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sober life

9 years of sobriety: observations and benefits

A lot of things happen when you stop drinking alcohol. Here are 8 benefits I’ve observed from 9 years of sobriety.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

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

I never really considered myself an alcoholic 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 to 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:

Watch my Ted Talk on what I learned about the relationship between addiction and identity.

Your social life improves when you become sober

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

When you get drunk and talk to people, it’s difficult to remember what was said, stay focused on the stories told, or 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 tough to build a new social life if you stop drinking, but the quality of your friendships will be much higher if you can overcome social anxiety without relying on alcohol.

If you want some quick bites you can use to encourage someone to get sober or to help yourself stay the course, check out 53 of my most powerful quotes about sobriety.

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 actual color of the grass and sky.

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 you go back to the only way you know to deal with pain—drinking.

We lose the ability to assess and deal with negative emotions outside of getting drunk. This is well known and expected. What people often forget is that our ability to enjoy positive emotions also becomes impaired.

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

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 positive 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’ll be stronger because of your sobriety.

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, elevating your life 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 bad, 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.

If you’re worried that you don’t know how, here’s an article I wrote teaching you how to have fun and socialize sober.

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 judgment.

Before 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 I already have my “tried and true” favorites. I was worried that a new company was 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 lineup. 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 what exactly scared me: I was afraid of being an outcast.

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

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 a lot, you never understand why you’re always broke.

You buy cheaper food, cancel subscriptions, and 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 overspending 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 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:

Do you want to quit drinking, but you just can’t?

Tell me if any of this sounds like you. You:

  • Try to have one drink like a normal person, but you end up making a fool of yourself everytime you drink.
  • You worry that you don’t know how to have just one drink like a normal person.
  • Don’t know how to socialize and have fun without alcohol and you want a change.
  • Worry that you might hurt yourself or others the next time you drink.
  • Secretly are afraid that you drink too much but you can’t leave the social life of alcohol behind.

Even if you didn’t see yourself in these statements, you know if alcohol is a problem that you’re having trouble beating

In my program Vicebreakers, I detail the strategies and tactics I used to *finally* quit booze after trying to put the bottle down for over.2 years. After numerous attempts and relapses, I cracked the code.

12/22/13 was the last day I drank alcohol. My life has been uphill ever since. 

If you want to learn the strategies that I use to finally get control my drinking habit, then check out Vicebreakers.


I want to get control of my drinking!
Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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