How it all started
Beware, long story incoming.
First of all, you need to know that I was a heavy drinker.
I wasn’t drinking one beer or one glass of wine, I was drinking all I could handle. I wanted to feel the effects of alcohol. The good part was that I didn’t create such a high resistance to alcohol, so I didn’t have to buy the whole store in order to get drunk.
Why was I drinking so much?
I could just tell you I was young and stupid, but that really wasn’t the case.
Probably like most of us, drinking seriously begins in high school, when you’re choosing some other “hobbies” outside of school. It’s the time when you meet new people and start some new experiences.
It was my 2nd year of high school, one of my friends, which was 1 year older than me, already began this game of playing with alcohol. One night he got a little drunk and called me. I thought the whole situation was so funny and since we were such good friends, I wanted to feel the way he was feeling. I was seeing it was making him be happier and he did something unexpected one night.
He gave me his PayPal.
It was a time when he was making some money online and I was helping him somewhat, but he wasn’t sending me the money right away. That night I’m not sure if I transferred some well-deserved money into my account, but at that point, I was moved by what he did and I felt like it was the time I also got drunk and felt how you can get the best out of you after a couple of drinks.
I made the plan.
I convinced one of my friends we would get drunk on that Friday afternoon. We actually wanted to impress some girls as well, so we thought getting a little dizzy would help us even more. We knew the girls had a physical education class and it was pretty much free to roam around that room where you could either play volleyball or ping pong (another little separate room next to the main one).
Me and my friend went to the shop, bought some beers and started drinking. I had 2 after all, while my friend had 3. Fortunately for us, another friend brought some wine (I told you we had it planned), so we added a little extra alcohol to our first experience.
We were feeling dizzy already. My friend was not feeling good, I was feeling extraordinary.
At that time, I wasn’t usually touching my face with my hands, because I knew I had bacteria on them, and I didn’t want my acne to get worse. Guess what. At that time I was touching my forehead with my palms and I wasn’t feeling any type of discomfort.
My brain didn’t care.
At that moment I realized that getting drunk is a real thing. I was just happy. Unfortunately for both of us, we were still around the school but weren’t able to move the way we wanted to. My friend wasn’t feeling too good, I guess that’s what happens when you try to one up someone else when you’re not ready (he drank one beer more than me(.
Good things classes were over and the school was already pretty empty, since it was a friday afternoon. The problem was those girls we were waiting for, never came (we found out on monday their class got cancelled anyway).
We still weren’t home though.
That meant we had to go somehow. While being dizzy, my friend just left the school. I was still waiting to feel normal again so I could walk home. I wasn’t afraid of a car hitting me since I didn’t give a damn anyway, but I wasn’t ready to go back to my grandma looking like I was playing the Joker in Batman.
After 1-2 hours I finally went home. First thing after entering the house, I just jumped in my bed and went sleeping for a few hours. No one asked anything, after all it was a school day, and if you get up at 6 or 7 AM to get to classes, it’s not a surprise if you fall asleep right after coming back home.
The rest is history.
This is the story of how I started. I did continue through the next few years of high school drinking like I wasn’t going to see alcohol again in my life. The funny thing is that it’s actually true.
It’s September of 2017 and I’m not sure when was the last time I put even a drop of alcoholic beverage into my body. Rest assured, I’m happier than ever and one of the reasons is that I don’t have that old friend into my life anymore.
Now here are the reasons why I actually stopped drinking any type of alcohol. You might not agree with all of them and that’s okay, we are not all the same, but if at least 1 of them helps you, I’m happy.
#1 IT WAS AN ESCAPE FROM REALITY
You can’t be happy 100% of the time.
At the same time, you can’t always drink yourself out of reality.
It’s true that alcohol can make you forget or not pay attention to things that usually stress you out, but at the same time, you are not curing the disease, you are curing the symptom. That’s just a quick fix, just like the pills your doctor prescribes you. After you don’t take them anymore, you will feel bad again.
Fortunately, over time, I was able to create a reality that was way better overall than the reality I was artificially creating by using a chemical that was playing around with my mind.
How did I do this?
By having enough things that make me happy all the time. If I was drunk for one night, the next day I wasn’t jumping out of bed and taking my next alcoholic shot just to get that high again. I was already having a hangover at that point, and as you know, it’s not the best feeling in the world.
Make your reality better than the “drunk” reality.
#2 IT MAKES YOU FAT
The science is a little bit more complicated here. Alcohol doesn’t make you fat on its own, but I will explain it in a simple way, so we can fully understand why it’s a vicious cycle.
Your body doesn’t see alcohol as a friend.
The body sees alcohol as a toxic chemical. That’s why, when you have alcohol in your body, it will be the first fuel to be used for energy. It means that no matter what food you put in your body earlier, it will be put on hold until your body get’s rid of those alcoholic calories.
If you don’t have any idea how many calories might be hiding in your drink, here are a few examples:
- Standard can of beer: 154 calories
- Glass of white wine: 128 calories
- Martini: 295 calories
- Jack and Coke: 308 calories
“The beer belly” is real.
Eat your steak, don’t drink your calories. You will still eat the steak after the beers anyway.
#3 IT DESTROYS YOUR BRAIN CELLS
Will you be a better person the next day after excessive drinking?
You might be, just because you won’t have a clear enough mind to argue with anyone (unless you want more headaches).
You know alcohol on its own is already doing some fishy things in your brain, otherwise, why would you think and behave in another way? Heavy alcohol consumption is already a topic which we should talk about seriously if we want to have a successful life and be able to concentrate on the things that are most important in our life.
Research shows that constantly hitting your neurotransmitters with alcohol can impact the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain which are critical to learning, impulse control, and other human behaviors.
Is it really that dramatic?
It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, our body is able to recover. If you give it a few months or even years, this sober time gives it the opportunity to heal itself from the damage that has previously occured. The negative effects on thinking skills, problem-solving, memory, and even attention can be reversed if you help your brain, by just keeping him away from the excessive alcohol consumption boggie man.
Keep your brain cells healthy, you might actually still need them.
Source: University of California, San Diego
#4 IT HURTS YOUR PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE
Did you ever go work-out drunk?
I actually did in high school. The good part was I wasn’t lifting heavy enough to get in trouble.
As I said before, when you have alcohol in your body, it will be used as fuel. The problem is, it basically is the most inefficient fuel. You can read this study if you want to know more about this subject, but basically, I will summarise it in a few sentences:
- Alcohol has ~7 calories/gram
- Blood glucose levels will either be too high or too low when too much alcohol is consumed
- Alcohol impairs the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals
- Your metabolism is damaged by heavy alcohol consumption
If you’re an athlete or just want to see results from going to the gym, don’t waste all that effort in a couple of nights. It’s just not worth it.
Should you care if you don’t go to the gym?
Well, you might want to have a healthy child in the future. First of all, your in-bed performance might suffer because your libido isn’t going anywhere, literally. If you can’t think straight, your brain will not be the only thing that goes numb.
It’s been already 20 years since we know our DNA can be damaged by alcohol.
Your body wants good fuel. It will help you do whatever you want if you give him the proper energy source.
#5 IT’S A WASTE OF MONEY
It’s not really a waste if you enjoyed it, is it?
Well, I’m from Romania and the price here is usually around $1/liter (33oz) of beer at the store. Let’s do the math:
- Let’s say we have a person who drinks an average of 7 beers a week.
- That is a beer a day.
- 365 days X 1 beer = 365 beers/year
- Let’s assume one beer costs an average of 2 dollars (not always drinking at home, are we?)
- That is 365 X 2 = $730 on beer/year
Does that sound uncommon? Not really, check out this infographic. the average in the US is $365/year on beer. But let’s be honest, who drinks only beer? And did they actually study the under 18 demographic as well?
Could you do something better with that money? I certainly could.
By the way, Romania is spending around $148 on beer/year, although the salary is around x10 lower than in the US. Go figure which companies are having a big smile on their face at the end of the day (and they don’t even need to drink their own beverage to have that big smile).
You’ll have more money if you drink less or not at all. It’s just basic math.
#6 THERE ARE BETTER WAYS OF GETTING “DRUNK”
Let’s be honest, most of us just wanted to feel that high feeling alcohol gives us, nothing else.
It’s basically the pill that solves our stress.
However, there are better alternatives to alcohol that can have the same relaxing effects but doesn’t give the potential addiction and doesn’t cause the damage I’ve earlier talked about from consuming alcohol in large quantities. Here are a few alternatives that can be consumed:
- Kava – it’s used to calm your anxiety, stress, restlessness, and treat sleep problems (long-term consumption, however, may affect the liver)
- L-Theanine – it has the ability to calm your nerves and alleviate your stress.
- Valerian – it can act as a sedative on your brain and your nervous system.
- GHB – you didn’t hear this from me, ok? Kidding, just take care of not overdosing and see how you react to it.
Ok, the ones above might give you a placebo effect because we all know how we all love the word “supplement”. However, let’s get to the real stuff, here are real solutions, for the deep lying problem:
- Meditation – this is just such a big subject that it would not be fair to write about it here and now. It deserves its own article at how amazing the effects of meditating really are. I will tell you one secret that I’ve been able to observe in most of the successful people. They all have a type of routine that has some kind of meditation integrated.
- Exercise – I’m addicted to exercising and to be honest, it’s one of the only things that are non-negotiable. If you don’t have time to exercise, you make it. There’s a type of exercise for everybody, you don’t need to do what other people say it’s the best. What’s best is what suits your needs. Our bodies have evolved exercising, they won’t continue evolving if we don’t move it.
- Time with family and friends – we are social creatures. You are introverted, you are extroverted, it doesn’t really matter. Put a shy retro Zelda gamer in a room full of other Zelda players and they’ll talk until the sun will rise. It is about the people you surround yourself with, as much as it is the quality of the conversation you’re having. No one really cares what happened in the last episode of the fake reality tv series or what political situation you can’t do anything about is happening around the world. It might just be a good ice-breaker to get the conversation going.
- New exciting activities – if you do something interesting, you’ll not even think about alcohol, because that is going to hurt your performance in what new thing you’re trying to learn or achieve. Do you get drunk before reading a good book, going to the cinema or trying to write a blog post? And no, I didn’t try this, I wouldn’t want to hurt the quality of the article that much.
Go find yourself another buddy beside alcohol. I’ve given you quite a few choices.
This is a sensitive subject for many people, but it doesn’t have to be.
For anyone who didn’t want to read the whole list of reasons from above, here is a short summary:
#1. Alcohol might just be the way you want to escape reality.
#2. You might gain weight because of an imbalance in your caloric intake.
#3. Your brain might lose some its intellectual capacity if the consumption of alcohol is too high.
#4. Physical workout and sex performance may suffer if combined with excessive alcohol consumption.
#5. Over time, the cost of drinking alcohol can add up to a few hundred dollars a year.
#6. There are alternatives to increase your dopamine response.
If there’s ONE THING you take out of this article, it should be the following one.
Moderation is key.
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Life enthusiast with a great desire to constantly perfect myself, get in better physical and mental shape, while also helping other people by sharing everything I’ve been able to learn.