Let’s talk about alcohol. Birthdays, parties, housewarmings, anniversaries, engagement, baby showers, Christmas, New Year you name it. Every single occasion would be a time to cheer, raise a glass of wine, beer or vodka. Right?
For some of us the usage of alcohol was one of the easiest escapes in the evenings, especially in 2020. Well, definitely not for me. You see, I spent the whole year without having a single drop of alcohol.
What is alcohol?
Typically, alcohol is a waste product that the body tries to excrete. Even a tiny bit of alcohol has an affect on the body’s systems. If you drink more than the body is able to process, you begin to feel intoxicated as the alcohol level builds up in the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. This distribution can affect the body’s nerve endings and slow down brain function. This causes feelings of excitement, numbness or inhibition. Over the years more research has been performed on people that consume alcohol. New terms were invented such as “Functioning alcoholic” or “Alcohol use Disorders” and even more research has been done on the effects of using alcohol.
Where alcohol came from?
The history of fermentation reaches back thousands of years before the Christ era. The earliest evidence ever discovered was 7000 years BC. In China. The most common usage of alcohol was for killing bacteria in the bodies because simply, sometimes it would be cleaner than water. In a book called “Alcohol: a history” Rod Phillips surveys a 9,000-year cultural and economic history, uncovering the tensions between alcoholic drinks as healthy staples he mentions this: most societies have struggled to strike a balance: “Allow people to drink because it makes them happy and is a gift from the gods, but prevent them from drinking too much.”
The ancient Greeks were a good example. A crucial part of their spiritual and intellectual life was: wine - within limits. Mixing wine with water in a decorated vessel called a krater, Greek hosts served their (exclusively male) guests a first bowl for health, another for pleasure, and a third for sleep. “The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to violence; the fifth to uproar; the sixth to drunken revel; the seventh to black eyes. The eighth is the policeman’s; the ninth belongs to biliousness; and the 10th to madness and the hurling of furniture.”
As the world developed and years went by alcohol still stayed in our daily lives. Even these days, when some parts of the world have one of the cleanest tap water, what is our excuse to continue consuming alcohol?
Why alcohol is still popular?
Apparently, this is how we relax. We use a glass of wine as an escape from the harsh reality we are living in. To numb the pain we feel inside of us. For others, it is a habit that has been formed earlier in the years. In the United States, alcohol abuse kills 88,000 Americans and costs $249 billion a year, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This habit comes generation after generation enjoying and drinking alcohol without thinking about the effect this does on the health. Can you go back to your childhood and remember the first time you saw someone drinking alcohol? Most probably it will be your parents.
What are effects of alcohol to our health?
I want to highlighted just a couple of the most important:
Immune system - it makes the viruses and bacteria that white blood cells are fighting to be slow and less efficient. Heavy drinkers may be more likely to become a subject to illnesses such as tuberculosis or pneumonia, and increased risk of numerous forms of cancer.
Central Nervous System – It affects our behavior in many different ways. It restricts speaking as the speech becomes uncoordinated and most of the time not making sense. Can be affecting memory, leading to “blackouts”. Can literally shrink parts of your brain.
Digestive System –This is where serious damage can quickly occur. Alcohol makes it difficult for our intestines to control bacteria and absorb nutrients that can lead to malnutrition. This is directly related to point number one, because our immune system is in our gut.
My personal experiences and why I stopped drinking for 1 year
Time to open up myself about alcohol abusiveness. I want to start by saying that I do remember first times buying alcohol at the local small store in my hometown around age of 12.
Of course I was one of the courageous ones to come to the store with a fake note from my parents asking to sell alcohol to me as I need to bring it back to my parents. The seller was thinking that my parents were alcoholics that they sent me to get alcohol because they cannot even reach the store anymore and if I would not bring it home, I might get beaten.
Maybe I am overthinking, they probably just wanted to make profit. Anyway, that was where my journey with alcohol began. I felt cool! Like I would drink half the bottle of cider or a beer and would feel so free, so amazing! Well, you get the picture. Everything that is forbidden makes you so excited once you get it. Anyway, wasn’t it everyday and wasn’t that I would be drinking much as all.
Fast forward, to teenage years where at the age of 16, 17, 18 was drinking probably the most. Parties were wild! The problem is usually what I would get with drinking is like I would always remember everything. My mind for some reasons would be like a video camera, recording everything but the body and actions would not be controllable. So many embarrassing stories. Glad we did not use social media that much in those days, it was just starting really.
When the university started. Oh boy, this is where it became different. I could not handle alcohol, I would get drunk, still remembering everything but the next day would be asking for mercy by hugging the toilet. And it was escalating to the point that I would have a glass or two and would feel so bad the next day that I started thinking that I actually have some serious problems with my stomach or other organs. So I started slowing, and slowing and slowing.
In 2019 and I did dry January. In one month I have lost a significant amount of weight, combined with a very good diet and intense exercising schedule. I did not miss alcohol and even on 31st of January I still did not drink. But in February I went out on the date with my current boyfriend and yeah, I drank… Let's say I do wish to remember more from that evening.
2019 was really the start of a continuous transformation within me that kept on going so by reaching the end of it, I have decided to challenge myself and stop drinking for the entire 2020. So, as of 1st January 2020 until 1st of January 2021 I did not have a single glass of alcohol. I made it!
Here are my biggest learnings:
Available cash - you spend way less money when stopping or reducing the alcohol intake. Depending on your habits and how often you consume alcohol, you can save up somewhere between 60 to 250 EUR or more per month.
Your sleep is better - when you drink alcohol you might be falling asleep faster but apparently you don’t reach the deep sleep in which the body and mind is recovering and which is the most important for us.
Skin - looks and feels better. I definitely have more hydrated, less irritated skin than before. Loads has to do with diet of course but still it is one of the factors.
Weight loss - you do not drink additional calories, I definitely lost some weight because of not drinking.
Focus - mind is so sharp. Two things for this clarity: coffee and reduction of alcohol. I can be going for hours sometimes on writing something, editing videos, and focusing on work.
Your idea of having fun is changing - people think that without alcohol you lose a lot of fun but it is actually otherwise, it is quite entertaining sometimes to watch others being drunk and think for myself - Thanks God, I am not them! Even though it is pandemic, I had gatherings when it was allowed, I stayed up for dinners, going to bed at 4 AM and doing all of that without even drinking. It is not essential, happiness and fun - it is your choice!
You feel healthier - you understand your relationship with alcohol, how it affects you and you can definitely feel that you are in control.
The year was a true experiment, I am so glad that I did it! It was hard sometimes, but I stuck to my promise and I made it! I am drinking now. Since the beginning of the year I had maybe 4 glasses in around 2 weeks time.
It does not taste too good after such a long break and I still want to keep it special. Besides, I am working really hard on my mind and my body, you will see a lot more videos coming on to this website in the future related to that. So why to mess it up?