“Happy New Years!!” we all screamed as the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve. It was 2012 and we all had to celebrate. And by celebrate I mean chug an entire bottle of champagne as my friend Brian so cleverly dubbed “The Champagne Challenge”. The fun came to an end as I spent the entire next day passed out on the couch recoverying.
Like most Americans, drinking has always played a major role in my life. Getting alcohol as a teenager and going to parties was always a thrill in high school. In college, I joined a fraterity and partied with the best of them with weekly keggers and toga parties. We even had a special ritual called “The Nicknaming Ceremony” where we all got drunk and gave each other stupid nicknames. My boozen bonanza continued post college with company happy hours, business trips and holiday parties all the way to present day with the US Navy.
Aww the Navy. No one can deny that alcohol is a part of this culture. With terms like “drinks like a sailor” and a rum affectionately named “Sailor Jerry”. But how can you blame us? After 80 days at sea on a ship without alcohol, getting a drink was on top of most sailor’s liberty plans. Most of the great port visit stories, usually started with “We were really drunk when…”.
But as fun as drinking can be, it has so very serious consquences. The CDC estimates that over 75,000 people die each year from alcohol-related deathes including liver disease, drunk driving and alcoholism. It’s scary think that a sustance which brings so much joy to people lives can also cause so much harm.
Alcohol can also led people to make poor decisions and forget. It concerns me that some of the best moments of my life are the ones that I end up forgetting. It’s easy to blame alcohol for our mistakes. Well I’m determined to live a more authentic life. I want people to know me for who I am not because drunk, but because I’m outoging. I want to remember the best nights of my life. But the road to soberness starts with one step at a time. So that’s why this month, I’m doing 30 days of no drinking alcohol.
Hypothesis: I think one’s going to be a pretty easy trial. I would go 30-80 days without alcohol on deployment. There are no major drinking holidays at the beginning of January. The real challenge comes around events like St Patty’s Day, New Years, birthdays (I’m turning 30 this year!) and family gatherings. But I want to use this experiment as motivation to continue even longer.
My two biggest needs for alcohol are socializing and stress-relief. Here’s how I plan on dealing with them…
The Secrets of Sober Partying
I love going out to bars. House parties are great, too. It’s how people socialize. They stand around and get drunk and dance their asses off. Fist pump anyone? But if you’re foregoing those drinks-in-hand what’s a sober partier to to do? …Enter the decoy drink.
Your decoy drink can be anything that resembles any other alcholic drink. How bout another round of Tequila sunrise, minus the Tequila. Or a nice tonic or seltzer. Pretty much anything thing with “Virgin” in front of it. If people ask you why you’re ordering it, just tell them your the destinated driver. Which brings me to my next point…
Be the DD! Everyone loves the DD. Because they put up with everyone’s shenanigans and at the end of the night no one’s fronting money for a cab home. Since I don’t own a car, I’m totally putting this one out there. I’m the best person to invite out, because no one has to worry about driving home.
Meeting Women At Bars and Clubs…Sober?
Most of the women in my life I’ve met through friends, but I know a lot of people’s secret reason for going out to bars is to meet someone. I’ve had my fair share of meetings, but most of them didn’t go anywhere once the dance music stopped and we went home.
What would happen if I ditched that liquid courage and drove head first into meeting women? What is a person really going to do at a bar if their not their to get drunk? Who knows, I might actually have a meaningful connection with someone that I really enjoy being around.
How To Relax Without Wine
I’m a huge wine fan. I’m know by my friends as the “wine guy”. I’m the type of person who will bring a bottle of my favorite Merot to a keg party. And lately, I realized that I’ve been using wine to deal with stress from work. On days where I would put in 10-12 hours, the only thing I looked forward at the end of the day was a couple of glasses of red wine to put my mind at ease. But sometimes that 1-2 glasses would turn into 4-5 and I’d go to bed in drunken sleep.
But looking back, this is a little concerning. I started to ask myself, “Do I really need alcohol to make me feel better? This there healthier and safer way to relieve stress at the end of the day?” Once I realized that stress was just the trigger for drinking it made me really think and realize that it’s not the alcohol that we want, but the relief. And if I can find alternate ways of relieving my stress then I can live a better more fulfilling life. Here are some activities I’m considering testing out in the coming months..
- Practice journaling more.
- Deep breathing exercises.
- Practice daily yoga.
- Volunteer more.
- Watch less TV
These activites will also have the secondary benefit of focusing my time on events that don’t involve alcohol. It’s interesting to see where this jounrey to sobiety will led me, but all I know is I’ll be sure to remember everything that happens when I get there. Here’s a cheers to no drinking for a month.