In a recent newsletter, I mentioned that I’m not planning to drink for the month of August. I wanted to elaborate on that and address some of the more common questions.
So to start, you should know that I’m calling this experiment “Sober ‘Til September” and it’s fine if that seems stupid because I love alliteration.
August is going to be interesting.
Anyway, you know I have a tendency to ramble, so let’s do this in Q&A format before I take us down some kind of Ron Swanson-esque rabbit hole.
Q: Why are you giving up alcohol?
A: I’ve been drinking a lot more lately (like June-July), and I don’t like how it makes me feel physically or mentally. Physically, my sleep is crappier and I have less energy in general when I drink, plus my hunger gets totally thrown off – and this is all with pretty moderate drinking (i.e. not enough to be hungover the next morning). Mentally, I hate associating drinking with all social events, and I’ve found most of my social outings lately revolve around drinks, or at least include plenty of alcohol. Addictive tendencies run in my family and Lord knows that I’m an all-or-nothing person who loves extremes, and I’m not about to play with fire. Not worth it. Nothing is worth that.
Q: How much were you drinking?
Not very much by most people’s standards, but a lot compared to my typical drinking habits. I was averaging probably 3-4 drinks/night several nights/week. This usually was accompanied by a bit of food and spread out over 3-4 hours, so sometimes I got a nice buzz going but I was never actually getting drunk. Admittedly I have a decent tolerance for a smaller female (5’3” and 135lbs), but when those drinks include a lot of whiskey, it’s a lot. Prior to June-ish (aka when I was still in school and poor and constantly in class/at work/writing papers), I averaged maybe one drink every week or every two weeks, depending on the season. Not a typo.
Q: Is alcohol bad for you?
I wrote a whole post about whether alcohol is bad for your health. Bottom line: Moderate drinking is likely neutral in terms of health (and obviously your personal health history matters here – if you have liver disease or something, you need to take that into consideration). Don’t increase your drinking “for the health benefits” from all the red wine you plan to be drinking every night after work.
Q: Are you crazy?
I’m definitely my own brand of crazy. But not drinking for a month is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I think what’s really crazy is how we as a collective society (myself included here) see it as “crazy” to give up drinking – for an event, for a month, for life. I think all of us should periodically be examining our use of substances, from alcohol to caffeine to nicotine and anything else. Which is part of why I’m doing this whole thing, so there ya go.
Q: Have you done this before?
Yes, last September some friends I carpooled with decided to do “Sober September” as a group. We didn’t drink for the month of September. It wasn’t particularly noteworthy for me, but I was barely drinking at all before that. This month’s “Sober ‘Til September” experiment is going to be a different story.
Q: Should I do this, too?
Absolutely! Like I said above, everyone could benefit from examining their drinking habits. If you want to join me in being Sober Til Septmber, tell me about it on instagram and use the hashtag #SoberTilSeptember so I can be super excited and make you uncomfortable with my cheerleader-y enthusiasm. It’s probably going to be a lot more fun if you have friends joining you – even if those are invisible internet friends like me!
Q: What will be the hardest part?
Definitely the social part, and particularly dating. Since moving recently, I’ve been dating a lot, which is fun (and exhausting and exasperating) but also has included a lot of drinks. I’ve been pumping the breaks on dating over the past week and am trying to kick it down to a more manageable pace (4-5 dates/week is not sustainable for this introvert), but I still enjoy going out on dates and with friends. I’m sure at first I’ll miss getting my usual Jack on the rocks on first dates and trying new beers with friends, and there might be some awkward moments when I explain why I’m not drinking or suggest going for coffee instead of happy hour. So, mild inconveniences? Absolutely? Teeth-gritting difficulty? No. I’m giving up alcohol, not cocaine. (Not that I’m doing cocaine. Strongest thing I’m on is espresso.)
Q: Will you go back to drinking “normally” after this?
I don’t plan to give up drinking forever, but I do plan to scale back even after this experiment. Not sure exactly what that will look like yet, but it will be something I’m mulling over while I’m staying Sober ‘Til September. I’ll definitely provide an update at the end, including how I want my drinking habits to look going forward.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve ever given up alcohol for a set period of time (or indefinitely). And if you’re joining me on the #SoberTilSeptember train, be sure to tag me and use that hashtag so I can cheer you one with a virtual cheers of my sparkling water in a bourbon glass.