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Do You Hate Drinking But Do It Anyway? Try To Live Life Alcohol Free.
It Might or Might Not Be Easy
NOTE: This advice is directed towards individuals who want to stop drinking by choice and for those giving up alcohol for a short (or long) period of time. Please seek professional help if you think you might be suffering from alcohol dependence (see bottom of page for signs of dependence).
In a society where consuming liquor, beer, and wine is accepted and sometimes encouraged, it may seem impossible to stop indulging in alcoholic drinks or going to Happy Hour. You may have friends who drink every weekend, every night, or even have a drink to get the morning started. You may watch different TV channels but end up watching the same beer commercial on every one. You probably have seen the huge billboards advertising the "best" delightful alcoholic beverage geared towards men and women alike.
So how do you plan to ignore all of the temptation? How are you not going to partake in something that everyone seems to do? Have you reflected on the reasons behind your choice to say no to alcohol? What do you hope to gain from this experience and/or life choice?
Starting with basic questions such as these can help ease you into your new alcohol free life. Realize that the temptation is everywhere and easily accessible. It isn't that hard to walk into a store and buy a case of beer or a bottle of wine (unless of course, you are underage and even then it can be easy to get around). It isn't that hard to come across an offer at a party and sometimes you may be offered a drink under your own roof.
It might not be as easy as telling all your friends and them supporting your decision. You may be faced with peer pressure, questions, and judgement! There will always be someone who will be bewildered by your choices but don't let that discourage you if giving up alcohol is going to make your life easier or happier. The transition from being the party animal (or avid bar goer) to the permanent designated driver can be a simple (or slightly difficult) matter of self-control, diligence and willingness to be sober.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I ready to make this leap into sobriety?
- What are the reasons behind my decision to stop drinking?
- How do I plan to spend the time I would normally be consuming alcoholic beverages?
- Who can I talk to if I am struggling?
- Can I rely on myself to be sober or should I seek additional help?
- Am I willing to stick to my goals despite the obstacles (or party friends) I will have to face?
Once you feel you are comfortable with your answers and are willing to change your ways, you will have passed the easiest step in this process!
It Takes Willpower To Say NO!
Some Things I've Learned About Drinking
- Not everyone drinks but most of the people I have encountered throughout junior high, high school and college have tried alcohol, had someone buy alcohol for them, or have access to alcohol somehow.
- While taking a women's health course in college, I found that women cannot process alcohol like men can, are more likely to encounter someone who might take advantage of them sexually, and are at higher risk for health problems from consuming alcohol.
- Drinking is expensive. I've paid anywhere from .75 cents to 5 dollars for one shot of liquor and I've spent 20 dollars on just two drinks (yes, two drinks at a concert!). If you have bills to pay, a car to put gas in and/or a family to take care of you will not regret saving money from your decision not to drink anymore. This can be especially true if you bar hop every weekend.
- Waking up with a hangover and especially one that lasts a full day can really affect your daily life and mental capabilities. I've found I can't concentrate as well the next day if I had been drinking the night before.
- Alcohol isn't as enjoyable as you age (from my experience). When I was 18, I could drink and stay up late and do whatever I pleased the next day. Now that I'm almost to my mid 20's, drinking is a chore because I have to account for the time I drink AND the time it takes to recover.
If You Tell Your Friends...
Would your friends judge you if you stopped drinking?
Things To Do Instead Of Drinking
If you are having a hard time adjusting to your alcohol free life, realize that you are not alone. Many people struggle at first and I did too. Maybe you are bored on the weekends now that your friends have labeled you as designated driver. Maybe you don't hang out with the friends you used to because they thought you were trying to be better than them by quitting (I hear this happens a lot). Perhaps, you are regretting making a commitment such as this to yourself. Before you start to head out the door to the nearest liquor store, I want you to know that you can have fun without drinking! You can even be productive. Here are somethings you might want to do or try.
- Cook something you have not cooked before. Look up a recipe online or be creative, buy the ingredients, get out the pots and pans and start cooking! You never know if you will cook something fantastic. You might find a new passion and a new reason to invite people over.
- Exercise and/or create an exercise plan. If you don't normally exercise or you spend most of your weekend partying and indulging in hangover foods and then recovering, it might do you some good to exercise on a Saturday night instead of drinking. Exercise will reduce stress (which may be part of why people drink alcohol), help you stay trim (less calories wasted on beverages) and release negative energy (we need to unwind sometimes). Even if you hate exercising, find something that gets you moving like a walking your dog. If you like going to the club, you can dance all night, drink water and not have to worry about being dizzy afterwards! You still are exercising but now you are sober.
- Play with your pets! They miss you when you are at work and you can bond together over a chew toy.
- Writing may help cope with your new transition. Feel free to write in a journal or notebook or type up a document on a laptop. If you feel you are struggling, just getting out the emotions and re-reading what you wrote can help you see that you are making the right choice for yourself and nobody else.
- Read. Read anything from books to magazines to online articles to funny jokes. Get your mind off of drinking alcohol. Immense yourself in a good story.
- Listen to music. Jam out to your favorite bands and sing along to the lyrics. Turn up the music and really listen to everything going on in the song. Heck, you can even make your own tunes.
- Volunteer or join an organization. Why not? Even if you hate it, you can at least say you tried.
- Hang out with friends in different settings. Go bowling, play mini-golf, go swim in a lake, go fishing, visit the beach, cloud watch, play sports, or enjoy an amusement park. Even if your friends decide to drink and you don't, you will have fun because you are doing something fun that doesn't require alcohol. In fact, nothing really requires you to drink an alcoholic beverage.
- Take a shower and go to bed. If you've been exhausted, stressed out, feeling low on energy, or recently decided to stay up and watch the Star Wars saga from beginning to end, there's no better way to end the day than to just relax and sleep.
Avoiding Alcohol Can Be Difficult
If you're on the border line of wanting to quit forever and wanting to continue on with your ways, you probably have a good reason for doing both. Wanting to quit can stem from arising health issues, to lack of focus, from wanting to get in shape or from you simply just not able to drink and be merry. Wanting to continue to drink can stem from lack of support to stop drinking, thinking you won't be any fun to your friends or they won't invite you out, and maybe you like the feelings you get from a couple drinks. If you are really unsure, I would suggest you find a middle ground before quitting for good. If you are unhappy still, then I would encourage you to stop your alcohol consumption. Nobody is forcing you to drink at the bar and if your friends are pressuring you, I'd suggest finding a new crowd to hang out with. Make sure you are doing this for YOU otherwise, you could find yourself drinking more or binging later on.
Signs You Should Probably Stop Drinking Alcohol or Cut Back:
- You go out every weekend and spend a lot of money you really don't have. Save some money for a rainy day.
- You wake up with a hangover. Either no self-control or drinking past your limit.
- Your friends complain about having to take care of you when you go out. Sometimes we don't always see our own flaws.
- You make bad decisions under the influence often such as having unprotected sex, getting into fights, yelling at bartenders or deciding to drive while drunk. These could all lead to very negative consequences
- You feel like you should stop drinking. For whatever reason, you are in conflict with yourself for doing it.
- You feel severely depressed or even suicidal when drinking. This can become dangerous.
- You use alcohol as coping mechanism or to forget your troubles. Running to the liquor cabinet is not a way of getting out of problems.
- You have a family history of alcohol abuse. Whether you like it or not, you have the same genes as the people in your family.
- Legally, you shouldn't drink if you are under 21 (in USA) but if you do, you need to realize that your reputation is at stake and jail time isn't fun. DUI's and DWI's are also not fun.
Signs of Alcohol Dependence
Sadly, many people develop a severe dependence on alcohol to function normally. If you have a few of these signs of alcohol dependence or beginning to have some signs, do not ignore it. Get help or talk about it to someone who can help. You only have one body to live in. Don't damage it beyond repair.
Get help if:
- You can't control how much or how often you drink.
- You have anxiety or feel irritated without your alcohol like clockwork.
- You continue to have to drink more in order to feel drunk.
- Your relationships are suffering because of your drinking.
- You miss work or school because you have bad hangovers.
- You hide your drinking from others in fear they will make you stop.
- You can't remember what happens when you drink and your days become hazy.
- You are borrowing or stealing money from other people just to get some alcohol.
If you want to read more on alcohol...
- BAC Calculator | Blood Alcohol Level
BAC Calculator, get a quick estimate of your Blood Alcohol Level.
- Helpline for Alcoholics | AlcoholAbuseHotline.com
The Alcohol Abuse Hotline
- Publications | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism | Women and Alcohol
- Know your decision to stop drinking might be hard to do.
- Have goals or other options to keep you preoccupied.
- Realize your decision has to be yours to succeed.
- You can have fun without alcohol.
- You might actually be productive without drinking and perhaps richer.
- True friends will not force you to drink.
- Seek support if you are struggling.
- If you know you have a problem with alcohol, take action for the sake of your health.