6 months no alcohol

6 Months Without Alcohol and Life is Beautiful

In month five of not drinking alcohol, I knew I was a different person. My hairstylist confirmed this when I walked into the salon for my appointment. I’ve been seeing her for years, yet she suddenly didn’t recognize me.

The last time I saw her for a hair appointment was month one. Back then giving up alcohol was yet another “booze break experiment” I had committed to.

But, that day in month five, my hairstylist gave me the funniest look. An awkward silence lingered in the air in the tiny salon reception area. Normally, it’s a cheerful “Hey, lady…how have you been?”

She was about to ask me if I needed a walk-in appointment when I said “hello” and broke the spell.

“Britt! Shit, I didn’t recognize you for some reason.”

I knew what the reason was. I was a different person now…inside and out.

portland sunny days

And we talked about that transformation during my hair appointment.

My hairstylist has been sober for many years. She is one of the few people I can openly talk to about life without alcohol—without feeling like a caged animal at the zoo. She didn’t gawk at me, want to study me, pet me, point at me, or run from me. There were no societal barriers between us.

With everyone else, I get mixed results. This is to be expected. Because alcohol is so deeply ingrained in human society. And it has been for thousands of years.

In ancient Egypt, beer was buried in royal tombs and offered to the deities. They believed the great god Osiris taught them how to make beer—the Greeks and the Aztecs have similar beliefs and stories.

Over the past few years, I held several “booze break” experiments. I still remember the first time I went one month without alcohol and I had to go to a work function—which, of course, involved alcohol.

Me and my husband smuggled in kombuchas. We poured kombuchas into those red plastic beer cups everyone else had to blend in. We kept covering our cups with our hands anytime someone tried to pour beer from the pitcher, saying “no thanks.”

The jig was up. We were encircled by a small group of my curious coworkers who took turns gawking and asking questions about this mysterious life without alcohol.

The next “booze break” experiment was a serious one…four months. This was our personal record until now. During this break, we did the unthinkable. We went to Italy…sober.

sober vacations italy

People were horrified, literally horrified. They said we were going to ruin our trip by not drinking. They said we would be bored, that we would miss out on everything Italy had to offer.

Guess what? Sober Italy was one of the best (and obviously, the most memorable) international trips we’ve ever taken.

And that really sums everything up right there. Without alcohol, life is beautiful. And, it doesn’t matter what other people think or what they are dealing with. What truly matters is what kind of life you want to live.

If you stop drinking, it makes other alcohol drinkers around you question themselves—even though it seems like they are questioning you. Inevitably, you lose people along the way.

Some people will stick around no matter what. There is a deep enough connection and you can still hang out without the weirdness. Others will fall off for a variety of personal reasons—and that’s totally cool.

There’s a chain reaction that happens when you quit drinking. Relationships with others and yourself change rapidly. You lose weight, you save money, you have more clarity, and you think before you act. You take a hard look at everything in your life to see what else you can lose and gain.

prepping for podcast

For me, that meant throwing myself into my new business, Clove Travel and Wellness, which is all about staying healthy while traveling—a topic I am majorly passionate about. (More to come on this publication and podcast launch soon.)

Another big step for me was giving up the rest of the vices outside of alcohol. In Oregon, cannabis has been legal for a while. It’s very easy to slip into that whole lifestyle as well, being that you can just buy weed and edibles at a store.

By mid-September, I was completely sober.

water over alcohol

A good friend of mine from my Milwaukee days reached out to me on Instagram after I shared a picture of me and my husband on our 6-month alcohol-free celebration day back in December. She and I got our yoga teaching certifications together, actually. She said:

Any tips on the addition of activities sans booze? It’s hard to come up with an idea once my brain suggests a yummy local beer!

It’s very difficult to answer that question in a quick social media reply, but I said:

I replaced drinking with healthier activities…more working out, meditation, and I started Qigong. I’m launching a new business too. So, I’d say to use that time focusing on being awesome. Whatever that means for you.

Although this advice is short and sweet (and sorta vague), I think it works if any of you out there are like me. Some might call us high-functioning alcoholics. For us, when we drink…life is alright, but life is far from beautiful.

Everything looks good on the outside. We might be successful professionals or entrepreneurs. We might be health-conscious in all other aspects of our lives—we workout, eat right, practice self-care…but we drink alcohol regularly.

I’m not talking about being moderate and drinking the very small amount that defines moderate drinking. I’m talking about more than two beers or one glass of wine per week.

bintag in bali

I’m talking about being a participant and champion of the alcohol lifestyle—weekend brunches, happy hours, relaxing with a drink at home, “indulging” on vacation, and transforming into a craft beer snob or a wine connoisseur. I’m talking about using alcohol as a crutch, during the highs and the lows of life.

When you take alcohol away, you challenge yourself to be you. You must limp forward without crutches. And, I don’t care if you’re Wonder Woman or Superman—you will limp forward. Progress will be slow, awkward, and difficult.

But when you experience the highs and lows without alcohol, damn it’s hard. But, it’s also so incredibly rewarding and beautiful.texas countryside

You are no longer numb…you feel everything.

You feel every inch of a hug. You feel the sting of tears when you’re sorting out personal messes. You feel the repercussions from the years you drank—the credit card debt, the weight you gained, the swollen liver, the things you said, the choices you made, the things you did and didn’t do, the time you spent drinking instead of growing as a person.

You feel lighter and stronger when you wake up in the morning. You feel like yourself, but the best version of yourself. And, you feel ready for anything.

Here are a couple of resources that helped me along the way. Both of these women are shedding light on the modern “alcohol lifestyle,” how to recognize this marketing impact and how to choose a booze-free life.

Sober Curious is a book by Ruby Warrington, likely available at your local library as it was for me. Hip Sobriety is a blog by Holly Whitaker. She has evolved this into a different publication, The Tempest. But her older posts on Hip Sobriety are lovely no-bullshit reads about ditching alcohol. I also highly recommend this Yogaland podcast with Holly.

33 thoughts on “6 Months Without Alcohol and Life is Beautiful

  1. Wow that’s a wholehearted and enthusiastic post Britt. You express yourself wonderfully. I’ve noticed a good number of people advocating the wonders of kicking the booze. And many of those stories also include a description of how one can slide unknowingly into dependence on alcohol whilst remaining productive and successful in one’s everyday life.

    Each such article makes us (or should make us) reassess our own relationship with alcohol. I think I’ve concluded, for better or worse, that a few beers with mates, or the odd drink at home, is part of my life. I won’t feel happier or fitter tomorrow if I pack it all in, if I don’t go out in a minute for some football chat with the boys over a beer. If I travel to Ireland, one of the great joys is to see that first Guinness being slowly poured and then presented to me. Hopefully I, and many of us, drink mindfully while being aware of the possible downsides.

    Good to read that you’re in such good form 🙂

    1. Well said, Roy!

      I have come across more people talking about the reality of the alcohol lifestyle. Not shaming anyone, just saying hey…this may not be the best thing to have hanging around in your life.

      Mr. H and I have taken several alcohol breaks over the past few years and coming to this point was a natural progression. There comes a time when you look around and think: Exactly how many more craft beers am I really going to sample? We’ve tried plenty.

      There will always be a special place for Guinness in my Irish heart, so I hear you on that. For now, I’ll say cheers (with my tea).

  2. It is something I have been considering because I am one of those who has been slipping into the daily glass category. It’s amazing how much advertising via memes there is out there basically giving women a reason to drink daily.
    My butt pocketbook, not to mention my butt will probably thank me.
    Though, to be honest, I cannot fathom going to Italy and not having wine!

    1. Glad you’re considering it, Dale.

      You’re right…there is a ton of marketing out there. The alcohol lifestyle is a real thing we are dealing with. A wonderful longtime friend of mine just posted a meme on Instagram that was a variation of this “funny mom greeting card.” Wine vs. coffee…she loves me more. I think this sums it up…


  3. Hi, Britt,
    I read this with great interest. I too was a high-functioning alcoholic… until I became a barely functioning one. I have been sober without interruption since 1988 and I must say you describe your experiences with and without alcohol beautifully. You make sobriety sound very inviting, and perhaps someone who is questioning their own drinking will come across your article and decide to give sobriety a try.
    Sobriety has given me a wonderful life and I wish the same for you!
    ~ Les

    1. Thank you, Lester…and congrats! I’ve taken quite a few sobriety vacations over the past few years, so this decision was a long time coming.

      I’ve read a few books and listened to some podcasts this past year, and thankfully, people are starting to share this inviting message about sobriety. It’s not about punishing yourself, but it is about encouraging yourself to live a more fulfilling life.

      I’m glad more conversations are happening around the “cool” alcohol lifestyle that is very much a part of our society. It has been for a while—and we need to recognize that powerful impact of alcohol marketing, whether we choose to drink or not.

  4. Congratulations Britt. I grew up within the confines of an alcoholic home and family. I was married to a man that used alcohol as an escape. You are only to be respected for your recognition of this burden to your life and your decision to remove it.

    1. Thanks, Deb…and thanks for sharing your personal story.

      I think many of us have alcohol family memories, unfortunately. I’m trying to change that now. I visited most of my family this summer and fall—and I realized that was the first sober time we all spent together since I was younger.

      Me and my family started having drinks together when we visited each other “to celebrate,” so it was nice to just hang out and create different memories as adults.

  5. Yes, well done and said! It’s nice to see you have support in an extended community of family and friends. If you watch enough television and film, in addition to overt advertising, you’ll notice the subtle but egregious placement of alcohol everywhere. I suspect your abstinence will affect your writing favorably 🙂 Big hugs for you!

    1. I can always count on support here on the blog, for sure! You are so right about TV and films. I can’t hardly watch anything these days. I’ll try to watch 4 movies before I find one where alcohol is not the main character. I don’t care if people are drinking, but I don’t want to watch something where the entire storyline revolves around booze. Bores me to tears! 😉

  6. As usual: you make me think again about the way I see things, in just so few words…

    I love the way you describe life without alcohol. I like life without alcohol. Even though I also enjoy the delicacy of a good glass of wine now and then. I so understand your approach on this usually very sensitive subject.

    Passionate and true to yourself. Keep up the good work, Britt! You’re doing awesomely!
    Can’t wait to see, read and hear more about Clove too! 😉


    1. Hey, Julie! It’s really no contest at all for me…life is better without drinking. Some people can have an occasional drink, but I am not one of those people. It makes sense, being that I am an all or nothing kind of person. I’m glad you are finding a good balance.

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