My wife and I decided to stop drinking alcohol about 1.5 years ago. There was no special occasion, no tipping point, no particular terrible event that triggered this decision. We just wanted to stop this habit. We both come from families that ‘drink’. Drinking alcohol is part of our DNA. It’s part of everyday life since we were little babies. It’s part of almost every meal and definitely the center-piece of every holiday, birthday, wedding, funeral or any other type of special event. It’s unthinkable to live a day without alcohol in some form or fashion. For many of us it is like oxygen. We simply cannot live without it. Thinking about completely removing it from our lives triggers anxiety and angst. How can you have fun without alcohol? How do you celebrate? How can you go on vacation without drinking? How can you watch a sporting event without beer? How do you relax without a glass of wine? Alcohol is also part of our stories. Every good and fun story usually comes with it’s own alcohol side-story, where the protagonist was somehow using alcohol to become the hero of the story. Alcohol is so accepted in our society that removing it feels like amputating an arm or removing a kidney. Alcohol comes in many forms. It’s elegant (red wine), hip (micro-brewery), sexy (champagne), laid back (white wine) or cool (cocktails). The advertisements never show the dark side, such as the addiction side effects, family dramas, car accidents, deaths, physical manifestations of alcohol consumption, deterioration of the body, belly fat, liver damage, etc.
We did not consider ourselves alcoholics or addicts. Were we? I don’t know. We saw ourselves as casual red and white wine drinkers on the surface. A glass of ‘red’ after work, a bottle of ‘wine’ on the weekends. A bottle of champagne for special occasions. I tried to peek behind the curtain a few times and saw that the alcohol wanted to get more and more into our lives. Extrapolating this out a few decades let’s you see where we would have ended up. Alcohol is very aggressive in that way. It never stops at 1 glass. Over time, either the physical glass gets larger or you are moving to more glasses per day. There is a good reason why alcohol is so prevalent in our society. It is an addiction. It’s aggressive. Alcohol is strong. It is waiting for you to be weak, it’s waiting for an entry point. Once it’s in your life it will move in permanently and take up more and more space over time. We’ve decided to kick it out, shut the door for good. And never look back.
Adjusting our life to a ‘Zero Alcohol’ life was really fun for us. We gained so much time, saved so much money and gained so much longevity and health. ‘Mornings’ get a whole new meaning when you are not hung over. Your energy level sky-rocks. Your relationships with your loved ones improve exponentially. The part that alcohol occupied in your life is now freed up and that’s a beautiful thing.
How do you still have fun? We became way more active, outdoorsy and health-conscious after cutting out alcohol. I would actually post the question “How do you have fun when you drink alcohol?” or “How can you really relax when you are intoxicating your body?”
Do we get a lot of questions on the ‘why’? Absolutely. My simple answer is that we wanted to free up that space that the alcohol occupied in our lives. It had pretty big long term plans that we did not agree with. So, it was time to part ways. Will there be an exception? What if you are going to your parents 70th birthday celebration or your best friend gets married? Can you have a glass of Champagne? The answer to us is obvious and clear: It’s a big NO. We closed this door permanently and do not want alcohol in our lives anymore. We don’t need alcohol to socialize, we don’t need alcohol to relax, we don’t need alcohol to have fun, we don’t want to drink alcohol to ‘be part’ of a group or ‘please’ someone. We want to live our lives the way we want without anyone or anything telling us how to live it.