It took me decades of questioning my relationship to alcohol before giving it up completely. I was terrified that a life without alcohol would be boring and deprived. Now, after five years of sobriety, I know this couldn’t be further from the truth. Getting rid of alcohol was the portal to living my best life, the complete opposite of what I was expecting. I am so excited to share a few reasons why I love living an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Health Benefits of Avoiding Alcohol
The health benefits of drinking less are countless. All in all, I feel better. My body feels good and functions well. When I was drinking, I was waking up hungover almost everyday. My first question of the day was “how bad do I feel?” Now, I wake up feeling like my happy, healthy self.
1. Boosted Immunity
Alcohol is known to weaken your overall immune system. Alcohol was making me sick, quite literally. My body was spending all its time trying to rid itself of alcohol that there was little left over to fight other infections, bugs, colds, flu, and more. Not to mention headaches, stomach issues, stress and anxiety all caused or exacerbated by alcohol. Now I feel good and remain healthy. When I do get sick, I recover faster. No pun intended.
2. Being More Hydrated
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes our kidneys to get rid of salt and water through urination. This is why we tend to have to pee more after we drink, and can quickly become dehydrated. Now that I have cut out alcohol, I’m better hydrated and naturally find myself drinking more water, sparkling water, and fruit-infused water.
3. Maintaining a Healthier Diet and Weight
There are several ways alcohol can affect your physical fitness. Many alcoholic drinks are high in ‘empty calories’, which can quickly lead to weight gain. Plus, alcohol impairs your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from foods. Lastly, unhealthy alcohol use often goes hand in hand with unhealthy eating, loss of appetite, or disrupted mealtimes. I experienced this firsthand. When I was drinking, greasy hangover food was a staple. I would overeat and then under-eat. I looked bloated in my “before” pictures. Now, that has changed. Cutting out alcohol improved my physical fitness, and my diet. In early sobriety I allowed myself a lot of treats for my sugar cravings, but that passed. I find myself eating healthier simply because I’m paying more attention to my body now.
4. Improved Sleep
One fear I had before ditching the drink was that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep without a nightcap. Learning more about alcohol and sleep helped me realize drinking was actually making my sleep worse. While alcohol can make us fall asleep faster, it decreases our quality of REM sleep, and causes us to wake up more frequently throughout the night. No wonder I was always in a bad mood! Now, I stick to an alcohol-free nighttime routine and wake up fully rested. I have found meditation to quiet my busy mind and, with practice, I am no longer afraid to be still with my thoughts. This has gone a long way towards improved sleep.
5. Avoiding Alcohol-Related Health Problems
Unhealthy alcohol use can increase the risk of many serious health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and liver disease. According to the World Health Organization, excessive alcohol use is responsible for 7.1% of disease among males and 2.2% among females.¹ My biggest fear when I was drinking was that a major alcohol-related health diagnosis was right around the corner. This filled me with so much shame. Now, I put my health first by drinking less. Carrying around less guilt and shame, less anxiety, and less stress is a gift to every single cell in my body.
Financial Benefits of Quitting Drinking
Even though I drank cheap wine, it got expensive to keep drinking. It seemed like alcohol was at least 30% of every restaurant bill. I was stopping daily to grab a bottle or two of wine. Not only did cutting out alcohol help me save money, but it made me more financially stable in other areas.
6. Saving Money From Not Buying Alcohol
When you stop drinking, you immediately get to benefit from savings you would have been spending on alcohol. It’s easy to lose track of just how much we’re spending on alcohol, and this saved money is a huge benefit you can put towards something meaningful in your life. To see how cutting out alcohol would affect your own finances, check out this alcohol spending calculator.
7. Saving Money on Other Purchases
Drinking also meant I spent more on Ubers, hangover food delivery, impulsive online shopping and more. Cutting out alcohol meant decreasing these other expenses. Sobriety also improved my mental clarity, which also has an impact on my spending. Feeling better about myself has led me to not needing to “prove” anything. I only buy things that I really value. We vote with our dollars. I have been more mindful in what I purchase and when, and this has made a huge difference on both my financial health and my overall happiness.
Support Group: Knowing and loving your authentic self
8. Less Missed Work
A study from Washington University School of Medicine showed that alcohol use disorder is linked to over 232 million missed work days each year.² Missed work can have a major impact on productivity, career development, and job stability. For me, sobriety meant a much improved relationship with work. For a long time, I was performing jobs that I was capable of doing, but I didn’t really love. Since quitting drinking, I have aligned with what is right for me. My weekends are more restorative. No more ‘Sunday Scaries’ when going back to work on Monday.
9. Career Path May Improve
As a sobriety coach, I often notice my clients experience positive career changes as they cut out drinking. With greater energy and productivity levels, they’re able to reach new career heights. I credit my sobriety for my ability to start my own business, and it was the best career decision of my life.
Social Benefits of Living Without Alcohol
As an extrovert, I was terrified of what losing alcohol would do to my social life. Some of my relationships faded away, but many grew stronger. In the end, the people who mattered supported my sobriety, and I’m now able to enjoy more authentic time with them.
10. Improved Relationships With Loved Ones
My relationships with my close friends and family have improved tremendously. I have become someone they can count on. I am a much happier and healthier person to be around, and that makes a difference. I have learned how to communicate my needs and create boundaries, and I have more to give to others. 90% of my relationships have improved since going alcohol-free. The few that didn’t withstand the change were painful to move away from, but ultimately necessary for my own healing.
11. Making New Friends
The best surprise in sobriety has been finding a new group of like-minded people. Sobriety is a great connector, and making friends in sobriety has been one of the best surprises of ditching the drink. My social calendar is full of fun alcohol-free activities and events. I have friends that still drink alcohol and I have new friends that don’t. Getting sober was a lonely journey at first, but finding community has made all the difference.
12. Being a Role Model for Others
Unhealthy alcohol use is often said to “run in families,” due to both genetic and environmental factors.³ Breaking the cycle of intergenerational alcohol use is an empowering experience. Being able to have my children witness firsthand what a happy alcohol-free life looks like is my greatest accomplishment. By walking away from alcohol, I have changed the trajectory for future generations. That is an incredibly powerful feeling.
Personal Benefits of Being Alcohol-Free
Besides the physical, financial, and social benefits, there are many other ways that sobriety has improved my personal life. These benefits are like a gift I give myself every day.
13. Waking Up Without a Hangover
This is an automatic game changer! Waking up and feeling good is the most natural way to be. I lived for decades without it and I never take it for granted. Every morning is a good morning when living alcohol-free.
14. Improved Energy and Mental Health
Alcohol can exacerbate and even cause long-term depression and anxiety. Cutting out alcohol has literally rewired my brain. My mental health has improved. My creative juices flow. I have more energy for new projects at work and at home. There is so much I want to accomplish in my lifetime and I finally have the energy and focus to make it happen.
15. More Self-Esteem
Getting sober built me. By breaking free from alcohol I was able to develop a relationship with myself that I never had before. The sober journey was one of self-discovery. Getting through the challenges of becoming sober has given me the confidence to handle anything that comes my way. This is probably the biggest benefit to sobriety. I’m now on my own team and I believe in myself.
There are so many reasons to love sobriety. After five years, I still discover new ones. It’s important to remember that many of these benefits take time to develop, and it’s normal to need support on your journey. Talking with a professional or a support group can help you learn strategies for combating cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and other challenges. At Monument, you can meet with a therapist, join virtual support groups, and talk to a physician about medication to help curb cravings. You don’t have to do this alone.
- World Health Organization. “Alcohol, https://www.who.int/health-topics/alcohol.” Accessed Feb 3, 2023.
- Washington University School of Medicine. “In U.S., alcohol use disorder linked to 232 million missed workdays annually, https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/in-u-s-alcohol-use-disorder-linked-to-232-million-missed-workdays-annually/.” Accessed Feb 3, 2023.
- Dev Psychopathol. “Intergenerational Influences on Early Alcohol Use: Independence from the Problem Behavior Pathway, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673777/.” Accessed Feb 3, 2023.