Would life be better without alcohol?

As a new decade begins and the busy holiday season is officially over, a natural opportunity exists to reflect on the previous year with curiosity. How many special events or family gatherings included alcohol as a central part of the celebration? In our culture of “mommy wine” and “beer yoga,” it seems there is always an occasion to drink. Holidays, weddings and vacations are just a few. For many people, it may never seem like the right time to take a break from drinking. This is indicative of our alcohol-obsessed culture. However, a growing number of people are challenging these social norms and beginning to question their relationship with alcohol. It is becoming more common for people to abstain from alcohol for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, you do not need to have a problem to give up drinking.

Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment, is someone who is challenging the status quo. Her books and online support group have been helpful to many people who would like to change their relationship with alcohol or give it up altogether. The premise of the “Alcohol Experiment” is simple: give up alcohol for 30 days and see how you feel. There is no commitment and no need to label yourself. There is no way to fail because it is just an experiment, right? According to Annie, you need nothing beyond “your own curiosity and wanting to take a deeper look at yourself and your drinking.” The idea is similar to Dry January, a movement that started in the United Kingdom and is now practiced all over the world. By taking a break from drinking for a period of time, many people experience the benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle, and often report they experience better sleep, have more motivation to exercise, and generally feel better.

It is important to note that this trend is not meant to minimize the difficulties that many people with a Substance Use Disorder experience. For some people, this is not the solution and more intensive, professional support is necessary. However, I believe this “sober curious” movement can benefit everyone by making alcohol less central in our lives. One does not need to be pregnant, on antibiotics, or have a serious problem to say no to alcohol and people don’t need to defend their choice to abstain. What do you think? Are you curious about life without alcohol? If so, visit alcoholexperiment.com. It’s free and might be a great way to start 2020 as your happiest, healthiest self.

Erika is the Substance Use Prevention Coordinator at Healthy Oxford Hills. Her position is funded by the Maine Prevention Services, a project of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information contact erika@healthyoxfordhills.org