When we have to give something up, such as drinking, we find it easy to dwell on all of the adverse side effects of that choice: We can’t enjoy a beer while watching the game or at a family BBQ; no more glass of wine to relax after a long day, and it almost goes without saying that our late-night clubbing and pub are crawling over.
Focusing on what you ‘can’t have,’ or more importantly, what you shouldn’t want anymore, does nothing to help your recovery journey. Rather, that mindset can damage your progress by leaving you in the past with rose-colored glasses, remembering all of the enjoyment you once had and are now missing.
This kind of thinking also distracts you from dealing with the reality of why you may already be in alcohol rehab in the first place: The lost jobs, fractured relationships, and endless desperation, to name a few.
Instead of focusing on everything we have given up, we better serve ourselves by narrowing in on all the great things that accompany a life without alcohol. And the facts may surprise you, considering the general media and culture have brainwashed us into thinking that almost every social interaction needs to include some form of alcohol.
You Will Save a Ton of Cash
The cost of alcohol adds up quickly. For example, Joe works an office job, and other than the occasional glass of wine after dinner at home, he saves his social drinking for the weekend. An average drink at a pub or bar ranges from $5 to $15. For Joe, we’ll go with $10. If Joe only drinks about three drinks per evening on the weekend (Friday to Sunday), a total of 9 drinks, he will spend roughly $4,600 a year.
That’s according to the cost calculator on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) website, RethinkingDrinking. We recommend you try it with your own data. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.
Let’s get back to Joe. The $4,600 only covers weekend drinking. Suppose he buys a couple of bottles of wine or a 24-pack of beer to enjoy at home weekly. Each of those probably costs about $15 to $20. That’s another $60 to $80 a month, or roughly another cool $1,000 per year.
And, of course, let’s not forget all the associated costs that come with alcohol. At best, you’ll need to include bar or club cover charges, paid rides home, drinks for others, etc. In less ideal circumstances, you might lose income if you have to call in sick because of a hangover or pay additional medical bills if you drink too much and end up in the hospital.
Finally, you may make some really bad choices while drunk that will cost you later. Remember buying rounds for the whole bar last night? You may not, but your bank account surely will.
You Won’t Ever Hurt Yourself or Someone Else Because of Alcohol
They say the best form of birth control is abstinence. This same principle applies to drinking and alcohol-related bad behavior. If you never take that drink, there’s no chance you will end up in jail or dead because you decided to drive drunk. You will never jump off that building because you were too intoxicated to care or didn’t even realize what you were doing. And you’ll never send your boss a drunk text or email telling him off and losing your job.
Quitting alcohol and keeping a clear head will help you avoid potentially dangerous and heart-breaking situations. That’s good news for you and everyone around you.
You Will Feel More Connected with Friends, Loved Ones
Alcohol has a way of muddling reality. In part, that’s one of the reasons why it tends to remain so popular as a means of entertainment and escape. Drinking also represents a social lubricant of sorts, greasing the wheels of interaction with pleasant banter and instant camaraderie.
But when you look at many of those relationships in the bright light of sobriety, many will seem supremely superficial. Relating to one another as human beings requires focus and concentration. How are you? Why are you so passionate about your work? Why are you the person you are? Answers to those questions and others like it only come when we spend time and effort cultivating a relationship.
Can you understand your wife’s fears about dealing with her newly-discovered cancer if you’re busy drowning yourself in a bar somewhere? How are you able to sit down with your son and talk with him about his hopes and dreams if you never emerge out of your alcoholic haze? How about helping your best friend work through his recent divorce? Does he need a drinking buddy or a sober listening ear?
Getting alcohol out of your life may mean that many surface-level connections fade into the background. However, going down this road will pay off in spades to free you up to work on the relationships that matter most to you.
You Will Enjoy Better Health (and You May Even Lose Weight)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that our nation lost roughly $249 Billion to excessive alcohol use in 2010, $28 Billion of which went to pay for healthcare costs alone. The CDC also estimates that more than 380 people die each day from excessive alcohol use.
While excessive drinking carries significant mortal risks, casual drinking doesn’t come without its own unhealthy consequences. Alcohol can increase your chances of developing cancer of the liver, esophagus, mouth, throat, larynx, colon, rectum, and breast (in women).
Drinking may also lead to liver disease, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and digestive issues. And anyone who has ever experienced a hangover knows that alcohol’s resulting dehydration, headaches, and nausea are no picnic.
Cutting out alcoholic drinks may lead to a leaner physique, as well. Calorie-laden liquors, wines, and beers, and your resulting increased appetite, can quickly add on additional pounds. All in all, quitting alcohol will leave you more clear-headed and open the door to improved health.
You Will Discover New Ways to Interact Socially
A night out with friends doesn’t have to mean you always end up at the bar or club. In fact, if you’re in the process of quitting alcohol, that’s probably the last place you want to be. Try some alternatives, such as finding your way out of an escape room, going bowling, or throwing a few axes.
Instead of heading to brunch and mimosas, suggest an early hike followed by a picnic. Hit a sober dance club with your spouse or friends to get your groove on without getting your drink on. You’ll find that when you put away that bottle – and all the headaches and heartbreaks that come with it – the world is full of healthier and infinitely more-enjoyable activities.
Would you like to quit drinking, but you don’t know how? Then it may be worth your while to contact an alcohol treatment center. Even if you don’t feel like you have a full-blown alcohol use disorder, our substance abuse center counselors here at Renaissance Ranch can help guide you to living an alcohol-free life. Please give us a call at (855) 736-7262.