It’s been a year since my last drink. One year since my last hangover. One year since I last woke up at 3 am staring at the ceiling with my head throbbing in pain, wondering why I kept doing this to myself. I decided to stop drinking alcohol for a year and this is what happened.

My relationship with alcohol had become increasingly dysfunctional, and I knew I had to stop. If they had told me that life would be better sober, I would not have believed it. How was I going to have fun? How am I going to relax? How could I socialize without wine? But my relationship with alcohol was becoming increasingly dysfunctional, and I knew I had to stop.

I stopped drinking alcohol for a year and this is what happened

So on one of “those” mornings full of sorrow and tears, I decided to carry out an experiment in sobriety that would transform my life. And a year later, a lot has changed. This is how my life has gotten better since I stopped drinking:

1. I have more clarity in my business and in life

A year ago, I drank a lot. Every day, I experienced an internal battle between wanting to be healthy and wanting to drink more. It was toxic and exhausting.
With the drink taking up much of my head space, I didn’t have the ability to focus on what I really wanted. I didn’t have the energy to go after my passions. Looking back, I don’t really recognize myself and I definitely didn’t trust myself, either.
Now, I experience the kind of true confidence that comes from keeping promises and being able to trust myself. I have real clarity about the kind of life that fills me with joy.

2. I feel liberated

My mind is no longer preoccupied with thoughts about how much I’m drinking or what I might realize if I refill my glass. I feel excellent, a great joy.
I don’t waste my energy lecturing myself about drinking so much, or worrying if I made a fool of myself again. I don’t experience anxiety about someone telling me I’m raw or hungover, or what I might have said to people (if only I could remember).
A lifestyle change of this magnitude challenges me to do a lot of inner work.

3. I am healthier – in body and mind

I take better care of myself now. With my increased self-esteem came a feeling of being protective of my energy. I learned to avoid events that I don’t feel good about. I am less accommodating to people. I see what is real, and I refuse to tolerate drama.
I also understand that taking care of myself is not negotiable if I want to be happy. I eat well, I exercise, I take vitamins, and I get enough sleep. I am often selective and organized to avoid feeling overwhelmed. I give myself time for play and fun. I
finally feel like the confident and empowered woman I’ve always hoped to have when I stop drinking.

4. I have deeper connections with those close to me

I am not going to lie. Social events felt awkward at first. I was always the life of the party, and without my bottle of false confidence, I felt shy and insecure of myself.
But little by little, it got easier. Like any new lifestyle, given enough time, it becomes normal. It was a new kind of happiness that you felt in control of yourself, and with which you could drive home whenever you felt like it.
I have discovered new enlightening activities, and unearthed beautiful new connections. My circle of friends has changed and evolved as I redefined my vision of what “fun” is. It’s smaller now, but it’s true and deep, and it fills me with joy.

5. Matured

Overcoming a challenge like this, which is to stop drinking alcohol, forces you to grow in ways you could never have imagined . When I drank, I was not the best of me. I was insensitive. He didn’t know how to deal with emotions in a healthy way, because he didn’t have to. He had just had another drink.
With that crutch withdrawn, I was forced to become self-sufficient. I had to learn to take responsibility for my decisions. With this came a higher level of emotional maturity.
I am more self-conscious and now a much kinder and more considerate person. I finally feel like the confident, empowered woman I’ve always wanted to be.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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