It’s a big, boozey world out there. From mimosas at brunch to cocktail hours, it can be hard to imagine living alcohol-free. But for some folks, unclenching that glass is like taking off a winter coat they didn’t know they were wearing. They can feel the sun on their shoulders for the first time. Before you decide if a liquor-free life (or day, week, or month) is for you, let’s explore the awesome things that could happen when you stop drinking.
1. Your brain will get bigger.
Oh yes, we’re talking about literal brain growth here. Chronic heavy drinking can cause a reduction in your brain matter. Bad news, right? But no, wait! The brain can recover in as little as two weeks once you stop drinking. Think you’ve done some permanent damage? Your brain begs to differ.
2. You’ll save serious cash.
Alcohol is expensive, straight up. Not having drinks with dinner will make you the cheapest date around, and that’s a good thing. Choosing seltzer with lime at the club will spare you from $12 cocktails or craft beers. This leaves you more money for things you really care about.
3. You’ll find time, and find out what to do with it.
If you aren’t busy putting back the brewskis, you’ll find yourself with free time. Now you can tackle the closet you’ve been trying to clean for five years. You can rebuild the car you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid. You can take salsa lessons, or buti yoga. You can do anything, jellybean. Take a nap or veg out in front of the TV. But then? Find a hobby.
4. Social situations may get sticky.
Alcohol is called a social lubricant for a reason. A few drinks can reduce nerves and lower inhibitions enough to help you come out of your shell. Long term, however, reliance on alcohol can increase anxiety. If cocktails have been your crutch in social situations, prep for some temporary discomfort. As you decide to stop drinking, however, you’ll become accustomed to socializing sober. You’ll walk tall and proud, leaving your cocktail crutch behind.
5. You’ll reclaim your body.
Whether or not this is something you care about, quitting alcohol allows you to stop putting poison inside your most sacred vessel: your body. B.K.S. Iyengar says it best: "Your body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in."
6. You’ll conquer the serious stuff.
Without alcohol to drown your sorrows, you’re ready to deal with emotions head on. That means feeling your feelings, rising up to those happy highs and wading through the wallowing lows. Processing your emotions, rather than escaping from them with alcohol, allows you to grow and learn.
7. Heaven is hangover-free.
Oh, how great it is to not go to work with a hangover! Ever. Again. One of the best and brightest instant effects of an alcohol-free existence is the lack of hangovers. If you’re a heavy drinker, you won’t have to worry about waking up with a throbbing headache the next day. For lighter drinkers, you might not even realize you had mini-hangovers from your habits, until they disappear!
8. You might find what you were looking for in the bottom of that glass.
Life is what happens when you aren’t drinking, and learning to live life without alcohol means learning to live. Dancing without drinks, sober sex, talking to strangers in a crowded room with no liquid courage—all of this scary stuff is the best stuff, the stuff that memories are made of and character is built from.
For some people, alcohol feels like a crutch, but it actually keeps them within its confines. Giving up the booze can feel scary at first, but then freeing. Whether you are considering joining in for the rest of Dry January or making a more permanent lifestyle change, we’re here to talk about the big, beautiful world that exists on the other side of drinking. And we’ve got plenty of mocktails to share.
As Workit Health's Community Lead, Kali Lux leans in to the culture gap between addiction, recovery, and medicine. She's interested in finding solutions that work for substance users better than drinking or drugging does, and believes Workit is one of them. She's written extensively on her own experience through addiction into long-term recovery. You can connect with her on Twitter @kalireadsbooks.