What a month off drinking did for my health


Many Australians enjoy a social drink or two, but taking a break from the booze can help refresh your body. And as inner-city resident OLLE WATSON explains, the mental benefits of a month away from alcohol can be just as significant.

I was never a heavy drinker. But a little while ago, I’d had a big night out and was in a bad way the next morning. I was not 100% until late afternoon the next day. I decided that the bad times were outweighing the good, and I thought I’d take some time off drinking because I felt horrible. I decided to make positive changes in my life.

It initially wasn’t a health decision. It was more about my mental state. I realised that every time I was around people who were drinking, I was generally not having a good time. I also realised I was not as cognitive when I drank. Things just felt a bit hazy, a bit foggy.

It wasn’t necessarily difficult to not drink. That said, there are a lot of social situations where you feel more comfortable having a drink. The biggest issue was that other people can feel uncomfortable if you aren’t drinking. People would ask ‘why?’, and some people were quite taken aback. It would almost eclipse conversations and turn into a talking point when, realistically, it shouldn’t be.

I was working at a bar at the time. It was probably not the best place to give up drinking. It just meant I needed a lot more willpower. It definitely helped me save quite a bit of money, and I lost a marginal amount of weight, although that wasn’t the thing I noticed the most.

Taking some time off drinking was an eye-opening experience. I’ve found that in a lot of situations where alcohol is involved, drama can arise. Being sober in those situations meant I could leave before it got to that stage.

I started going to the gym as well. The two things probably went hand-in-hand. I felt a little bit more motivated, and I didn’t wake up with hangovers. There’s no downside to that combination.

I learnt that I don’t need to drink to be the way I want to be. The one thing I remember learning was that, essentially, you’re the same person sober as when you’re drinking. There’s no real need for people to drink alcohol to be funnier or to become the life of the party. All of that is already within people – they can already be that person without booze if they put themselves out there, but a lot of people aren’t willing to take that risk.

(As told to Chris Martin)


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