How Quitting Alcohol Changed My Life The path to a better self...

In Life, Self Development, Writing
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Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance. – Samuel Johnson

Never Say Never

I never thought these words would come out of my mouth but I’m proud to say that I’ve been alcohol free for the last 2 1/2 years.

I started drinking at a very early age, perhaps 12 years old. I never actually liked the taste of beer so it was just a social thing, but I pretty much drank most weekends up until finishing university.

Alcohol took me away from actuality, and gave me a mask to be someone I wasn’t. It gave me that edge and the  false sense of confidence I needed. In essence, I relied on it to have fun.

However, drinking always came at a price that extended beyond the bottle: hangovers, getting in trouble, lack of concentration, black outs.

It was evident that I didn’t want to confront the issue, nor did I have a big desire to change the status quo.

But deep down, I knew that alcohol wasn’t serving me, and if i wanted to lead a better life, a drastic change was needed.

Quitting Alcohol For Good

If you have experienced long-term travel, you’ll know fine well that alcohol becomes a big part of your life.

Drinking alcohol is a universal commonality that brings people from different cultures together.

Night after night, I’d meet a group of new people, and we’d head to get to know each other over a “few drinks”.

What was previously a weekend thing for me, became an almost daily event that I couldn’t keep up.

Something had to change.

On a Sunday morning in Timisoara, Romania, I was nursing one of the worst hangovers of my life.

I’d been out the night before celebrating the arrival of my friend from USA.

I’d forgotten to eat before I went out and I didn’t match my drinks with water either. Fundamental error.

As expected, the next day I was bed bound and my mind was spinning in all directions.

It was coming up 7pm and my hangover wasn’t subsiding. I’d had enough.

My friend Marius was sat chatting to me, when I plucked the words out of nowhere:

“I’m going to quit”

“You won’t quit Dan.”

“Neither will you Marius.”

“Yeh I will, easy.”

“Ok let’s make a bet.”

“Done.”

And just like that, we both decided to quit, and the challenge was set.

Game on.

The Following Months Without Alcohol

I thought Marius was playing around, but it turned out he wasn’t. He was being deadly serious, and this was the kick that my ego had needed for such a long time.

For the first couple of weeks, I didn’t miss the alcohol but it was a huge struggle for me socially.

I felt like I was being a fun sponge, letting others down, and felt embarrassed telling people I wasn’t drinking.

I battled with this mindset for a while, but over time, I built good resistance to it, and gradually, my desire to impress others faded and a new habit formed.

After about 4 months, there came a time when I no longer desired alcohol, but more importantly, I’d reached a point where I was fine in my own skin and felt comfortable socialising around others who were drinking alcohol.

It’s now 10 months that I’ve been clean from alcohol, and here are the main benefits I’ve experienced:

The Benefits Of Quitting Alcohol

1. Health

This is the most significant and noticeable change. I feel a lot healthier, the composition of my body has changed and my skin has become a lot clearer.

I have more energy and I can run further, faster and longer. My sleep isn’t as interrupted anymore and I wake earlier in the morning feeling fresh.

2. My Mind

When I drank alcohol, I would experience much more volatile mood swings (that’s no surprise, because after all, alcohol is a depressant).

Now, my mood is much more consistent and I don’t experience sudden dips as frequently as I used to.

My mind is much clearer and I find I am able to focus much easier without getting distracted.

3. Fun Without It

I used to think alcohol and fun went hand-in-hand, and I would rely on it to have a good time.

This mindset came with a huge negative implication:

When I wasn’t drinking, I found it difficult to have fun and laugh.

Since quitting, I’ve gradually learned how to enjoy myself without it. My relationships with friends have improved and they are no longer built on getting drunk.

Paradoxically, I have more energy to dance when I go out, and funnily enough, I nearly got kicked out of a bar in Novi Sad, Serbia because the bouncer thought I’d drunk too much.

4. Space For More

I no longer spend my evenings in clubs which means I have more space in my life to focus on my passions and close friends.

As I don’t stay out late anymore, I also don’t get the knock on effects of alcohol, including sleep deprivation and dehydration.

Instead, I’m very happy with going to bed by 11pm each evening and getting up at 6am every morning for the gym or yoga.

5. Dropping Expectations

This was my one of my biggest problems with alcohol. My main reason for drinking in the first place boiled down to social pressure and wanting to fit in.

I wanted to please people and worried that others would judge me if I was the only one in the club not drinking.

Now I’m fine in myself and my own skin, and I don’t care what people think.

I no longer feel a desire to please other people and this has translated to other areas of my life.

If I don’t want to do something, I say no.

That’s a very liberating feeling.

Do You Want To Quit Alcohol? Here’s One Key Piece of Advice

If you are thinking about quitting alcohol, here’s the most important advice I can offer:

Create Accountability.

If the bet hadn’t been made between myself and Marius, I’m pretty certain I would still be drinking now.

Just like I had done for last 8 years of my life, I would’ve put it off till the next weekend, then the next weekend after that.

By creating accountability, I fed my ego and stuck with it at all costs.

Eventually it got to the point where not drinking alcohol and having fun became a habit.

I no longer thought about it. I no longer desired it. I was finally free and fine without it. 

Find a means of accountability that is important to you and forces you into action. Use this as leverage, and I guarantee, quitting will become a much easier task.

Conclusion

Through many years of societal conditioning, and despite its negative impact, drinking alcohol is considered a normal and commonly accepted practice in society.

This will never change, so if you want to quit, it starts with you and you’ve got to make the change.

Quitting alcohol was one of the most impacting changes I’ve ever made in my life.

I’ve opened doors to new opportunities and experiences, and in the process, have learned a lot about myself.

Perhaps the most liberating feeling was realising that I didn’t need alcohol anymore.

I’d eliminated its importance, and I believe that’s crucial for giving anything up in life.

What have you managed to give up? I’d love to hear your comments, so please, join the discussion below.

Thanks for reading and all the best,

Daniel Beaumont, 14th September 2017


About the Author

Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.

I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.

I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.

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