have to deal with first that you didn’t have to before.
Some will be short term and not a big deal as you learn how to cope with certain situations as the new you. Others will be a bit more permanent, and you’ll just have to come to grips with the next chapter in your life looking markedly different from the previous one.
Therefore, I wanted to share some of these truths, so you’ll know exactly what the future may hold, as well as the things you’ll need to be prepared for if you decide to take this journey.
Sex will take TIME to get used to
Most people don’t think about it, but I would venture that if you’re someone who drinks more than the recommended daily allowance (1–2 drinks) on a consistent basis, then 9 times out of 10 whenever you experience a sexual encounter, you are either A. drunk or B. coming out of the fog of being drink, i.e., morning sex.
Alcohol is that natural juice that gets the mood flowing and the motor going and typically increases the desire for sexual activity. It lowers your inhibitions and helps remove that self-conscious feeling some people get about initiating “pelvic pinochle.”
Once you remove that, it’s going to take a bit more effort from you to get things flowing and set yourself up for “success.”
While you’ll get this back easily with some effort, another thing that will take some time to regain is how to be open to doing some of the more “aggressive” sexual behaviors that you were used to while you were drinking.
When you’re sober, the sexual trapeze artist will not appear as quickly as before, and you’re going to have to challenge yourself to be a bit more creative and progressive as it relates to getting outside of the “missionary box”.
On the flip side, however, once you do get things going, the act of having sex is actually much better.
I can tell you from first-hand experience, for men, it’ll decrease, if not hopefully completely eliminate, those times that you look down at your buddy and ask why he isn’t “working”.
While for women, I’ve been told the increased intensity of your orgasm is unlike anything you could’ve ever experienced sober.
And while the initial awkwardness can take some getting over at first, don’t despair, everything will come back and feel more natural with a bit of practice and effort.
Relationships WILL change…and that can be sad
Many times, writers make it seem like whenever you stop drinking and you realize that you don’t have much in common with your friends outside of alcohol, that this is a good thing since you’re “leveling up.”
Who needs friends who only want to drink and talk aimlessly about “nothingness” anyway?
Isn’t it better now that you are sober and mindfully present and can be more focused on actually HEARING the person and remembering your time together?
But the question then becomes, don’t you sometimes just want to chill and talk about “nothingness”?
There are times in which serious conversations are needed, but aren’t there also other times that the desire to hang out with your friends is JUST to relax and not focus on anything too consequential?
What happens, however, is that once you’re alcohol-conscious, the desire to do this type of aimless “hanging out” does decrease dramatically.
You’ll still want to go out and hang, but you will slowly start to realize that those late nights to stay out until 2 am just don’t appeal to you as much anymore because the “fire starter” of alcohol isn’t making the situation as overly fun as it used to be.
Your previous friends will start to notice it too and not call you as much because they know you’re not going to be up for it. Therefore, when you have that time in which you just want to “chill,” they very well may not be available.
Over time, that group of friends with which you have so many stories and experiences together will slowly start to fade away, as you have less and less in common and less to talk about when you do finally connect…and that can be a bit sad.
Most nights you’ll do the SAME thing
The reality is that without alcohol you won’t have the desire to go, go, go the way you used to.
You’ll be more resigned to relax and do the same things over and over each night because when you don’t add alcohol to the mix, the amount of work you have to do to make something interesting and exciting just doesn’t seem worth it or necessary.
It’s not that you’ll become a fuddy-duddy, but you will find yourself more interested in doing things that don’t require large groups of people.
Instead, you’ll probably be more focused on efforts that will build something for your future, as opposed to spending your time on things that will only produce memories and, sometimes, regrets.
This redirected focus, if channeled correctly, can keep you focused on whatever goals you may have for your future. The art of success often is being “bored” most nights, and it’s those who embrace this by doing whatever hard work is needed that will ultimately be successful.
If you channel this focus in the right direction, you’ll find yourself gaining new skills and hobbies that will eventually help improve your personal and professional life.
It’s SO much easier if you do it with a partner
I’m not going to say it’s impossible to become alcohol-conscious on your own, but I’m personally not sure if I would have been successful if it were not for my wife. She stopped drinking on the exact same day that I did, and it’s one of the reasons that she is my absolute best friend.
When I realized that hanging out with my previous friends was not going to work as well anymore, it was fine because I had her to do everything with and it made it so much easier.
There is even science to back this up, as there was a recent study with rats that proved if given a choice between social interaction or access to a drug (heroin or methamphetamine), the rat consistently chose the social interaction. This was true both before and AFTER they had become addicted to the drug.
It is not 100% necessary for your significant other to join you on the sobriety journey, especially if they are someone who drinks only occasionally or rarely goes over the recommended maximum.
However, it will be much harder for you to abstain if this person may have a problem herself/himself, as it would be a constant reminder of what you could be doing instead of being sober/alcohol-conscious.
If this person refuses to change, then I would point you back to the possibility of the second truth in this article (relationships WILL change).
If you are then going to need someone else to fill this void, there are a number of apps that you could look into that could help you find a sobriety partner who could turn into that person.
I would highly recommend it to increase your chances of success.
There is NO GUARANTEE you’ll lose weight
This is the one that surprises (and depresses) a lot of people because they automatically think that since they aren’t drinking all of those calories anymore and then following it up with sh*tty food, then the pounds should just magically fall off.
Couple that with the fact that they’re, hopefully, not missing any workouts now, and they should have the physique of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in about a year right?
Haha…not at all.
While there is a chance a fair amount of people will lose weight once they give up alcohol, it doesn’t mean that this is a foregone conclusion. Alcohol is tricky because it affects so many different aspects of our brain and has trained it so well to follow a specific cycle.
When this cycle is broken, the body will search for a new cycle or item to fill that void to help regain the pleasure receipt that it was so used to. Therefore, for many people, they just exchange their long time debilitating addiction to alcohol to a new, burgeoning addiction to food.
As with most people, sugar was my substitution. My sweet tooth actually went through the roof, as my body looked for something to give it a similar dopamine high of alcohol.
I rarely, if ever, ate sweets before, due to the fact that sweet stuff and alcohol just didn’t mix well with me.
Once I stopped drinking, however, I couldn’t get enough cookies, pies, and ice cream, as my body recognized that similar dopamine spike.
While this will not be a good long term strategy, when you’re first coping with the battle of not drinking, this is fine. It’s much better to overeat and have a belly ache the next morning, then to relapse, blackout and not know whose house you’re in the next day.
You’ll just have to monitor it to make sure you don’t trade one problem (alcohol abuse) for another (diabetes).
Now that you know these truths, you can approach sobriety eyes wide open and can’t say that you weren’t warned.
Just remember, you are making a tradeoff for those nights of excitement for a likely longer and much more stable/successful life overall.
And while it’s always fun and exciting when you can start a story to a friend with the phrase, “Last night was a movie,” the older you get, the more you realize what seemed to be an epic story of adventure and excitement could slowly be turning into a very sad tragedy.