Making the decision to quit drinking (or at least cut back) can be life-changing. No one can tell you when it’s time; that’s a question you have to answer for yourself. But if you decide to quit or cut back, it will help to be prepared for some of what you’ll experience once you go sober. Quitting drinking can have many positive effects on your life and health. But it can also make you more depressed than you were when you were still imbibing.
Quitting drinking can indeed be a great step towards regaining your health and control of your life. But you need to be ready for everything your body and mind will go through.
We’re not even talking about heavy drinking here, either. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines defines moderate drinking as up to “up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men”. Lauren Wolfe, a clinical psychologist and chief clinical officer for Annum Health says, “highest risk drinking occurs when you have more than four or five drinks in a single occasion, and one incidence of heavy drinking per week is worse for you than light drinking three, or even five, days in a week.”
So if you’re a woman, having a glass of wine at the end of each day makes you a moderate drinker. But those girls’ nights? Could be a problem.
Jenna Igneri decided to stop drinking for a month after one too many mornings feeling like shit. While she was pleasantly surprised by the physical changes that quitting drinking brought on, the mental and emotional changes were harder to adjust to. Jenna says her skin looked better, she was less bloated, and she felt lighter. All good things!
But Jenna says she also had very little energy and wasn’t feeling great, mentally or emotionally. She was feeling allllllllll the feelings, and a lot of them weren’t good.
“When I first embarked on my sober journey, a bustling Friday night spent prancing around Bushwick, sipping seltzer and having worthwhile conversations that I actually remembered, was followed by waking up Saturday morning feeling empty, depressed, and unable to get out of bed””and this continued for weeks”, says Jenna. She says that as someone who suffers from anxiety that she doesn’t take meds for, a cocktail or two after work a couple of days a week was her coping mechanism. Quitting drinking took away her way to unwind and relax.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in a long run. For Jenna, it meant finding new, healthier ways to manage her stress and anxiety.
Detoxing is going to be a rough transition, there’s no other way around it. But if you feel like quitting drinking is the direction your life needs to take at the moment, getting sober (either for a little while or for good) can open your eyes to other ways to manage the icky feelings. It’s a very personal decision, and one that only you can make for yourself. But knowing what to expect, both the good and the bad, can really help make your newfound sobriety stick.
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(Image: Instagram / @louise.delage)