Why I’m Ditching Alcohol (And No, It Has Nothing To Do With Detoxing)

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Drinking is a tricky business for me.

I’ve certainly enjoyed my fair share of boozy nights out. Alcohol was a mainstay of college weekends, internship happy hours, quarter-century birthday celebrations and a handful of weddings. All fun things.

I’ve also encountered some very real fears with drinking. I blacked out for the first and final time when I was a senior in college because the lack of control left me absolutely terrified. I swore off alcohol for a year after graduation when I realized how deeply alcoholism roots ran through my family tree. And, over the years, I’ve made some regrettable decisions that I still deeply wish I could take back.

But these reasons aren’t why I feel compelled to walk away from the wine this time around. And it’s not about detoxing, nixing unwanted calories or flipping my dietary lifestyle upside down, either.

I’m ditching drinking because it’s not fun anymore. Actually, it goes beyond that. Throughout the past year, I’ve noticed that alcohol brings on powerful depressive feelings for me. I’m talking weeping until I just fall asleep and start over the next morning kind of depressive. And it doesn’t matter if I’m at a raging party, a chill bar or my own apartment with a few friends. Anything more than two cocktails (over the course of the entire evening, not just a couple of hours) makes me feel the lowest of low.

Unsplash/W A T A R I

Now, the logical part of my brain understands that alcohol is classified as a depressant, so my reaction isn’t completely surprising. Booze has this strange blend of stimulants and sedatives, and most people react more strongly to one of these two components. If you biologically lean into the uppers, drinking creates a blissful feeling you wish would never fade. But if your body chooses the downers route, you’re in for a rough emotional ride.

I guess I just didn’t realize you could toggle between these two extreme reactions to the same substance within such a short timespan.

I remember when drinking would make me feel like a more fun and open version of my introverted self. I would smile, laugh, chat, sing, dance, you name it. But I couldn’t tell you the last time it elicited that kind of boost in my persona. Something happened. A switch flipped in my brain, and now I’m the opposite of the life of the party. I’m the person desperately wishing the party would just disappear so I can wallow in solitude.

Gearing up the logical side of my brain again, I ask myself, “What’s the point in doing it if there’s nothing you enjoy about it anymore?” And the answer is incredibly simple: It’s not.

So, for now, I’m ditching alcohol — not because I’m an alcoholic but because I like how I feel so much better without it. I won’t turn down a friend’s wedding toast this spring or a glass of wine on my 28th birthday in May, but for now, it’s pretty much going to stop there. This decision floods my body with a sense of relief and peace. And I’m sure the lack of hangovers will feel pretty good, too.