About Addiction & Sobriety

8 years of sobriety: observations and benefits

When you stop drinking, you start thinking. Here are 8 observations I’ve made during my 8 years of sobriety.

Ed Latimore, author, blogger, and retired pro boxer
Ed Latimore Author, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

My last drink was December 22nd, 2013. I’ve been completely sober for almost 8 years and while it wasn’t easy, the benefits I’ve gained from not drinking far exceeded my expectations.

I never really considered myself an alcohol by traditional standards, and maybe I’ll drink again someday, but not until I get to where I want to be in life.

The truth is I can’t afford to drink.

Not in the financial sense, but in the opportunity cost that comes with drinking.

Going out takes time. Drinking takes time. Recovering takes time.

This was time I could have spent on boxing, studying, writing, or bonding with loved ones.

And once I was able to dedicate my life towards these pursuits, I began to realize just how much alcohol was holding me back.

I could write a dozen articles about the pros of quitting drinking, but after some time I managed to cut that list down to eight specific things.

These are the eight most impactful benefits I experienced after I stopped drinking alcohol, which I’ll go into more detail throughout this article:

Your social life improves when you become sober

Have you ever told yourself that you need some “liquid courage” to loosen up socialize?

When you get drunk and talk to people, it’s difficult to remember what was being said, to stay focused on the stories being told, or to read body language and tonality.

For every person who said I was fun while drinking, there are at least a dozen who have less impressive memories of me while drunk.

And I will admit, it’s much easier to start a conversation with someone if your inhibitions are lowered. However, this is a double-edged sword.

You’re no longer afraid to connect with other people, but you’re more likely to do dumb shit to make others lose interest in you.

It’s going to be tough to build a new social life if you stop drinking, but if you work on overcoming social anxiety without alcohol the quality of your friendships will be much, much higher.

You gain control over your emotions

Getting drunk is like putting on a pair of sunglasses.

You can see the world, but the light is dim. You can’t experience the full color and vibrancy of the world. And, if you wear them long enough you forget the grass and sky really look like.

You might even argue that the sky is pink and the grass is black. You can’t tell what’s right because you’ve been wearing the sunglasses for so long.

Eventually, if you try to take the sunglasses off, the overwhelming flood of bright lights and colors can be too much to handle, and we go back to the only way we know to deal with pain - drinking.

We have no way of assessing and solving negative emotions outside of getting drunk, and it’s the same with positive emotions too.

For a long time, I had no idea how to celebrate the good things in life without drinking.

Got a raise at work? Let’s drink! It’s my birthday? Let’s drink! I just won a fight!? I have to drink.

Alcohol prevents you from truly feeling the joyous things in life.

With alcohol no longer an option, you’re forced to deal with all of these emotions — good and bad. And ultimately, you’re going to come out stronger than ever before.

Getting sober makes you more accountable for your actions

I always hated it when people would excuse my shitty behavior by saying, “Oh, you were just drunk”.

If you run someone over because you were drinking, they don’t excuse you for it. There is a very real consequence, and you have to deal with it.

But this doesn’t prevent people from using alcohol as an excuse.

Alcohol is designed to make you do dumb shit that you wouldn’t otherwise do. And so many people drink with the intention of getting to the point where they will act in a way that is destructive.

A big turning point for me was deciding that I wanted maximum responsibility over my life. I no longer wanted to spend the next day recovering from a hangover.

I used to say “95% of my problems are started or agitated while drunk”. So, if I knew I wanted to take back control, the answer was simple:

Just stop drinking.

You can’t use alcohol as an excuse if you’re always sober. As a result, you put more thought into what you say and do, and your life is elevated to higher standards than ever before.

You’ll have a lot more free time available

How much time have you spent getting drunk late at night in bars, at home, or with your friends?

Probably more than you want to admit.

Now, drinking buddies and party friends aren’t a bad thing, but you have to remember that time is a finite resource.

The time you spend with these drinking buddies is a big waste. You aren’t bonding, improving, or working on your goals.

All those mornings spent nursing a hangover, regretting the things you did last night while trying to pay attention to your boss in a meeting. It’s torture.

Above all, you aren’t spending time around people you actually know and like.

Once you build an amazing network of like-minded friends and spend your time doing the things you love, you become aware of everything you missed out on in the past.

Over time, you’ll move on from those old drinking friends and habits, and start loving everything the world has to offer.

You get to discover the world of delicious non-alcoholic drinks

I genuinely enjoy the taste of some alcoholic beverages — specifically beer and wine.

Non-alcoholic wine doesn’t offer much, but non-alcoholic beer has a lot of options. Some are so good that you don’t know you aren’t consuming alcohol until the third drink with your better judgement.

Prior to giving up alcohol, I didn’t think most places carried a brand. As long as you tip normally, bars are happy to have a person buy non-alcoholic beer. It’s one less person likely to act like an asshole.

One of my new favorite non-alcoholic beers is produced by a company named Gruvi.

They reached out to me a few weeks ago to offer me some of their products to try. I was immediately skeptical because not only do I already have my “tried and true” favorites, I was worried that a new company was just trying to get some free publicity. However, I’m always open to being surprised so I accepted their products and tried them out.

I’m happy to say that Gruvi legitimately blew me away with both taste and quality.

If you want to enjoy the taste of a cool lager, stout, or an IPA but you’re no longer a drinker, I highly recommend that you try their line up. Use discount code Ed10 for a 10% discount. You will not be disappointed.

Order Gruvi here. Use discount code Ed10 for a 10% discount.

Quitting drinking will show you who your real friends are

When I stopped drinking, I texted my closest friends and told them.

I told them I was scared, but I didn’t specify exactly what scared me. I was scared of being an outcast.

I figured that I’d rather be outcast because I stopped alcohol use rather than because I couldn’t stop.

People talk about how you lose friends when you stop drinking. Although I’d known these guys for over 15 years, I still worried about this. Nothing really changed. They asked if I’d be cool around alcohol or still going out, but that’s about it.

They wanted to help me help myself.

On the other hand, some of my friends kept trying to drag me back into the world of booze. No matter what I said, the words went in one ear and out the other.

You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be around the right ones.

Your bank account will be better than ever

Alcohol costs money. Obviously, right?

But when your entire life revolves around drinking and you jump at every opportunity to get drunk, the costs add up.

What’s worse is that even though you’re drinking lot, you never understand why you’re always broke.

You buy cheaper food, cancel subscriptions, save every penny you have, but you still end every month anxiously awaiting your paycheck.

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? It states that the amount of work required to complete a task expands to fill the time available.

If you have one week to do something, it’ll take one week. And the same goes for alcohol.

No matter how much you save up or earn from the extra job you just end up over-spending the next time you go out.

It’s a vicious cycle. One that only ends when you decide to go sober.

To quote Kanye West: “Having money isn’t everything, not having it is.”

Living paycheck to paycheck causes untold amounts of stress and anxiety. And while having more money in the bank isn’t going to make your problems disappear overnight, it’s going to make one hell of a difference in your mental health and wellbeing.

Every aspect of your life will change for the better

The single biggest thing I’ve taken away from the past 8 years is that I have a significant advantage in every area because I don’t drink.

The only way this advantage would erode is if everyone stopped drinking.

I’m fitter, healthier, and sharper than I’ve ever been before. I get to spend my morning writing, studying, and focusing on my goals instead of recovering from a hangover.

My sleep has improved dramatically, and now I wake up refreshed each and every day.

I pay more attention and catch things that other people miss because I’m no longer numbers by alcohol.

My risk of liver disease and heart disease has gone way down, and my immune system is stronger than ever. After all, no matter what advertising tells us, alcohol is a carcinogen.

This list could continue ad infinitum, but the main point is that there is no penalty for not drinking.

If you’re reading this looking for an excuse to do what you know you need to do and stop drinking, hopefully you’ve found it.

Thank you for reading.

And if you’ve decided it’s time to stop drinking, check out my Vice Breakers program, which helps you kick bad habits and addictions:

Kick your bad habits once and for all!

Do you:

  • Use your bad habits to fill a void?
  • Turn a blind eye to the consequences and risks involved with using?
  • Sneak and lie to hide your vices?
  • Choose your bad habits over your responsibilities?
  • Secretly long for a healthier and more fulfilling life?

Then you’re in the right place.

Vice Breakers is the most effective way to turn your life around by overcoming your bad habits and creating new, more healthy habits in their place…

My latest online course is the perfect synthesis of science and street smarts designed for one purpose and one purpose only:

Help you break free from your vices so you can reach your highest potential and build the life you truly want to live.

Inside this highly detailed, instructional, and action oriented course, you’ll discover science-backed information to help you break your bad habits by developing the 3 selves:

Self-awareness, Self-control, Self-respect

Learn more about overcoming bad habits that hold you back

Ed Latimore, author, blogger, and retired pro boxer
Ed Latimore Author, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

Further Reading

How to have fun and socialize sober
Ed Latimore Quotes About Sobriety
How to stop drinking: 15 steps to recovery
The alcohol detox diet I used to get sober