Is it time for a break from booze?

I spent two and a half years of my life in a cult disguised as a drug treatment program. Two and a half years surrounded by young ‘addicts’—some truly suffering from substance abuse, others who’d been caught with weed once, and some whose parents didn’t know what to do with them. Two and a half years abstaining from alcohol and other mind-altering substances of any kind.

While I’m no longer sober and certainly resent certain aspects of my time spent in that group, I don’t resent my foray into alcohol abstinence. I was only 16 when I entered the recovery group. I’d had very limited prior experience with any sort of drinks or drugs—I don’t think I’d ever even been properly drunk before.

Yet, suddenly, I was exposed to the world of 12-step programs and crippling alcoholism at the expense of one’s own, and often others’, life. I had peers and mentors who’d experienced firsthand the trauma that ‘too much partying’ can bring: depression, relationship issues, and economic insecurity, of course, but also weight fluctuation, flaccid skin, bloodshot eyes, and the risk of diabetes.

When I first began college, I was still in the group. While others around me went wild, their first time free from their parents with easy access to booze, I declined. They’d imbibe all day and well into the night. They’d vomit on the bathroom floor, piss in the street, have regretful hookups, and endure the worst of hangovers. Classic, classy college behavior. And I would watch, non-judgmentally, but also with no envy towards their approach to drinking.

After deciding I’d had enough and needed to get out, I slowly began to transition from the cult. I hung out more with friends from college and my years prior to treatment, and less and less with the sober friends of two and a half years. Before I started drinking again, I attempted to form social bonds with new people at my school—no beer to loosen me up or soften the blow of rejection, no alcohol to make me feel funnier or more confident.

People turn to alcohol for many reasons: to escape reality, to relax, to aid them in uncomfortable situations. I love drinking and won’t act like I don’t throw down a few whiskey sours just for the hell of it every now and again, but I do have a relationship with alcohol that might be different if I’d never experienced two and a half years of sobriety.

I don’t rely on drinks to get me through the day or make my night. While I enjoy them, I’m okay without them. I’ve learned the meaning of moderation and appreciation with regards to alcohol, which I find quite unique among others my age. I don’t think full abstinence is for everyone, obviously, and I also don’t think anyone should be made to feel they must drink to have fun or engage socially with others.

All I can vouch for is my own experience: a conscious break from alcohol changed my outlook on why and how I drink. Two and a half years without drinking may seem like a very long time to some and a relatively short time to others.

You might discover you return to alcohol with a more responsible attitude or insight as to your intentions when you drink. At the very least, you will probably end your hiatus a bit more hydrated with extra cash in your wallet. Maybe there will even be fewer embarrassing texts .

A break from booze may not be as bad as you think. I encourage you to try for yourself, if even just for a day.

Quincy Malesovas