A buddy of mine is encouraging his friends on Facebook to quit alcohol for the month of October, calling it "Sober October." Maybe this is something you'll want to do? Or, if this feels to soon, another buddy of mine shared with me that he does a "Dry January" each year, so perhaps you can plan for January now.
For me, in February of 2020 I had my last drink of alcohol. But I didn't realize it was my last drink at the time. In recent years I had scaled back my drinking to only having an occasional beer at evening social events. Well, the pandemic came along in March of 2020, so I of course stopped attending social events and stopped having an occasional beer. I "accidentally" gave up drinking and it has turned out to be wonderful for me. Read on for 5 things I've learned on this journey, including the one drink I tried in 2021 and how badly that turned out... Hopefully this post will be a blessing to anyone thinking about quitting alcohol. (Note that this is not a judgemental post if you drink alcohol. You can still drink in front of me. :)
1. Alcohol is not a health food: I heard Dr. Mark Hyman say clearly on a podcast years ago, "alcohol is not a health food. Look, perhaps you can enjoy it on occasion, like a dessert. But don't pretend it is good for you." Yes, I have seen all the articles about how drinking a glass of wine might be good for you. In fact, my doctor told me I should drink half a glass of wine a night to help reduce cholesterol. However, I just don't think the potential benefits of small amounts of alcohol outweigh the risks of its negative impact on my body. The older I get, the more I need to focus on enjoying healthy food and beverages so that I can stay healthy. Alcohol has sugars, carbs and calories that I don't have time for! As one wise adage states: "don't drink your calories."
2. Alcohol negatively impacts your sleep: I have no doubts whatsoever that alcohol impacts my sleep negatively. And I am obsessive about trying to get a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night with a good mix of REM and deep sleep, as tracked on my FitBit. Alcohol disrupts my sleep patterns and gives me "choppy" sleep, which I can see in real time the next morning on my FitBit. And of course I can feel the effects of alcohol the next morning, even if it is only one drink.
3. Don't keep alcohol in the house: I decided a few years ago to stop drinking alcohol at home because I didn't want my daughters to seeing me drinking it in front of them. They seemed to be quite curious when I used to drink at home. They wanted to smell it, and then asked to sip it. I soon decided I didn't want to drink in from of my daughters at home anymore.
4. Alcohol is addictive: The statistics suggest that most of us can drink responsibly without becoming addicted. However, there is always the risk that any of us can get a bit too dependent on alcohol if we're not careful. It can become a crutch. An escape. A bad habit. And worst case, yes, an addiction. I confess that in my 20s I certainly drank too much and was at high risk of addiction, though somehow never crossed that line completely. I have many friends that are alcoholics and I admire their daily journey's of sobriety and freedom. Strong work, brothers and sisters! (If you're reading this and are addicted to alcohol, please get involved with Alcoholics Anonymous today. If you are a Christian, please also check out Celebrate Recovery.)
5. Alcohol tastes gross and makes you feel bad: Okay, this last point is now just my opinion and sets up the following story. After having my last drink in February of 2020, I was offered a beer in July of 2021, 17 months later. It was at a 4th of July party and I thought, "why not, I should go ahead and try this ice cold beer on this hot summer day." Well, it turned out that the beer tasted terrible to me! I had totally lost my taste for it. But I kept drinking a bit more of it, maybe drinking 1/3rd of the beer, and it also made me feel terrible. I poured out the remaining 2/3rds of the beer and I am actually grateful for how badly that beer tasted.
Look, I realize there will be many people reading this blog post that enjoy an occasional drink of alcohol and that is fine - no judgment from me at all. I also think that there will be many people that read this blog post who might be thinking that they want to quit alcohol for any of the reasons I listed above, or perhaps for other reasons. If this is you, then maybe try out Sober October and see how it goes for you? Or, prep up to do a Dry January in a few months? I hope this post can serve as an inspiration for you, if you want to give it a go. Blessings on your journey and be strong and courageous!
If you are reading this blog and you have done a Sober October or Dry January, or if you've quit alcohol completely, please share your experiences in the comments section below. Thank you!
p.s. The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to live a more disciplined life by God's Grace. I'd be honored if you'd subscribe to my blog's emails to alert you of new blog posts at: www.mikepritchard.com/subscribe.html