Last year, my spouse and I moved to Manhattan from some suburbs on Long Island. One of the best parts about moving to the city was the ability to ditch our cars and take public transit everywhere. In addition to the daily benefits of commuting around the city without automobiles, we also benefited from having hundreds of bars and restaurants within a short walking distance.
Since moving into the city, we have found that we also like to partake in the local food and drink scene, often dining out multiple times a week. Because the cars are gone, and drinking and driving is no longer an issue, we found ourselves drinking more too. Over time, I began to recognize a pattern in myself that I did not like so much.
I don't always drink when we go out, but on the nights I did choose to drink, I would partake a little too heavily. Thus, my potential problem was not a frequency problem, but rather an amplitude one. Many times I would be the most drunk individual in our party.
I am not fully sure why I drink so much on a night out, but I have a few theories:
- I used to smoke — a lot — around a pack a day. I quit nearly a decade ago but the oral fixation still remains. If I have something in my hand that can be brought to my lips, I will do it frequently.
- My father had an alcohol dependency problem. I wasn't around it much as my parents were divorced when I was very young, but the addictive personality genetics run through my veins.
- I am more happy and social when drinking. This obviously happens to many people, but some people do get grumpy or angry when drinking. For me, I feel more social, able to overcome the slight trepidation around normal social environments.
Whatever the reason is, I was worried that I may have a problem or the beginnings of a problem, so I decided to test myself and find out. I decided to completely stop drinking during the month of April.
I wasn't expecting it to be hard to do, but I needed to make sure I wouldn't get withdraws, cheat and that it wouldn't be a problem to simply stop drinking for awhile. Anticlimactically, I found out that it was not that difficult at all.
I didn't crave alcohol, I didn't cave in around friends who were ordering drinks, I didn't drink over vacation and I didn't drink when going through a particularly stressful automotive incident. I didn't feel the need to drink at all over the month, and although it is now the 1st of May, I still don't have a strong urge to go grab a beer.
So what does this all mean... What is the point? I guess the point of writing this up is to help people be a little more self aware about potential bad habits. If you feel you may be on the cusp of some sort of addiction, consider stopping for a clearly defined period of time to make sure you don't go too far with your bad habits, beyond the point of no return.
For me, I will continue to quit drinking socially for a month every year, just to know that I still can.