18 Reasons Why I Am Happier Alcohol-Free
By Karolina Rzadkowolska
I used to consider myself a fairly normal drinker who drank to socialize or reward myself on the weekend, and just overdid it sometimes. I didn’t relate to the word “alcoholic” and figured I wasn’t allowed to quit. Though over time I was becoming more and more aware of the tolls drinking was taking on me: exhaustion, low moods, shame, and an erosion of self-respect. Tired of feeling tired, remorseful and annoyed by my repetitive behavior, I was eager and excited to make January 2018 a dry month. I tried it, put sober life on for size, on an experimental basis, why not? I knew exactly how I felt drinking. I had no idea what a sober life was as an adult. What was there to lose? Nothing at all but unhappiness. I didn’t quite expect to fall in love with my new life so much that I slowly but surely decided to quit for good. It is beautifully simple really. Do not drink alcohol, manifest every other habit, desire, and wish for your life. This foundational habit shifted and clicked everything else. If you ever told me I could be happier than I have ever been simply by not drinking I would have quit a long time ago. Instead of losing all the “fun” I was supposed to miss out on, I gained incredible joy, peace, love and much much more:
My neurotransmitters have re-balanced and I am giddy and euphoric. Drinking alters brain chemistry by releasing an artificial level of dopamine that cannot compete with the normal levels released during other joyful activities, hence making them less pleasurable. Regular drinking also lowers levels of serotonin, GABA and endorphins, the very things that make us feel happy and calm.
How do I relax after a stressful day? With healthier alternatives like taking a bath or treating myself to a delicious meal. I also find that I am not as stressed anymore. Drinking increases levels of anxiety and stress hormones.
I am never hungover. I don’t feel fuzzy, exhausted or sick. I have so much energy and zeal.
I feel a boundless sense of wellbeing. I crave healthier foods and am more motivated to workout. My insides are getting better too. Even a month off improves liver health, neuron regeneration and cholesterol levels.
I am thinner and fitter than I have been in my entire adult life. Forget just empty calories, drinking prevents the absorption of nutrients, leaving us hungry. Alcohol is the first energy source that our bodies have to burn, leaving food calories stored in our waistlines. I finally lost my eternal tummy pouch.
I sleep so well and so deeply. No more waking up at 4 a.m. with a racing heart. Even one drink reduces our natural REM cycles from six cycles a night to two, leaving us exhausted and our brains undernourished. Now, I do wake up at 6 a.m. to meditate, write, and workout!
I have complete freedom from alcohol. I no longer crave it and hence am not preoccupied about where my next drink is nor am I constantly monitoring myself to ensure I moderate. All that internal chatter is gone.
Not only do I save money from not buying alcohol, I have reprogrammed my thinking on appropriate expenses and treating myself. For years, I wanted this $30 face cream, but thought it was too frivolous to purchase. But a $30 brewery tab? Somehow that was deemed necessary.
I look better and smile more. Drinking causes skin to dry out and be bloated and puffy.
I have regained my integrity. I show up to be the kind of person I want to be. The kind of person who brushes their teeth at night and calls their parents back.
Every day I wake up feeling like yesterday me took care of me and was looking out for future me. This makes me feel like I am respected and loved.
Instead of drunken shallow conversations, I feel more connected with my friends and family. I am no longer hiding behind my internal conflict. I am able to be more authentic, honest, and intune with myself and those around me.
I feel much more productive. I am driven, inspired, and ambitious. I have launched a business, podcast, and am writing a book, and had not in fact done any of these things while drinking.
I have outpours of gratitude. I feel blessed to get a second life and am actively building the life of my dreams. I am so lucky. Drinking is monotonous—doing the same thing over and over again won’t ever produce a different outcome.
I am in awe at the beauty of the world around me. Drinking would funnel my focus into one activity and take away my sense of appreciation and awe. One drink would also make me cranky and impatient. Now I experience genuine curiosity and wonder at trees and clouds and sunsets.
I am inspired to try new things and have completely new experiences, including watching the sunrise, making adult friends, going to writing groups, and partying sober.
My self-esteem, pride, and confidence is back. I no longer erode my self-trust by letting myself down and drinking more than I intended to. I am so proud of myself for quitting and feel like I can do much more than the self-limiting beliefs I once had.
I now understand that it is the completely normal to want another drink after I have the first one. This is the natural neurological response of the brain to alcohol. It’s neuroscience and I am normal. I am not embarrassed anymore.