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2019-09-08

I Stopped Drinking Alone for 4 Months

From March 2019 to July 2019, I experimentally stopped drinking alcohol alone. A key question was: "Do I become more productive and healthy?"

The answer is actually "NO" in terms of both; I didn't observe any significant differences, but it was an interesting opportunity to make a small change in my life.

Rule

The rule is simple: Do not drink alcohol alone anywhere, and anytime.

I was not trying to stay away from any drinking activities. Drinking with somebody else like friends and colleagues is fine, but I just shouldn't be alone.

I regularly ‐ a couple of days per week ‐ enjoy drinking alone at a bar or home. It makes me more comfortable and relaxed, and sometimes the bars become a good place for reading books, writing articles or code, and even for working in some special cases.

Stopping the habit was not easy. I needed to completely change my mind and way of spending my time over the weekends.

First Week: Weird Dining Experiences

Sadly, I have been traveling alone quite often lately. It means that I missed a lot of chances to enjoy local drinks at the following destinations:

I was in Seattle, WA, USA during the first week of this experiment, and I went to a local seafood restaurant. Their menu had a good selection of local craft beers and wines, but I just ordered sparkling water instead of them. As a result, while the food was surprisingly good, I felt something weird, which might be relevant to the feeling of dissatisfaction.

At first, I was confused by the feeling. However, I gradually adapted to the new habit day by day, and I became completely fine after a couple of weeks. Notice that, if it's continued, we might need to consider the possibility of alcoholic.

What Happened?

As I mentioned above, the "not drinking alone" habit has introduced no significant differences in my productivity and health. I'd say I was equally productive by looking back on the past year, and I continuously worked out regularly and kept healthy eating habits anyway.

Meanwhile, there are two things changed:

  1. Became a foodie.
  2. Had more coffee.

First, when I eat out, I started spending more time to search for a good restaurant nearby so that I can fully enjoy their food itself.

  • Before: Any restaurants were fine for me, as long as they have good beers.
  • After: Because I eat the dishes without drinking, it should be exceptionally tasty and/or healthy to make me satisfied.

Moreover, "bar & beer" has completely been replaced with "cafe & coffee" in my daily life.

  • Before: Spend a weekend morning at a cafe with a cup of coffee, and start bar hopping afterward.
  • After: Cafe hopping on a whole day; on a weekend day, I went to three cafes on average and spent about three hours at each.

I still didn't know if these are good changes or not, but, since I believe nothing will be changed anymore, I finally decided to terminate the experiment at the end of July.

Bottom Line

My conclusion is that, in order to effectively take a break or refresh my focus, I see more value for drinking alone than strictly staying away from that.

The 4-month experimental habit told me the fact, and hence I realized how the balance between cafe & bar is important for my personal life. It should be noted that I found many good restaurants and cafes I didn't know thanks to the days without drinking :)

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user Takuya Kitazawa (a.k.a. takuti) is an engineer working on machine learning, data science, and product development at Arm Treasure Data. Opinions are my own.