3 years ago, January 2020, I was in a good place. Yet, I had some unhealed struggles - health ones, lost friendships, and more. And of course, alcohol wasn't helping any of it. Our society likes to make alcohol seem like a normal crutch - like a cup of coffee in the morning or a pastry when you're sad. For a while, I fell into the same thinking.
It took a personal experience of seeing what stress alcohol can cause to look inward and say - let's try not drinking and see how this goes. In the beginning, I cut back and had a little sip here or there, not ready to define this new relationship I had with alcohol. The word "sober" was the bain of my existence. I worried it would isolate me socially or imply that I am an alcoholic (as if that illness is even something to be ashamed of). A couple months in, I started to gain confidence and let people know I wasn't drinking anymore. I defined it as "alcohol-free" which felt descriptive but not prescriptive as to who I am as a person or why I chose this.
The more I stepped away from alcohol, the more I realized how deeply it has seeped into our society. Every work event was centered around drinks after work. Every special occasion brought free champagne to the table. It turns out there is not much else to drink at wineries (shocker). I had to learn how to be confident without the liquid courage. The COVID-19 pandemic began soon after my alcohol-free journey began and I took it as a sign. I realized I had a choice to drink alone and pretend I was a social drinker or see what it was like to cope with a stressful time in healthier ways.
Rounding the Corner
Although it was hard, I started going back to therapy. I eased into social situations without it, because there basically were none. For a while, I even removed caffeine
to see how it affected my body. I started to love waking up on weekend mornings refreshed and not hungover. I enjoyed sugary treats occasionally, still dressed up for nights out, and found other ways to make special events feel special. I discovered yummy mocktails (My favorite is a virgin mojito, it has enough complexity and taste to keep it interesting.)
I am now unapologetically vocal and happy about being alcohol-free, I am even becoming comfortable using the word "sober" and removing the judgment from it. I have met some amazing new friends who enjoy grabbing a coffee or going on a walk more than going out for a night to drink and expanded my horizons. I've also become more vocal about alcohol's exempt situation in society and how dangerous it can be. And for the record, I have no problem with people drinking in moderation - I do have a problem with people pressuring others to consume a complicated substance that is truly a drug.
Sober January? Should you do it?
Maybe you tried and gave up. Or maybe you thought it was too late. Heck, try a dry weekend! I say yes. It is always a good idea to remove different things from your life and see how they affect you. I'm loving the community yoga classes, mocktails, and other inclusive elements popping up in society for January. My only wish? That some of this continues all year long!
My Favorite Alcohol-free Alternatives
Gruvi: Non-alcoholic Wines and Beers (their Rosé is pictured here!) I love that these are individual servings so you can mix and match. Code: DryJanuary for 10% off
Ritual: Zero Proof Non-Alcoholic Spirits Perfect addition to your bar cart year round for those who don't drink alcohol or are not currently
Seedlip: Non-alcoholic Spirits Code January for 20% off
Spirity: Pre-made Cocktails (aff link) Spirits distilled from tea! I have not tried them yet but I have heard phenomenal things
Extra Love and Happy 2023!