What Happened When I Stopped Drinking Alcohol

This was me. Not anymore!

I’ve only thrown up once from excessive alcohol consumption. It was last year and it was pumpkin beer. Every fall, I embrace the fall pumpkin-flavored-everything frenzy to a worrying degree. And these beers tasted so good that I kept drinking them until I was too drunk to make decisions with my brain. OnE mORe?! oKaaY!

I figure when writing something like this, it’s helpful to know the author’s experience with alcohol, so briefly, here’s mine…

I skipped the whole college drinking phase, and didn’t start drinking booze semi-regularly until my late 20s. My drinking ebbed and flowed, but it had gotten more consistent in the last two years, especially with the pandemic situation (I’m 34). 

My drink of choice had mostly been red wine, but this year it changed to vodka mixed with various juices. As for moderation, that’s been hit or miss. On average, I had alcohol 3-5 days a week, and anywhere from two to five drinks on those days.

So far, this has been a “dry October.” I haven’t had any alcohol for about three weeks. Here’s what I’ve learned since not drinking. I’ve been astounded by these changes, which is why I’m not likely going to be a regular drinker moving forward.

From Hazy to Clear

I had no idea, but alcohol significantly clouded my thinking. I only discovered this because I stopped drinking! There was no way to know otherwise that I was in a constant haze, because when you live in the haze, it’s all you see and know and it seems normal. Now I know it isn’t!

I really noticed a difference at about the two week mark. I felt mentally sharper and it was much easier to focus. 

Mood Stability

You know how there are fun drunks and angry drunks? I’m generally the fun type, but when I drink while gambling alone or playing FIFA, I’m more of the angry type. I don’t like to lose, and alcohol makes it easy to lose coordination-based competitions. Quarantine life made this situation a lot more common, as boredom and travel restriction really limited my options!

Since I stopped drinking, my mood has been significantly more stable and upbeat. My normal disposition is cheerful, and I feel like I had lost some of that from drinking.

Exercise & Productivity

Who wants to work out after drinking? I never did, and so I never did! I’m not even sure if it’s a good idea since alcohol dehydrates you. 

I didn’t want to work after drinking either, because alcohol puts you in fun/relaxing mode, and my work requires a lot of brainpower. When I started drinking, that basically meant my day was finished in terms of being productive and exercising. That’s a big sacrifice!

Since I stopped drinking, I’ve been working out once or twice a day. I’ve got a strong exercise habit thanks to Elastic Habits, but drinking had prevented me from doing it as often. My writing output—I’m writing a book—has improved in quality and quantity.

Physical Health

After I stopped drinking, I noticed a big improvement in my health.

My back felt better. Alcohol can dehydrate muscles, and I think that exacerbated my back issues.

I felt better in the morning. No hangovers, obviously. But beyond that, even when you drink in moderation, you can feel more subtle negative effects the next day. The body treats alcohol as a poison, and it works hard to rid itself of it. If you take that away, the body can focus on repairing other things.

My exercise endurance and energy doubled. There’s not much more to say. My workouts have gotten a lot better.

My digestion improved. I’ve found that many types of alcohol upset my GI system and cause bloating. That’s why I was drinking vodka, as it’s supposed to be easier on the stomach, but it still wasn’t perfect. My digestive system is humming along sans alcohol.


After I stopped drinking, my ambition increased. I wanted to do more, be more, and achieve more. I think it’s because of all the other factors I mentioned. With a better mood, more energy, fewer health issues, and a clear mind, the world becomes a more exciting place.


I’ve heard of people going from “Dry January” to not drinking anymore. After this experience, I can see why! I truly feel like a new person and frankly, I’m shocked at the difference.

It’s not like I was getting wasted every night. I probably drank a bit more than average. 

In hindsight, it seems like alcohol stifled me in multiple ways. I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to. It was an easy escape into relaxation, but I’m now seeing the immense cost of that.

Am I going to quit alcohol forever? No, but I am going to save it for special occasions. When I go to Vegas, of course I’ll drink (too much). If I’m celebrating something big, sure, pass the wine. But there is currently no alcohol in my house and no plans to change that. And I don’t see myself drinking socially very often either (not that I go to bars anyway). 

If you drink a few times a week and have been for years, I encourage you to take just 2-3 weeks off. Maybe you won’t notice a difference. Maybe all of this is just my personal sensitivity to alcohol. But that’s why it’s critical to experiment, because if you’re like me, you’ll notice a massive change when you stop drinking.

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