My No Alcohol for 30 Days Experiment

29 Aug

I’m at the tail end of a 30 day experiment of not drinking any alcohol. In this post I want to talk about my motivation for doing this, what it’s been like, and what I’ve learned from the experience.

I’ve been aware for quite some time that I drink too much and have had a lurking desire to do something about it for over a year.

A few months ago, without altering my behavior any, I decided to keep track of every bit of alcohol I was putting into my body. Without going so far as needing a home drug test Walgreens style, the results were no surprise to me: I was drinking 2-5 drinks a day, with a few jumps where this amount doubles due to a party or hanging out and really going at it.

I’ll be honest: looking at this list, I felt shameful. This is not the person I aspire to be.

After a stupid night of aimlessly drinking far too much for no apparent reason, I was determined to not drink anything the following night. And then I did the same the next night, and that’s when I silently decided I wanted to simply drop the habit of casually but consistently drinking.

And now that 30 days have passed, I really feel that’s what I’ve accomplished. I’ve broken this habit of always drinking a few beers every night. And what a habit it had become, because I mean that literally; I would always drink a 22 oz or 40 oz of beer, and sometimes more. It was a true habit in that I just always did it!

Here’s a few things I noticed in the last 30 days:

  • I was astonished how strong the desire to drink was for the first few nights. Habits die hard! This observation further fueled my desire to not drink because it was aggravating to think that I had become so habituated to getting an alcohol buzz. My gut reaction to this? My heart screamed out: Fuck that!
  • My dreams were super vivid and long the first few nights. This was a very interesting side effect, and one observed many times by others upon the cessation of various drugs. It seems like any physical dependency the body has will result in crazy dreams when broken.
  • Removing alcohol from my life made it infinitely easier to get up early. I work from home and set my own hours, so it’s incredibly easy to stay up late and sleep in late. It feels like I have forever been trying to push my schedule back to getting up earlier, and finally I have found the key to making this happen. I’m now getting up at 8:15am, which is an hour to two hours earlier than what was my normal wake up time. (As a side, I’m fascinated with the idea of become a true “early riser” and starting my day at 7am or even 6am. This might make for a great follow up 30 day experiment.)
  • One good decision helps propel and support other good decisions. This month I’ve felt more congruent in my decisions regarding health and what I put into my body than I have in a very long time. For instance, it’s unlikely I would have completed that 35 minute run 2 days ago if I hadn’t been doing this no alcohol experiment.
  • Tea is my new best friend. Hell, I’m even drinking a cup of tea right now as I type this article up. Ha!

The idea behind a 30 day experiment is something I learned from Steve Pavlina and his fantastic book, Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth.

The idea is that you can test out a new habit – or break an old one – without psychologically committing to the idea that what you’re doing you’ll have to do forever. This makes it a lot easier to muster the motivation to do it! You try something for 30 days, assess, and then make a conscious decision about what to do next. Awesome.

For me, my goal was to remove my attachment to feeling like I had to drink every night, casually or not. This term “attachment” describes exactly how I feel my behavior had become, both in the normal sense and even in a more deep, Buddhist-minded sense. With this habit broken, it’s like something is freed up in my brain. I feel super good about this.

By default, I am going to continue doing what I’m doing but I haven’t mind an intentional decision one way or the other. I really like the idea of basically not drinking for the rest of the year, but I’m open to the idea that maybe there will be a few situations where I will want to and will be OK with doing so.

I mainly just want to make conscious decisions in regards to what I’m doing and not do anything by default or out of habit, unless it’s a habit I’ve intentionally cultivated.

Also, for what it’s worth, I am trying to lose weight, and the proposition that by simply doing what I’m already doing will lead to shedding some extra pounds between now and New Years is a very seductive one indeed!

3 Responses to “My No Alcohol for 30 Days Experiment”

  1. llk September 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Good job man!

    I’ve done the same to stop my daily cannabis use. It stated out as 30 days then to 60 now its been 3 months!

    Not having constant munchies and paranoia motivated me.

  2. Ben September 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    Awesome!! Kudoz on breaking the weed habit and I love seeing others get to this point using 30 day trials. I know what you mean about paranoia. I hate that!

    I must admit, I am *so* happy I have broken the habit of kicking back a few beers all the time for no real reason. Since then I’ve been eating really healthy (a mostly raw vegan diet) too and last weekend I went to a party and decided I was doing to drink. I had 5 or 6 beers and then….had a hellish hangover the next day. It’s crazy, because that used to hardly ever happen to me… but now I think my body is just in a different place. Taking sobriety combined with such a clean diet and then adding alcohol was majorly disruptive to my system. It sucked!

  3. Jade May 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    This is the first time I have ever left a response to any blog, comment etc anywhwere. Just wanted to say well done. I think that giving up drinking is so hard and for you to do it is brilliant. I’m with you on the 30 day thing. I have tried it before but am really going to try it again and like you say….no guilt, and if you want to drink no worries, but be prepared for the consequences 🙂 You’ve inspired me xoxo

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