Enjoying life without alcohol – understanding and dealing with reality

life without alcohol

For alcoholics, quitting doesn’t always last long.  What matters is making it stick.

Pitfalls for Recovering Alcoholics: Some of the Biggest Temptations.

Social Occasions

Hello, my name is Sam and I’m a recovered alcoholic.  This means that the holidays, while great now, were a bit sketchy for me in the first few years of my sobriety.   Holidays are rough because the booze can be flowing at those times. Sometimes you can be around people who don’t know you’re recovered and who feel that holidays are times to let loose–the kind of pressure you can get at those times can be immense, because people don’t really mean it that way.

Special occasions of any kind, whether it be birthdays or work events or any kind of parties, can be a drag.  On the one hand, the smart recovering alcoholic may think he’s got it all figured out–just stay home.  However, there are some benefits to going to some events from time to time.  Isolation isn’t good for a recovered addict, and hanging out with people and staying in touch with society is actually a big deal.  So going and being proud to be recovered is probably the best way.

If this means struggling with willpower, that’s what being a recovered alcoholic is all about.

Peer Pressure

I have a good pal named Brandon.  Brandon has a way of helping me with my sobriety.  One of the things we do each week is play golf.  I don’t know about you and your buddies, but not even my friend Brandon drinks cocktails or pounds shots at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.  So we don’t drink on our main outings each week.  That means that he and I can hang out with no weird stuff about alcohol, and Brandon isn’t sacrificing anything.  I mean, he really wants (and needs–don’t tell him I said that) to improve his handicap, and he’s proven that beer doesn’t help with that.

That shows the importance of positive or negative peer pressure.  If you’re around people who drink on a regular basis, you’ll eventually, slowly cave.  They might not be purposely pressuring you at all, but too much of it will seep in through your pores and wear you down.  So limit hanging out with people who drink all the time–and realize that no one will mind at all.  I’ve had hundreds of people respect me for it.

Advertising and the Media

One time not long after leaving albuquerque for the Midwest, where I still live, I spent a night up on my roof.  Don’t ask me how the hell I got up there or what I was doing, I just woke up on my roof, insanely sick to my stomach, dizzy, dry-mouthed, wondering what the heck had happened, and how I would get down.

When I see a beer commercial on TV with busty gals around a swimming pool, I picture myself up on my roof.  I don’t even notice the rest of the commercial at that point, and that’s the end of it.

Don’t Forget the Benefits

When fighting against the goblins mentioned above, it’s important–to me–to be moving toward something.  The way to do that is to be moving toward all the benefits of sobreity.  Don’t look now, because here they come!

1. Increased Energy

Alcohol can lead you to become incredibly sedentary; robbing you of your energy as well as your interest in other, more productive things. Do you think I was a golfer when I was drinking all the time?  I have so much more energy now–aging in reverse.

2. Better Looks

Let me tell you, I’m one handsome devil.  Or, maybe not.  But I can tell you that the way to improve your appearance is to get off the booze.  Alcohol is the ultimate junk food in addition to being a depressant and screwing everything up.  It’s all about weight gain and tooth rot.  Non-drinkers even have healthier hair.

3. Better Health

Did you know alcohol (or cocaine) was bad for your health?  Front page news!  But here’s a look at how it does its damage.  It leads to obesity, diabetes, strokes and cancer. By eliminating alcohol from your life, you are taking possibly the greatest step that you can towards safeguarding your health and ensuring a longer, more fulfilling life.

4. Better Mental Well-being

When sober, you will find that you become infinitely more pleasant and happy, both for others and for yourself. Alcoholism forges depression, feeds insecurities and in generally makes you miserable. Sober, I can tackle tasks and problems with a far higher degree of zeal and efficiency.

5. More Income and Spare Time

I continue to own my own business, but sober me does a lot better: surprise!  Yes, money can be tight, but saving on booze and mixers and the kind of junk food people like at 1 a.m. really helps.  The fact is, if you’re trying to economize and use money with frugality, being drunk absolutely won’t help this.

Life after alcohol can be a tough to navigate, in fact it may be the hardest thing that you’ll ever have to do. But the outlook is far from bleak; the benefits massively outweigh any hardships that you may encounter, and the power to change your life for the better is always in your grasp- by surrounding yourself with positive influences and loving relationships, you can steel your resolve and ensure that the new you is here to stay. This is a process which will require a lot from you, but at the same time don’t forget that you don’t have to go through it alone.

Photo Credit Raphael on Flickr