7 things I learned when I gave up alcohol

It's been 12 months since Cat Rodie gave up alcohol. Here's what she has learned about herself and her relationship with booze.
7 things I learned when I gave up alcohol

1. I can still have a social life

Having grown up in a culture where socialising revolves around alcohol, I was worried that going alcohol free would force me to become a hermit. And it was a valid concern. As a new non-drinker stepping into a pub or bar is challenging – habits are powerful and hard to break. I opted to stay at home away from temptation.

But eventually I had to bite the bullet and venture out for a friend’s birthday. And despite drinking lime and soda all night I had a really great time. I was just like the old me; I joined in, I laughed, I danced. But unlike the old me I could still remember it all the next day.

2. Hangovers are awful

Hangovers are awful. Headaches, nausea, dehydration. And yet they are entirely self-inflicted. We know that crossing the line between a couple of drinks and finishing the bottle will only lead to pain. But we do it to ourselves again and again and again.

There are some things about drinking that I miss (like that first sip of beer on a hot afternoon) but I don’t miss hangovers.

3. People are generally supportive

On the whole, my friends and family have been really supportive of my decision to give up booze. I think in the beginning they assumed that it was just a bit of a phase and that I’d soon fall off the wagon and everything would return to normal.

But despite persisting with tea-total-ism my friends have not disowned me. I still get invited out and no one rolls their eyes when I order a mocktail.

4. But sometimes they’re not

Having said that… there have been a few times when I have felt a need to justify my decision to quit booze. As if me saying “I’m not drinking wine anymore” is the same as saying “I am judging you because you drink.”

Some friends have been extremely defensive of their own drinking habits – but there is no need to be. I am not judging anyone. My choice not to drink is about me, and only me.

5. Drunk people can be really boring (sorry)

While I still love going out with my friends, I have learned when to call it a night. There are some big warning signs; the people drinking will get louder; sometimes they will start to slur their words. Sometimes an ordinary topic can become heated.

But then it happens. The people doing the drinking suddenly become incredibly boring. Old stories are re-hashed, points are laboured over and the tangents have tangents of their own.

This is my cue to become boring too – by heading home to my bed.

6. Alcohol was not my friend

I used to really enjoy a glass of wine (or three). After a long day of work and parenting. The ritual of filling my glass was almost therapeutic. But despite it’s relaxing qualities, wine wasn’t my friend.

I couldn’t see it at the time, but my moderate drinking habit was actually sabotaging nearly every area of my life.

Giving up alcohol allowed me to significantly change my lifestyle. Healthy eating and exercise became the norm. I lost weight, I got fit. And I feel great.

But there is more to it than that. I don’t argue with my husband anymore. And I’m a better mum.

7. Tea is a really great drink

I’ve always been a tea drinker. But now that I am a non-drinker I have a new appreciation for tea. Tea is way better than booze.

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