Updated: Jul 15, 2019
One of the many #myths that exists in our world is the idea that alcohol creates fun and ultimately, makes us fun. We believe that #alcohol acts as a social lubricant, making us freer and more able to go with the flow. When we imbibe, our inhibitions are lowered (is that a good thing?) and our #brain functions at a slower pace, meaning we are processing things more slowly and our intellectual capacity is watered down a bit, which means the quality of our conversation declines and we find things entertaining that we normally wouldn’t. Fun, right?
This myth exists partially because of clever marketing on behalf of alcohol companies. They are playing on our fears and insecurities around love, acceptance and belonging (what all humans need and crave) by suggesting that love, acceptance and belonging are derived from booze or at the very least, facilitated by drinking. Therefore, in the absence of booze, we think we will lose what we need and crave.
When we drink, #dopamine (the feel good chemical) is released into your brain’s “reward centre”, which is the area of the brain that is impacted by all pleasurable activities like hanging out with friends, going on vacation, getting a raise at work, etc. The more we drink, the more dopamine we produce, tricking our bodies into believing that we’re experiencing pleasure and enjoyment - that we’re having more fun.
We drink to achieve the feel good sensations that come along with increased levels of dopamine and over time, we become hooked not only on the feelings associated with drinking but also on alcohol itself as its a wildly #addictive substance. Over time, the dopamine effect diminishes and becomes non-existent though we keep drinking in the hopes that it will give us a boost of the good feels. And simultaneously behind the scenes, alcohol alters our brain chemicals in a way that enhances feelings of depression. Super fun!
To sum it up, alcohol tricks our brain into thinking it’s having a good time so we drink more and more to achieve this feeling until all the dopamine has dried up and not only are we more likely to be addicted to alcohol, we’re also experiencing an increase in depressive episodes and symptoms. If that doesn’t scream fun, I don’t know what does!
When we engage in heavy drinking, not only are we altering our brains and bodies but we’re creating strong #habits and associations with drinking. The good news: we can reverse this cycle. The bad news: it takes some time. And effort.
So where do we go from here?
The first step is to quit drinking. I know, I know … this is challenging and I’ve been there. But it’s doable. And I promise you that FUN WILL BE HAD in your new sober life.
Below are some hard truths you need to hear before proceeding to your fun new sober life. And if you're looking for some tips on how to set yourself up for inevitable success in your sobriety, click here.
Things will be different. Of course they will be! It will be an entirely different experience doing things sober compared to doing things drunk. But that’s good! You now have the opportunity to enjoy things in a present, clear-headed way plus you’re actually remember your experiences.
It will take some time to adjust. You may not immediately feel comfortable in your own sober skin and that’s okay. With time, it will get more comfortable and enjoyable. Also, your brain needs time to restore itself after extended periods of increased dopamine levels. When I quit drinking, I literally thought (and felt) like I would never have fun again. Now, this couldn’t be further from my truth or my experience. But it takes time. Be patient, stick with it and know that it will get better.*
Take a few minutes to really reflect on what you think alcohol gives you. Chances are when you get really honest with yourself, alcohol is not serving the purpose that you intended and you can achieve everything you hoped for and more without #booze. #Blackouts are not fun. Not knowing how you got home last night is not fun. Hangovers are not fun. Saying and doing things you regret and feel shame over is not fun. It’s alcohol that brings blackouts, hangovers, and #shame into your life. There is absolutely nothing fun about these things.
Below is a list of fun things to try. May it inspire you to do something new or create your own list of fun things!
Spend time with friends; the #connection is real and you’ll remember everything the next day plus you won’t have that pesky worry in the back of my head that you said or did something you’ll need to apologize for later
Go to the movies
Move your body
Sex (daunting but doable and waaaaay better than drunk sex)
Try new restaurants
Take day trips to new cities and towns
Go tubing in the summer
Have a picnic in the park
Explore new neighbourhoods that you aren’t familiar with
Grab some friends and attempt an adult obstacle course
Go apple picking in the fall
Try out new cafes
Get a massage
Write a book
Join a sports team or take up a new solo sport
Take language lessons
Learn how knit/crochet/embroider/paint
Organize flash mob
The list could go on forever. The world is your oyster so don’t be shy about exploring it. Also, be patient with yourself in this process. You are re-learning how to have fun without drinking. But trust that you know how to do this. You likely had a ton of fun as a kid and you also likely weren’t drunk then.
Everything you look for in alcohol can actually be found in #sobriety. Including fun.
* In some cases, we use alcohol to numb extreme emotions, like anxiety and depression. If you find that you’re experiencing severe depression or anxiety after you’ve been off booze for a while, it could be indicative of a larger issue. Please reach out to your medical professional for support.