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What I Didn't Expect When I Stopped Drinking Alcohol

As I reflect on what 1,826 days without alcohol means to me, I struggle to know where to start. Words typically come fairly easy to me and I usually have a lot to say. The accomplishment of reaching five years without alcohol has been difficult to put into words, which simply shows how much this feat means to me. I don’t know where to start because there are so many reasons that I am thankful that I continue to not drink. No hangovers, spending less money, not making poor decisions, and being my true and authentic self are just some of the beautiful changes to my life I have experienced.

When I quit drinking on Sunday, October 30, 2016, I had no idea the profound effects my decision would have on my life. Quitting drinking and abstaining from alcohol was a necessary decision for me to be able to live my life in the way I wanted and accomplish my goals. If I didn’t quit drinking, I don’t know where I would be or what I would be doing because I was not the person I know I am or aspired to be when I was drinking. I knew I would begin to get to a better place mentally and start to feel better about the way I was living my life after I stopped drinking. What I didn’t know was how stopping drinking alcohol would bolster my confidence and self-esteem, completely change my view of myself, create deeper relationships with my friends and support system, and begin my journey of feeling comfortable talking about my feelings and emotions and working to destigmatize mental health in society. All these changes I have observed in myself are why I find it hard to put into words what these last five years have meant to me.

I can’t express how thankful I am that I was able to make this decision and stick to it throughout the last five years. To all those people in my life who accepted my decision and who will always love me no matter what, I will never be able to repay you for your love and support. You are everything to me and I love you all. People are always shocked when I tell them that during my journey quitting alcohol that I never received anybody pressuring me to drink or anybody who judged me for being “weird” or being a “loser.” To have that level of support and acceptance while making a super challenging decision was a large part of what allowed me to push through and stick to my decision. I can’t be more thankful for all the people that allow me to be me. After five years without alcohol, I am living as my authentic self and am so thankful as every day my decision is reaffirmed.

I will end with a message of hope to anyone who may be currently struggling with alcohol or substance dependence. I didn’t realize the empowerment and confidence that could come from making the decision to be sober. When you make a similar decision, you have the opportunity to improve yourself in ways you can’t anticipate and allow yourself to be closer to the place you want to be.

My pragmatic advice on beginning to become sober: start slowly and talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Nobody will judge you for trusting them and being vulnerable enough to open up to them. Your friends and family just want you to be happy with the life you are living and will support you in whatever you do. Once you understand that you will have support deciding to take a break or quit a negative habit, making the change won’t feel as daunting and can help you feel better.

Here’s to the next five years!

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