Before a person quits drinking, there’s a common thread that runs through their head. What will people think? Will I have withdrawals? What am I going to do on weekends? Is my life going to change when I quit?
For anyone on the spectrum of alcohol-consumers, going sober is a major life change, and with that comes a level of self-doubt and questioning. We can assure you, however, that the life benefits of going alcohol-free far outweigh any possible fears or downsides. Here are some things you’ll find out when you decide to go alcohol-free:
Losing Weight & Staying Healthy Will Be Markedly Easier
An amazing thing you’ll discover when you quit drinking is that your body becomes a lot more efficient at processing food, giving you longer lasting energy and making it easier to lose weight.
When you drink alcohol, you consume a heavy stream of empty calories (calories without nutrition). Whenever alcohol is taken in by the body it is the first fuel to burn, which postpones the fat-burning process throughout the body.
Additionally, 90-98% of alcohol that is consumed is processed by the liver (bodybuilding.com), and in that process, the stomach and kidneys are greatly weakened by the alcohol passing through. The effect alcohol has on these three regulatory systems interferes with the body’s metabolic process, leading to weight problems simply because the body cannot process nutrients efficiently.
When you quit drinking alcohol, your body bounces back, and it does so quickly. After the first month of sobriety your liver fat can reduce by 15% and your blood glucose levels decrease by 16% (New Scientist). Your metabolism will return to a regulated schedule of energy consumption which will leave you feeling fresher and more energetic. People who have chosen to stay sober also report a general loss of belly fat, as well as healthier skin.
You Can Still Go Out and Have Fun
For a lot of people, going out to bars or clubs is intimidating without the help of alcohol (it still can be intimidating even if you drink!) - and that’s O.K. It takes some work to transition your social life to being 100% alcohol free, but if you put in the effort, you’ll see it pay dividends. We understand your skepticism, but once you experience it, you’ll know how easy going out sober will be.
“ Alcohol makes the adventure feel easier, but it doesn’t make it easier.”
The first thing to know is that you can still have fun with your friends when you’re sober. You can make the same jokes, go the same places, talk to the same people, and still have an adventurous time. Alcohol makes the adventure feel easier, but it doesn’t make it easier. In fact, using alcohol as a confidence crutch can hinder your confidence levels in your day-to-day life. This is because, over time, a person can feel like they must be drunk to be confident and to take chances. When you take away the crutch of alcohol, your confidence becomes completely self-made and sustained - going out, meeting people, and taking chances can get easier and even more fun.
If going out around people who drink isn’t really what you want to do, you’re also in luck: Check out this great article on alcohol-free lifestyles for ideas and tips for what to do when living alcohol-free.
You Will Have So Much More Time
When someone mentions a hangover what do you think of? Headache, upset stomach, weird appetites, lethargy, and possibly a 12-hour night’s sleep. A night of drinking can completely decimate your weekend. I’m talking entire days spent in bed feeling sick because of a few hours of fun that you barely remember.
Now imagine taking that day back. Then imagine taking that day back, and still having those fun nights out. When you quit drinking, you’ll have more energy for those nights out, not to mention an entire day after, built on the back of a sound night’s sleep. Not only do you get to avoid spending time nursing a terrible hangover, but imagine how many hours a week you’ll get back.
You Will Save a Bunch of Money!
The amount of money you save once you quit drinking is perhaps the most underrated part of the whole endeavor. Let’s say a person that goes to happy hour twice a week, and also goes out three times a month with friends, quits drinking. They spend $30 on average at happy hour, and $50 on average when they go out with friends. If that person quit drinking, they would save an extra $4,680 a year.
If that person still chooses to go but doesn’t drink, and because of that spends half of what they would if they were drinking, that’s still a healthy amount of over $2,000 dollars. You could buy a trip to Spain with that money, and it’s essentially free, just because you chose to go sober. You can estimate your potential savings through the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's website.
You Will Gain Back Control Over Your Life
As reported by the Daily Mail, alcohol damages the part of the brain that regulates self-control. In brain scans of people who consumed large amounts of alcohol 5 or more days a month (Drinking Levels Defined) there is an unusually high amount of damaged white matter in the frontal lobes. These damaged white tracts interfere with impulse control, reasoning, judgement, and general planning. The damage they cause to white matter in the brain hinders the brain from accepting new information, and as a result, the more alcohol you consume, the less your brain inhibits the decision to consume alcohol.
We know that it’s a difficult task, but when you quit drinking you will regain control over the parts of your brain that contribute most to self-control. While many of us may not start off abusing alcohol, the incremental damage we do to our brains is a real risk. If you put the work in and regain control over those impulses to drink, you’ll regain control over all areas of your life.