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How Quitting Drinking Changed My Life: Surprising Reflections on Getting Sober

Updated: Feb 20

Headaches. Lethargy. Brain fog. Nausea. Anxiety. Irritability. Fatigue. Muscle aches. Stomach pain. Sound and light sensitivity. Weakness. Bloating. Indigestion.


We all know and have likely experienced many of the negative, short term consequences of hangovers resulting from too much alcohol consumption. 


We also all know that when you remove alcohol from your life, all of those symptoms will go away. Given alcohol’s toxicity to humans, when we reduce or eliminate alcohol from our lives, there are many ways we expect to feel better including: having more energy, experiencing improvements in mood and mental health, better sleep, more mental clarity and so on. 


What isn’t always so obvious though are some of the other benefits that come from quitting drinking. As someone who has been sober since August 2016 and has been working professionally as a sober coach since 2019, I’m well aware of the multitude of ways that peoples’ lives are changed when they quit drinking. If you have been considering quitting drinking either temporarily or for longer periods of time, I invite you to keep reading and to imagine what your life could look like in living and experiencing some or all of these benefits.


Confidence

I am currently the most confident I have been in my entire life. I have never been or felt more confident in my life than I do now. I can also say with certainty that my sobriety is the foundation of that confidence and that my confidence wouldn’t be possible if alcohol were still in the picture. In my drinking days, I outsourced my confidence to alcohol which is to say I used alcohol to boost my (false sense of) confidence. I relied on alcohol to enable me to say and do things that I otherwise wouldn’t and in turn, labeled that confidence. Upon reflection, I can see now that that wasn’t confidence; that was an impaired prefrontal cortex and no filter. That is not confidence. But at the time, I thought it was and I thought that alcohol was the source of that confidence. Now that alcohol’s out of the picture, I can see where I falsely credited alcohol and I can see how false my confidence was. With years of booze-free confidence building under my belt, what I now know is this: confidence is built by doing. Confidence is about being willing to try, regardless of how things shake out. Confidence becomes possible when you show up, as you, and try. That’s it. And I can’t think of a better environment in which to build confidence than getting sober as it asks you to show up, repeatedly, and be willing to try without knowing the outcome. When alcohol is in the mix, building real, true, authentic confidence just isn’t possible because your words and actions aren’t your own and in many cases, you don’t even remember what you did the next day. Trust me when I say the most authentic, lasting confidence is built when you show up fully as yourself, being willing to try new things and create different experiences.


Expanded Social Life

When I first got sober, I truly believed my life was over. I had no idea how to socialize, be out in public or attend events without alcohol. Alcohol effectively shrink-wrapped my social life; alcohol was involved in everything I did and I chose my socializing based on how easily I could drink. If alcohol wasn’t involved, I didn’t want to go. Over time, my socializing world got a lot smaller and a lot more repetitive because it was entirely dictated by my ability to drink; ironically, even though I was worried about my life being over in sobriety, it was actually alcohol that made my world so small. Conversely in sobriety, I have found socializing and having fun to be wildly expansive experiences. Anything and everything is available to me, I am no longer constrained by whether or not I can drink there and I can now participate in so many more active and cognitively challenging activities because I’m no longer impaired by alcohol. 


Stronger Relationships

Coupled with my fear that life without booze was no life at all, when I got sober, I was also deeply concerned with the impact that would have on my relationships. This was largely because the bulk of my friendships were held together by alcohol and to remove the alcohol meant removing the thing we all had in common. What would be left if I wasn’t drinking? Well, in the case of some friendships, not much. In the case of many others, I was left with rock solid friendships that went the distance. Not only that, but as I moved further along in my sobriety journey, which was ultimately a return home to myself, I showed up more powerfully and authentically in my relationships which served to strengthen those bonds. I became a better, more supportive friend and family member because I was there, tuned in and present. Because I was also showing up as the aligned, authentic version of me, I was also attracting new people into my life based on mutual interests and common ground, not on getting f*cked up every weekend. 


Enhanced Emotional Well-Being

Despite it being a well known fact, it never occurred to me that alcohol, which is a depressant, was negatively impacting my mood, emotions and mental health (duh). I would drink frequently and heavily, waking up the next day in a pretty dark mental and emotional hole, feeling largely indifferent about whether I got out of bed that day or ever again. Towards the end of my drinking days, my (ex) partner strongly encouraged me to see a therapist about what they believed was my very real case of depression. Except I wasn’t depressed, which I now know as I have a solid handle on my mood and mental health baseline, which I didn’t at that time. I was in a dark mental hole because I was frequently saturating my brain and body in a depressant. Once I got off the sauce, I was also able to get off the mental and emotional rollercoaster that alcohol consistently took me on. In its absence, I was able to learn what my baseline was, actually sit in and feel my feelings (all of them - the good, the bad and the ugly AND what a gift!) and learn how to navigate them in healthy ways, which was next to impossible while I was drinking. 


Amplified Creativity

Much like how alcohol numbs all emotions, my experience with alcohol was that it also numbed my creativity. In my drinking days, the ideas didn’t flow with any ease nor did I have the focus or concentration to spend any time developing the ideas that did pop up. Since getting sober, I not only have the awareness to notice when a solid idea bubbles to the surface but I also have the patience, presence and tenacity to explore, get curious about and cultivate ideas. Since getting sober, I have also reframed and expanded my definition and understanding of what it means to be creative which has also allowed my creativity to flourish in new and exciting ways, all of which became possible when alcohol was no longer watering me down and keeping me cognitively and creatively dull. Whether it's building a sober coaching practice from nothing, writing, developing programs, or speaking on podcasts, the creativity flows freely and easily in my life now and I couldn’t be more grateful.


The benefits of quitting drinking are truly vast and nearly innumerable but please don’t take my word for it. Take a test drive of life without booze and see what you learn about yourself. The lessons will be invaluable.

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