No-one enjoyed a big night out as much as I did, especially in my twenties.
A few drinks at a friend’s house before heading to our favourite pubs and clubs easily outweighed the cost you had to pay with the following day’s hangover.
But by the time I reached my thirties, the balance had shifted — and those hangovers just weren’t worth it anymore.
When I quit drinking, I still went out with my friends, and guess what? I still had a great time telling the same stupid stories we’d always told, singing the same dumb songs at the top of our lungs we always had, and doing the same stupid things we’d always done.
The only difference was I felt great the next day, and as an added bonus I hadn’t spent a small fortune to willingly make myself sick.
YOU’LL DISCOVER A MORE CONFIDENT SELF
Drinking gives you a false confidence, and for many people it can seem like the only confidence they have.
We say and do things after a few drinks that we wouldn’t dream of when sober, and this bravado naturally feels quite liberating and attractive to people.
But when you quit drinking you start to discover who you really are, what you want, what you enjoy and who you want to be, without the constant switching between drunk and sober states of mind.
With this self-discovery comes a confidence you may not have had, or had kept locked up while your “Dutch courage” took centre stage.
This confidence is far more attractive and constructive than anything you can get from a bottle.
TIME BECOMES YOUR FRIEND
One of the side effects of drinking that irritated me the most was the amount of time and productivity lost.
Sleeping until midday after a big night out is a waste, and the amount of time it takes to recover gets longer and longer with age.
A massive Saturday night often meant being tired and lethargic until Wednesday, as my body played catch up on the rest it needed.
I may have slept for 12 hours after a big night, but my body certainly wasn’t at rest.
Think of all the things you can do with the extra time and energy you’ll have when you quit drinking.
You’ll be more productive at work, spend more time with family and friends, increase your focus on health and fitness, join a class or even start a hobby you’ve been putting off … The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
YOU WILL HAVE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK FOR NOTHING
The truth is people won’t actually care that much. All that time spent worrying about the grilling you’ll get, or how friends might drift away because socialising and drinking go hand in hand will have been a waste of time.
My friends didn’t care one bit, and have been incredibly supportive.
Strangers ask more questions than friends do, partly because they’re shocked that anyone can quit drinking and partly because they want to do the same and have many questions to ask.
I never instigate discussions about quitting drinking, it’s not my place to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do.
But when you’re drinking mineral water at a party the inevitable questions come, and I’m happy to share my experiences with them.
WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO QUIT?
All of the worries and concerns you have from the time you decide to stop drinking, to when you actually do, evaporate soon after you quit.
It took me four years to quit drinking, and now that I have it seems crazy to me that it took me so long.
Like many things in life, as soon as we do something that has a positive effect on our world, we wonder why we didn’t do it earlier, and for me quitting alcohol is one of them.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent going out and enjoying myself during my youth.
Some of my favourite memories are the times I’ve been at home or somewhere around the world having a night out on the drink with family and friends. I wouldn’t trade them in for anything.
Nevertheless, there came a point in my early 30s where I knew my time was up, but for some reason I kept going for another four years.
That was a mistake. I should have quit when I first realised I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore.
These are the experiences I had when I quit drinking alcohol.
For you it might be totally different. After all, your relationship with alcohol may be totally different to mine, and your personal life is probably different as well.
I don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys a drink, and if you have it under control, it’s not having a negative impact on anyone else in your life, and you still enjoy it, then carry on as far as I’m concerned.
But if you’ve come to realise your drinking days are nearing the end, and the physical, mental and financial costs of drinking far outweigh any positives, then I encourage you to quit today. It will be the best decision you’ll ever make.