Some thoughts on alcohol
I've reduced my alcohol consumption over the last couple of years. One of the reasons is that now it takes me more time to recover after having some drinks. Not sure if it affects me more, or I'm more conscious about my body now, probably both. I wonder if reducing alcohol consumption is enough, or if I should cut it out completely.
As an introvert and someone who suffers from social anxiety, alcohol helps me to relax and enjoy more of social interactions. However, I'm increasingly less comfortable relying on a drink to accomplish that. I must be able to deal with my introversion and anxiety by myself, with no artificial “help”. Furthermore, it seems drinking has become a social ritual, something that we should engage in to part take in some social activities. Something is not right at the societal level too.
A couple of years ago, a colleague at the time asked me: “do you know how much time your body needs to fully recover from drinking three beers?”. I guessed two weeks or so, but apparently it is around 9 months. Nine months! ... for three beers. The key word here is fully. You might overcome a hangover in some hours or a couple of days, but that doesn't mean the effect of the alcohol in your system is gone. Further, he made the point about the nonlinearity of how our bodies deal with alcohol. Apparently, the difference between drinking 1-2 and 3+ beers (or similar alcoholic beverages) is quite substantial. Think of alcohol as a poison—which some argue is actually that. If you consume a small dose, your body will easily take care of it, but above a certain threshold, you will have a hard time clearing it out. If you continue pushing, it will, slowly or quickly, kill you.
Recently, I came across a YouTube channel of a guy who advocates for sobriety. He argues that one of the reasons we keep drinking for most of our adult life is due to our attachment to experiences we had when we were younger. These experiences usually had the right mix of adventure, friends/family, and alcohol. So, we associate the drinking part with those memorable experiences and keep the habit after passing the point of diminishing returns, simply because we hope to live through those experiences again—which almost never happen. I relate to that.
My trustworthy doctor back in Mexico suggested reducing my alcohol consumption during my last health checkup. What he recommended is to reserve drinking to very special occasions, that is, only a few times a year. Also, only drink very high quality stuff, to make it really worth it—and prohibitively expensive to do it often. I partially followed his advice, I'm a fancier drinker now, but my definition of “special occasions” has not been too restrictive.
The bottom line is: there is no real benefit of drinking alcohol. None. If we use it to relax and have fun, it covers another problem, it does not fix it, but make it worse.
Now I'm considering to start a three months alcohol-free period. Three months seems the right time period to make it meaningful. An all-in (or all-out) approach would be more effective for me. Deeply inside, I also know alcohol is a coping mechanism for things in my life that I'm afraid to face, and only cutting it off completely will force me to do it. The next step is to write down a starting date. Of course, my brain wants to postpone it a bit since next week I'm travelling to Spain.