Words by a former self-described “party girl” turned sobriety advocate
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
A familiar apprehension crept into my psyche and urged me to pick up a bottle. At this particular moment, I sat with the uncomfortable sensation and reminded myself why I quit.
Sober October. Sounds daunting? Foregoing drinking comes with its challenges and rewards. Pop culture has conditioned us to view alcohol as a harmless substance capable of many benefits, like a social lubricant and a numbing agent for stress. Drinking culture often promotes overconsumption. Meanwhile, alcohol poisoning and hangovers are a rite of passage for young adults. We gain a false sense of self-confidence when we drink because liquid courage numbs our inhibitions. What feels dangerous sober is an avenue for a funny story when tipsy. Marketers have successfully convinced us that [insert your favourite boozy beverage] equates to happiness and relaxation. The media routinely downplays the harm of alcohol because, after all, the global commercial alcoholic beverage industry is worth over two hundred billion dollars. It’s no wonder that quitting drinking even for a month feels anxiety-inducing for most, even casual drinkers. But there’s no better time than now to try out sobriety.
So how does one even start the process of breaking free from alcohol? It begins by understanding your reason for wanting to take a break. Even though the media and businesses have sold you the idea that a bitter concoction of wheat and ethanol makes you happy, in reality, alcohol-induced joy is temporary. Secondly, write out your motivation and read it daily to remind yourself that, despite the challenges, all your actions are contributing to improved mental and physical health. A person’s ‘why’ is driven by their relationship with alcohol.
I have been navigating the ebbs and flows of life without a drop of alcohol for over a year. After reading about the dangers of alcohol, the urge to consume pints of beer at a bar on a Friday night dissipated. The desire to socially drink resurfaced when I attended my first party sober. A familiar apprehension crept into my psyche and urged me to pick up a bottle. At this particular moment, I sat with the uncomfortable sensation and reminded myself why I quit. I never regretted my decision to not drink. But I tend to feel shame after a night of (heavy) drinking. I acknowledged my fear of judgment as a sober party guest and assured myself that I could always leave if I felt uncomfortable. I had no obligation to linger. Through abstaining from alcohol, I learned healthy ways to cope. I started writing out my feelings, messaging friends and embarking on runs in the forest. I also realized that excessive drinking only results in blackouts and nauseating hangovers.
During sober October, you may find out that liquid courage doesn’t have as much to do with the beverage you’ve consumed and more with the confidence to step into your truth. Some benefits I have experienced from not drinking are less shame after a night out, a more restful sleep cycle and free time. In addition, that first month of sobriety is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby to avoid boredom and embrace newfound routines. If you’re looking for further reading to explore sobriety, I recommend The Naked Mind by Annie Grace.