The things you learn after three months without booze

I blogged a few weeks ago, from the halfway point of my first ever ‘HSM Challenge’ – a three-month period completely off the booze. I’ve now reached the end, and here’s a brief summary of what I discovered:

The first couple of days were disorienting, and I received unsolicited feedback from my spouse that I was a grumpy bugger who had better watch his step.

After the first week, the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and the benefits became very obvious:

Not drinking for three months: a timeline

After the first month, my old habits started to fade away and it didn’t feel odd to spend a weekend without a drink. (I was also slightly disturbed by how surprised my kids were when they saw I wasn’t drinking wine in the evenings.)

After the first six weeks, my usual pre-dinner conversations with my wife started to feel normal again and I didn’t miss the tongue-loosener.

After the first two months, I began to take the new benefits for granted – they became the new normal, and I began to feel I’d hit ‘peak benefit’.

By three months I’d read more books than usual and painted a couple of rooms in the house in the evenings after work, but apart from that there was no noticeable change to domestic productivity.

Other observations

I didn’t lose any weight, but I wasn’t particularly aiming to, and I probably compensated for the lost alcohol calories with ice-cream and chocolate.

We seemed to be invited to other peoples’ places less often over the three-month period than is normal. One friend wondered aloud whether HSM was a cult that I’d been caught up in, and some others asked if I was responding to a booze-induced medical crisis.

I discovered that zero-alcohol wines are pretty awful, and best avoided. Zero alcohol ‘spirits’ and botanicals are either insipid or medicinal-tasting when you first try them, but they do start to grow on you, and they are worth the effort. On the other hand, zero-alcohol beers are surprisingly good, and I’ll keep drinking them even though the three months is up.

Oddly for someone who only occasionally drinks spirits, the real craving during this period was for scotch, not my usual tipple, red wine.

What’s next after three months without alcohol?

I thought a lot about extending the HSM Challenge out to six months. In the end I decided not to, but instead I’m going to do three more random dry months during the rest of this year. I’ve also decided to use the dry spell as a way of resetting how I drink, so I’ll stick to a few new rules: never more than 3 days in a row, even during holidays; stay under 14 standard drinks a week, and no more knee-jerk drinking without thinking about it.

Overall, the three dry months have been a useful experience. Would I recommend it for everyone? Actually, I would: I’ve learned some unexpected things about myself and have developed a more cautious view about habitual, casual drinking. I have no ambitions to become a complete abstainer, but I want to maintain a more mindful relationship with alcohol and be aware of some of the more subtle effects that can creep up on you, unnoticed.

Roger, Marketing Manger, Hello Sunday Morning.

 

This reasonates with me so much! I did 100 days over summer and felt almost the same on all counts. So nice to read and inspiring me to do a few more months this year 🙂

Well written… thanks for sharing!

Good balanced article. I did 2 weeks off in Feb, and had similar benefits as Roger. It also allowed me to recalibrate. I now frequently have three afd’s per week, sometimes more, and gives me much more clarity when I do, and better sleep. I am 66, working full time with a professional practice, and find I am much more productive without alcohol. I still enjoy the release of it when I have it, so am not yet ready to totally abstain, although the less I drink, the more alcohol adversely affects me. I lost 4 kg while abstaining, in conjumction with Mosley’s Fast800

Great thank you completed the challenge but personally feel a little sad that you don’t want to carry on. Having said that each to their own and if you don’t have a problem with it then I guess there’s no need. From personal experience when I used to say to myself, “only three days in a row, or .. only on weekends .. or .. will limit myself to x per week ..” it was the beginning of realising I had a problem with it. Not saying you have but personally now just don’t understand the real need for it when life is so much better without it. Anyway, like I said great effort on the three months either way and loved the message about your life improving 🙂

I really enjoyed reading this article and it inspired me to continue with my Dry April (with the intention to extend that period to 15 May). I’m only in day three and havent experienced an official dry weekend yet although i have had dry weekends in rhe past as a try out. My husband is not happy at all, neither are our drinking buddies. I’m sofar quite enjoying it and without negative pressure i can do it. In fact, with negative pressure i can do it too, i just get tired of justifying. Thank you for sharing.

I too have been on a three month Odessey of not drinking and have found the journey to be life changing. Going from drinking daily for many years to zero was a challenge but so worth it. 10 kilos lighter and a world away from where I started I cannot believe the changes in my life. Not just physical, but the mental clarity is awesome!! I feel like someone else, or a younger version of me in my pre-drinking days. I have no intention of returning to a daily drinker, and love my new sober and purposeful life. Thank you HSM for being my companion on this life journey.

I’m useing Drinkaware which is a Uk website where you track your drinking. I’ve gone from daily drinking to four to five days a week alchohol free and find similar things. Mental clarity improved enormously and I’ve got more money! Just finished reading “ The sober diary’s “ Very funny account of one ladies battle with the wine witch.

I gave it up for Lent, and am now in my 4th week of 6. Having been a daily drinker for decades, this is hard. Very hard. I am feeling many of the benefits Roger describes above, but I am still counting the days until Easter. Hardest is sitting down to a first-class dinner without an appropriate glass or two of wine. And foregoing that ice-cold ale after a hard day on the golf course. We shall see.

Seems like a good honest appraisal for a 3 month AF challenge – well done! It’s a facinating liquid. It holds so much power in our lives. I believe most people are hooked – just in varying degrees. I know very few people who started out drinking in their teens and didn’t continue in one way or the other. I agree with the AF wines – especially the reds they are awful!

Good article – i did 2 months alcohol-free and had my first drink on 1st March……only had one night off since and am back to square 1. I think it may have to be total sobriety for me as I felt all the things you did and more but it all counts for nothing now – I wish I was the type who could have used my 2 months off to reset and manage my drinking but alas it doesn’t seem that I am!

I am thankful for this website. I drink almost every day and have for years. sometimes I am frightened because I can’t seem to just stop. Although I only have one or two a day for the most part, I have days where I can drink 3 or 4. I know one is too much for me. I have avoided reading the emails on from HSM because I am not ready to quit. Now I am committed to opening all your emails in the hopes that I become inspired and supported to take the alcohol free challenge. Thank you for being here HSM

Thanks all for your comments (helps to know we are all in together, wanting a better life) and Rodger for sharing your achievements and congrats to you… I just wanted to add a suggestion for all – I’m reading The Alcohol Experiment book by Annie Grace and have been AF for 22 days so far. Hellosundaymorning has been a great start to getting me thinking that things have got to change for me and Annie’s book has made it easier that expected – here’s to our health, it is our choice.

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