I actually stopped drinking alcohol for most of 2016. It happened by accident: when Isabel went into hospital in January, I needed to be able to drive at a moment’s notice. In April, when our son got out of hospital, I had gone nearly 3 months without drinking, without noticing or really missing it.
This actually started one of the processes that I go through with everything in my life now: ask why you need it. Experiment without it for a period. You can do it with anything. I actually think that experimenting is important enough that the phases of my life and learning are actually based around experiments.
So I decided to stay teetotal for a year, with 2 exceptions. I promised that if anyone bought champagne to celebrate the life of my son, then I would partake. And I could drink scotch whisky (yes, I have weaknesses!) as long as I was with others.
This was actually pretty easy to do, as I already didn’t drink much. I never drank during the week, and only occasionally on weekends. I was more likely to drink if I met up with friends on the weekends.
One of the challenges of the year was a pub crawl around Oxford. I thought that it would be pretty difficult to go on a pub crawl while sober, and I thought about pulling out. I was concerned that I would be dull company with my friends, but eventually I said I would go. I forced some rules upon myself though:
- Only alcohol-free beers
- After dinner, I could have scotch
That worked out fine: I think I drank 4 or 5 Becks Blues, then had a Jameson and a Laphroaig after dinner. No full feeling, no drunk feeling, no hangover.
There were some real benefits to giving up alcohol:
Alcohol would also set off my allergies. Alcohol releases histamines in the blood, which causes me to sneeze and generally have trouble breathing. In summers of years gone past, I’ve had to limit myself to one beer in the evenings so I could breathe when I went to bed at night.
I don’t actually put any of my weight loss down to giving up alcohol. Anecdotally, drinking alcohol makes it harder to burn fat, but for me it didn’t make much difference. Not that I was that big a drinker before.
I didn’t add up all the money I was saving from not drinking, but I do feel better off for it. As a guess, my drinking habit (if you can call it that) was probably no more than £20 a month. But that money can go to something else.
What I don’t miss about alcohol is the bloated feeling from drinking pints of beer or ale. I don’t miss the drunk feeling at all. I don’t miss the grogginess the morning after. I do like the better sleep.