Thinking About Quitting Alcohol

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Has anyone else here enjoyed alcohol their whole life, have many fond memories involving alcohol, would not categorize themselves as having a drinking "problem" (i.e., no withdrawal/longing for a drink if not drinking for a week or two)...but is just plain tired of the alcohol culture in the US and wants to take a (permanent) break?

I dabbled going dry earlier in the year - over about a 6-month stretch, I probably had fewer than 10 drinks total, but am now back to having 2-3 drinks on Fridays and Saturdays due to circumstances. And honestly, looking back on that dry period, I definitely don't think I was any less happy nor did I feel like I missed out on anything because I wasn't drinking. 

Honestly, if I had to choose a time when i feel the most content/happy, it is an early Saturday morning (7/8 am) when everyone else is sleeping off their hangovers from the night before and I can get a run in, workout, read a book and drink copious amounts of good coffee. I also wouldn't categorize myself as an introvert as I love doing activities with people (biking, running, hiking, golf, tennis, fishing, cooking, etc.). 

The issue I am running into is that the most important people in my life still like to drink quite a bit and I am afraid that I will fall out of touch / be judged for not drinking. I also am not sure how to avoid drinking in a professional setting w/o making people feel uncomfortable, so I have resigned myself to drinking in a professional setting just to avoid being "that guy".

Thoughts? Anyone else feels this way or have any experience?

Comments (40)

 
Funniest
Sep 14, 2020 - 1:35pm

I also wouldn't categorize myself as an introvert as I love doing activities with people (biking, running, hiking, golf, tennis, fishing, cooking, etc.). 

You can't just say introverts don't like "biking, running, hiking, golf, tennis, fishing, cooking, etc."

lol wtf?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Sep 14, 2020 - 1:41pm

If you are important to them, it should not matter if you drink alcohol or not. 

 

You do not have to get drunk/buzzed to enjoy a nice hard drink either. 

 

If you plan to go into investment banking and the stock market, you better learn to like scotch. 

 
Sep 14, 2020 - 1:49pm

Props to you for this- it's your life to live. I really find it hard to believe people who truly care about you will judge you/ disassociate with you over not drinking though. If you don't make a big scene about it, I can't see it being a problem. Just order a soda and nobody will know the difference between a rum and coke and just some coke. 

 

As far as professional settings go- what type of people do you work with that'll make a big fuss about declining a drink and ordering something else?

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
Sep 14, 2020 - 3:33pm

2-3 drinks on a Friday/Saturday doesn't sound like you have a problem that needs solving, to be honest. My buddy just contacted me about quitting drinking--like just 2 hours ago. He can't concentrate when he doesn't drink. He becomes depressed without alcohol. He's taking a statistics class right now and he aces tests when he's had several drinks of vodka and does terrible when he's sober. That's a problem. Got another friend who went from drinking one gin and tonic a week to a bottle of wine a week to three. It's slowly, in my view, spiraling out of control. That's a problem. 

You sound like you are fully in control. But since you're asking the question, the reality is you've probably had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in the past and it's concerning to you. My step-dad leads his AA group and he was just like that. Never a raving alcohol but knew that it was just over the horizon if he wasn't careful. Frankly, that's probably the direction you need to go. Just quit drinking altogether. Nobody is going to care in a professional setting. In your personal life, time to make new friends who do things other than go to bars. That's just the harsh reality. 

Array
 
Sep 16, 2020 - 1:29pm

maineiac42

Two glasses of wine a day is a problem?

He went from one gin and tonic a week to 1 bottle of wine, to 2 bottles of wine, to 3 bottles of wine a week. Yeah, that's a problem. It's beginning to snowball. I've no doubt that given another 2 or 3 years' time, he will be seeking help or simply quitting drinking outright. 

Array
 
Most Helpful
Sep 14, 2020 - 4:33pm

About a year ago I reflected on my relationship with alcohol and ultimately decided that it was time to give sobriety a shot. This was for a variety of reasons that I won't bother going into detail on, but ultimately thought it was contributing to problems with stress and depression that I had been dealing with.

Since then, I've certainly had relationships with a fair amount of people dissolve. However, this was more a factor of me realizing their presence in my life was exclusive to drinking; when you leave drinking behind, you'll maybe be surprised how many true friends you have versus drinking buddies. On the other side of the coin, my relationships with my true friends has only strengthened. 

As far as dating goes, this is what has changed most, but honestly I've been more lucid when I go out and socialize and have consequently found it easier to meet women when I'm out with friends. Just have to be a little more creative with first date ideas I suppose, or just be comfortable ordering a diet coke for "drinks" which is perfectly fine. And you become a cheap date. 

I've been thinking about going into more detail on the life of a mid 20's former hard partier that has turned to a life of sobriety. I still indulge in weed and occasionally psychedelics (psychedelics being the catalyst of my sobriety, but that's a whole story in and of itself). Without a doubt, what I can tell you is that this decision changed my life for the better, maybe even saved my life.  

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
 
Sep 20, 2020 - 10:57am

Had a very similar experience this year. Mid 20s, quit drinking cold turkey starting with dry January and have kept going since. As a former banker it really helped fix my messed up sleep schedule, in addition to a number of other benefits. Still smoke weed occasionally which spices life up a little. Main thing I’m still working on is dating. I was known as a heavy party guy in my social circle from college / post grad, and I’ve had a number of people drop out of my social life (alcohol was the only real bond). With regards to dates, I never realized how much I relied on alcohol as a crutch until I quit. Frankly I’m more awkward on dates now and I find myself getting bored with most women without the alcohol to mask up the interaction. Probably a filtering issue on my end, as I’m sure there’s a number of women who don’t drink much and are actually interesting. It’s just a transition when you’re used to dating hardcore party girls and it’s all you really know. 

 
Sep 14, 2020 - 5:17pm

I was asking the same question a year ago (https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/the-sober-curious), but it didn't catch on here at WSO like I thought it would have. A year later, I'm kind of in the same spot of being a "selective drinker". On special social outings when I do binge, I know that my brain / body are going to need 2 days to come back online and I take responsibility for my actions. Left to my own devices, I live a lifestyle that doesn't bode well with alcohol (challenging exercise, starting a business, reading a lot, chess). I maintain the belief it's an invaluable tool for connecting with others on a deeper, social level. I'm a great drunk socially. I like quiet, clarity of thought I have after a few drinks. There's a lot of benefits I'd miss if I swore it off all together. As I get older, I think I'll drink less and less. Friends moving to the suburbs, having kids, more responsibilities... It feels like the natural progression of my relationship with alcohol. If you legitamately don't have a problem, try not to be so hard on yourself.

 
Sep 17, 2020 - 1:25pm

Like this a lot. I'm in my mid-20s and while I do love having a couple blue moons with buddies (3-4 ideal) or a couple glasses of wine with fondue, I've realized more and more that I don't enjoy going out and getting fucked up (8+ drinks). All said, 15< drinks a month would be acceptable to me (taken in small chunks vs. in 1 or 2 nights) although during quarantine I've been averaging 5< (expect this to normalize once we've been vaccinated tho)

The one thing I'm looking forward to entering my 30s is less drinking culture, where it's the norm to drink like I have above vs. binges on weekends. Would love to be in the suburbs around that time as well 

 
Sep 15, 2020 - 4:27pm

My drinking has pulled way back since college. It spiked there - leveled off for a few years after - in a constant decline since. Largely due to age, in a variety of ways, but also a shifting of perspective on what matters to me. I don't care about banging around at bars till 2 am. God knows I'd prefer to never have to deal with 150 sloppy dudes in a bar going after the same three girls. Or the guy who's have too many shots and ready to show off his muscles. God... no thanks. T'was all fun at one point - but no more. 

I think there are many people who, to another posters point, have control but have a muddled relationship. Mine was never with alcohol directly - it was with always having a social setting to be in, it was not having to 'grow up', it was avoiding responsibility, girls, etc. Partying was just what you did. 

And in this, what I will say, is there's a huge selection bias. There are so many more people who don't drink, or drink sparingly, than you realize. You assume that everyone is like college - or whomever you hang out with in college. Especially if you are partying. It's just kinda how it works. At least that's how it did for me. It was normal. 

this might be rambling - or not very helpful - but my point is that the overwhelming majority of people just don't care, are there with you or will be supportive. The ones that aren't - it doesn't matter. Focus on this decision being for you - not for anyone else, or in deference to other people's opinion. Honesty with yourself is the most important thing you can do in this case. Make sure you are 'honest' about your drinking, your habits and your relationship with alcohol. That's the best you can do. 

I'll leave you with this - you don't need alcohol to have a good time. You don't need to have it to be entertaining, social, etc. For most people it's a crutch - and for many it's actually worse when they are drinking in professional or other settings. 

 

 
Sep 15, 2020 - 9:13pm

Addinator

God knows I'd prefer to never have to deal with 150 sloppy dudes in a bar going after the same three girls.

This is American bar culture perfectly distilled (no pun intended) into a single sentence. 

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

 
Sep 17, 2020 - 3:23pm

Activities. Sports, hobbies, etc. Find like groups of people and start talking to them, inviting them to do things, etc. Obviously sports are an 'easy' thing so to speak - unless it's  a bowling league... which is basically an excuse to drink. 

But that's really the secret.. simply start embracing your hobbies, do activities - things like climbing gyms, improv clubs, toastmaters even (that's more professional - but whatever) are all great options. Literally just start doing anything you can. 

Here's another one - take your headphones out, leave your phone at home and go out in public. Go shopping, have a coffee at starbucks, etc. Just say hi to people. Talk to people. Engage with people. I think this is truly an underrated one - just being engaged in day to day life. We commute with headphones, stare at our phones while waiting in line, half the people i see stare at the freaking ground when they walk. I mean... come on! 

It's really no different for people who do drink, honestly, if I think about it.

The other thing that I would note is that I think there's a huge distinction between people who don't want the 'focal' point to be alcohol vs. alcohol being a part of the activity. I think the majority of people, once you hit a certain age, the latter is more 'normal' and frankly getting too drunk is frowned upon. there's exceptions... but generally that's probably right. 

 

 

 

 
Sep 15, 2020 - 9:45pm

Also considering quitting, it’s terrible for health and frankly fosters bad habits... i limit myself to a beer every now and then with friends. I just order non-alcohol beer or a water or coffee when others are drinking around me

 
Sep 15, 2020 - 9:55pm

I don't really drink much and have not for quite some time. I don't really like anything that makes me feel tired. I'll have the occasional cocktail or two with dinner if I'm eating out but nothing really beyond that.

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 12:36am

2-3 drinks is nothing - that's barely even drinking - I wouldn't worry about it. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 1:09am

Hey man, I'll be honest here. I have drank a lot since college and it has persisted during my work career. I've never leaned on alcohol as a crutch (I can't drink when I'm sad or stressed) but moreso use it to augment my night, independent of what time it is. What that means is that usually after work is done, whether it is at 9PM or 3AM, I will find myself having a drink for either enjoyment or habit. This isn't a nightly thing by any means but more often than not, I can say I've had a couple rather than just going to bed. I will say I'm not thrilled about this and I feel I definitely do need to cut down as much as I can so I don't have liver/kidney issues in the future. 

 

And when it comes to the send-it fridays/sats with the guys, then that is definitely classified as a problem without a doubt. Alcohol has never affected my job or mood or demeanor, but I sure don't want to wait till it happens. I've challenged myself recently to not drink until the weekend but even that is proving to be difficult. Best of luck to you here, happy to keep updating on how it's going

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 1:13am

As long as you're not using alcohol to cope on a long term basis, you should be fine. Exercise, nutrition, and hydration should ease organ issues. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 1:19am

Definitely not a coping mechanism, I say that with full confidence. Just more because I think it's fun and almost all my friends are the same. I get worried since some friends in said group are definitely using it as a crutch along with some supplements so maybe that's what I'm finding unnerving but I agree with you. I am otherwise a healthy and fit guy

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 2:04am

2-3 drinks on the weekends doesn't sound like a problem. Are you particularly sensitive to alcohol, i.e. are you feeling like shit after having two beers? A friend of mine was like this -- he just totally stopped since he realized he was overly sensitive to alcohol. Have you used alcohol to cope with / avoid problems in the past? Do you binge drink from time to time? It just sounds like part of the story is missing here.

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 8:19am

I have the same / similar scenario. Although I enjoy / love having a drink, including the feeling and taste, my main problem is the hangovers and recovery. As I like to wake up at 5:00am and goto the gym, even a slight impact on my sleep and timing (i.e. a few drinks) makes it extremely difficult to get up on time. Also once you break the pattern, it takes a few tries (and failures) before waking up becomes routine again. As such, I rarely if ever drink unless with I'm friends.

When I was younger, I actually moved to another city from my college friends as I realised I didn't have the self-control, and I wanted to focus on my career. I knew my limitations and I feel it was the right decision.

I've now moved back and I'm less driven. Most of my friends drink moderately, and it's something that bonds us together. Although the recovery of drinking is hard for someone waking up early, I know that I will continue to drink and therefore I try to reduce the effects by drinking water before bed, having vodka and carbonated water (to get the hydration while drinking), etc.

I think ultimately you need to assess what your goals are, limitations and the trade-offs. If you're focused and driven, and the effects of alcohol is impacting you, then you'll need to make sacrifices (which a lot of successful people do, including their friendships). If waking up early, reading books and personal development is important, then again the effects of drinking may impact your ability to achieve that. Fortunately I don't need to drink at work, but I enjoy hanging out with my friends so I drink with them, even if it will result in me not waking up on time, missing the gym or feeling like crap the next few days, it's a trade-off I'm willing to take.

 
  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Sep 16, 2020 - 9:02am

How much are you feeling pressured into drinking at these outings? I would imagine you could just get a beer and drink it slowly? Or have a glass of whiskey but skip the next few rounds?

That's what I do on social occasions at least. Not really a fan of social drinking, but won't deny myself. But I still have wine with dinner most days of the week, though that might also moreso be habit of the household/culture I grew up in/treat it just like coffee/water instead of "something to get drunk/crazy with".

 

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 10:10am

Dude, 

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
 
Sep 16, 2020 - 10:49am

It sucks to go dry, if you can avoid it. (i.e. dont have a drinking problem). It cuts out lots of networking and bonding opportunities. Its just easy to go and get a drink with a buddy you havnt seen a while, a potential business a contact, a chick or wtv. Sure you can still just order something without alcohol, but if you're not an AA i'd just assume you're a boring person. That's me though.

 
Sep 17, 2020 - 1:32pm

Fair enough. Having the capability to drink if needed is one thing, but going out every Fri night to get fucked up is something that a) can lead to a problem or b) I myself don't really enjoy much if I'm being honest. Sure, maybe once or twice a month or so this can be fine but any more than that and it's just not a good time for me. Maybe it's being an introvert, but as I get older and older I'm more comfortable with the idea of drinking a lot less

 
Sep 16, 2020 - 11:40am

Best thing I ever did. 1) save money 2) I feel better 3) saves me time rather than drinking I started doing stuff, 4) I got mad respect from people (even my MD heard and said it was respectable). Total BS on it cutting out networking opportunities. If you’re cool people will still want you there. I have found it doesn’t make much of a difference if I drink or not with regards to being invited to networking opportunities..(but drinking at networking events makes it more bearable lol)

Array
 
Sep 16, 2020 - 11:49am

I mean its your life to live. Go for it. I personally love drinking and the social scene that surrounds it, so not the path I'd take, but I'm not you and vice versa. Do what makes you happy man. That what its all about.

Dayman?
 
Sep 16, 2020 - 8:44pm

and drink copious amounts of good coffee.

Have you ever considered going caffeine free?

After I saw Matthew Walker on Rogan I gradually tapered down from "copius" amounts of caffeine to zero...

Total game changer.

Way less anxiety, more hydrated, better sleep, more concentration, even energy levels, aches and pains gradually disappearing.

Look into it.

 
Sep 18, 2020 - 3:58am

As others have stated and from what you've described - it doesn't appear that you have a problem that needs addressing.

I understand that you are afraid of losing friends by giving up alcohol.  That is likely a real possibility.  In my experience, friends will either grow with you and your changing interests or they won't - but, you will do yourself a greater disservice by trying to force a fit that's not there.  We naturally lose touch with old friends to make room for new relationships that are a better fit.

"A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself."
 
Sep 18, 2020 - 8:26am
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