Author Topic: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!  (Read 308988 times)

LeftA

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1550 on: December 30, 2023, 07:56:37 AM »
I’ve had a really great 2023 and I know it’s definitely been supported by being totally AF. I haven’t had any alcohol since early March 2022 and honestly I’ve achieved so much since then!

I’m sharing this in case someone is reading and is considering trying to give up alcohol…for so long I tried to “cut back”. I wish I had appreciated then how much better my life w/o alcohol would be, as I would have done it SO much sooner. The scary part is that I wasn’t a huge drinker. It was a wine with dinner type of thing and only more than 1 glass at specific social gatherings or special occasions. I rarely drank any hard liquor (a handful of times over a 10 year period). And yet, cutting it out has been SO beneficial!

Metalcat

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1551 on: December 30, 2023, 08:19:40 AM »
I’ve had a really great 2023 and I know it’s definitely been supported by being totally AF. I haven’t had any alcohol since early March 2022 and honestly I’ve achieved so much since then!

I’m sharing this in case someone is reading and is considering trying to give up alcohol…for so long I tried to “cut back”. I wish I had appreciated then how much better my life w/o alcohol would be, as I would have done it SO much sooner. The scary part is that I wasn’t a huge drinker. It was a wine with dinner type of thing and only more than 1 glass at specific social gatherings or special occasions. I rarely drank any hard liquor (a handful of times over a 10 year period). And yet, cutting it out has been SO beneficial!

My 2023 has been an onslaught of horror that I need a specialized therapist to help me process. I can't tell you how many times I've been grateful that I don't drink this year.

I wasn't a heavy drinker, but I was someone who loved a glass of wine after work to de-stress. That's basic self-medication, and self-medication habits can turn into raging addiction so easily when life gets incredibly hard. We saw this during the pandemic when so many "moderate" drinkers had the wheels fall off their drinking and careen into full destructive addiction.

Not only that, but I've written about this many times in this thread, but being someone who drank in response to stress made my brain lower my capacity to tolerate stress. My stress response to anything really difficult would be amped up because that was the most reliable way to get me to pour a glass of wine.

Over years of being a regular wine "decompression" drinker, my system calibrated itself to produce maximal intolerance of certain forms of stress. It was like clockwork, I would be pretty much fine at work and then around 3pm my ability to cope with the stresses of my very stressful work would plummet, and my headache would amp up.

This just made sense to me, working a 10-11 hr day at an insane pace doing high-pressure work is bound to wear you down by the end of the day. Nothing seemed odd about that. But once I quit the pattern was so obvious. Two hours before I was scheduled to decide whether or not to pour a glass of wine, my brain would reduce my capacity to cope with stress.

Because yeah, I was always trying to "cut back" so it was always a question whether or not I would have wine when I got home. I would always have wine on days where I felt totally overwhelmed at the end of the day and too fried to forgo my "decompression" glass or two, which were like a magical tension release.

I now understand that it was a trick. The sense of overwhelm was fake, I can readily handle the kind of stress I was under at the time. I've handled much, much worse since with less effort. AND the tension release was a trick too, that wasn't the alcohol, that was the brain chemicals that my brain dumped to reward me for drinking. This is obvious because the tension release began with smelling the wine and the first sip, well before the active ingredients too effect.

So had I faced 2023 a stress-drinker??

Fuuuuck.

I would likely have become an excessive drinker because I had all the epic excuses in the world to justify soothing my stress. AND I would have systematically deconstructed my capacity to cope with the overwhelming stresses of this past year.

Lastly, when I was drinking the most was during the last time that my life was incredibly stressful, and distressing with a few glasses of wine every night allowed me to detach from my stresses and cope with them privately. I systematically withdrew from everyone I was close to because it was too difficult to discuss what I was going through. It made me very private and isolated in my coping.

Not having ANY means to detach from my experiences this year has forced me to lean heavily on my loved ones, be more vulnerable and open with them and ask for help over and over to get me through. The net result is that despite a horror show of a year, ALL of my closest relationships have thrived and grown substantially. I feel closer and more loving to every single person I care about and they literally ALL know every detail of what I've been through and how it has impacted me emotionally.

Lastly, not having self-medication as an option, I've been forced to find healthy alternatives that produce the same brain dump of soothing endogenous neurotransmitters and cascades of hormones that drinking used to trigger. Even severely disabled, I've spent an enormous amount of this year engaging in whatever exercise that I could, spending A LOT of time in overwhelmingly beautiful nature, and really investing in creating romantic moments with my spouse, even when I was in the hospital.

So as unbelievably challenging as my year has been, it's also been AWESOME.

And yeah, having previous extremely challenging years to compare it to, I can pretty much say that not drinking was a determining factor in the year being unfathomably hard, but overall pretty great compared to the pure torture-porn it could have been.

vand

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1552 on: January 03, 2024, 03:12:45 AM »
I have been experimenting with seeing what life is like without the normal everyday vices.

I was a heavy caffeine drinker until 3 months ago, now just have the occasional cup of tea
Now been completely sober for over 3 weeks now, from moderately heavy regular usage around 25 or so units a  week, I'd imagine.

Feel fine. Actually better than fine.  The decaffeination took a few days to adjust to.  I never considered myself anything that could remotely be labelled as a functional alcoholic, and that remains the case weather I drink any or not.

My reasons for both were simply that I wanted to confirm that I knew exactly who I was with or without the caffeine & booze.

No idea how long I will maintain it.  Could be another week, but could be another year.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2024, 03:19:02 AM by vand »

Metalcat

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1553 on: January 03, 2024, 04:22:40 AM »
I have been experimenting with seeing what life is like without the normal everyday vices.

I was a heavy caffeine drinker until 3 months ago, now just have the occasional cup of tea
Now been completely sober for over 3 weeks now, from moderately heavy regular usage around 25 or so units a  week, I'd imagine.

Feel fine. Actually better than fine.  The decaffeination took a few days to adjust to.  I never considered myself anything that could remotely be labelled as a functional alcoholic, and that remains the case weather I drink any or not.

My reasons for both were simply that I wanted to confirm that I knew exactly who I was with or without the caffeine & booze.

No idea how long I will maintain it.  Could be another week, but could be another year.

Yeah, I quit coffee shortly after quitting alcohol just to see.

I had loved coffee as much or more than I loved wine, but getting rid of wine made me acutely aware of my addiction to coffee.

Askel

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1554 on: January 04, 2024, 07:51:29 AM »
Bumpity bump.... 

Started a 30 day booze free run a few days ago.  Ski season is kind of a bust so far, so without that outlet, these long dark nights+Bell's Hopslam season could get really ugly.   But looking long term, the growing amount of research on the health concerns with alcohol consumption are making me consider some long term change.

Going smoothly so far. I expect by middle of next week I'll have an overproduced youtube video full of stock footage and backed by royalty free music about how amazing my life is and all my problems are solved now that I've given up the hooch.  ;)     

Either that or I'll have a thread on overcoming LaCroix addiction.  :D   

Closing in on the home stretch here. Had a couple of stumbles- a glass of champagne on christmas day and a couple of beers on new year's eve. We hosted a bonfire at our house on NYE and usually that would be a cue for some pretty unhinged alcohol consumption on my part, so two beers is very much a win. 

No profound changes noted as of yet, but I am sleeping like I'm going into hibernation. Usually I'm a 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night guy, but lately I've been sleeping up to 9 hours pretty regularly and even 14(?!!!) after a pretty hard day of mountain biking.   

Not really missing my old habitual consumption, but I'm looking forward to a couple après ski beers if we ever get some snow.  Hoping I can keep my greatly reduced consumption going forward for some time. 

Padonak

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1555 on: January 04, 2024, 11:47:16 AM »
I'm proud do say that I've been sober since the beginning of this year!

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1556 on: January 04, 2024, 11:50:56 AM »
I'm proud do say that I've been sober since the beginning of this year!

Woohoo! It starts to fly by.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1557 on: January 04, 2024, 11:53:45 AM »
Inspired by a friend a few days ago, decided on a whim to do a dry January.

I completely stopped drinking for 8 months in 2023, reintroduced it sparingly (1-2 drinks a week) for a few months successfully but the holidays brought more imbibing than I wish to partake in long term. Using January as a reset and going back to more sporadic consumption for the rest of the year.

FWIW I felt no negative impacts at the couple of beers, couple of times a month level. It's just a matter of not slipping back into old bad habits.........which definitely is easier to stick to if it's not even an option (full on teetotaler mode).

AlanStache

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1558 on: January 06, 2024, 09:34:19 AM »
You could clearly see the lower energy levels in my normally high intensity marital arts classes around xmass and new years when people were eating like shit and drinking a ton.  Normally very energetic people were literally on the ground between intervals.

GuitarStv

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1559 on: January 06, 2024, 10:29:56 AM »
You could clearly see the lower energy levels in my normally high intensity marital arts classes around xmass and new years when people were eating like shit and drinking a ton.  Normally very energetic people were literally on the ground between intervals.

I was one of them!

Wife says my diet of just cookies for two weeks is deleterious to physical performance.  I think that more experimentation is warranted.

StarBright

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1560 on: January 06, 2024, 01:12:55 PM »
Just stopping by to recommend the St. Agrestis phony cocktails if you are a person who likes bitter drinks.

I like both their Phony Negroni and their Amaro Falso.

FrugalFukuoka

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1561 on: January 17, 2024, 04:41:26 PM »
I realized that I've probably never had a booze free month in my entire adult life, now closing in on that first month. Not a heavy drinker of sorts, but realized that having a few beers in the afternoon from Fri to Sun left me pretty lethargic. Some food for thought for the rest of the year. Might just keep this up for a while and only stick to homebrews to increase the hurdle a bit (and appreciate the drink that much more).

MustachioedPistachio

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1562 on: January 19, 2024, 12:30:43 PM »
I'm about a month late celebrating 3 years booze free!

LightStache

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1563 on: January 20, 2024, 02:19:06 PM »
I've been drinking pretty minimally lately (something like 1-3 drinks per week), and am planning to fully commit to Dry January. Then I'll potentially keep it rolling for a few months since I have so many auditions in the first few months of the new year.

Lately when I have been drinking, I've been trying to err towards drinking earlier in the evening (5-7) so that my body has more time to process it out before I go to bed. I recently had a couple drinks after a show and it totally ruined my sleep and half the next day. The timing really makes a huge difference.

A couple weeks ago I was traveling with a friend who is a near teetotaler, so I limited myself to a few drinks, spaced out between lunch and dinner. It was a good chance to experiment with my last drink and sleep quality. I need to finish around 630p to get a good night's rest by 10p, maybe 730p if it's just one small drink.

I had my last drink on Dec 21 and I'll stay sober through January. I also have 6 mo. and 1 yr. in mind to see if long-term makes a difference. I'm in a weird spot right now with job searching and I want to make sure I'm operating at 100% at all times.

Coming up on one month tomorrow and I'm still going strong despite a fair share of temptations: 1) Getting the flu in a foreign country, wanting a toddy when I couldn't get proper cough meds. 2) A few airports and a couple 10+ hour flights, in coach. 3) A week at my parent's house. 4) An Airbnb welcome bottle of wine perfectly matched to my flavor prefs.

Overall I think I have more energy, lower anxiety, and slightly improved sleep, so I'll keep on it for a while longer.

Chaplin

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1564 on: January 20, 2024, 07:12:09 PM »
I hadn't really intended just plain quit, or even do a dry January thing, but I haven't had a drink in about two weeks and now I would rather just make it a permanent thing.

The alcohol was always a net negative in my life, even though I kept to a level that didn't prevent from achieving most of my goals (FIRE'd, lots of great outdoor activities, family, etc.). It's just that there only seem to be two levels that I seem to be able to settle into: none or more than I think is good, healthy, and financially responsible. I don't seem to be able to settle into a middle path of moderation at a level that I'm happy with, so for now I'm on the "none" train.

I didn't experience any physical withdrawal symptoms, but I did notice some moments of irrational anxiety that I think might have been a withdrawal symptom - it's hard to say. I can't say that I feel dramatically better - hopefully that's because I've always felt pretty good thanks to keeping enough of a lid on it. I do feel a tad more clarity and ability to pause and reflect before opening my mouth, so that's a good thing. Mostly I'm looking forward to not having to criticize myself for not being able to find a workable path of moderation. Some of the information shared here has been very helpful in putting into perspective some of the mental gyrations you go through and the tricks your reward system plays on you.

Best wishes of success to all!

wenchsenior

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1565 on: January 22, 2024, 11:13:45 AM »
I hadn't really intended just plain quit, or even do a dry January thing, but I haven't had a drink in about two weeks and now I would rather just make it a permanent thing.

The alcohol was always a net negative in my life, even though I kept to a level that didn't prevent from achieving most of my goals (FIRE'd, lots of great outdoor activities, family, etc.). It's just that there only seem to be two levels that I seem to be able to settle into: none or more than I think is good, healthy, and financially responsible. I don't seem to be able to settle into a middle path of moderation at a level that I'm happy with, so for now I'm on the "none" train.

I didn't experience any physical withdrawal symptoms, but I did notice some moments of irrational anxiety that I think might have been a withdrawal symptom - it's hard to say. I can't say that I feel dramatically better - hopefully that's because I've always felt pretty good thanks to keeping enough of a lid on it. I do feel a tad more clarity and ability to pause and reflect before opening my mouth, so that's a good thing. Mostly I'm looking forward to not having to criticize myself for not being able to find a workable path of moderation. Some of the information shared here has been very helpful in putting into perspective some of the mental gyrations you go through and the tricks your reward system plays on you.

Best wishes of success to all!

I was similar. If you are anything like me, you will be really pleasantly surprised how positive the experience of discarding it becomes after the initial couple of months of getting over that psychological crutch and 'mental noise'.

Chaplin

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1566 on: January 22, 2024, 11:00:12 PM »
I was similar. If you are anything like me, you will be really pleasantly surprised how positive the experience of discarding it becomes after the initial couple of months of getting over that psychological crutch and 'mental noise'.

Thanks for that. I think the longest non-drinking stretch I've had since about 1999 is six weeks. There have been lots of shorter gaps, but hopefully I'll get to the "initial couple of months" you mention.

Oddly, in previous one-week or one-month breaks I have noticed most of the usual positive effects: better sleep, energy, clarity, etc. This time around I'm having poorer sleep, sometimes a lingering headache, and laziness. The laziness is easing off as I'm more motivated to get out on my bike as the days go by. The poorer sleep is a surprise. It used to be that I could feel the big differences in sleep quality on a day I had had a drink compared to a day when I hadn't even when they were back-to-back. For the last few days I've been going to bed relatively early (which could be a factor) and then waking up at 3am and not falling back to sleep for a few hours; it could be due to something totally unrelated that I just haven't identified. Ironically, this is making avoiding alcohol easier. Usually after a week or two without I would be feeling so good that I thought a glass of wine would make it even better (one of those sneaky brain tricks, I now understand).

I've been reading about the effects of alcohol, even amounts well below the usual thresholds of "heavy" drinking, on blood pressure and resting heart rate. I have noticed that my blood pressure has fallen right back into pretty ideal territory, which is an effect I have noticed before, and probably my strongest motivation. I looked up the effect on resting heart rate because mine has dropped from the low 50s to around 45, sometimes as low as 42. What I read said that regular alcohol consumption raises your resting heart rate somewhere around 5bpm, so that checks out. Still, I'm pretty surprised at 42. I think the lowest I remember ever recording for myself, not that I have checked it all that regularly, is 38 back when I was about 21 years old and doing triathlons.

Another thing thing alcohol does is reduce heart-rate variability (HRV) which I gather isn't fully accepted as a meaningful health measure, but variability in time between each individual beat is correlated with better health outcomes, whereas very evenly timed beats are a bad sign. This is pretty much an unrelated aside, but it's just fascinating. One of many reasons the rate would be variable is that our respiration rate is on a different frequency than our heart rate, oxygen flowing into our system rises and falls say every four or five heartbeats and a healthy heartbeat is moving up and down with that in a small but measurable way. Alcohol decreases that variability.

It's interesting how significant the effects of alcohol are on heart health. I guess referring to wine as "Italian Gatorade" when I was training for marathons was off-base.

Tyson

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1567 on: January 23, 2024, 12:20:46 AM »
The science is in.  Alcohol is poison at any level. 

vand

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Re: Give Up the Hooch: Booze Free for as long as you please!
« Reply #1568 on: April 08, 2024, 03:05:27 PM »
I have been experimenting with seeing what life is like without the normal everyday vices.

I was a heavy caffeine drinker until 3 months ago, now just have the occasional cup of tea
Now been completely sober for over 3 weeks now, from moderately heavy regular usage around 25 or so units a  week, I'd imagine.

Feel fine. Actually better than fine.  The decaffeination took a few days to adjust to.  I never considered myself anything that could remotely be labelled as a functional alcoholic, and that remains the case weather I drink any or not.

My reasons for both were simply that I wanted to confirm that I knew exactly who I was with or without the caffeine & booze.

No idea how long I will maintain it.  Could be another week, but could be another year.

4 months sober (and 6 months no coffee) and I don't miss it one little bit. 

The monetary benefits aren't insignificant, but the health and mental benefits are considerable.

Wouldn't say it was life-changing, but definitely life-enhancing in many small and subtle ways.

What was quite an eye opener was how binge drinking is still a thing - job I've recently started, it's quite a boozy culture, and one Friday lunchtime we hit the pub were anything between 3-5 pints was consumed amongst various team members... I stuck to soda water... definitely would have been going sideways if I had even had half of what some guys necked back.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2024, 03:11:06 PM by vand »