I Quit Drinking for 30+ Days and This Is What I Discovered
Before I dive into my experiment, I want to add the disclaimer that I do not drink daily nor in excess, but I do consider myself a social drinker.
What is a social drinker?
While there is no official definition of a social drinker, there are some generally accepted guidelines for safe drinking limits.
- Men aged 21 – 65 should have 14 drinks per week at most, with no more than 4 at any one sitting.
- Women and people over 65 should have 7 drinks per week at most, with no more than 3 at any one sitting.
While these guidelines may seem useful in identifying whether you are considered a social drinker by addiction guidelines, according to Addiction Resource, “They may have limited applicability. A true social drinking definition would have to factor in each person’s ability to handle alcohol, and there is no universal standard that allows us to do so.”
But for the purposes of this article, and by the above definition, I seem to fit into the category of a “social drinker.” I occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner or after a long day, and I enjoy a cocktail or two when I am out with the girls. I do not drink to “get drunk,” nor do I drive even after consuming just one adult beverage.
Why I Did an Alcohol Detox
That being said, the holidays are full of parties and family and social gatherings. At such events, there are usually copious amounts of food and beverages, and it can be easy to overindulge in one form or another. With everyone making New Year’s resolutions and discussing whether or not they were thinking of joining Dry January, I decided to get a head start and remove alcohol from my diet for the month of December. I figured if I could attend events and make it through Christmas and New Year’s Eve without getting a buzz, I could accomplish anything come January.
When most folks prepare for a diet or a detox, they clear the clutter. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak. For some, this means eating all of the unhealthy foods all at once, and for others, this means discarding or donating them. When it comes to a detox from alcohol, it didn’t seem like it was in my best interest to get rid of all of the alcohol at once, so I simply moved it to the garage so it wasn’t in eyesight. If I was hosting an event, I could easily bring it back out for guests, so this was the most logical decision.
My 30-Day Alcohol Detox Experience
The first week, I was told, would be the roughest, but truth be told, I did not even think about it. When I had a difficult day at work, I took it out in the gym. When I was having a nice meal where I would usually include a glass of wine, I simply drank water. When I went out for a girls’ night, I opted for sparkling water with a lemon/lime garnish.
I personally didn’t have a problem with my experiment as much as others had an issue with my experiment. During the holidays when I was visiting my family, I was offered a beer as usual. I declined and was asked if I was feeling okay. When I was out with friends, they kept encouraging me or even pressuring me to have “just one.” I was still the same easy-going life of the party without alcohol, but within a social setting, apparently, others believe they’ll have a better time when everyone is partaking.
After getting through the holidays, the countdown to the New Year was underway. Friends and family were discussing their big plans for the evening and how they were going to arrange for transportation to ensure nobody was drinking and driving. Quite honestly, I was glad to not have to be a part of that discussion. I almost offered to be the DD, but I knew that would keep me out way later than I would like, and I would be on the road with all the crazies who weren’t as smart as to arrange transportation in advance. And let’s face it, with the budget-friendly options like Lyft and Uber, I was able to stay in my comfy pants with a good view of the ball drop from my favorite seat in the house knowing my friends could find a safe ride home.
Truth be told, I am not a HUGE fan of partying on New Year’s Eve anyway. I rather like kicking off the New Year with a fresh perspective and a healthy mind and body.
And once I began the New Year, I had a little more pep in my step, so I decided to continue my experiment into January. This is not to say that I won’t include an adult beverage in my healthy diet in the future, but I would like it to be a special occasion or a reason to celebrate when I do.
4 Things That Happened When I Quit Drinking for a Month
1. Improved sleep. For the longest time, I always felt like I slept so much better after a drink or two. But there is a huge difference between just being asleep and the quality of your sleep. During deep sleep, the brain activity is in delta waves. Yet when alcohol is consumed, it causes brain activity during sleep to happen in alpha waves. Alpha waves, however, are generally only seen when we’re awake yet resting.
Almost immediately, I noticed I was feeling more rested each morning when I woke up. For the first week, I noticed that on occasion I may not have been as sleepy as early; however, as soon as I was ready for bed, I fell asleep with no issues and woke up ready to take on the world. I also felt like I could sustain my energy for longer and wasn’t groggy.
2. Improved diet/weight management. It is no secret that alcohol leads to heightened senses and diminished cognitive function. What this means is that not only are we enticed by smells of foods, but we may not always make the best food choices after consuming alcohol. Lucky for me, I usually deducted the calories from my beverages and took those into account for that day, so I was never guilty of overeating or even poor decisions. Without alcohol, though, I was able to maintain the same calories while consuming a more well-balanced diet.
For those who may fall victim to the late-night munchies, cutting back or quitting alcohol could have huge benefits for your waistline.
3. Fewer headaches. I suffer from migraines and can usually plan on at least one or two per month. Often, depending on the spirit, I may have an alcohol-related migraine, which is like double-trouble. Not only did I have a less debilitating migraine in the month of December, but I also had a shortened migraine in January as well. Usually, my headaches require two doses of my prescription migraine medication for me to be functional; however, for December and January, I was able to cut that down to one dose. And I definitely didn’t experience any hangovers. 😉
4. Healthier skin. My skin has a slight bit of rosacea, some sunspots, occasional cystic acne, and sometimes when I consume alcohol, these things are exacerbated. In addition, I retain water and my face also looks puffy and swollen. Not to mention the unhealthy sleep hygiene that often causes dark circles under the eyes. Guess what? Not only have the dark circles and puffiness subsided, but I have noticed an improvement all around. My skin appears brighter, and I haven’t had a breakout recently (knock on wood).
Outside of the physical things I have noticed, I know I am adding life to my years and years to my life. As mentioned, I do not believe there is any cause for concern to have a social drink from time to time, but seeing such amazing results, I may have to make those social instances fewer and farther between.