How Sobriety Has Helped Me
I sleep better.
When I was a heavy drinker, I almost never slept through an entire night. I regularly woke up to use the bathroom. In some of my heaviest drinking days, I even needed an additional drink to fall back asleep.
When I first got sober, I had a lot of trouble sleeping, but over the past couple of years, my sleep patterns have become far healthier. I fall asleep more easily, and I now sleep all the way through almost every night.
I finally feel well rested in a way that I never achieved as a drinker.
I wake up with a clear head.
Waking up has also gotten better since I quit drinking, and not only because I’m better rested.
I normally didn’t have the worst hangovers as a drinker, but headaches were still a regular part of my mornings. I’d also often feel dehydrated and a little confused for the first hour or so of each day.
Now, I almost never get headaches when I wake up, or any other part of the day. When I get up in the morning, I’m not feeling filled with regret about drinking the night before. Instead, I’m feeling ready to start the day.
There’s “more time” in my day.
Without drinking the days also feel way longer. This is a common feeling that people have when they get sober, and it’s hard to explain just how extreme a feeling it can be.
Of course, there’s going to be more time to get things done when I’m not spending hours each night drunk on the couch. But somehow, the days feel like they’re twice or even three times longer than they did as a drinker. Even the weeks and months go by more slowly (in a good way.)
Compared to when I was a drinker, these days I feel like I have more time for both being productive and just relaxing.
I’m no longer possessed by guilt.
Now that I’ve quit drinking, I spend a lot less time feeling guilty about my life. This might be the most “abstract” improvement on this list, but it’s a very important one to me.
It’s not that I ever did anything awful as a drunk. It’s just that I always had a sense of guilt over how much time I was wasting drinking, and how drinking seemed to be impacting my life.
Getting sober was a giant “to-do” that I had been putting off for years. It was constantly in the back of my mind. Every morning I’d wake up feeling guilty about drinking the night before, and swearing to myself that this day would be different.
My temper has improved.
The changes I’ve experienced haven’t just improved my life, but they’ve also improved the lives of the people around me. As a drunk, I had a bad temper. I wasn’t violent, but I was extremely rude and snappy.
It’s taken a lot of additional work on my part, but now that I’m sober, my temper has improved dramatically. With the help of therapy, I’ve practiced getting in better control of my emotions, and not taking out my own bad feelings on the people around me.
I still have room to improve in this department, but with alcohol out of the way, I’m getting better at it.
I’ve saved money.
As I mentioned earlier, saving money was one of the few changes that did start immediately. I can conservatively estimate that I’ve already saved thousands of dollars from not drinking.
Drinking every day is insanely expensive, and it only took a few weeks before I started to notice how much I had saved.
I’ve lost weight.
Another change that happened soon after I got sober is that I started to lose weight.
Drinking had caused my weight to increase steadily during my late-twenties. By the time I quit drinking, I had already become obese.
In the early days of my sobriety, I started losing weight simply because I was no longer drinking thousands of calories of beer every week. In all other respects, my diet stayed the same or got worse, but the effect of cutting out drinking was enough to drive weight loss on its own.
Eventually, my weight-loss progress did stall, but at that point, I started counting calories and exercising more, and managed to reach my goal weight. If I had still been drinking, I never would have had the discipline or motivation to follow through on this.
My digestion is better.
Fair warning: this one’s a little gross. As a drinker, I had extremely poor digestion. My stomach was always upset, and diarrhea was a regular part of my life. I was so used to these issues that I didn’t even realize how bad the problem had become.
Exercise is easier.
Finally, since quitting drinking, exercise has gotten easier and more effective. Even when I was a heavy drinker, I used to occasionally run, but I had a hard time sticking with it. Runs were difficult, and progression was slow.
Since quitting drinking, running has gotten a thousand times easier, and I have the motivation to stick with it. These days running gives me more energy, instead of sapping my energy away.
I’ve even had enough energy to try out other types of exercise. Since quitting drinking I’ve spent time bouldering, biking, and hiking. Exercise has actually become an important tool in maintaining my sobriety, as one of the best ways to keep my mood stable.