The advantages of not drinking alcohol – my top tips
The advantages of not drinking alcohol are clear but to be honest we often don’t see them until we stop drinking. I am not even talking about “problem drinking” here either.
In the UK the guidelines are 14 units per week and as one of my former colleagues said after coming back from a doctor’s appointment:
“ I drink 15 units a week, I am officially an alcoholic”
One thing to remember is that by and large one standard alcoholic drink or measure equals 1 unit. So a large glass of wine would be more than that.
The thing is after I was given 48 hours to live because of social wine drinking and a failing liver people just presumed I was carrying a bottle of vodka in my pocket for 24 hours a day. I saw people around me drinking more than me and there was no judgment at all.
Go into hospital and be given 48 hours to live. You are judged as “having a problem” .
The fact is alcohol affects us in all sorts of ways and to cut back on it whether it is a few extra classes a day too many or just that you think you are a so -called an “addict”.
Remember you can be an addict of chocolate and no-one bats at eyelid.
You would be amazed how much money we spend on alcohol and what else we could spend it on if we really put our mind to it.
Remember our brain is always working toward something that is pleasurable or away from something that may cause us pain! It’s how the brain works.
It harks back to caveman days and not dinosaur days, different time and place!
In the UK we spent on average around 19 billion pounds on booze in 2017 up from 8.5 billion in 1985. Although there is a trend which is growing that is alcohol consumption drops drastically in younger people which appears to be a personal image and fitness thing especially around social media.
The cost to the NHS in England is around 3.5 billion a year and of course that is an estimate as it is always going to be complicated from “passing out” after a binge session to domestic violence.
Whichever way you look at it’s not good.
Now you say that is not costing us money personally but it is indirectly but let’s focus on what you could save in a week if you cut back on your alcohol.
Top Tip: So start an “alcohol cost diary” as what we write about tends to get noticed.
Let’s not go mad and base it on some simple numbers
So if we say bought a glass of wine for £6.50 x 3 a night in a pub after work that would be £7117 at a conservative level without accounting for binge drinking, home drinking or the big nights out.
Add in taxi’s, late night snacks etc and you get the picture. Its a lot of money!
I know from my own experience cutting out alcohol can really help the bank balance and go towards mortgage / rent or some really nice holiday. In fact, you could top up your pension if you really wanted to.
Now this estimate is a cautious one as you will know your own drinking habits but start off writing down something that you would like, really see, hear and feel it then work out how you could do that by cutting back on your alcohol intake.
It has to be something that is really worth it.
Tip : Make it something you really want not a should or a can’t
You don’t have unwanted sex
This comes up a lot here at the blog. Risky sex after alcohol is major reason of regret and danger to ourselves. In fact, you could be doped, robbed, injured with blood pouring out of your arms but generally people say “I can’t believe I had sex last night”. Talk about priorities around casual sex.
Of course, it can be a much more serious than that so if it’s a problem, seek help urgently .
But very often it’s just two people walking up in a bed and thinking oh no!
That is before we even go on to unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. Of course some people just find the whole thing funny but if you don’t give up alcohol or reduce it you could see a lot of embarrassment if its a regular occurrence.
Do not upset your boss
If you want to reduce your career chances alcohol at office parties is never a good idea. It may seem like a good time to talk about Jean’s relocation package or Arthur in the post room but please don’t.
The thing is once we have had just one drink we lose our inhibitions and it all comes out like verbal diarrhea. Its like something inside us just flips
As a high level executive I think I have been very understanding over the years of such incidents but many are not and it can involve potential fights, abusive language, outing of fellow workers and of course office relationships that don’t end well.
I do feel for people as office parties are a time to let your hair down but the boss is always watching and it can be very career limiting. It is still work!
By the way it does’ not matter if the boss is off their head with booze as they will still remember you were drunk and also have a distorted view of it. In fact, it can make it even worse!
Don’t upset your work colleagues either as they often come into fire after the boss and you will have the walk of shame on the Monday morning.
Look decent on your zoom call
Just because more and more people are working from home does’ not mean an open tally on the fireside bar. I have seen one meeting on zoom where I was an observer where one of the team slipped off their chair, the camera fell to the floor and there were several cans of strong cider lying there.
It was one of those this is funny but not really moments.
Yes they were drunk so even if it is a digital meeting where you think you are safe you are probably even less so as the camera has a clever way of accentuating our discrepancies even without alcohol!
You avoid a hangover in the morning
We have also been there where you just do not want to lift your head off the pillow. Its sign the body is full of toxins and very dehydrated.
People will drink coffee but that can even make us more anxious and if you have the shakes the body goes into shock so it is just not even a great place to be.
There are of course people who enjoy a hangover, a badge from the night before until the memories come flooding back.
People who do stay off the booze comment on how much better they feel for the day ahead. After all we only have so many days on this planet and do we really want to spend them with our head over the toilet bowl or with a thumping headache.
You can’t rush a hangover, food and water are the only things that really matter. Read about how we get rid of alcohol here.
Tip: Make a note of everything you could do with your time if you did not have a hangover!
Alcohol creates more stress not less so use self -hypnosis instead
Yes it’s probably expected that one or two drinks can settle the nerves. It’s the reason the phrase dutch courage was invented. It was given to soldiers who were frightened out of their skin in the early days of war.
The reality is once a couple of drinks has calmed the nerves medical research shows that it can increase our anxiety and potentially lead to depression. It’s a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
You can deal with anxiety and stress with a great programme such as the one below that is first class at dealing with anxiety and its causes rather than going often with the symptom.
Remember you are taking a poison which has an effect on our brain cells and nervous system, so alcohol after the first few drinks does nothing to deal with our anxiety long term.
My recommended course is below with some excellent teachers who I have worked with personally. It’s an affiliate link but you pay just the same. It gets a 10/10 score for me.
Start seeing things how they really are
I don’t know you ever heard of Brian fog. It is actually a real condition and it happens because alcohol breaks up the neurons and connections in the brain. By drinking alcohol we are literally killing off our brain cells.
Once we start to cut back on our alcohol we begin to see things and emotions a lot clearer. Now even as a social drinker I noticed that when I gave up alcohol completely because it could kill me that I began to notice things that I had not before or at least for a while anyway.
Things like watching animals in the park opposite or just enjoying good quality conversations are very different when you don’t drink alcohol even at a social level.
It’s a bit like watching the film Awakenings starring Robin Williams and if you have never seen it I would thoroughly recommend it. If you are used to drinking regularly or just socially cutting back can open a whole new level of experience.
Just a quick flag though when you walk into an environment full of people who have had plenty of drink just hold your nerve. It’s a very different experience.
Just remember why you are giving up alcohol in the first place and enjoy the moment !
Avoid high blood pressure
We know that once you have had the first two drinks it can raise your blood pressure. I know that when I was a social drinker that led to liver disease my blood pressure was also sky-high. Yet once I was admitted to hospital ironically it dropped right down as there was no social drinking in there!
Once you start drinking on a regular basis the effect on high blood pressure is more permanent.
And we know blood pressure can be a silent killer. Just one more advantage of not drinking alcohol.
Death is always a game changer!
Avoid liver disease
As I know from experience, alcohol and the liver do not make the best of bedfellows. Despite us thinking it’s safe and fool proof it’s not and we only have one which is what many people forget.
If you have ever spent any time on a liver ward, it’s not a great thing to see and yet the understanding of cancer and heart conditions get more coverage. There is certainly a lot of stigmas when it comes to liver disease unfairly so.
People can be alcohol free all their lives and still get liver disease. I write about the symptoms here but please do follow the guidelines. I find people find them “a joke” but serious cirrhosis of the liver is often not reversible and can be very life reducing in many ways.
For me it is certainly one of the advantages of not drinking alcohol but maybe I am biased. Luckily I seem to have dodged a bullet.
Improve your relationship
There is no doubt that relationships can be harmed significantly by alcohol. In Australia for example it is estimated that up to half the domestic abuse cases involve alcohol and that is some very worrying statistic! I am sure that figure is replicated around the world.
There are numerous stories of how alcohol can wreck relationships and lives, the reason is simple really. Alcohol changes the chemistry in the body and we become so confused that our behaviour changes into something similar to Jackyll and Hyde.
It may not even get that far; it might just be a row and or a disagreement or a flirt. Whatever the reason there is no doubt that alcohol can change relationships and that can be heartbreaking for everyone,
There is now a great range of alcohol free drinks to try out there
Before I started my journey into an alcohol free zone albeit a forced one as in a life or death situation I was dreading even thinking about alcohol free drinks.
However, and I mean this despite the prejudice that often goes with non drinking I was shocked with how much the market has moved on.
My fridge has a lovely bottle of alcohol free gin and some 0.0 beers for when I fancy being social and guess what. They actually taste brilliant.
On Saturday I had a free G&T with ice and a slice and it was a great experience plus no handover and by and large I was consuming less in the way of calories.
Sometimes giving up alcohol can lead to a new passion like this blog where I am passionate about people being able to live an alcohol free lifestyle. From mocktails to alcohol free wine the choices are now out there.
Start a different leisure pursuit, yes really!
I would really recommend taking up a new hobby or leisure pursuit if you have given up drinking on any level. There is something about switching your focus particularly if like me all your friends drink.
I am not suggesting that you dump your friends, far from it but that you explore different avenues from volunteering, fitness, reading groups, alcohol free tasting groups, in fact anything that take you away just from a socially driven alcohol world.
Now of course I still go out with my friends while they are drinking but I also make sure I have my own time to do what I want to do that does not involve drinking.
This blog is a great example of that.
You won’t be done for air rage
So that’s nice!
I don’t know if you have seen it but I have and it makes you think. A lady with a baby and she has clearly been drinking a lot of baileys. In fact, she is at the gate and they won’t let her in until she puts the Bailey down.
Odd move I thought but hey I am not the airline.
Yes of course she wants to sit where she wants to sit and is abusive to every passenger going as the alcohol takes hold. She is of course very lucky after being threatened with arrest she falls asleep.
I noticed she was in the same hotel as me and seemed to be regretting what she can remember for the rest of her holiday.
Now what’s interesting is that all these people who suffer air rage of some kind are often really good people. However, the combination of air pressure, alcohol and dehydration send them into a behavior that is unrecognizable in their daily life otherwise.
On an aircraft the captain is in charge and yes if the police are called you will be arrested. A few drinks can mean 10 drinks on an airplane as it muck up your blood alcohol concentration level.
As a side note I am always surprised why airlines champion the use of less alcohol on flights but have very little option when on board in terms of alcohol free.
I am about to survey them to find out why.
In the meantime check out my favorite alcohol free craft beer here
The health risks are crazy
Now I nearly died with my liver failure just as a social drinker however you don’t need me to tell you what the risks are from mental health, heart, brain the list is endless. At the end of the day if you are drinking more than the recommended amount it can increase the risk to your health.
It can just be social drinking or hiding a bottle of vodka down your trousers. The result can be the same!
One of the best things that I ever learned as an executive coach was the power of values.
What is really important to us is a key question for any of us to answer.
The thing is once you get clear on your values and your life you can really begin to think where alcohol fits with that. If you are ill then generally a health over takes things like having fun or money because if you don’t have your health all those things become irrelevant.
What’s really important?
Take 30 minutes out and ask the following questions:
What is important to you right now?
What does that mean to you?
Then when you have a big list of say around 5-10 values start using them to really think about the advantage of not drinking alcohol. I have used it powerfully over the years with a senior executives who wanted to cut back on alcohol and make lifestyle changes.
Once they get clear on their values and purpose you would be surprised how easy it is to cut back on the drinking.
You are not consuming a poison anymore
Finally, remember alcohol can kill even in small doses and in serious cases you can have alcohol poisoning. There is only so much the body can do to get rid of the poison one step at a time and sometimes it just can’t cope.
It’s easy to think “well it is just a few drinks”. Remember it is used to sterilize and kill germs. So even getting some balance can be immense and maybe that is the just one of the advantages of not drinking alcohol. A bit of balance.
But when you are living with liver disease you know those scales have tipped!
What are your thoughts?
What do you think about the advantages of not drinking alcohol? Would you consider doing a drink consumption diary? I would love to hear your stories if you have tried and successfully to reduce your drinking or moved towards an alcohol free lifestyle.
Please leave your comment below and I always get back to you.
By the way if you have made a values list of some of your advantages, I would love you to share them with us.