13 Lessons I Learned From Not Drinking For A Month
Okay, fine. It was 23 days technically, but it damn near felt like an eternity. Let me start by saying I’m not an alcoholic. I know people think it’s hip to playfully hint at alcoholism when referring to the way they drink, but that’s not me. I only failed the month due to a birthday.
I do, however, drink a lot. I work in an open office with both a keg and a fully-stocked bar. On top of that, I’m paid to drink and review whiskey so my desk is constantly loaded with bottles.
This whole thing came about after a particularly crippling hangover. I blame it on my recent condemnation of some highly-effective hangover pills I was sent—which, in retrospect, may have been a terrible idea. Based on the condition of my brain and my stomach, I decided to spend a month sober. It was a lot harder than I ever could have imagined and now I love drinking more than ever. This is what I learned.
1. The first week was bad—like beginning-of-Trainspotting badWhen the novelty of a clear head and a five o’clock can of non-alcoholic seltzer wore off and the reality of my actions set in, I found myself feeling incredibly left out—as if everyone was at a party without me. I swear this damn office hosted a happy hour every single day after I decided to quit drinking. Okay, maybe giving up alcohol for a month is a far cry from heroin withdrawal, but it wasn't fun.
2. You will NOT know what to do with your handsOne of the biggest problems I had was a persistent phantom chill in my left hand. I simply didn’t know what to do with my hands when my friends were drinking. Honestly, I felt the need to start smoking again. This damn fashion trend of tight pants makes it very hard to put them in your pockets.
3. Not drinking alcohol makes your bladder straight-up weepI drank so much water when I cut myself off from booze. Everywhere I went, glasses of water or cans of Diet Coke found their way into my sweaty palms. Because I ended up overcompensating, the amount of liquid that entered my body couldn’t have been less than a quart an hour. I couldn’t stop peeing.
4. Whisky-fueled conversations aren’t interesting unless you, too, are whisky-fueledI made it a point to continue accompanying my friends to bars and finally started listening to the actual conversations around me. Conversations I would have been a part of before this hellish time. Conversations that spurred scores of inside jokes, hilarious puns, and the kinds of high whistles only dogs can hear. I felt totally out of touch and awkward, like a dad driving his kid’s friends to the mall.
5. Not drinking saves you a TON of moneyI figured this would happen, but was genuinely shocked when I found myself with a surplus of cash at the end of the month. It was as if Planet Earth paid me $100 to stop having fun for a few weeks.
6. Being sober really cuts down on stupid fightsI mean, it definitely wasn’t a coincidence that my girlfriend and I got along together better during my month of not drinking. Turns out there are better ways to solve arguments than by yelling loudly into a phone.
7. Late-night sober subway rides are really weirdThis one is complicated and a little depressing, but here we go: I used to live close to work, so I hardly ever took the subway home. Whenever I did, it would be on the weekend on the way to and from a bar. It dawned upon me, as I rode the F train at midnight, that I hadn’t been on a subway sober in over two years. It was...fine.
8. Quitting alcohol is like hunting the world’s deadliest game: manIt’s really hard to do, but a necessary evil if you really want to step back and examine your life with a set of clear eyeballs. For the record, I’ve never hunted a man, only read that gripping story by Richard Connell in 9th grade english class. Here is the full text. It’s still amazing.
9. The weight loss is worth itThe beer belly is a real problem and it’s actually pretty easy to get rid of. I lost four pounds during the month. Of course, I gained them right back after the month was over, but at least I knew I could do it.
10. Everyone makes fun of youI remember one night at a bar where I couldn’t stop myself from staring longingly at the bottles behind the bartender. Through my glassy-eyed gaze, I managed to order two Diet Cokes and the guy asked me if I wanted any “adult drinks.” I laughed and muttered “ass-hat” under my breath—well, I wanted to. Bartenders have really good hearing.
11. You’ll grow a very real, very deep fondness for alcoholFor a month I saw nothing but ice-cold bottles of beer, flowing rivers of wine, and glorious shots. It was like the end of Return of The Jedi when Luke sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker. I missed alcohol like I missed a significant other. I kept seeing mirages of champagne like Captain Haddock in the desert. But even if I could drink them, I would be cheating myself.
12. The birthday drink is unavoidableSilly me for planning this ridiculous stunt 23 days before my birthday. I realized my grave mistake two weeks in and, yada yada yada, that’s why I couldn’t last a full month. If anyone asks, I was forced with a funnel.
13. Not drinking for a while will really make you appreciate drinkingI remember my first celebratory drinks on my birthday. Bud diesel, Dos Equis, Miller High Life, PBR. So good. I know what you’re thinking you BeerAdvocate snob—those beers are mild, like seltzer water. But you know what? You’re wrong. DEAD WRONG. I drank seltzer for a month—okay, fine, 23 days—and they are nothing like seltzer. They are beautiful and delicious and the pinnacle of human achievement.
Jeremy Glass has won Supercompressor's Employee of The Year trophy two years in a row now, which is so rad.