What happens when we ‘give up’ alcohol?

What happens when we ‘give up’ alcohol? I imagine that most of us think our lives will suddenly become a lot bleaker, that we’ll have less fun and that we will become boring as hell – the type of person that other people side swerve at a party. When we think of ‘giving up’ something we immediately think that we’re losing out and that whatever alcohol currently gives us – whether it is a false sense of bravado at a party, or a cut off point from the kids in the evening for some ‘me time’ – is going to leave a gaping black hole when we stop drinking. I know I thought this – although I felt tired, had low immunity, sore muscles and anxiety and although I lied through my teeth to the doctor about how much I drank (usually settling on a realistic sounding 10 units a week) – and the fear of having to live with that perceived blank space was what kept me drinking. Most of my clients are the same – they know instinctively that drinking is affecting them in a range of negative ways, but they’re too scared to stop because they’ve become reliant on what they perceive to be all the benefits of consuming alcohol, such as being able to handle social situations, shutting off from the pain in their lives and ‘treating’ themselves. Once you’ve stopped drinking, after the first few days or so when the psychological and physical cravings may be particularly strong, you’ll probably start to notice that you sleep better, than your anxiety levels drop and that you have the time and energy to do things that you may never have done before (or neglected for some time). But what else is there? When you’re not clocking out large chunks of the day with booze, you may be forced to have a better look at your life, which can be scary. It’s important to ask yourself, what else do I want from life? What can fill the blankness? What can I do, or gain, now that I’ve stopped drinking? This can be anything from small treats, like spending your ‘drinking’ money on a massage or a new pair of jeans, to thinking about how you might use that energy to do something fun, or to go even further and think what job opportunities might be available to you now that you’re a calmer, energised and more financially responsible person.