It's been 9 months since I last had a sip of alcohol and the main thing I've noticed is that I don't notice it at all.
- The first month or so, I was excited. Logging into my "I am Sober" app to check my streak count on a daily basis and noticing improvements to my productivity, sleep, exercise and clarity of thought.
- After 3 months, it was more about realizing self respect and living in line with my values. Clarity of thought and productivity were also key improvements during this period.
- After 4 months I really noticed physical changes in body composition and strength. Confidence increased, blood pressure dropped and high levels of happiness.
- After 7 months I kinda forgot how bad it was before I quit drinking. But luckily I had some journal entries to look back on and remind myself. I also noticed that quitting drinking is not a panacea.
- Now, after 9 months I just never really think about it. It's become the norm. I've also noticed a few people in my friend and family circle raising the topic and even considering the alcohol free experiment for themselves.
What's the Big Deal?
Before I started this experiment I couldn't really imagine a life without drinking. Now, after 9 months, I just barely ever really think about it. I'm triggered less and less often and I regularly go out to places where everyone else is drinking without any temptation.
The key difference between now and the first 6 months or so of the experiment is that not drinking now occupies less and less mindshare. I'm focused on other things. I often forget to check my sobriety app and I never even consider ordering a beer when I'm out. I automatically order soda water (or coke zero if I'm having a wild one!) without really thinking about it.
This should give you hope. You might think it's impossible, and you might not be able to envision yourself living sober, but that's what it's like in the throws of addiction. Alcohol quite literally changes your brain and consequently the way you think.
Progress without Addiction
It's definitely possible to make progress in your life while drinking alcohol. I did it for the best part of 20 years. I'd get smashed at the weekends and then work like a maniac during the week and I managed to build a pretty successful business with this approach.
Be under no illusion, though - drinking (and pretty much any form of addiction) is most definitely a headwind.
I vaguely understood this before the experiment, but now it's as clear as day. I've just made so much progress this year and it's been steady and consistent rather than always 2 steps forward and 1 step back. To put a figure on it, I'd say I've achieved double of what would have been possible while binging and having regular all nighters. Double progress this year is 4x progress next year, 8x progress the year after. After 20 years, the difference between the two trajectories is so vast that it's hard to understate the positive effect.