This month I decided to host a Sober September Challenge over in the private Facebook Group we have. The goal was to go 30 days without drinking alcohol. While I personally have not had a drink in over 4 months, there have been a number of times that I had no alcohol for a month (or more). Here’s what happened in just 30 days.
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Why Give Up Alcohol For A Month?
Before I begin I want to explain why I decided to give up alcohol for a month.
The first time I quit drinking for 30 days was so I could lose weight, and make exercise a more regular part of my routine. I realized that my nightly drinking was the main reason I wasn’t able to get to the gym and stay consistent with exercising.
Another reason I have given up alcohol for more than a few days was just to see if I could. When I started going to therapy, I knew I wouldn’t receive the full benefits from treatment without numbing myself with alcohol.
However, I stopped drinking this year because alcohol wasn’t doing anything for me except causing more problems.
It made me feel worse, took away all of my energy, and led to some pretty stupid decisions.
Since alcohol is a depressant, it was making my Depression much worse. Not only did I hate the way I felt, I also hated the way I looked, acted, and functioned.
What Happened After Having No Alcohol For A Month?
I felt better
First of all, I felt much better even after a few days. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely thought about drinking. I even craved for it at some points; but the improvement in my mood and the way my body felt is what kept me on the straight and narrow.
Also, I had more energy because I wasn’t hungover anymore, and started eating real food. I was also able to focus more; whether this was due to the lack of a pounding headache, or my brain functioning at a higher level, all I knew was that it was better.
One of the biggest changes I noticed was that I started dreaming again. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had a dream (that I could remember); it was as though this whole new world opened up that I was able to to enjoy again.
After giving up alcohol I was also able to sleep longer. When I was binge drinking, I would always wake up at the crack of dawn, no matter the time I finally laid down for bed. It’s as though I was woken up because my brain was no longer at this certain threshold of alcohol content, and it could be alert again.
I was Less LaZY
Now because I was feeling better, sleeping better, and less depressed, I was also a lot less lazy. I’d have the energy to go outside and face the world. I wasn’t an isolated vampire hiding from the blinding sun anymore.
Back when I was drinking, my whole week
end would be planned around well… my drinking. I didn’t make plans to do anything fun (unless that fun involved consuming alcohol).
Now I was going out to just hang with friends, taking up new hobbies, and cooking a lot more.
I lost weight
This was probably one of the biggest changes from when I had no alcohol for a month. I started losing weight even in the times when I wasn’t working out. I learned that alcohol has a lot of calories… like really a lot…
The worst part is that alcohol has empty calories, or those with no nutritional value. So I was actually adding 500-600 calories to myself everyday without being able to use them, and then on top of all of that I was barely moving.
Also, when drinking I would make poor decision in regards to what I was eating. Not only was I too lazy and exhausted to cook, but when the night started coming to an end I might have a snack or two to try and avoid a hangover the next day.
When the hangover did arrive, my favorite thing to eat was oily, cheesy pasta from the cafeteria, and I would have 2 or 3 bowls!
The Sugar Cravings were real
This might seem odd, given the weight loss I experienced after I stopped drinking alcohol for a month, but the sugar cravings were present regardless.
Alcohol contains sugars, and without going into to much detail about gut health, microbiomes, and bacteria, once I stopped drinking, my body was trying to replace those alcohol sugars with something else (any other type of sugar).
I could usually satisfy this craving with fruit, but in the beginning the cravings were strong.
I Saved tons of Money
Remembering the last bar tab I had, and I’m ashamed to say that I spent $52 on three drinks. I know I shouldn’t have gone for that third one, but at that point my ability to make better decisions was already tainted.
Even when buying alcohol from the store and drinking at home, I still spent close to $200-300 a month on alcohol.
Now, every month that I am alcohol-free I have more money to spend on what matters, such as food, life experiences, and savings.
I Became More Aware of the role alcohol played in my life
The last point I want to make is that once I gave up alcohol I was able to step back and see how much of an affect it was making on me. My social life was dependent on it, my health suffered from it, and my bank account cried about.
I started to notice how alcohol was glorified everywhere I turned (on TV, billboards, social media, in grocery stores, at restaurants, etc.), and how much I
needed wanted that drink.
It was a huge part of my lifestyle without me even knowing, but once I gave myself a break I was able to open myself up to new things that I could enjoy without the fog of alcohol over my head.
What if You can’t quit drinking for 30 days straight?
Do you want to try and have absolutely no alcohol for a month? If you are having difficulty when you try to stop drinking, this may or may not be a warning sign.
Severe withdrawal symptoms include shakiness, sweating, or increased heart rate. If you experience any of this, speak with your doctor immediately.
If you found that you “caved in“, and had a drink when you were in the middle of your 30 day dry period, this is not necessarily a sign of addiction. Only a professional can really determine this though.
Before you beat yourself up, think about the timing of your month-long hiatus. This could play a role in your ability to stick to the plan. If you are trying to start in November or December this is probably not going to work. During the holidays, a family might have a glass of wine or whiskey as a way of bonding.
A Dry January might be a better option. There is usually less traveling, and everyone’s routines go back to normal.
If you think you may have an underlying addiction, set up an appointment with a therapist.
If you have health insurance you will want to check with your provider, but if you need low cost therapy that isn’t through insurance, I recommend BetterHelp.
The cost is extremely affordable (only $40-$70 a week!) because they offer convenient, online therapy that doesn’t come with the same costs as a traditional office. You can give it a try here, and if you don’t like it after 7 days you can always say no thanks!