The Life Experimenter : Change Your Life, One Month at a Time

Life Experiment #52 – No Booze For A Month – Part II

By Allen Rinehart

No Alcohol Sign

0645 – My alarm went off for the third time again.  Time to wake-up.  Half awake and hung over, I had to get dressed for PT.  It was a Thursday.  Contemplating my reason for drinking I began to realize that it was a problem.  I had allowed stress from my job overwhelm me and lead to my week night ritual of sangrias and wine drinking.  Typically I’ll down a bottle of wine in a night no problem.  I’ve started to wonder how my mornings would be different if I chose to abstain from alcohol completely…say for 30 days.  That’s why for the whole month of August I’m going booze-free.

Hypothesis: I believe that a month of no drinking is definitely going to clear my thinking.  I foresee big improvements in productivity, socializing and maybe a little in weight loss.  The main point is to prove to myself that I don’t need it.

My 30-Days Of Restricted Duty

I haven’t really talked about this to many people, but the first time I went alcohol-free for a month was not by choice.  I was stationed onboard the USS Ronald Reagan.  It was the night of their Christmas Party.  After having a little too many glasses of wine and drinks at the bar I had gotten separated from my friends and decided it was in my best interest to make it back home.  At the time, home was a little rack on board the ship.  The cab driver told me that he couldn’t take me on base.  I had about a mile walk to get back to the ship.  Lucky for me, base security found me in a parking lot leaned up against a car.  They realized I was too drunk and took me back to my ship.

At that point I thought everything was cool.  Until about two weeks later when I gotten summoned to the ship’s legal department.  They were going to make an example out of me.  I was sent through the whole discipline process and finally making a deal with the XO to volunteer to restrict myself to the ship for 30 days in exchange for not receiving any formal punishment.

For anyone in the Navy who’s ever been through Restricted Duty or “Restriction” knows it’s no picnic.  It’s the military’s way of putting you on house arrest.  If your ship’s in port, then there’s no getting off.  No going home to your friends and family.  You’re stuck to live and work there against your will.  Basically jail time. You get a cute little badge with a giant “R” so everyone know’s that you messed up and you’re not allowed to go anywhere.  They even take your ID, so don’t even think about escaping.

This was my first attempt at giving up booze.  Not really on my own choice.  But alcohol had gotten me in this situation and my hope was that giving up alcohol would get me out.

“I’m Not An Alcoholic”

When you look at the drinking habits of me and my friends, I wouldn’t really consider us alcoholics.  I drink like any typical American.  Downing a few glasses of wine after work and partying on the weekend.  My whole reason for giving up alcohol is that I feel that I’ve come too dependent on it.  The idea of not drinking for a whole weekend is so foreign to me.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t drink on the weekend…or during the week for that matter.

My Strategy For Sobriety

I’ve already thought this through quite extensively in my first attempt, Life Experiment #37 – Give Up Drinking Alcohol For A Month.  I think the real challenge is two fold.

#1 – Finding New Ways To Relax After Work

My job in the navy can be pretty stressful at times.  I often come home from work, cook dinner, turn on the TV and the wine starts flowing.  Fast forward three hours later and I haven’t moved and that bottle’s gone.  Everyone experiences stress at one point in their lives. It all comes down to how you manage.  Some people smoke, others drink while the smart ones exercise, meditate or read.  With the crutch of the liquid relaxer removed, new de-stressing ideas become more obvious.

#2 – Learning To Socialize Without Alcohol

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m always trying to find ways to drink on the weekend.  Going to the beach? Grab a makgeolli, please (Koreans, you know what’s up).  Going out on a Saturday night, let’s pre-game.  Sunday afternoon Bloody Marys? Yes, please!  But what what I crave more than anything else is to spend time with the friends and people I care most about.

It’s not that I’m against other people drinking, it’s just learning how to have fun without drinking myself. Socializing is just another form of stress.  What if you’re meeting someone new for the first time.  A little liquid courage will solve that problem.  Or what better way to create some memories than talking about how drunk everyone was the night before.

My biggest fear is that I’ll be pressured to drink if everyone else is.  But looking back I’ve gone almost 10 years as a vegetarian and a little criticism has never stopped me.  I know don’t how many BBQs I’ve been to where I had to awkwardly ask someone to throw on my veggie burgers. Soy burgers are up!  I guess non-drinkers face the same struggle.  How does a sober person handle themselves in a world filled with drinkers?  I’m about to find out. Bottoms up!

Photo Credits: Flickr





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