Bye, bye drinking alcohol...

AlcoholThere are many reasons for why people might decide to give up alcohol. It doesn't have to mean that the person is an alcoholic or even that they have any problems from drinking.

Don't get me wrong here, I love to drink things that most people don't: cheap wine, cheap beer, palinca -- yeah, I am Romanian (and Romanians like to drink, not as much as Russians, but still a lot), so palica is like milk to me. After a long day or busy week, it seems so right to knock back a cold one, have a shot (or sometimes more than that) of palinca, or hit the bar with my friends and coworkers.

** Why the heck would I do that **

I won't bore you with the details, so let's just say that three years ago, just because I was struck down with a case of having an enormous penis, several vials of blood were taken for various tests, all of them coming back positive for an overwhelming feeling of reverence, which I was already fully aware of. What I didn't expect, however, was the doctor's first question when explaining my results.

"So... how much do you drink per day? Because for some reason your liver is already showing signs of shutting down. You're 34, and if it goes like this you'll be dead before 40."

Back then the doctor asked me to immediately start a strict diet which basically banned almost everything. In the end it turned out that I had CMV infection which affected my liver. Just to have a scale of factor how bad I was, please consider the fact that I am 178cm tall and I dropped from ~65kg to 53kg. Of course, I started to drink again when I recovered! :)

Too much alcohol is quite harmful to our cells, this detoxification process is a pretty high priority for our body. That means that if our liver is busy dealing with alcohol, it will delay dealing with other nutrients.

Some people are able to drink sensibly; it is something they enjoy occasionally. It happened many times to say "let's have one beer and go home" and end up drinking way more than that. It also happened many times to say "no" to a beer drinking festival. What alcohol addiction means anyway? Well... significant hangovers and increase in time needed to recover from after-effects of alcohol use (we can also blame age for that, right?), increased amount of alcohol consumed because of increased tolerance, reduced attention to personal and professional responsibilities and things like that. So, do I have an alcohol addiction? Maybe, maybe not... I don't know and I don't care.

And last but not least, beyond the challenge of it, I also wanted to see whether it has any effect on my regular life. Beside this, there's the potential for headaches, fatigue, weakness and other hangover feelings that could really made me drag the next morning.

Conclusion: I decided to quit drinking. Maybe for an indefinite period of time or maybe not. I don't know, I will decide later.

** The challenge and how did I do it **

Just because I wasn't scared of dying, this whole "stop drinking" little thingy was totally different. It was a lot easier to give up alcohol than I thought it would be, which came as a big surprise.

There were times when I'd enviously eye beer can. Instead I drank a lot of sparking or still water, tea, natural fruit juice - and nobody cared.

Small decisions and concerns - stay dry today because it's possible to be the designated driver to go to the one of the local grocery stores to buy something, or whether I was getting a little too tipsy. So the less I thought about alcohol, the easier it was to avoid it.

In the early stages, it was a good idea to avoid situations where I may was tempted to drink. I started to be at work around 7am and leave the office at 4 or 4.30pm when nobody could ask me to go to Dubliner to have a nice refreshing beer. There was a flip side to that coin. I started to spend more time with my daughter and my wife and that was the main positive thing that came out of this quit drinking thing.

The first thing to go during detoxification is the mind. It starts to wander. Short-term memory misfires. The simplest tasks will require as much focus as defusing a time bomb. The smallest things would irritate me into a full-blown rage. Little annoyances, like the person who was sitting at the same picnic table as me who wouldn't stop knocking the table. I wanted get a gun and murder him and all of the other people in the world who had failed to murder him up to that point.

I don't believe in the "gradually reduce" approach and I advocate for tough approaches. When I said to myself no more alcohol, I stopped drinking alcohol right away. Not a single sip of anything, no cheating!

Having one heavy late night out - the kind after which you don't necessarily want to drink for a while - definitely helped, but that is not the point, right? :)

One other thing... for most the people out there is easy if they're make their intentions public. Why should I have unnecessary discussions like explaining why I am doing this and what I expect to achieve? No sir, not me, I kept everything to myself.

** Things I noticed and learned after quitting drinking **

It always seemed to me that everybody drinks alcohol, but once I stopped drinking, I realized that lots of other people weren't drinking either. I don't know why, but for some reason this was really odd.

Another thing which quite surprised me was that when we went out to our regular pub, to have our regular beers, after 5 non-alcoholic beers I did enjoy the feeling of being in control. In other words I saw things in a different light than before. Alcohol made the guys not only make them talkative but also argumentative. Alcohol fueled conversations can seem deep and meaningful at the time but the next day, once everyone is sober they can be hard to remember or not worth remembering. The darker side to this is that they could say things they later deeply regret (didn't happen but it could have happened - later edit: it happened; sorry Chris!). Alcohol-free living means no more mornings filled with regrets. And that is priceless.

Drinking at home or alone wasn't that fun and I didn't get enough enjoyment out of it.

I haven't noticed a magical improvement of my health habits, but some small things like no more dry mouth and nose in the mornings, no more dry and aged skin, my face cleared up almost instantly -- people told me how much better I look.

I have more time to get stuff done.

I have more money. I leave in Sweden, where the alcohol is extremely expensive. The costs of going out to a pub and having seven beers is around 55 euro. I could make a nice gift to my daughter or my wife with that money or just save them.

I started to feel remarkably better within just a couple of days. I felt I my body had have a renewed energy and vitality.

I no longer worry about having a supply of booze. Gone will be the days of worrying about how much alcohol I have, or if the store is still open, or if I have enough for the night. I am free from this worry!

The only downside was that I felt less social for a while. Now this feeling is gone.

  1. I see alcohol nowadays mostly as a social catalyst. There are also people using it as a way to deal with stressful life (situations). Anyhow it was demonstrated that too much will kill you. How much is too much? It clearly depends on the individual.

    If you found that is bad for you than the best thing you can do is stop drinking it. But if you try to make a case out of this saying "Alcohol is bad for everyone, at anytime, in any quantity!" you did not convinced me.

    • "Alcohol is bad for everyone, at anytime, in any quantity" is not what I meant.

      Oscar Wilde once said, "Everything in moderation, including moderation". It is scientifically proven that in small quantities red wine can promote heart health. There are not so many people aware of the fact that even water can be poisonous and could be fatal (

      So, I guess the point of this story is that I wanted to make a change in my life. I haven't decided yet if this "Bye bye alcohol" thingy is permanent or not.

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