I haven't had a single drop of alcohol or coffee in exactly 15 months. A couple of my friends on Facebook and Twitter asked me to write about my experience, so here it is in a nutshell. With more than a year of no alcohol and coffee, I did notice some side effects.
After two months, I noticed that I had $1000 more in my bank account. Yes, that's a lot, but do the math, and you'll realize it's actually not that much. I live in New York. In order to spend $1000 on alcohol, I only have to spend $33 every day. Assume that I have two to three cocktails every other day (which are $10 each without tip), include some wine bottles every month to have at home, and I can easily spend $1000.
Some might consider this alcoholism, but trust me when I say that having one to two drinks every day in New York is more than normal. Also, going out for drinks means that the occasional dinner and snacks out also happens more frequently. You don't just drink. You get hungry and buy some food, and before you notice, you spend $1000.
If there is one thing I noticed quite early, it's the lack of social interaction my new diet brought with it. Here is what happened: I didn't really go out anymore. It's exhausting to explain again and again why I didn't drink and to say "NO, one drink is not okay."
When people ask me to join them for drinks, I mostly default to "no" because I don't want to deal with gossip as a sober person. If I do go for drinks, I last maximum one hour because that's how long my attention span as a sober person lasts in a group of drunk people.
While I was never a party animal, not drinking alcohol made me go out even less. It's amazing to see the culture of drinking slowly fading away from your life. It made me realize how many friendships are actually based mostly on our drinking habits.
"Let's go for a drink" is so ingrained in our lives. Who says, "Hey, let's just meet up as sober people and talk about stuff"? Why would you do that? "Let's get a drink" needs no explanation. It's a thing. Everyone knows what happens next.
Better Sleep Quality
Removing alcohol from my diet increased my sleep quality drastically. You sure do fall asleep easier with one to two glasses of beer or wine, but the actual quality might suffer. Now I sleep better, and I wake up with more energy. Before my mornings were always ruined: Even if I only had two beers at night, I could feel it. (If you're in your early 20s, ignore this. It doesn't affect you yet.)
Less Panic, Less Stress
This might be something more personal and not relatable, but removing coffee from my diet helped me become more relaxed. Coffee always made me stressed out. It increased my chance of becoming anxious and also f*cked up my digestion. Not only does removing coffee and caffeine from my diet make more relaxed, I also poop like a king.
I love the smell and taste of coffee, so now an occasional decaf does the trick. I also drink tea—iced in the summer, regular in the winter. I found that "going for a coffee" turned out to be more of a social activity than the actual craving for coffee. Keep the social habit; replace coffee with something else.
Overall, I'm very happy about my decision and have no desire to start drinking again. I'm also not telling you to do the same. If you're happy with how things are going, don't change anything. I changed my habits out of curiosity, and I like how it turned out.
P.S.: Before someone asks: I do not smoke cigarettes. I also don't smoke weed. I also don't take any drugs whatsoever. (I have the Internet. That's addiction enough for me.)
This article was original published on Medium and reprinted with the author's permission. Tobias Van Schneider is the co-founder of Semplice, a new portfolio platform for designers, as well as the host of NTMY. Previously he served as the Design Lead at Spotify. If you enjoyed this article, sign up for his personal weekly email list to read more.