What I've Learned After Not Drinking for a Year

Today's the day. It's been exactly one year since my last drink. It was an Angry Orchard hard cider (I know, it's not even a local beer - let alone produced by AB). And I still remember what it tastes like. I remember the event. I also remember specifically where I was sitting. And I remember when I made the decision that night to stay away from alcohol completely.

I've never truly liked it.

Yes, I have enjoyed my fair share of good beer, but it's not my go-to beverage. And on October 8th, 2012, I chose to eliminate all alcohol consumption. For more reasons why, you can check out the post on why I stopped drinking.

In this post, I'd like to reflect on what I've learned after not consuming alcohol for a year.

1. "Want to grab a drink?" isn't an easy question for me to answer

I'm a 25 year-old young professional. I should be jumping at an opportunity to grab a drink at a local watering hole. Instead, I feel I'm putting a damper on my friend's plans to hang out after work. No one invites me to bars anymore because I don't drink. I don't care, but it's funny how bars are one of the only places people in their mid-20's can hang out. If I looked for a non-alcoholic venue, I might as well go to the local teen center.

2. Everyone thinks I'm a recovering alcoholic

"Oh, ok. Why?" is the response I get every time I tell someone I don't drink. When I let them know several reasons why I stopped, it's almost like none of them are acceptable. I can see in their body language they're thrown off. How could a 25-year-old not drink? People have asked about my drinking past because of my current lifestyle choice, and, as many of my college friends know, I barely drank in college. So completely eliminating it wasn't tough. No, I'm not a recovering alcoholic, but it sure seems like I'm sometimes stereotyped into being one.

3. I've saved a significant amount of money

It's become routine for me to simply order water when I'm out with family and friends for a meal. It's free. It's not $5/pint or more. I almost exclusively drink water now. No hot chocolate, no coffee, and a very limited selection of tea. The choice to only drink water has saved me hundreds of dollars - if not thousands over the past years. I still have beer in my cabinet that I'll likely make killer beer bread out of, but other than that, it's the only beer in my place. Buying a random 6-pack to stock the fridge or a delicious bottle of wine (that's my personal favorite) wouldn't phase me, but it would hurt my budget. Now, it doesn't even cross my mind. The frugal me is certainly happy about that.

So that's what I've learned. Nothing truly earth-shattering - just a few general observations. It's been easy to stop drinking, and I'm going to continue. But, I just wanted to bring to light what it's been like - and the interesting social ramifications of such a decision.

What about you? Have you stopped drinking and experienced the same thing? Let me know your story in the comments below.