For some people, drinking alcohol is their whole life.
What non-alcoholics have difficulty understanding is the sheer intensity of the hold that alcoholism can have into you, and just how thoroughly the addiction can weave itself into a hundred other aspects of your life.
There’s a huge reality that you must prepare yourself the moment you put down that bottle of beef for the last time: a lot of change will happen. Some will be positive, some negative, and some demand that you turn your entire life upside down.
I recently wrote about my experience giving up alcohol for one month on Hack Spirit. Here are the key lessons I learned.
1) Your Relationships
It turns out that you can’t interact with people when you are sober or drunk and expect them to stick with you or like you with both versions of you.
While yes, it is possible that you may lose friends who drink, the overwhelming majority of your relationships will experience a positive outcome the day after you say goodbye to the bottle.
Why? Because alcohol hides a part of you from the people around you. It devolves you, turning you from a person into a stumbling zombie devoid of personality.
When you cut it out of your life, people will almost immediately see the positive changes to your personality.
But it won’t all be fun and games: as your relationships change, expect some turbulence. Your marriage, your friendships, even your acquaintances at work—they will all treat you differently.
2) Your Time
Alcoholics rarely have full control over their time the way that healthy non-alcoholics do.
Often times, an alcoholic will barely have half the hours in the day that there actually are, as he or she will spend most of it in an intoxicated state of mind (or passed out).
Alcohol steals so much time away from you—the time it takes you to sit down, drink, and swallow down bottle after bottle or shot after shot of booze; the time when you are passed out, oversleeping and unconscious; and the time when you recovery the day morning, stealing away your hours and your productivity.
When you cut this out of your life, one of the first things you will realize is this: you have so much more time to do everything you want.
It’s your responsibility to discover ways to fill that time. Pick up old hobbies or pick up new ones, start a side project, develop a talent; do something that will fill the void left behind by your drinking.
3) Your Concept of Fun
Drinkers understand “fun” one-dimensionally—anything is fun as long as alcohol is involved, and nothing is fun if there’s not a single drink to be had.
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Alcoholics limit the events and gatherings that they attend: if they know that alcohol won’t be present, they cut themselves from that event, believing that it would be lame and boring.
But when you stop being addicted to the bottle, you will rediscover all the joy that you lost when you became an alcoholic.
The joy of experiencing new people, new things, new emotions, without needing to get drunk.
And you will also see that the people and things and events that you once loved when you were drunk were not nearly as fulfilling as you once believed. Instead, it will all seem like a giant mistake.
4) Your Social Circle
While we have already discussed how your relationships will change, it’s also important to embrace the possibility of your entire social circle transforming as you shift from alcoholic to off-the-bottle.
Drinkers generally convince themselves that they are hugely popular and have many friends.
This is because alcoholics love to drink together; it totally convinces them that their addiction isn’t a problem, because so many other people are doing it.
That their habits aren’t illogical or harmful to their minds and bodies, since everyone the love and respect is just as addicted as they are.
And when you stop drinking, the people you once thought to be your friends will suddenly turn against you, because you represent something they don’t want to face: what they could be if they turned away from their addiction.
It will be tough losing those friends, but like any major life change, it’s all part of the growing pains.
And most importantly, the biggest change in your life is going to happen with you. The moment you quit drinking and find yourself “off” that obsession, you will become a person you haven’t seen in years.
The vitality and energy that will fill you will surprise you at first—how great it is to wake up in the morning without a hangover—and everyone will notice, from your significant other to your acquaintances at work.
Don’t be afraid of the new you that comes out at the finish line—embrace that new person. Because this isn’t a finish line at all: it’s the start of your new life.
RELATED ARTICLE: Here are 15 things that happen when you quit drinking alcohol
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