For years now, there has been a ritual most evenings in our home of having a drink. The drink could have been any number of things; typically red wine, beer, vodka, or gin. My wife would typically have one. I would typically have more. We both like to drink, come from families that like to drink and our socializing has often revolved around drinking for many years.
For a variety of reasons, we decided to challenge ourselves to stop drinking in 2016. It’s now the second week of February, and we have! The thing that amazes me the most is actually how much I have not missed the alcohol. The original challenge was to stop for 6 months. In our sixth week, we’ll see how long this lasts. I say this because I feel like my relationship with alcohol may have been irrevocably changed.
So how did I do it? My wife has always been able to take or leave alcohol without much problem. My relationship with alcohol always seemed to be one of dependence. It felt like a crutch to me. Something that I actually relied on to relax and decompress at the end of the day.
Going into this experiment, I had a theory. My theory was that more than an alcohol dependency, I had a ritual dependency (I hoped this was the case). And this seems to be the case. We decided to carry on our usual ritual but with a slight twist. We would continue to signal the end of the day with “Evening Drinks”, just as we always have. Evening Drinks have a look and feel and even taste of cocktails, but without the alcohol.
Right now I am drinking the following drink: a highball glass filled 1/3 with cooled Ginger Tea (home made, and the subject of another blog entry), a splash of Cranberry Juice, a splash of orange juice, 1/4 of the glass with Tonic, with the rest filled with ice. Delicious. I have even stuck to my guns when socializing using the approach. When everyone else is ordering wine or beer or something stronger, I simply order a cranberry and tonic with ice. After the initial jibes wear off and life goes on as normal, it seems most people forget about the fact that I’m not drinking, including myself!
I’ve been looking into the health benefits of laying off the booze, which are many actually (as highlighted in this article). For me, I am enjoying the clarity in my mind and productivity. This article by Jana Janowiak on the topic resonated with me as well. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!