The following is a guest blog from a young woman who has chosen sobriety. It is a little longer than other blog articles, but I wanted to emphasize a couple of things by publishing it. One, you don’t have to hit rock bottom in order to stop drinking. Two, if you are concerned about, or questioning your drinking, you don’t have to label yourself as an alcoholic before giving abstinence a try.

At the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine, we help people safely get off alcohol. Depending on how much and how long you have been drinking, it can be dangerous to stop on your own. Please call us at 877-773-3869​ if you or a loved one are ready to see what’s beyond the haze.

Drinking. It was becoming a tiny bit of an issue, so I figured I’d do something about it. I have this one wild and precious life according to the renowned poet, Mary Oliver. And what was I going to do with it? Be hungover on all of my weekends? Feel groggy for work when I woke up on a Tuesday because I had just a few too many at a Monday evening happy hour? As an experiment, I decided I was going to be hungover on none of my weekends, or on any day of the week, for an entire year. Yes, three hundred and sixty-five days sans booze.

As I had previously been unsuccessful in quitting drinking for Dry January or Sober October, (embarrassingly, it seemed I was unable to go even one week without getting a buzz on), I had low expectations. But in many ways, my old life wasn’t working for me anymore, I was craving a dramatic change more than I knew. Rapidly approaching thirty, I’d been looking to establish integrity in the way of following through with the goals I set for myself. This was a big one, absolutely, but it was one I felt would produce enough positive benefits to keep me motivated enough to see it to the end. I wanted to witness for myself if elective sobriety was truly as fabulous as Ruby Warrington made it out to be in her book, Sober Curious.

With the seemingly endless emergence of craft breweries, happy hour specials, and events like weddings and bachelorette parties that seem to automatically take a hit by the mere mention of the word "sobriety," it might seem like an uphill battle for us Millennials trying to cut alcohol from our extracurricular activities. To even begin such an endeavor can be, at first, a daunting and isolating experience. I’ve never considered myself an alcoholic, so was it the stigma I was worried about over putting my drink down? A constant dread of how this action will force me to be perceived by peers who enjoy blowing off steam every now and again? Maybe I was worried that I would hate it, fearful of being someone who can’t stop drinking even if they really try.


I won’t lie to you, the first month was a painful challenge in the art of saying, "no" and wondering if I really meant it. Many of my friends did not understand my decision, but fortunately, for the most part, they respected it. The largest discomfort I found after my initial feeling of missing the habit of drinking was stagnancy in my sobriety. I thought, "I already quit drinking, that should be enough." This quickly revealed itself to be far from enough. Replacing drinking with an unhealthy dose of bad reality television and Chinese takeout is hardly the way to keep yourself motivated on this lifestyle path.

You’ll probably discover that you have an abundance of energy once you quit drinking. Your life is a bit brighter, the newfound clarity is real. My advice? Ride that high. Grab hold of that new energy and siphon it. Don’t let it get away from you. The trick is to fill the void of your former drinking habits with interests and hobbies you’ve long abandoned for margaritas and a fistful of Aspirin the following morning. I for one had to turn the television off and start reading again. (Reading, what a novel idea for someone who wants to be taken seriously in the literary world.) Additionally, I got back into the practice of daily journaling and writing. Writing is my true passion and I realized I all but let it fall to the wayside in order to accommodate my drinking habits.

Before sobriety, I convinced myself that without drinking, I’d lose my friends, that my social life would be reduced to sympathy coffee dates with people who thought I’d lost my mind or worse, had become boring. This could not be further from the truth. Over the past year, I’ve cultivated far deeper relationships with my existing friends, sobriety allowing me to be ten times more present, not to mention, I’ve been fortunate enough to rekindle old friendships with people I deeply cared about but who I’d lost touch with over the years. I’ve forced myself into uncomfortable positions, situations that historically would have caused me to immediately order a cocktail— the result being new friendships with wonderful people who I am learning from constantly. I can happily report that my social life has never been better.

The sheer thought of elective sobriety prior to embarking on this mission was as close to Millennial blasphemy as I’d ever gotten, even by, or especially by, my own standards. But I’ll be damned if I’m not a week away from my one-year sober anniversary with no plans to return to drinking in the foreseeable future. Because I don’t want sobriety to turn into some sort of bleak, life sentence that deters me from ever again letting loose with a few cocktails, I’ll never say never. There’s always the option in my future to have a drink or two on a date or at an event where folks are happily indulging in a few glasses of champagne. However, it’s now become a point of, why the hell would I? If I drink tonight, would I wake up tomorrow morning for my yoga class or hit the gym with the same fierce energy I’ve cultivated in my months of abstaining from alcohol? Would I even make it to yoga? Would I feel as excited to spend my Sunday afternoon drinking kombucha and playing around with a new, healthy recipe I found on Pinterest? Maybe, but it’s highly doubtful.

Not to mention, as egotistical as it sounds, I am loving the way my body and skin have taken to this lifestyle change— no more facial redness, an easy-shedding of several pounds around my midsection I didn’t want or need. I’ve also been blasted into a foreign-to-me state of financial security due to elective sobriety. Over the past few months, I’ve managed to save enough money by setting aside funds I would have otherwise used to cover a monthly bar tab to purchase a roundtrip ticket to backpack Southeast Asia next Fall.

It’s important to remember that you are choosing sobriety for you, not to saddle up on your high horse and preach to others about a superior lifestyle you’ve discovered. Sobriety might not be the answer for everyone. Ruby Warrington touches on this in Sober Curious, the fact that a great way to lose a friend is to shove sobriety down their throat when they are not interested. You might find that people are curious about your findings, at which point, go crazy, explain the benefits and the struggles— be honest and real. But don’t do the whole, ‘holier than thou’ approach. It’s unbecoming and rarely well-received.

My own experience with elective sobriety has resulted in unimaginable self-growth. I am confident in my abilities to write well, to be present for my loved ones, and to honor my health and body in a way I didn’t realize I was capable of. I’ve become braver when it comes to situations I was previously hesitant about and I’ve pushed myself physically in ways I would never have dreamed of doing even one year ago.

Reporting live from the other side, elective sobriety is a safe bet for navigating towards a happier, more satisfying life.