Feb. 23, 2023

TDB #003: What I Learned Quitting Alcohol For 7 Months

TDB #003: What I Learned Quitting Alcohol For 7 Months

It’s March 2019 and after a reasonably heavy drinking session in Brighton to celebrate my 40th birthday with family, I look at the Garmin watch that my wife has bought me for my birthday.

What shocks me as I rub my sore head, is how high my heart rate has been overnight as my body goes to battle with the amount of alcohol in my system.

It dawns on my that my body is doing this every time I have a session.

Since then I’ve done 30 days dry, the whole of 2020 and some of 2021.

As I type this I haven’t had a drop since May 2022 – 7 months.

This week I am going to share with you why I knocked it on the head and what I’ve learned since doing so.

The backdrop.

My parents weren’t alcoholics but being baby boomers pretty much every social occasion revolved around what was being drunk. They were of a generation where if they were going out, they were drinking, and this continued after my mum died when I was 18 and my dad remarried although in his later years, he moderated drink.

But his death at 70 shocked me and I was acutely aware of drinking and smoking not being a good combination with cardiovascular disease a killer in my family.

Booze was revered, cherished and part of life in our family and it was normal for me to see my parent loud and drunk as a kid.

Insofar as me, I was the classic binge drinker that hit teens in the 90’s so I wasn’t a big pub goer but weekends were typically spent going at it hard.

If we went out, we were drinking, and like my boomer parent’s it was a rarity to go out and not have a drink. Which was fine when I was 18 as I recovered from it quickly.

The hangover after the hangover.

As I got older, and particularly after kids I became a lot more aware of my mental state, but also the example I was setting. If I did drink the hangovers got worse but it was something altogether worse that knocked me for six.

For 2-3 days after the hangover passed my mood was low – extremely low and to be honest I hated it and it floored me. It ruined the rest of my week.

Why was I doing it to myself?

But I was also consciously aware that drink was a form of sedation. If I had a stressful week I’d have a couple on Friday night, Saturday night and sometimes Sunday. Which made me feel groggy and lethargic but more importantly it anaesthetised emotions.

Of course, that’s what everyone else did so why not?

So here is what I learned:

It’s actually a lot easier to go dry than you think.

Everyone thinks that they can’t live without booze but that’s partly because of the way it’s glamourised and revered, and also the pressure to be like everyone else, and do what everyone else is doing.

When you let go of that it removes a lot of the pressure to comply.

Quitting fundamentally changes your relationship with thought, feeling and emotion.

Think of it like this, if you are no longer using a substance to sedate or enhance how you feel about the range of human emotions we go through, you gain confidence in being able to handle life’s challenges head on. As time goes on each drink you don’t have becomes a vote for you not needing a crutch to get through life.

And that is all it is for most of us, a crutch.

You get back your mornings.

One of the first things I noticed was that I was way more productive, alert and lucid, particularly during the mornings on weekends. I could enjoy the days from start to finish instead of taking a little while to get out of the blocks. I reckon you get back a good 2 hours each morning at weekends which is quite a lot when you think about it.

People couldn’t care less

I’ve had a few friends ask me why initially, but to be honest most of them including family just accept that I don’t drink and its no big deal. I’ve had a few “I don’t know how you can do it; I can’t get through the week without a glass of wine” from women but that says more about them than it does about me.

I don’t count days

I know some people use apps to count their days of sobriety but I don’t and never have. I’ve simply concentrated on how much better I feel not drinking and before long weeks turn into months, etc etc.

Alcohol free beer is better than it was

Trust me when I say that the kaliber, swan light etc of the 90’s tasted shit but a lot of the 0% beers out now are in a different league, especially once you get a taste for them. Most of us who’ve gone booze free can’t tell the difference between 0% Guinness and normal Guinness.

The first drink after a dry spell is underwhelming

When I did my longest stint in 2020-21 I finished it on a Friday evening when I decided I wanted to have a glass of red wine with my steak. I thought angels would come down from the sky, my tastebuds would erupt and it would be like drinking from the holy grail.

It wasn’t, and it didn’t.

It was nice but certainly wasn’t an incredible experience.


In summary

Gent's that's a wrap.

Here is the deal - it’s not for everyone, but if you know deep down that you have grown out of it, and the only reason you are doing it, is to fit in with everyone else then maybe it’s time to give a 30 or 60 day dry spell a go.

That is what most people do when they start out.

Let’s be honest the main reason we started all those years ago was to fit in and it looked fun.

Hopefully this gives you a good insight if you are thinking of giving it a go yourself.

Maybe you have already done so?

If so drop me a message as I’d love to hear your insights too.

Have a great Friday!!

Whenever you are ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Coaching. Work with me on a 1-1 basis to address the biggest challenges you want to overcome and obstacles stopping you from getting there.

2. Join the Guild of Dads Brotherhood. Join with a growing brotherhood of high calibre men looking to challenge one another, stay accountable and level up across multiple areas of life.

3. Come on one of our monthly hikes. Each month I take a group of dads on a FREE TO ATTEND, 2 hour hike set against the beautiful backdrop of the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. No phones, no kids no distractions, just great company and brotherhood.