Abstaining From Alcohol Isn’t All Its Cracked Up to Be

I have a complicated relationship with alcohol as many of us do.

I didn’t start drinking until freshman year of college. Much later than much of America and many of my peers.

But when I started, I quickly made up for lost time.

I was on the swim team and it was part of the culture. Long nights and weekends of celebratory drinking.

When I moved back to New York City, initially, not much changed.

Dorm parties were traded in for bars and clubs. If anything, at first the drinking accelerated.

Then after few years I started to care.

I was sick of waking up hungover constantly.

Sick of not being fully clear in the morning.

So I started to try to moderate.

I struggled with that, so last year I started tracking every drink I take.

It worked, I consistently drank less each month. I also drank to less intoxication.

And then leading up to my Ironman in August, I didn’t drink at all for 45 days (with a short intermision for a bachelor party).

This was interesting.

The positives were mostly to be expected.

The positives:

  1. Not spending $ on booze. Oh so much not spending! I probably saved three thousand dollars or more in that time based on my average alcohol spend.
  2. Much fewer calories on a daily basis. I was training the whole time which meant I got to eat more food.
  3. A clear head every day when waking up. This was huge. It feels amazing to wake up and be ready to go every day for weeks.

The negatives were a bit suprising.

The negatives:

  1. People care that you’re not drinking. Some more than others but its a bit awkward. Especially in situation where you go out to a bar or party. There is enormous peer pressure and people treat you differently. So much so that I’d almost just rather lie to people and not tell them I’m not drinking. That said, this was mostly expected.
  2. No altered state of mind. This I did not expect. After a month of not drinking my creativity dropped a bit. My anxiety was higher. Its almost as if drinking helps to re-set your brain. It was noticeable. I was constantly more on edge and was alienating more people because of it.

So although I’d love to get the benefits of drinking without the costs, I’m not there yet.

I can’t loosen up in the evening as much as others do when they are drinking.

And I can’t keep my mind open to brand new ideas.

So for now, the pros don’t outweigh the cons.

I will continue to periodically poison myself.

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