One of the scariest parts about getting sober is all the changes that accompany the lifestyle. Facing the unknown is always unsettling, and when you cut alcohol out of your life, there are many unknowns. Perhaps you’re worried about how you will spend your time, who you will spent it with, what you will do for enjoyment, and et cetera.
These are valid concerns, and the truth is that your life will likely look much different than it did while you were drinking. However, different is not necessarily a bad thing. Here are just a few of the positive changes you’ll likely experience when you decide to live a sober life.
1. You Will Connect With New People.
Whether you choose to attend 12-step meetings, connect online with other people in recovery, or simply start a new activity, living a sober lifestyle will lead you to cross paths with people you never would have otherwise. For example, I have about 50 Facebook friends who I know because they are also in recovery. I have met many of them in real life and can’t imagine my life today without their presence and support. Difficult aspects of life have a way of leading you to the people and places you’re meant to be, and getting sober is no exception. More likely than not, you will find that the people you cross paths with become staples in your life and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
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2. You Will Have Free Time To Pursue Your Passions.
Drinking excessively takes up a lot of time. Sometimes it even takes up all of your free time, to the point that you have no idea what to do with yourself when you stop drinking. When I drank, I never spent time writing or working out or reading, which were all things I had loved doing in the past. Given the choice, I chose drinking. When I got sober, I suddenly found that I had all this time to pursue the things I had loved doing at one point. I began to fill my free time with those hobbies rather than drinking and found that doing so was much more rewarding. For many people, free time is one of the scariest and most triggering parts of sobriety, but it doesn’t have to be. Just spend some time thinking about what you like to do or what you’d like to learn, and then make it happen. Make yourself follow a strict schedule, or, if need be, have someone else hold you accountable to following that schedule. As time passes, free time will become less scary and more leisurely.
3. Your Physical Health Will Likely Improve.
It’s no secret that drinking in excess can cause great damage to the liver, kidneys, intestines, and other vital organs. However, people often don’t think about long-term damage when they drink, making it easier to write off. Alcohol has short-term effects on physical health as well. Drinking heavily for a few years can lead to weight gain. It can also affect your complexion, making you break out or have a yellowish tint to your skin. Hangovers are another short-term effect of alcohol that people often write off as the price to pay when it comes to drinking. Hangovers are actually withdrawals from alcohol, and they can be debilitating for some people. When you stop drinking, you have the ability to reverse these short-term effects. You’ll find that you have more energy and likely even a better diet. Your sleep schedule will probably be more consistent, which also helps when it comes to energy levels. Physical health can be improved in a number of ways by simply cutting out alcohol.
4. You Will Save Money.
Drinking is expensive, especially when you drink daily and drink at bars. When you have a drinking problem, it’s likely easy to justify spending the money and writing it off as a necessity. It’s only once you stop drinking that you’ll realize just how much you were spending on alcohol. For example, say you’re a wine drinker and you drink a $10 bottle of wine per day. That’s, $70 a week, $280 a month, $3,360 each year. Even with cheap alcohol, it adds up fast. Once you stop drinking, that money you spent on alcohol is money in your pocket. Sure, you could pick up other hobbies that cost money. Chances are the new activity you pick up will be more productive and rewarding than drinking ever was, making the money spent worth it.
5. You Will Feel Better About Yourself.
This is perhaps the biggest change at all. Many people drink heavily in order to escape some aspect of who they are, whether that be depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc. Drinking to escape these things creates a vicious cycle, and often makes them worse than they were in the first place. When you stop drinking, you are forced to confront the underlying issues. This isn’t an enjoyable process, but in the end you gain a better understanding of yourself and will likely be more comfortable with the person you are. As time passes, you’ll probably even find that you’re proud of yourself and your accomplishments. No feeling beats that.
Yes, everyone’s life is different. Not everyone who gets sober will immediately be able to identify the ways in which their life is changing for the better. With time and patience, however, positive changes are sure to be the case. The key is to give yourself time to adjust and to live a new way.
Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. In her day-to-day life, she works as a reporter at the local newspaper. Her passions are writing about recovery at Lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design, and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. She hopes her writing can bring clarity to other young people struggling with addiction and let them know they are far from alone.
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