I thought sobriety was going to be a total drag. I imagined life would drag on, colorless and boring. How would I get through the day without that carrot of alcohol and drugs dangling at the end to pull me though?
Although it hasn’t exactly been a 24/7 joyride, the pros outweigh the cons – by a long shot.
Loving the Sober Life
Here are my seven favorite benefits of living a life without drugs and booze:
- No Hangovers
I used to wake up almost every day with a pounding headache and the feeling that every last drop of moisture had been turbo-vacuumed out of my body. Some days it took hours to drag myself out of bed. I often missed work or was late, or ended up napping at my desk, only to wake up groggy and embarrassed. And on weekends, I was often found curled up in fetal position for hours, instead of enjoying my free time.
Waking up clear-headed and pain-free never gets old. Without a hangover, I’m more productive at work, on time and (usually) able to stay awake. Nothing beats waking up on a Saturday morning without a hangover. Nothing.
- Being Healthier
When I was an active drunk, not only was I was funneling toxic booze into my body on the regular, but I was also stuffing myself with other drugs, smoking cigarettes, and binging on pizza and other junk food
late at night.
Not only was I putting myself at risk for long-term health issues, I felt constantly fatigued, got sick often, and suffered frequent aches and pains, both from hangovers and drinking-related injuries. Within weeks of quitting drinking, people noticed a physical change. I lost weight, my skin regained a youthful glow, I lost the redness in my face and the bags under my eyes. Sure, it feels good to be told “you look great!” But it feels even better to not be at war with my body. I have more energy. I get sick a lot less. And if someone lives in a fourth story walk-up, I don’t have to bail on dinner plans because I’m unable to make it up the stairs.
- Saving Money
A nightly booze habit will drain your bank account quickly—between drinks, cabs and a whole lot of cash that just “disappears” during a night out. Back in the day, I rarely had any money to spend on anything outside of my habit.
I’m not saying I’m a member of the one-percent now, but I’ve paid off my credit card debt and have a little leftover for going to restaurants, movies, new clothes and even the occasional vacation. Vacation! I never understood how people could afford to travel. Now I get it – they save their money instead of
spending it all on booze.
- Doing What I Love
As a drunk, I worked a string of unfulfilling jobs to make ends meet. My life revolved around drinking, so I worked in places that let me indulge my habits, mainly in the service industry. I wanted to pursue writing and comedy. But I spent all my time pursuing the bottle instead.
When I got sober, it became too painful not to pursue my passions. I took classes and started writing and performing. Though it took years of hard work, I now do both of those things full-time and even get paid for it. I couldn’t have done this back when my butt was planted on a bar stool.
- Being Present In the Moment
Sure, being present isn’t always the best. I’ve been on a few bad dates that made me wish I had been plastered out of my mind. But then I find myself doing things like going on a really good date (it does happen!), dancing at a friend’s wedding, at the movies with friends or taking a walk on a crisp, fall day. And during these moments I get to soak it all in – not drunk, high or hungover. I am completely present and aware that life can be pretty damn good just as it is.
- Remembering Things
I was a blackout drunk, meaning I would wake up and, just like the movie Memento, I’d have to retrace my steps from the night before, seeking physical clues of my whereabouts and asking my friends “what happened?” and “oh, god, what did I do?” This was often followed by apologies for transgressions I had no recollection of committing.
I lost hours upon hours of time and memories I can never get back. Luckily, in sobriety, I always know what I did the night before. I get to remember the good times. And I remember the bad times, too, but at least I have many fewer apologies to make.
- Using My Experience to Help Others
Being able to help other people get clean might be the number one benefit of sobriety. As a drunk, I only thought about myself and where my next drink would come from. I was of no help to anyone – I was the one who needed help. In my own journey to sobriety, I’m not a saint or anything. But by sharing my experience, strength and hope, I’ve been able to give back.
It’s not exactly an alcohol buzz, but being of service feels good in a different, longer-lasting way…minus the hangover.
Additional Reading: 5 Recovering Alcoholic Behaviors to Support Long-Term Sobriety
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