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My 90 day alcohol experiment thus far By: Joy Burch


"Life is like a lab; you’re the scientist and the subject. In the end, we are the ones who know ourselves best and are ultimately responsible for being honest with ourselves.” -Sober Reference 

Over the last decade or longer, I’ve considerably cut back on my drinking, and not entirely by willful choice. My body and my nervous system seemed to be forcing my hand as my sleep after an evening of drinks became increasingly more restless, followed by either an excruciating hangover, or at best, a sense of “feeling off” the next day. The glass of wine that used to reduce my anxiety, was now starting to give me anxiety, just a few hours later, much to my dismay. 

And, on the “day after”, definitely not enjoying activities, conversations or life to the degree that I do on days when body isn’t trying to detox alcohol out of my system, and noticing a lot more negative internal dialogue. 

Well, why not just stop drinking, you may ask? If something makes you feel good for 2-3 hours, and then slightly (or hugely) miserable for the next 24-48, that kind of sounds like a bad investment, right? 

In my early contemplations, if I’m honest, life without alcohol didn’t seem very colorful. A delicious dinner without a glass of wine? Catching up with an old friend without a few beers? And what about weddings, birthdays and vacations? Or, just a long damn day? 

As noted above, for myself, and most of us, conditioning and programming run so deep. It has been modeled to us by society as a way to enjoy ourselves and is how most of us were taught to celebrate, relax, unwind or cope with difficult situations. And it often works, and works well, until it doesn’t. 

So, what can we do when we feel like it’s taking away more than it’s giving? 

Experimenting with moderation can be a good first step. Make it count. If addiction or AUD isn’t present, still enjoy that glass or 2 of wine or a cocktail, especially if you can relax and regroup the next day, or maybe have one and switch to an alcohol free beverage. Or perhaps enjoy a full night off, sippping on something AF and delicious while you’re out, and notice how you feel then, and the following day. Did you really “miss anything”? I’ve realized so much for me is: 1) having something in my hand and 2) drinking something enjoyable and kind of a novelty (not just soda or pineapple juice with a straw). 

Following this theme of “experimentation”, personal accountability and true honesty with myself (that’s taken me a decade to fully acknowledge), I’ve decided to try my first 90+ day run of no alcohol. My first few weeks, no problem, I’ve done that before, and we didn’t have a lot going on. What I’ve found most difficult are the associations. Sitting down to dinner at a restaurant and feeling the anxiety around really wanting to order “just one drink”. And for me, it truly can be just one, so that’s when my mind starts to talk and say, “come on, it really is just one, no big deal.” Arriving to Liberia, Costa Rica and it’s hot and I see everyone around me enjoying an ice cold Imperial, my taste buds pique. (I love beer.) Whew…I can do this. I buy a cold club soda instead. And what I find is, those initial cravings and anxieties pass. I acknowledge them, text my support peeps, and then remind myself how much more consistent my sleep and moods have been, and all the reasons why I want to see this experiment through.

So, why 90 days? In my rudimentary research, I’ve read that while you’ll experience major upsides in just two weeks of not drinking, depending on your history, genetics, etc., it can take anywhere from 2-6 months for your neural pathways to clear and completely reset. I want to see how good I can feel, mentally and physically - if it actually does make a significant difference - as objectively as possible. 

What I am feeling at this stage, 55 days in, will ever drink again? I’m thinking I will, but fewer and further between. The main thing this experiment has shown me, thus far, is that I’ve had a fictional romance story running through my head since my early drinking years, and choosing to not drink traditional alcoholic beverages, especially when you’ve got some amazing (healthy!) alternatives, really isn’t that big of a deal. Especially at this point in my life, for the trade off I get the next day - I feel good and I’m not anxious. That is priceless.

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25 мар.

20 years and counting .. one day at a time and my life is full and fun!

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