In its earlier days, Hello Sunday Morning encouraged people to “do an HSM challenge” – a period of three, six or 12 months completely without alcohol. I recently started working as Head of Marketing with HSM and decided to get into character by giving this a go for the first quarter of this year. I chose the easy-peasy three-month entry-level point, and at the halfway point of just six weeks, this is what I have found …
So, what happens when you give up the booze?
I imagine it depends on how large booze looms in your life before you jam the cork back in the bottle. In my case, I suspected that my drinking was on the wrong side of the bell-curve, although not to a reckless or unhealthy extent – but maybe I’ve been deluding myself. One time in my 40s I reviewed the previous year and realised that my casual drinking had become habitual, to the point where there probably hadn’t been a single 24-hour period in that 12 months when I wouldn’t have blown over 0.05 in a breathalyser at some stage.
I cooled it a bit on that realisation, but through my 50s I’d still drink nearly daily, although I started to leave a few alcohol-free days in the working week. My drinking left me functional and I had no problems with it domestically (I have a wife who matches me drink for drink). It was normal when compared against my circle of friends, and it was also normal when compared with what I remember of my parents’ drinking.
I like to drink. I don’t like being at the point where I slur my words (and that is quite a low threshold for me), but I certainly enjoy heading in that direction. On normal evenings, when I was working the next day, I would share a bottle of wine with my wife, and often get some way into a second. On weekends, it would be two bottles between us on both Friday and Saturday. I’m not a great one for following expert advice on health, but even I could work out that I was consuming up to 35 standard drinks per week, compared to the 14 that is recommended as a safe limit.
So what prompted me to give it up?
Well, I noticed that I functioned better on those days following an alcohol-free day. In particular, I slept very much better. On nights that I drank, I would go to sleep readily, but often wake up after midnight with a racing mind and anxious thoughts. Sometimes this would be accompanied by a hard-beating heart, and a return to sleep was always a few hours away (usually just minutes before the alarm clock went off). It left me feeling like crap the following day, even when there was no detectable hangover. On alcohol-free nights, I would usually sleep right through, and if I did awaken in the night, I could easily fall asleep again.
On working weeks that I went alcohol free, it was clear to me that my alertness, focus and general intellect improved as the week wore on, and I began to wonder if, perhaps, a late-40s career plateau had been partly self-inflicted.
Finally, I recently began to wake up in the mornings with distinctly tender feelings in the kidneys, which would pass after a couple of hours. On days following an alcohol-free night this never happened.
So this year I’ve decided to do a Hello Sunday Morning 3-month challenge: no booze at all until April. I’m now at the six-week midpoint and I’ve noticed some positive things, but I’ve also noticed a few downsides, so here they are in summary:
Upsides of going without alcohol
Sleep. The first and most unmistakable benefit is a great night’s sleep. This kicked in after the first 48 hours, but it also seems to be improving over the six weeks. Not only is the sleep deep and unbroken, but the quality of dreams also seems to have improved: they’ve been more detailed, linger in the memory for longer with an almost cinematic quality to them, and for some reason often feature Her Majesty the Queen (although I realise this last phenomenon may not be universal).
General well-being. You know how your car feels after you’ve just given it a 15,000 km service? You can’t put your finger on it, but everything seems tighter, more responsive and just works better? That’s how I felt at the two week mark, and it hasn’t fallen off yet. I know I would pay a lot of money for a vitamin supplement that had this effect.
Energy and focus. There’s been a small but definite improvement in my work performance, particularly in my ability to concentrate, organise and generally be ‘present’ during meetings. The effect carries over when I get home. Just the other night, I ate my dinner and then carried on painting a spare bedroom from where I’d left off over the weekend. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d opened a bottle of wine first. However, it doesn’t last long into the night, and I’ve been going to bed earlier than usual since starting this dry spell.
Mood. I’m told we all conduct a continuous dialogue with ourselves in our heads during waking hours. Over the past couple of decades, my dialogue has tended towards the unhelpful and self-critical, particularly at 2:00 am when I’m trying to get back to sleep. I think it’s had a corrosive effect on my self-confidence over that time, because I can feel confidence returning during this period.
Downsides to going without alcohol
Something’s missing. I’d got into the habit of coming home, starting the cooking and opening a bottle of wine each day. For the first few weeks I felt uneasy during the 5:00–7:00 pm window – like I’d forgotten to do something important. A glass in hand was a prop for the post working-day chit-chat with my wife, and it felt odd without the wine. It’s also noticeable that our conversation doesn’t flow or digress onto tangents in quite the same way.
Twinges. Every now and then, quite out of the blue, I get a pang of regret that I won’t be opening a bottle of shiraz tonight. It passes.
NA substitutes. During the first few weeks we tried some of the non-alcoholic options that are available, with mixed results. To my surprise, the non-alcoholic beers were pretty good. It’s obvious at first sip that Cooper’s Birell is non-alcoholic, but if you accept it for what it is, then it’s a very pleasant thirst-quenching lager-style drink. Carlton Zero actually does taste like a nicely hoppy-flavoured beer, but tends to bloat a bit. Other than the beers, there don’t seem to be any ersatz products that have the same satisfying depth of flavour of a wine or spirit. The NA wines were pretty dire; the whites were too sweet, and the reds were flat, like a bottle that has been left open for a couple of weeks. We also tried the non-alcoholic distilled botanicals which are promoted as an alternative to gin. For the life of me, I couldn’t detect the connection. One of them tasted like water that had recently been used to boil peas, and the taste of all of them was too weak to survive a mixer. (However, my wife really likes the Brunswick Aces with tonic water.)
Adverts. I’m realising now just how powerful adverts for booze are. They ambush you with a desire when you’re going dry, and either the industry has recently doubled its advertising spend, or the ads have always been all over the place. Product placement also works well on me. I’ve never been much of a spirit drinker before, but the sight of a couple of fingers of golden scotch being poured in a Netflix series gets me thinking “Mmmm – whiskey …” The cues are everywhere!
People’s reactions. This is quite a complex one, and I might expand on this at the three month mark. Most people don’t give a damn if you’re not drinking, and that’s great. However, some people take it as passive-aggressive criticism of their own drinking, or as a dismissal of their culture, almost a form of apostasy. I’m building a repertoire of responses beyond “mind your own business”, and I’ll give them a test run for the remainder of the 3-month trial.
Which brings me to contemplation of my return to boozing in April. On the one hand, I’ve got my eye on the exact bottle of shiraz for opening on 1 April. But on the other hand …
The last couple of weeks have been quite easy as I settle into new habits while still noticing the benefits, and I’m tempted to stretch this out to a 6-month HSM challenge period. I remember once reading an interview with Mel Gibson (okay, not the best choice of role model, perhaps – but this was about 20 years ago) who was talking about the benefits of staying off the grog. He said the real benefits don’t kick in until 6 months, but that most people simply don’t have the patience to last that long.
That’s got me curious …
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64 CommentsAdd a comment
I could have written that myself Roger. It’s my exact experience. I did the 30 day alcohol experiment in January with Annie’s Grace (This Naked Mind). I feel so great that I decided to do 100 days. I’m 57 days in. I don’t intend to never drink again but someone would have to give me a compelling reason to do so right now. We shall see
Hi Annie, I’m curious, are you still alcohol free?
ID LIKE TO KNOW MORE
I am surprised by the comment/point on sleep. I actually sleep far better after my usual glass (or 2, or 3) wine each night, and I sleep badly when I don’t drink. I am digesting all the other points and still contemplating a dive.
I think the longer you go without it the less you want it however I’ve read that even one glass can set you right back to where you left off. I am 46 days in and I am ready to give it up completely, I don’t think moderation will work for me unfortunately. My drinking patterns were much like described in the article. The hardest part will definitely be the social aspect, alcohol was a huge part of most of my relationships with friends and family. But there is no point worrying about these things, just take each hurdle as it comes.
Very inspirational. I am in my 80’s and need to do what you are doing for the same reasons, BUT there is a powerful voice telling me “You only have a few years left so why torture yourself?”. I have seriously said that HSM should get a Nobel Prize, but I don’t knows how to make a nomination.
Liked ur article and it reminded me how I felt when I stupors drinking in January. I think the best part for me was just feeling so much clearer headed and also saving money. The downside is I miss the habit. I’ve started drinking again and quickly went back to my old patterns which was disappointing. I was hoping I could drink one glass of Chardonnay and that be it. But it’s never been that easy for me.
I’m right with you … pretty much the same habits … but for me, there was a creeping realization that it just wasn’t fun anymore, it was just a bad habit that was getting in the way of my being more awake and engaged. I quit smoking ten years ago and I decided to go the same way … just stop and see what happens. It’s been seven weeks and things are going very well … super bowl party with no alcohol, valentines dinner with no alcohol … so far so good. I’ve become a diet soda and sparkling water fiend to take care of the behavioral part and I’ve lost about fifteen pounds, to boot. My wife was a lighter drinker than I was, but she’s stopped as well, just to be supportive, and she’s noticed the differences as well. I just tell people I’m trying to be more healthy, get some weight off, etc. No one really comments beyond “well, good for you”. I’m much more engaged in the world around me. The feeling it’s most like is when you get a new windshield for your car or a new prescription for your eyeglasses ….wow, I didn’t know everything was so fogged over. Very, very interesting.
I’m just curious if you’ve stayed alcohol free?
Wow, you absolutely nailed it. I’m on Febfast and those are very close to my experiences. Good to hear from someone who is articulate and unafraid to use words like ersatz and apostasy!!! Can I ask how old you are?
Hi Roger, thanks for sharing your experience with such honesty. I have found it very relatable and encouraging. All the best. Regards Rachael.
3+ years sober and happy after drinking for 45+ years. It only gets better my friend .
The longest I have done is 7.5 months before it crept back in again. Thanks for the inspiration for getting back to AF
Good job and well done! I am 53 days AF today and feeling good but keen to see what 6 months feels like! Weight down sleeping better, strange aches and pains though – not sure what is causing that!
Great insight and encouraging.
Stay the course – I’m almost 3 years sober and continue to learn even more about myself. When I laugh, I’m really laughing and when I’m crying, really crying. The feelings are real, both good and bad. There is so much to life when your mind is clear. So, I encourage you to stay the course.
how great for you, are you still AF?
Five weeks in on a permanent change in my relationship with alcohol sees me physically and mentally so much better. The urge to “just have a sip” remain, but are becoming fleeting, if regular, synapses.
It gets better. I’m now at 6 months and the triggers seem to ebb away. There is that fleeting thought, but its more like the fleeting thoughts I used to have about olives – i.e. I should like olives because everyone else does – before I admitted that I can’t abide them. I actually think olives are a middle class plot and no one actually likes them but I digress. In fact, compared to my previous sober periods (1,3,4 months before dipping toe back in the grog and ramping quickly back to the satisfying pop of a cork most evenings) I find myself being more and more turned off by the thought of a drink, especially when my mates hit the 3rd beer mark and I find myself unable to follow their conversation (read – no conversation, generally shouting of opinions at each other). And yes, I do revel in that hideous self satisfaction at having a clear head at the end of the night, although I keep the smugness to myself…most of the time…
My first HSM was 12 months long. It was never harder than the first month. Since then, and I’m now 4 years in, I can’t imagine drinking again! I’ve ejected those passive aggressive people who felt I was holding a mirror up to their drinking. Or else they’ve signed up too! I’m much more present in my life and enjoy it far more. I’ve made some startling discoveries about myself that would never have come if I were drinking. Thank goodness for HSM!
I’m thinking of going alcohol free because I’m 60 and my whole life socially had revolved around booze. Your story was helpful. Thanks for sharing
I agree with the feeling of brightness when not drinking, the sleep is great. 2-3 hrs of drinking mid week after a long day seems great at the time, but the next 24 hrs suffers. I don’t think / believe in the all or nothing approach tho, you have to , dare I say, “suffer” through the agony of knowing you can drink at anytime, but you choose not to, I still can’t get the balance right. I believe that abstinence for a month, or 2 or 3… ultimately does nothing long term…, you should always have the right to choose to have a night that is full of drink. (clearly not too much)…..but just do it from time to time…. My number one tip, that you have said in your own way, “listen to your body” Great article.
Putting down the booze is like picking up a drink! It might be slower for the effects to kick in but when it does hang on!!
I am only 4 sober and already I feel the health benifits , I still have the cravings and I hope I can stay off the alcohol as it cost me to loose so much .
Just started, realised my love of the wine was becoming a massive habit. Realised I was well able to drink a bottle with 14 p cent 3 nights a week at least. My 16 year old son found me asleep on the sofa at 4am and slurring my words. I knew I had to do something. Plus I’m 51 overweight with stress levels high like everyone these days. Anyhow today is day 5, feel physically ok. Lots of stuff going on at home with one of my kids who’s pretty low probably Covid lockdown related ( yup he’s also the one who found me slurring my words and in a bad way the other night). Anyhow had a back massage booked for this morning which prevented any Friday night vino , this would be a big trigger for me end of the week etc. Have done lots of physical work today so hopefully that stops me boozing this evening. I’ve made a promise to myself which I intend to keep. Stay in touch we need the help!!
Well done Sandra, I also have decided to stop, mine was just a bD habit, and like you some nights 1 bottle….keep up the good work I’ve been a month and really like how I feel, clear head and generally feel great
Thank you for your thoughtful essay on going AF for three months. I’ve tried to go completely without for three months but have not managed to go 90 days consecutively without booze. I’ve done 90 days in the span of four months for example. Do you think that the same benefits come with this sort of moderation? Or does one have to abstain completely? Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to try complete abstinence for 3 months.
Great read. I haven’t given it up completely but practice strict moderation on the few days I drink. And I keep track of every drink. I love this campaign. It’s all about positive and healthy living. Thank you!
I’m in my seventies and have been drinking wine on and off for my 50 years of marriage. I feel I need to take the alcohol free challenge but just need to break the vicious cycle of drinking. I will follow all your interesting comments.
absolutely brilliant article…thanks…I’m just the same… in my 50s and after a stint in the Maldives (working) had to endure long periods of no booze….at first I thought it would be hard…looked for ginger beer, and other supplements and eventually just chilled into it….now I’m in France and thinking mmmm….is the wine so good or have I just flipped into excess under the pretence the wine is so great …and cheap 🙂 ….I do breath holding exercises in the mornings and definitely see the difference when had an easy healthy night the day before ….Great work you guys…
Great Post Roger. I decided after almost 4 decades of being in love with the bottle that I had had enough. Once 2019 rolled over, so did I & made a decision to put aside not only alcohol but the ciggies too. I have had a couple of nights of indulge since then, but got straight back on the wagon. Funny thing is, that prior to this the thought of not drinking absolutely terrified me. Once I made that decision though, it was easy. So it’s as simple and as hard as that – a decision. Well done on your journey so far, I may just join you on that 6 month HSM – I’d like to experience what Mel Gibson says.
I really enjoyed this article. I too have stopped the nightly drink whilst making dinner, now week 3 or an indefinite time- which due to accumulated stressors/ triggers had developed into half a bottle often. All the observations are spot on – sleep – yes that 2 am wake up and racing heart and mind – are gone. I have had to use other means to replace that urge to slow everything down – I take the dog for a walk – yes I have a Carlton Zero ( my pregnant niece put me onto that). But I only have one so it is a great alternative. I learnt to TAP to handle the cravings or reactions to the busy home all returning and me being the main carer feeling swamped. I have printed out your article It is great – will take to a group I meet once a week who are all doing this – hit the pause ( or STOP ) button and reset that button to low very low if anything
Product placement, my wife and I did dry July last year while our go to Netflix show was Mad men. Holy crap, whiskey and vodka every day at 8am for those guys. It is set in the fifties tho.
Great stuff, I hear you. I gave u p drinking about two weeks before Christmas. Not easy at first, especially at that time of the social year, but hang in there. I for one feel so much better and my Husband (joining me on not drinking but he never drank much anyway) agrees, I feel better, people tell me I look better, I feel more energetic and confident. I fully intend to make this a lifelong choice fo rme. Good for you!
Nice insights. And nice to see you leading by example.
Hi Roger, That is very brave of you to put this all out there for us to read. Your pattern sounds so similar to mine and my husband’s. I found HSM a few years ago and did a couple of dry runs while he kept going. Then I”d join him again for a while and I’d always end up regretting it because after a while it just feels so much better to be sober and present, and I get so much more done! I become more like the person I want to be. I have the energy and the emotional capacity to accomplish things that I can’t when I’m drinking and either don’t get a good night’s sleep, have a headache or just don’t want to do anything but chat and eat. I have not made it to the 6 month mark as your anti-hero has but your mentioning that has got me thinking I would really like experience that. I also notice the advertising and that massively powerful industry has their hands in everything, at least here in the US. Thanks for your piece and good luck!
Everything, Roger, you’ve written here is spot on. The only thing is I don’t partake in the NA beer or wine…my roommate of 20 years sobriety does and swears by them “for the taste”. For me I go sober for sometimes up to 2 weeks but normally when the money runs out and after my last bender’s ‘shame’ period and lack of sleep, hangovers, detox period, etc promotes my disdain for drinking. My drink is Club Soda, Lemon juice and a bit of sugar and I find it enjoyable especially when I don’t feel the grog or the come down when empty, the psychological effect of ‘no more left’ and when the ‘Dynorphin’ kicks in, as Anne Grace from The Naked Mind and 30 day experiment explains (“the evil cousin of Endorphins”). And I agree..when not drinking it’s everywhere. I watched ‘True Detective’ an American series..and it seemed every scene they were cracking beers!!! Guess what I wanted? Thank you for the great read and keep on keepin on! 🙂
Thank you for this article. I am 8 days into a 100-day challenge, and sometimes I feel like a fraud because I’m not a “falling down drunk”. Why do I need to give it up? Your article proves that there is a spectrum of drinking, and what’s comfortable for some may not be comfortable for others. I, too, drink about every day, that “relaxing” glass of wine the first thing I think about when I come home from work. Except that glass turns into 3-4 glasses and then I feel rotten all the next day It is about changing habits and that takes time. I wish you luck!
Hi Rog. Very, very brave of you man for putting your story out there. Seems you sure were developing a problem but you kicked it to the curb. Bravo!
Can you restart the ‘hello sunday morning’ community? I miss my friends. 🙁
I’m on day 5 idk where I’m going with this. My drinking was a bottle of wine probably every 2 days I’ve never tried to stop though.., I’m curious how long I can go without
Great post to find on day-13.! Thank you Roger for sharing your very familiar story. One difference with mine was insert half bottle whiskey Everyday for 10-years with maybe 6-months total break. No real goal on number of months to stay AF but I have been drinking well into my 40’s. My career is heading in a positive direction and the hangovers and avoidance of getting too close to people for fear of alcohol breath is not an option. Sleep is better, energy levels and productivity increase plus the added bonus of confidence. Concentration has improved. The diet is better by eating breakfast on the weekends (always ate it weekly) soon to minus the chips and sugar which I will control with exercise. Smoking half the cigs and down to 5 per day so quitting that vice is a fast-follow. The comments here are truly inspirational and clearly from high performers who prefer to channel their energy towards a better day to day lifestyle. I’m a foodie and plan to set some time aside to blog about my food and life hacks. I will revisit these posts over the clinical stories which seem to be in the filter bubble of my online searches. THANK YOU ALL.
I read this article when it first came out, but haven’t been ready to post until now. I’m on Day 15, and haven’t gone this long without an alcoholic drink in years. When I re-read this article the other day, I realized your story was almost identical to mine, but now I was prepared to hear it. Even our starting date (yours in early January, and mine on January 15 are very close). I do have a few aches and pains that have arisen, as Laney commented, but I’m hoping that is just part of the price you pay for removing the anesthetic. Good thing about those aches and pains, though, it reminds you of damage that alcohol can do to you not only psychologically, but physically. A little fear is always a good motivator. On my bucket list is to come out to Australia, and see one of my favourite singers, Jimmy Barnes, but to do it sober.
What a wonderful article and so much I can relate too. I have considered giving up drinking for many years. But that was it, a consideration, generally after a weekend of at least a bottle of wine per night and feeling lousely on Monday better Tuesday and back on form Wednesday and so it would repeat. I read an article from here and decided to do a 3 months stint and was successful going to day 21 up until Valentine’s day when I foolishly decided to “treat” myself. Well that lead on to me drinking at a wedding reception on the Saturday night which I had hoped would be my first drink free events and a blackout of what happened at the end of the night and then a hangover from hell on Sunday, lessening on Monday So I am back on the sparkle trail and on reading your article gonna aim for 6 months I think, to be honest, my real desire is to give up completely but acknowledge these are fears that I am going to miss out on some “unknown as this point ” stuff.
I’m 53. 34 days into my “Dry 2022″. Meant to start on the 1st of Jan, but it was bitter cold out and i just decided to pour some yummy coffee liquor into my coffee. Well, anything besides beer doesn’t really tempt me much, so I still say I haven’t had a beer since Dec 31, 2021. One day since though, I did have a shot of peppermint schnapps to see if i could taste it ….had covid and couldn’t smell or taste it, therefore it was no fun and not tempting….all that for full disclosure. 🙂
I quit alcohol once when I was about 30, for 10 months. It was needed. I was accumulating a bit of Black Out time.
Started back, but never as bad as before. Still bad though! I’m very athletic and do hard physical work for a living, which has probably helped me not to drown. Also been a veg/vegan since i was 14, and I KNOW that diet has kept me from hitting a bottom.
Crazy that I can be so health conscious and drink so much. I’m 5’2” and 115-120lbs. Got back to drinking up to 8 beers a night, jeez! Backed off, raced forward, backed off, raced forward. Circle of hell. But always super functional. All the same symptoms of alcohol abuse.
Smoked from 16 till i was 30. Restarted smoking twice since then for about 8 months each time. Disgusting habit. I still thank God every time I think about the fact that I finally kicked it over 10 yrs ago.
Hoping to get through this whole year, now, AF. I hate the way alcohol makes me look, makes my skin look like crap, saps my energy of which I naturally have a ton of. Knowing what it’s trying to do to my liver and kidneys and muscles….terrible.
Good luck to you all. WE CAN DO IT!!! Never stop quitting!!!…till you succeed 🙂
Hi there, your story sounds so similar to mine that I had to write. I am also petite, athletic, a competitive dancer. This is Day 16 for me, and it’s the first time I’ve been sober for this long in 20 years. I read Allen Carr’s book, “Quit Drinking the Easy Way.” Highly recommend it!
My resting pulse rate, which has always been in the 70s, has been going down since I quit drinking, and today is at 56. Other benefits I have noticed are better sleep, way less anxiety, and just less worrying about what others think. I doubt that I will ever drink again. Just remember, you are not “giving up“ anything. You are reclaiming your birthright to freedom from alcohol.
This article j
It’s like I was reading a story about myself! I’m 45 days! It’s been a little harder this last week with so much COVID anxiety and I work in a hospital. Without my normal “coping skills” of drinking or exercising dealing with life’s anxiety has gotten slightly harder recently. But I’ve lost 10lbs, no longer look swollen and am so focused on how long it’s been that these things will get me thru it all. Thank you again for sharing and everyone’s comments
Thank you for your article. I’m in day 32. Had just planned to stop until the pubs reopened, thinking it would be a few weeks . But it’s now looking like a lot longer. But the thing , what started out to be something small has turned into something very important in my life. I’m 53, been drinking since my teens and I’ve started to drink lost days , not a lot but still everyday. Also when I drink too much, which doesn’t take a lot, I become a slurring bore. I quiet like the new me and I’m going to take this ride for a while longer and see where it takes me. Good luck to everyone going AF and stay safe.
I’m 19 days into alcohol free me. It was creeping up on me and though I considered myself a moderate drinker I was reaching in the fridge for a bottle of beer every day or a bottle of Malbec.
I never get steaming my work has a strict drugs and alcohol policy and I’ve got 36 years service so I don’t want to be throwing that away.
I too got drawn into the post work drink but with this Covid situation I’ve had a chance to look at my lifestyle choices and that’s with working right through it. No lockdown for me but no pubs open.
We would also eat out too much and I would drink with it.
I’m hoping to get fitter and lose weight. I’ve got 20 pounds to get rid of.
I’ve decided that I’ll have a few beers here and there but I’m going to have a 3 month break and if I don’t want it again then I won’t bother.
I was 2 month’s alcohol free and last night I drank a bottle of white wine . Why? Because the sun was out. I woke at 1pm in a terrible state shaking crying and full of anxiety. I thought I was going to die. This morning I am sick and hungover. Never ever again.
Thank you for sharing. It sounds like it’s a tough time for you right now and we want you to know that there is support available. Check out the Daybreak app to connect with others who may be going through a similar experience or reach out to a health professional such as GP. Lifeline is also available for support 24/7 on 13 11 14.
Take care, The HSM Team.
Plenty of us are praying for you, Patricia. I have done the very same thing…only w beer!
Never quit quitting….till you succeed…Hugs to you.
Due to having a medical emergency I have not had a drop of alcohol in 5 weeks. I notice no difference in anything and I was a fairly heavy drinker maybe 21 glasses of wine a week and since covid one cocktail a day, so 28 drinks a week. Some weeks maybe 35. I am not sleeping better. I have lost no weight and my thinking is no clearer.
So I like the honesty and positive attitudes, which you need to continue AF. I was drinkinga 1/5 of whiskey everyday and smoking cigarettes. I quit smoking 1 1/2 yrs ago and have stopped drinnking 6 weeks ago. My decision to quit drinking was influenced bye the fact I was out of shape and the drinking contributed to some nasty side effects of Type 2. After 6 weeks I feel a lot better. I have been exercising anf watching my diet for 2 years and lost 40 lbs. My wife is much happier with me now and so am I. Believe me everyone it is worth the effort, remember this anything “good” is not easy.
great article I find myself reading all the comments to see if everyone has similar experiences I am 3 weeks into N/A I have drunk 35 years on a daily basis even finishing a nightshift Iwould have a few drinks before going to bed . I feared the thought of a day without alcohol , Iwas convinced it did not affect my life or performance at work ,hangovers, I got used to as the pleasure of drinking outweighed the bad feeling in the morning . didint drink until 7.00pm so had it under control -right .so I managed to go 1 day without alcohol my wife is a companion drinker so she done along with me. I used an dry january app to monitor my drinking . on occasions I could drink 4 beers and 2 bottles of wine per night ( not cheap stuff either) to be honest I love drinking . the highlight of my day was my first drink . then I done a week N/A and was pleased with myself so had some drinks to cel;ebrate the next month I was back to my old routine we were on Hols for 2 weeks so I blame that im now feeling better by far , sleep great, blood pressure has dropped significantly wake up refreshed and not worrying about what I posted on social media ect I dont think I am really a nice person when I drink ether, but still I badly miss it , I have pledged to do 1 month but dont know if I can moderate or not after a month Our friends like to drink and we have great nights together cant imagine having them over sober (not really a choice at the moment Covid restrictions) I have put on weight slightly even though My APPsays I am saving15k calories a week so thats annoyed me a bit but saving a lot of money . where do Igo from here ? got a bottle of champagne winking at me every time I go in the drink cooler for a coke , I think the only way forward is strict moderation ie 2 days off drinking then back to sobriety , or total abstinence which would be possible but would crush my soul
Hi, I came across this page by accident, I have found it very interesting, I drank a bottle of wine 4 days out of 7 and in company it would be 1and a1/2 bottles, but during lock down I lost the enjoyment in it and started cutting back, after lock down I bought a bike, I live by the canal and just a few mins from cycle path, and I love it, and was so relaxed and chilled after a cycle I didn’t feel I needed a drink, in October I drank 3 days out the month due to friends birthdays, November I haven’t had any alcohol and I don’t miss it, I did eat a lot of chocolate but that’s settled down, i cycle everywhere to visit family and friends, do my shopping,( have a back pack and a basket,) I can now do a 20 mile round trip I am 62 yrs old and feel amazing, do not miss alcohol at all, I have enjoyed reading your comments, and thought I’d add mine.
I am 5 days in to a month off, (can’t commit to more at this stage) and have had some withdrawal symptoms like poor sleep, needing to p all the time in the mornings! I feel bored at times as nothing to look forward to in the evening. A bit anxious about whether I can’t drink again because I may go back to daily drinking but I’m not sure I want to drink… it got to the stage it wasn’t a treat anymore.
I’m less anxious and angry and can concentrate more. One day at a time…
I am an almost 55 YO female, tall thin, pretty, successful single mom of 3. I could easily drink 1/5th of vodka in two days and did. I bought the 1/5 instead of the more cost effective large bottles because a) easier to hide, empty or full b) easier to quickly pour a swig from and c) I was terrified to know how easily I could put the large one back. Lockdown was horrifying – I started in the morning with coffee 3–5 days a week and drank throughout the day. What’s sick is I could exercise regularly (my boys and I did a 30 day SMURPH) and still excel at my job, cook great meals, put money in the bank. But truth is I felt like crap – shame, confusion, imposter syndrome), I’d mess up and lose money here and there (physically lose it or incur late fees or not watching investments closely), secret slob, the list goes on. So I started restricting myself : ‘nothing til 5pm, no drinking on Monday’ and and that became just another obsession. I started Pilates classes in sept where I had to sign up or be charged if I missed. Sadly I found I could even do this hungover!!! I have one child at home finishing high school so when his brother moved home due to shut down #2 at college I heard him tell the other ‘ya thats what mom does she goes up to her room and gets loaded’ I was mortified. It was thanksgiving or ea November. I pulled back greatly, upped my Pilates practice but couldn’t imagine never drinking again – and of course I would still have the odd day into night where I just got loaded by myself. NYE I was sober until about 1000 when I decided I would do dry January. I hammered down about 4 martinis before midnight, woke up around the two and vomited my guts out – which NEVER happens. Dragged myself to my special NY Pilates class – lied my way through why I looked so shitty – and I haven’t had a drink since. I told myself ‘Just Dry January’. Feb 1, I said ‘6 weeks’ so here I am googling ‘benefits of 3 mos alcohol free’ and landed here. Truthfully, physically it was not hard. No craving no withdrawals. Mentally my shame from ringing in the NY on my BR floor and my sons comments have made me cringe at the site of the liquor aisle or the idea of a bottle in my shopping cart. I too feel more aches and pains but it’s diff, I def don’t get the kidney pains any longer that someone else mentioned. My skin looks amazing I’ve read two books. I sleep better for sure but more because I don’t self loathe and I wake up and know what day it is. I do miss the taste and the ritual…and Its easier right now I know due to Covid restrictions…but I’ve shared my goals with friends and I luckily have no pressure there. Reading this post and all (i do mean ALL) the comments, I’m convinced me n Mel will rack up 6 mos AF but now more than ever, I’m determined to make it to a year. I am quite convinced I can’t moderate regularly going forward like I read a few of you are doing and how I tried to myself, but I’m not entirely convinced yet that I won’t want to sip a Mai Tai on a sandy beach somewhere in the future either. I’ve decided to tackle that last one when I am faced with it and weigh the option at the time. I’d never heard the phrase ‘hello Sunday morning’ until today. I’m gonna alter it a little for me and rephrase it ‘Hello EVERY morning’ since in my case it wasn’t just my Saturday nights that were out of control. So thanks. Thanks to the author and thanks to everyone being vulnerable. And thanks for the tips and for letting me be seen and heard here. It feels good to feel so good and I like having a tribe even if not in person.
I hope I remember how to get back here and I’ll update if anyone is interested. Yay! HEM!!! I’m off to have a dry Feb 13, 2021.
I’m so happy for you, Rosemarie!! I’m shooting for a year as well, 2022. Thanks for sharing your Story 🙂
Last year I did dry Jan w a friend. She didn’t want to continue, so I was fine w that. Actually last year I was on and off all year. Probably did a dry 5-6 months all together, but it was here and there. Dry Jan, then dry Apr, May, Jun and blew it on July 4th. then 3 wks here and a month there. BUT knowing I got approx 6 months dry out of the deal prompted me to go for a year this time and maybe keep rolling with it after that.
It is hard to say never again. What a deceptive ”friend” we have in alcohol. It’s like a slightly abusive/emotionally abusive relationship….lol….not that that’s funny!!!
I use the NA beers. Claushaler. They’ve helped me kick a craving here and there. But then I think about the useless calories. Anyways, thanks everyone. You are all a great inspiration to me.
A bottle of red a night, or a four pack go ledge blonde which is 6% abv, with the odd day off, which was less often than I told myself it was. I would never drink more than that, and never drink less. I would never start before 9 0 clock at night, when the TV dramas would come on; I’m a big fan of Scandinavian crime dramas and can recommend Walter presents. I would have drunk up by 10.30.
My dreams were becoming not exactly nightmares, but disturbing, and my sleep patterns were erratic. Mornings would come accompanied by an unexplainable feeling of guilt. I was becoming bloated, with a growing belly and was putting on weight. I don’t now whether this puts the ‘alcoholic’ label on me, and I’m not that bothered. What I do know is that my habit was just that; a habit. It was a habit that I was enjoying less and less, and it wasn’t doing me any good, and was costing a lot of money.
This meant that giving up was at the top of my agenda. What were the obstacles? It’s hard to break a habit, even a bad one. I was scared, yes scared that I would be missing out on the pleasure. I was scared, this time legitimately, that I would discover that I was dependent on the stuff. I am also a bit of a rebel. No I’m not; I ‘m a stubborn contrarian. My family’s attempts to persuade me to take some kind of action were rebutted based on what I childishly believed was ‘the principle of the thing’. One day, out of a clear grey sky, I realised this was nonsense, and called it a draw. I wasn’t packing it in. I was giving it a rest. I did experience what might have been withdrawal for a few days, but I might just have been under the weather lockdown style. No matter. The feeling past after two or three days, which left me having to negotiate the likes of ‘The Arctic’ murders without a luggable glass of Yellowtail Malbec in my fist. I bought a dusty four pack of non alcoholic Heineken from the back of the shelf at the off licence. I don’t find normal Heineken very satisfying, and so the non alcoholic version didn’t let me down. But importantly it felt good to have a glass of something in my hand as the troubled detective sipped from a plastic coffee cup and mused over. the latest corpse discovered in a frozen lake. Since then I’ve been on a more or less successful quest to discover a satisfying non alcoholic beer. There are some nice ones out there, but you have to adjust your parameters. If you realise that what you are consuming is a refreshing beer flavoured drink, and not something to give you that kick that makes alcohol so pleasurable, then you are fine. I haven’t had an alcoholic drink for six weeks and I didn’t realise that until my wife told me. Now and again I get a nudge, but it passes quickly. I look forward to a couple of bottles of non alcoholic IPA at 9pm. Will I start supping alcohol again? It’s not something I think about, but I’m not naive enough or lacking in self awareness enough to say that I won’t. But it’s the benefits of the here and now that matter.
Thanks for sharing Roger, the way you set out the comments and your reasons really resonated with me and i am glad you wrote this.
Hi Roger thanks for your honest account. Tonight is my sixth day without alcohol and stories like yours are reassuring.
Wow ! I can really relate to this, so similar to my story actually. Thanks for sharing.