It’s been one year without alcohol for me… and I’ve learned quite a bit.  One year ago today, I decided to do the 75 Hard Challenge.  Part of that was no alcohol.  Honestly, I thought it would be a lot harder because I loved some margaritas! But surprisingly, it was like… I had no cravings for it at all. Even when I went out for Mexican (my poor waiter seemed concerned when I ordered water)!

*Please note that I use the word “sober,” and for some, that may be offensive. I know my situation with alcohol was not nearly the rock bottom that some people have experienced.  But I think everyone has their journey.  It doesn’t look the same for any of us.  We are all fighting our own battles.  I don’t mean to offend anyone by my use of the term “sober.”*

One Year Without Alcohol

When people ask me about alcohol, I say… “Oh, I’ve been sober for ___ (fill in the blank with time).” I said that to a nurse when I was in the emergency room, and she wound up apologizing for mentioning alcohol.  I had to explain that it wasn’t like I’d been a huge alcoholic… And even this morning, someone said something about how when I say I’m “sober” it sounds like I was an alcoholic.  But let me explain. While I don’t think I was a raging alcoholic, I know I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.  I wasn’t drinking every day or anything.  But I would have “bad days” and think, “Man, I need a drink or two.”  And then there were times when I would have a few too many on the weekends, and just not feel good about it.  There was the waking up with a hangover (which has gotten worse the older I’ve gotten) and the anxiety of wondering if I did or said anything stupid. Overall, I just wasn’t making the best choices for myself.

So when I started the 75 Hard Challenge, I honestly thought… okay, just 75 days.  But then, after that was over… I thought, “Can I go 90 days?” I’m the type of person who’s always challenging and testing myself.  Not that it’s always a good thing… because burnout is real! But I kept pushing myself to see how far I could go. And after 3 months, I still wasn’t missing or craving alcohol at all.  Plus, during that time, I was also training for a half marathon and didn’t want to set myself back on that with alcohol either.

What I’ve Learned

First of all, I’ve learned… there’s nothing wrong with not drinking! And it’s nice to wake up feeling good each day.  I don’t need alcohol to de-stress or to have fun.  I’m perfectly happy sticking with my water!

But, I also learned… You sometimes have to defend yourself for NOT drinking.  I heard someone on #SoberTok (Sober TikTok) talk about alcohol being the only “drug” you have to explain NOT using.  I find this to be very true.  In today’s society, drinking is so common.  When you don’t drink, people look at you like you have 2 heads!

Also, I don’t shame anyone who chooses to drink, or who chooses not to drink.  We all have our own goals and reasons.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with drinking, as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else.  And I’m not saying I won’t EVER drink again.  I think my biggest fear is whether I’ll be able to drink in major moderation.  I don’t want to get back to drinking frequently, if at all.  I’m also a bit afraid of the hangover!  Again, I like waking up feeling good… not sure I want to risk it.

On top of all of that, I unintentionally lost some weight.  But when you think of how many calories you consume in each drink, it makes sense.  Oh, and you can’t forget the confidence I gained.  I realized I can do anything I put my mind to! That’s empowering!

Support, Don’t Shame!

Lastly, sobriety can be lonely.  Sometimes people don’t invite you to things or want to hang out because you don’t drink.  Which is okay… but also a bit sad.  Granted, being the only sober one can be a bit… annoying too.  If you’ve ever been the only sober person in the midst of a lot of drinking, you probably know what I mean!

If you or someone you know is on a journey to drinking less, or not at all, don’t shame them.  And don’t assume they don’t want to spend time with you!  Just because we don’t drink doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!  Here are some tips from Greatist on supporting sober friends!