Bye bye booze!

Happy Easter everyone! As from today, the fasting period is over and on that occasion, I wanted to share my experience of going (almost) sober for a month.

A little spoiler beforehand: I didn’t exactly go sober. Firstly because I enjoy a good glass of wine, and secondly because I don’t care for any sort of extremes and so I don’t see why I should unnecessarily restrict myself. Nevertheless, I did reduce my alcohol intake significantly.

I’m not religious in any way, but after carnival season, I thought it was a good idea to get a little more careful. Last month, I was invited to a few parties, two of them turned into whole-day events. I was drinking the entire time and of course, my memories about those nights are a little blurry. And not that it would be punishment enough to have to ask your friends about what happened, I also had a small issue with my teeth afterwards. I have very sensitive teeth, but two days of drinking bubbly non-stop made it incredibly painful for me to just brush them. Just because of that, I didn’t drink for two weeks straight. I got my teeth fixed in the meanwhile, but I was still quite scary to drink again. And besides, I thought that it would be a good thing to change my drinking habits.

I’ve worked in gastronomy for around two years and during that time, my alcohol consumption got a little excessive, I have to say. One day, I took an alcohol assessment test online and it told me that with at least 5 units a day, within a year I’d drunk my body weight in booze. That was around five/six years ago. (I was 22 back then.) Fortunately, I reached a point where the thought of drinking almost made me wanna through up and so I just stopped. But at the same time, my social life kinda went out the window as well. I thought that going out would be boring without drinking and so I just wasn’t up to it anymore.

Then eventually, but only for a short period of time, I found a somewhat balanced way to handle alcohol, but I still had nights of binge-drinking. And even the occasional glass of wine soon brought me back to a bottle a day. And until last year, I pretty much maintained that quantity.

I guess the problem was that I’m not really afraid of becoming an alcoholic. I never had the feeling that I needed alcohol (but then again, I did drink every single day) and I also felt like I could stop at any moment if I wanted to. I just didn’t want to. Besides, a bottle a day is actually not that much if you think about it. In fact, it’s a glass for apéro, another when you cook, a larger one that goes with your meal, then another one when you watch a movie and then you may as well finish the tiny drop that’s left in the bottle.

Again, I had that moment where I didn’t even want to drink but still did because I was used to it. I knew I had to change something, not only because alcohol makes your skin look dull, but most of all because being drunk can put you in some dangerous situations. Like that one night, where I stayed at the bar after my shift. I didn’t even want to stay until late, but you know how those nights turn out when you say you’ll “only have one drink”. In the end I made it to the train station past midnight but had missed my train. While waiting, I fell asleep on one of the benches. Fortunately, there was police patrolling the station and so it was relatively safe. However, if I’d fallen asleep somewhere else, the chances of getting all my stuff stolen would have been pretty good. (One of the officers woke me up, I realized that there was no train that would bring me home until 4 am. I went out of the station and luckily ran into the guys I was drinking with. We shared a cab and I got home safe.) This was just one of many rock bottoms.

So during the last month, I had alcohol on very few occasions only. And if I did, I had a big glass of water directly before or after. Not only does this method help to curb my appetite for more and more wine, it’s also a good way to save money. I actually did see a difference on my bank account. Before, a normal night out would usually cost me around 20 € just for drinks. Drinking less alcohol easily reduces that amount by half.

But a much more important benefit I got from drinking less is that my sleep quality improved tremendously. Before, I constantly felt tired even after 10 hours of sleep. I still need lots of sleep (ideally 9 hours), but when I wake up now, I feel well-rested. Which gives me the energy to be more active throughout my day. I now work out in the morning, even if it’s just a small workout. (Though, I still have days where I can’t get myself motivated to do anything at all, but at least it’s not due to feeling tired and having a headache because of too many drinks.)

Yet, I don’t think that I’m becoming a teetotaller anytime soon, but this past month has definitely made me be more aware of my drinking habits and has helped me learn to listen to my body more carefully. Now, I only drink if I really have the “appetite” for it. And I even then, I’m drinking less alcohol than I would have before. With that said, I’m going to top up my glass of water.