I stopped drinking for six weeks — here are 10 surprising things I learned from my period of sobriety

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  • If you stop drinking, even for a brief period, it can alter your perspective of alcohol consumption.
  • Here, author Bob Curley details 10 lessons he learned from being sober for six weeks.

 

Nearly everyone who enjoys a good drink has joked at some point about giving their liver a break. After a recent medical procedure, I did it in real life for health reasons.

I didn’t touch an alcoholic drink for a month and a half — or, as I like to say, my longest period of stone-cold sobriety since I started drinking as a teenager.

I’m back to moderate drinking now, but some of the lessons I learned those six weeks have stuck with me.

Here are 10 things that surprised me when I temporarily quit drinking:

1. Nearly all social interactions involve some sort of alcohol.

The first thing I did when I decided to lay off the booze was to look at my calendar. It was pretty daunting: Over the course of the upcoming six weeks was a vacation to Las Vegas, a business trip to Florida, a dinner date with my wife, various pickup hockey games, a guys’ trip to Boston for a ski show, and an overnight in New York City.

Under normal circumstances, I’d be drinking during every one. My first lesson: don’t underestimate how hard it is to avoid alcohol.

2. Few restaurants and bars offer decent alternatives to alcohol.

Non-alcoholic beer and wine exist, but you’d be hard-pressed to find either at a bar or restaurant. One New York eatery was kind enough to list a couple of non-alcoholic drinks on their cocktail menu, but mostly I was limited to sipping water or various mixers, like cola, ginger beer, and cranberry juice.

 

3. Nobody really cares whether you drink or not.

It definitely feels awkward the first few times you’re out and someone asks for your drink order. But I found that if you don’t offer an explanation of why you don’t want a beer, wine, or cocktail, nobody actually asks why. Your friends will happily sip their own drinks in blissful disregard of your profound exercise in self-control.

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