7 Reasons to Cut Down On AlcoholBy Money Mage · · Healthy Living, Food, Exercise, Habits, Frugality, Fruggles
I made it no secret: I’ve had struggles with alcohol. I’m much better, but I still do struggle.
You never stop struggling.
I knew I’d gone too far when my doctor recommended I sought professional help. My initial reaction was: “you what!?”.
I didn’t call myself an alcoholic. How could I be an alcoholic? I’m not an alcoholic, am I?
I didn’t even see it as a problem: my friends were drinking the same as me. Some were drinking more than me.
I reached a point where I could knock back 8 pints on a Wednesday and turn up to work at 8 am on a Thursday. Completely functional & do my job.
But I had a problem. I was a functioning alcoholic.
The good news is for 2 years I’ve cut back. From being at 30+ units per week on average in 2018. I’m now down to 0 on average. I still have the rare blowout. That is my next challenge.
These last 18 months have been one of the hardest years many people will have experienced.
I expect I’m not alone with my struggles with booze.
We’re in for another long dark, dreich, winter. Lockdowns have prevented us from seeing friends and family. Life is returning to a degree of normality. Many will be enjoying themselves over the coming weeks and months. Case rates seem to be rising, further restrictions are looming. I expect this autumn and winter, more people will be out on the lash.
I won’t be.
Here are my 7 reasons why I won’t be reaching for the bottle this winter.
1. Cut down for your Health
I had a lot of travel for work during 2012-2018. International trips at least once a month - Transatlantic or flights to Asia two or three times a year. Flights down to London every other week, sometimes every week.
Meeting customers. Trying to help close deals. Working hard for the success of a company I didn’t own.
I was also managing a team of 20 odd people. I was suffering from stress, and my crutch was alcohol. I’d have blow-outs with friends and colleagues. I had a business mentor who I’d see weekly. We’d shoot-the-shit over too many pints of beer.
But it was destroying my health. My blood pressure was sky-high. I had chest pains. I had circulation problems. My weight was up to 93kg (borderline obese). I went to the doctor. They told me to sort myself out.
I am not unique here. 3 million people die every year from alcohol misuse. That is twice the number of worldwide deaths from COVID in 2020. I don’t see governments printing trillions of dollars to fix alcohol abuse.
You need to fix it yourself. And addiction isn’t an easy fix, so seek help if you need to.
Do yourself a favour: look after your health. Cut down on drinking. Your health is easy to destroy, but hard to build back.
2. Cut down for your Mind
We often reach for alcohol as a ‘good time’. To ease the mood. Or as a quick fix: A numbness. A coping mechanism.
I was reaching for alcohol for both. But it doesn’t help either. It makes matters worse. It worsens your mood and mental state. Ask yourself: after a night out, how do you feel for the following few days?
Here is my experience:
- Alcohol masks issues. You’re not actually addressing any root causes. You are kicking the can down the road.
- You can have fun without alcohol. Try it. It’s eye-opening being on a night out when you are the only one sober.
- It dulls your mind. You are less sharp. Less insightful. Less quick-thinking. More forgetful.
- Alcohol inhibits impulse control. You may start to do and say things you would not otherwise. This will have consequences for those around you, and you.
- Alcohol is a terrible roommate if you suffer from mental health issues. The mood feeds the alcohol and the alcohol feeds the mood. Before you know it both problems are worse.
- Your body gets used to alcohol, you develop resilience. You consume more. Further driving you down the negative spiral.
At the severe end, you can do serious lasting damage to your body and mind.
Do yourself a favour: keep your mind sharp. Cut down on alcohol.
3. Cut down for your Weight
10 pints a week is an extra day of calorie intake. At around 2,500 calories.
“But I don’t drink 10 pints a week!”
Each pint of beer is around 250 calories, the same as a chocolate bar. A standard glass of wine is around 150 calories.
Habitual alcohol drinking adds on the pound. But in a non-obvious way. Less obvious than stuffing down a chocolate bar. Do you have a few glasses of wine or a few pints of beer a week? Do you consider it the same as having a few chocolate bars a week?
From a nearly obese 93kg, I’m now a much healthier 79kg.
Cut out drinking, the pounds will fall off. Replace the drinking with some moderate exercise. Build a habit, and reward yourself for doing so.
4. Cut down for your Friends
I live in Scotland, and we’re known for drinking. It’s part of our culture. You go out with your mates for a few pints.
But after a while, alcohol inhibits impulse control. You may start to do and say things you would not otherwise.
Some people justify this by saying “but I’m a good drunk!”. “It’s your real personality coming out!, I’m lovely when drunk”. Trust me: there’s no such thing as a good drunk.
I have many friends who have ended up here. I am not alone. Social and habitual drinking turns into a group problem. It is no longer a personal problem. You all convince yourself you’re fine.
Do this week after week, and it can turn into a serious problem.
Take a hard look at your drinking. What is it doing to you and your friends?
5. Cut down for your Family
I can’t tell you the number of times I have come home so drunk I’ve spent the night on the sofa. Or worse.
Behaving like this is no way to treat those you love.
I’m fortunate that the other-MM is patient and understanding. And has helped me through the other side.
If I didn’t deal with my alcohol problem, it’s likely I’d be without my health, without my wealth, and without my other half.
Look after those you love & do yourself a favour. Cut back on your drinking.
6. Cut down for your Job
My drinking was affecting my work.
I was turning up at 8 am after a heavy night of drinking out with friends. After necking a couple of paracetamol and a Berocca.
I’m writing this thinking: most people have done this to some degree, right? The day after a work night out is always a bit of a disaster.
I had colleagues who were worse than I was. They wouldn’t turn up. Or they’d turn up so bad they’d be sick everywhere. After being spoken to by HR, they left the firm.
The other-MM works in logistics. He has stories of ex-colleagues, some of whom are functioning alcoholics too. They turn up to work and drive a lorry after a night out.
But worse, it compounds. Even if you are functioning, you will be less sharp, and your mind less sharp. You might think you’re functioning, but you’re functioning beneath your capabilities.
Ask yourself: is habitual drinking worth losing your source of income over?
7. Cut down for your Wealth
I could afford my drinking problem. Or so I had convinced myself.
But could I?
Looking back: I was drinking 10 pints a week. Some weeks more. That’s getting on £30-60 a week, depending on where you are drinking. At £60/week, that’s £320/month.
Could I afford that? Sure. I have the income to support that.
But, should I be paying £160-320/month on something that’s hurting my health, adding on the pounds? Something that’s damaging my mind, and making me less sharp?
£320/month at 4% is £165,000 over 25 years. That’s more than the average UK mortgage principal
The answer is obvious: No, cut back on the boozing. Save and invest instead.
I’ve stopped. I have never been healthier, but also: my finances have never been healthier.
Do yourself a favour. Cut down on your alcohol. Save and invest every penny you save. Use it towards building an emergency fund. Overpaying your mortgage. Or investing your way to freedom.
Your future self will thank you for it.
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