another alcohol hiatus

The last time I went without alcohol I waited until the end of the month to write about it, just in case I didn’t make it. This time I don’t need to wait – there’s no way I’m going back on the arrangement I’ve made with myself. I’m doing six weeks this time, the first three of which were super-easy; it was almost a relief to know that I wouldn’t have to be making any decisions about whether or not to drink alcohol. But this week, the fourth, things got a little testy. It’s not so much that I’m pining for alcohol, but more that I’m starting to feel a little dull and boring and that I should be having more fun and not being so serious. I hope dullness doesn’t consume me before the next two weeks are up!

The more I experiment with not drinking the more I realise that alcohol and health do not make good friends. Somehow, I used to be able to pull it off – eating well and exercising regularly all week, drinking to excess on a Saturday night, and then nursing a hangover with junk food and couch time all day on Sunday. As an example of what I mean by excess, I remember one afternoon my flatmate and I polished off a litre of white rum between us before going to town and drinking more. Sometimes I’d have such a good time while out drinking that the hangover was worth it. But gradually, incrementally, the fun diminished, rendering the hangover less and less ‘worth it’.

Us Kiwis really don’t know much about moderation when it comes to alcohol. Many of us, it seems, love to get completely inebriated on a fairly regular basis: it’s how we communicate and interact with each other, it’s how we hook up, and it’s also used as a guise for things more sinister. It would be great if we could find ways to unwind and enjoy ourselves without harming our bodies and our communities so much.

So why do we, as a nation, feel the need to get so written off? Is it escapism? Is the reality of our day-to-day lives so bad that we want and hide under a blanket of booze whenever we can, even though we know that the blanket won’t nurture and support us and will only leave us with a stale soggy hangover which makes our stark cold realities all the more difficult to deal with. The unfulfilling job, the loveless relationship, the financial stress, the physical discomfort of living in a body that doesn’t work properly because you haven’t looked after it: drinking won’t alleviate any of these problems and it’s quite likely that it will make them worse. We say that young people today aren’t responsible with alcohol, but how can we expect them to be when they don’t have any positive role models?

When I started this alcohol hiatus it was off the back of three consecutive boozy weekends: a reunion, a wedding, and a birthday. I felt gross. My skin was breaking out, I felt bloated and acidic and disgusting. If you’ve never gone for more than a day or two without drinking you’ve probably forgotten how it feels to not be constantly slightly hung-over. It’s like living with a food allergy – if you don’t completely cut out all of said food (gluten and lactose are common ones), you’ll never get to experience how good it really feels to have a body that functions as it should. That slightly headachy/nauseous/bloated/foggy/uncomfortable feeling is your new reality because your day-to-day habits cause it to be that way. But any habit can be changed, if you want to change it. For me, right now (at 6:00 AM on a Sunday morning without having had a drop of alcohol for a month), it feels more normal not to drink than it does to drink.

Why not come join me? It’s a beautiful world over here.



7 thoughts on “another alcohol hiatus

  1. Brilliant. Funnily enough I have recently begun a mission of refrain and building a healthier way of life, and have only had a sip or two or alcohol of late, and with the xmas season approaching with many social and boozy engagements it feels quite liberating to enjoy all the festivities with all senses engaged as opposed to slightly blurred or foggy due to the consumption of booze. Good luck with the next few weeks – I think you will keep going and never look back!!

  2. Good for you, Amber. We just had a month off as well – you really do achieve so much more! Keep up the good work 🙂

  3. I’ve also found as I get older Ive become much more sensitive to alcohol. A lot of us self medicate stress and anxiety with booze, it’s easily accessible, cheap and socially acceptable. But all were really doing is feeding our demons. I’ve given up drinking after 20 years of heavy self medicating and I’m shocked also by how dull I am, alcohol makes us feel larger than life! But it also decimates our central nervous system, leaves women more prone to cancers and dissociates us from the gentle beauty around us every day.

  4. Since new years I decided to stop drinking alcohol, mainly just because my last few hangovers have been BRUTAL with some intense stomach pain. My body is clearly telling me to stop with the binge drinking and I just got sick of feeling so crap after a night of drinking. I also want to start practicing what I preach when it comes to nutirtion and health and I had started to slip back into old habits. Unsure how long I will continue for but I currently have no desire to touch alcohol and have been going to social events sober and enjoying myself so just don’t feel any need to drink at this stage. I enjoyed this post Amber, just helped reinforce things that I had already been thinking about 🙂

  5. Love this! I stopped drinking on January 6th, after drinking lots over Christmas, New Year and my birthday (all good excuses!!). I haven’t had one since and now I feel like I want to keep sticking to this to see how far I can take it….I’m not going to lie though, I’ve a hankering for a nice g&t fairly often. I was also gifted a lovely bottle of gin for my birthday, which remains sadly unopened. The trick? not having a drop of tonic in the house….which makes less sense than having no gin, I know!

    Good luck with this challenge!

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