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5 Unexpected Benefits of Sobriety
When it comes to quitting drinking, there are the obvious, expected benefits—like improved health and the ability to keep yourself out of dangerous situations. But there are also many fringe benefits that most of us never saw coming when we signed up for sobriety.
Here are five of sobriety’s more pleasant surprises:
- You Will Save Money: It seems like most alcoholics don’t truly realize just how much moola we spent on drinking until we stop. Although we loved to rationalize our financial choices, a night out could really add up. The cost of just a few (or more) drinks, plus tip, cab, drugs and/or 4 a.m. pizza—multiplied by however many times a week we went out—can easily amount to at least a few hundred bucks a month. Now that we’re sober, dining out is more economical—Diet Coke is way cheaper than overpriced cocktails or craft beers. And water is free! And we’re probably not making those impulsive late-night trips to the ATM. No matter your income, making ends meet is bound to get a lot easier when you’re sober. It’s common for a speaker to make everyone laugh with an absurd old drinking story or witty observation.
- AA Is Actually Fun: People who have never actually set foot in an AA meeting might assume it’s the most depressing place on earth. Movies tend to depict 12-step meetings as a place where broken and dysfunctional people sit slumped around a coffee pot, ruing their mistakes. So if you do end up at a meeting, you might be surprised to find yourself actually enjoying it. It’s common for a speaker to make everyone laugh with an absurd old drinking story or witty observation. AA meetings are often full of vibrant people who are actively enjoying being present in their own lives and in the lives of others. Plus, AA is the nucleus for many social outings—like dances, trips to the beach and “fellowships” at brightly-lit diners.
- You Will Make New Friends: One of the biggest fears many of us have about getting sober is that people won’t want to hang out with us anymore. We learned to equate socializing with drinking. But in reality, when our drinking got to its worst, most of us were actually isolating much of the time. We may have ditched some friends who thought we boozed too much—or we may have been ditched because of our behavior. Getting sober gives you many opportunities to make new friends, whether it’s in rehab, at AA meetings, at the gym, or during whatever other activities take the place of drinking. Some old friends might reappear now that we’re not constantly slurring our words. Also, we tend to show up for things—friends’ birthdays, picnics, family events. We answer our phone calls (ok, sometimes). We might have so many friends, in fact, that the biggest problem is how to make time for them all!
- You Look Better: One thing that many people in recovery don’t expect are the compliments from friends on how good we look, like: “Your skin looks amazing!” and “Did you lose weight?” Cutting out toxins and 1,200 nightly beer calories can make a big difference, fast. But in addition to physical changes, we might find ourselves happier and more radiant now that we don’t have a hangover every day and aren’t full of shame and regret. A recent Daily Mail article described a woman who found her complexion hugely enhanced after giving up wine for just five weeks. Vanity may not be the main reason we got sober, but it sure helps motivate us to stay that way!
- You Become the Person People Reach Out to for Help: When you have a drinking problem, life can get messy. And it might be hard to imagine that anyone would ever turn to you for advice (unless they were looking for a cheap happy hour or a drug hook-up). But part of being able to spend an evening out sober means that people may begin to perceive you as someone who actually has their act together. Nothing can really prepare you for that first time you hear from someone who is thinking about quitting drinking and wants to know how you did it. Without you even realizing it, others may begin to see you as an ideal employee, roommate, partner or friend. They might even look up to you as someone who illustrates the type of behavior they themselves strive for. Nothing can really prepare you for that first time you hear from someone who is thinking about quitting drinking and wants to know how you did it. Surprise! You’ve become someone who others turn to for help. It feels good.
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