30 Days Without Drugs — Raptitude Experiment No. 3

Alcohol

This experiment commenced on schedule on July 6, 2009.  See my progress log here.

As much as I don’t like so say it this explicitly, drugs have been a significant part of my life for some time now.

I know I’m far from alone.  Drugs use is very common.  Drugs are a part of human culture everywhere in different capacities: as medicine, as recreation, as escape, as tradition, as sacraments.

I try to avoid the common distinction between drugs that are legal or illegal, socially acceptable or not socially acceptable. A drug is a drug, regardless of the government’s opinion of it.

That unfair distinction creates a lot of undue prejudice and ignorance, it alienates people and ruins lives, but I’ll save that debate for later.  I know most coffee drinkers would not identify themselves as drug users, but they are.  It’s unfortunate that the term ‘drug user’ has come to be a condescending slur rather than just the objective descriptor it should be.

Partly because of the culture I live in, both the broader culture of North America, and my own local combination of friends and influences, I have become habituated to using certain drugs regularly.  People all around me use them to different degrees.

The drugs that have had the biggest influence in my life — the ones whose negative effects have made me want to undergo this experiment — are alcohol and caffeine.  Both can be used safely in moderation (perhaps even harmlessly) but in my life, due to the considerable forces of habit and social dynamics, they’ve come to cost me more than they are worth.

I have experimented with other substances, but none play a consistent role in my life at this time and will certainly not be a problem to abstain from for 30 days.  I take no medications right now, but if a doctor prescribes a drug in the next month, I will take it.  This experiment is about beer and coffee.

I do not intend to give them up forever, nor do I think I’m incapable of moderating either of them rather easily, I just want to see how my life changes if they have zero presence in my body for a month.

There are negative physical and social effects that are not worth the pleasurable parts, so I’m going to see what happens if I simply refuse to indulge in these pleasures at all.

Addiction

In my “88 Important Truths” post, I mentioned that addiction is a much bigger problem in society than we commonly believe it to be.  I think it is the fundamental source of suffering for human beings.  Attachment to desires, great and small, is the traditional spiritual explanation for what suffering is, and I don’t think addiction is anything different.

We tend only to call it addiction when a person’s attachments reach life-destroying levels of intensity, and I think that’s one of the reasons it is so difficult to treat: because we wait so long before we consider it a problem.

We all suffer from attachments, and this makes a certain amount of it normal and almost invisible.  We fret when someone interrupts our plans, or when we’re going to be late for work.  These are attachments too, only they don’t revolve around the consumption of a substance.  When an attachment occurs as a behavior pattern, it can be described as an addiction, no matter how mild.

So under this looser definition of addiction, I am addicted to alcohol and caffeine.  They are such habits that I get nervous at the thought of shutting them out completely because I can’t predict the consequences of changing such long-standing behaviors.  I will explain what I mean below.

You may be wondering how much I consume. One or two cups of coffee a day, and 10-15 drinks per week.

Caffeine

This is the easier of the two, I’ve gone without it before.  I usually have coffee in three different situations:

  1. First thing in the morning at work. As I’ve sometimes hinted, my job is not tremendously inspiring these days and getting my coffee is a gratifying warm spot in any morning.
  2. When I sit down to write or work on some project at home. This is in the same vein as my at-work coffee.  It’s part of the getting-down-to-business ritual; it signifies a serious intention to work, somehow.
  3. Social coffee. After dinner at my mom’s house, or at a coffee shop with friends during the day.  This is when coffee is most joyful to me, and I will probably return to it as a social rite once this experiment is done.  But for now I need total abstinence.

I’ve never been a true coffee-head, but just the thought of giving it up makes me a little sad.  The truth is, I do love coffee and will almost certainly return to regular coffee drinking in some capacity, it’s really just the coffee-as-a-tool habit I want to change.

The costs of coffee-drinking that I don’t want to pay anymore:

  • It takes more energy than it gives. I know that the more coffee I drink, the more tired I am later in the day.  It seems to supply energy in the morning, but it’s borrowed from later at a high interest rate.  I suspect my sleeps will be more restful when I’m off it.
  • It stains the teeth. Not a huge problem with the comparatively small amount I drink, but it’s still gross to think about.
  • It dehydrates. Caffeine is a notorious diuretic, and if I don’t drink a lot of water to compensate, I’ll end up feeling not unlike I’m hungover.  I get headaches, I get irritable and I lose energy fast. Coffee consumption also gives me painfully intense urges to pee at inopportune times, such as at site meetings and in moving vehicles.  What I don’t understand is the people I know who consume coffee all day and never drink water.  Insane but common.
  • It has become an alarmingly regular routine for me. My body is even reacting like one of Pavlov’s dogs.  When the theme to the morning news comes on the radio, I literally start salivating and I think “Where’s my coffee?!”  Sometimes my arm actually shoots out to where my coffee mug normally is, whether I’ve made coffee yet or not.  This is disturbing to me.
  • It causes withdrawals. This is another unsettling occurrence that has appeared recently.  I will get headaches if I don’t have coffee in the morning, or if I have a lot of coffee in the morning and none in the afternoon.  They are the cruel, piercing kind.  Thankfully they go away quickly.
  • It gives me an unhealthy feeling. I don’t like how it increases my heart rate without my permission, and if I drink a large one, I sometimes get a dizzy, sickening feeling. I shudder to think what a caffeine overdose must feel like.  Caffeine really seems to have a nasty edge to it.
  • It prevents me from being calm. I like to take a minute here and there at work (and at home) to become mindful, but caffeine seems to want my mind and body to keep moving.  Even if I park my body to become still, my teeth or my tongue or my toes start moving.  It certainly does not lend itself to meditation; the mind and body both become needlessly excited.  I want to be able to slip into still awareness at any time of day, and this and other drugs really get in the way of that.

coffeesmile

Alcohol

Alcohol plays a much more complicated role in my life.  I have a few circles of friends, and in social settings they all use alcohol to some degree.  I’m in my twenties, and at least around here, alcohol plays a dominant role in nightlife and the local music scene.  Drinking to get drunk is normal and expected behavior where I come from, among professionals and slackers alike.  Many of you will not understand, but some will.

Some of my closest and most dear friends are very heavy drinkers. They drink virtually every day, and if that is not already alcoholism, it is certainly on that path. Perhaps once a week I join them. Copious beer consumption has always been a large part of the time we spend together, and I wonder exactly what effects this experiment will have on our friendship. I can’t describe the details of this dynamic without getting too personal, but suffice it to say that my non-drinking will change things.

passedout

This is summertime: barbecues, pools, camping, bonfires, sitting on the deck.  These are some of the greatest pleasures of Manitoba’s short summer, and I’m going to be abstaining from beer during prime time.  I really wonder if I’ll be feeling a consistent pride for my abstinence, or the constant ache of left-out-ness.

I have had so much fun drinking with my friends — genuine fun, not mindless indulgence.  Mostly.  Alcohol just happens to have been a part of so many of my best memories.  I wonder how much fun I had that I don’t remember.

The costs of alcohol-drinking that I don’t want to pay anymore:

  • It’s expensive. This is one of the more convincing reasons to do it.  Including beer from the vendor, drinks at bars and restaurants, and the necessary taxi rides, I figure drinking costs me a few hundred dollars a month.  Very significant for somebody scrounging for travel money.
  • It’s a lot of empty calories. About 150 per beer.  For a night out on the town that could be a thousand calories or more, not including the whole pizza I ate.
  • I can’t be mindful after my second drink. This is a big deal.  In social situations I really like to sink into my chair and observe and appreciate people.  I like to practice mindfulness when I’m around a lot of action, but usually the effects of alcohol prevent this.
  • I can’t drive! This makes me make all sorts of other inconvenient arrangements, and outright prevents me from going to a lot of interesting venues and parties.  I’ve taken expensive cab rides, sketchy inner-city bus rides, and long, and many lonely walks home when my ride wasn’t ready to leave.
  • I can’t make a good impression on new people when I’m drunk. This is a very costly side-effect that has increased significance now that I’m a more social person.  I would love to talk to more people in public but so often I will not approach them if I know I smell like alcohol or I can’t trust myself to speak clearly.  I love being grounded and social, alcohol really gets in the way of that.
  • Sometimes it just makes me feel awful. I’m not talking about hangovers, which I rarely get.  Sometimes I find myself drinking beer even though it is only making me feel gross, just because I’m out and I’m so accustomed to doing it.
  • Sometimes I do things I regret. I’m mild-mannered compared to some, but after a rougher night I sometimes remember having been rude or uncharacteristically aggressive.  There’s nothing worse than remembering something awful you said to or about somebody when you were under the influence.  These days I don’t often drink enough for this to happen, but sometimes I do.
  • It’s a big time-waster. It’s not uncommon for me to go out at 7pm and not get home until 2am, then sleep until 10am.  Excluding the eight hours of sleep I would have had anyway, that’s seven hours that I did not spend creating any lasting improvements to my life.  And I’ll be in compromised shape when I wake up.  I feel so pressed for time these days, that this alone is reason enough to take a break.  Time is so valuable, what a dumb thing to spend it on.
  • It’s habitual for me. It’s a hard drug that I use regularly.  I need to know how important alcohol is to my lifestyle.  If it can’t be cleanly removed without affecting my relationships and my way of living, then I need to do something about it now.

I’m drinking a beer right now as I write.  And I’m getting nervous.  I will certainly face peer pressure, not that it’s my biggest worry.  One of my friends in particular will certainly rag on me, and discourage me from doing this.  Another one of my friends is moving back to the city and will want to party like the old days.

But most of the pressure will come from me.  I worry that I won’t be able to do it.  I worry that I will find myself reasoning that a Heineken with my restaurant meal adds far more than it subtracts, and that I’ll lie to you about it.  I worry that I’ll reason that this experiment was conceived in haste, and I should have thought it out better and planned for all contingencies, and that I won’t honor my commitment.  I even worry that I’m so physically used to the act of consuming these substances that I won’t realize I’m doing it.

These doubtful thoughts keep coming as I write.  This is genuinely scary for me, and it scares me that it’s so scary.

Because if this is so difficult, then I really have a problem.  Not with alcohol, but with discipline and honesty.  This shouldn’t be difficult, but it is, and I know that betrays a weakness on my part.

The Terms

This experiment will last 30 days.

During the experiment I will not drink caffeinated or alcoholic drinks.

The first day will be Monday, July 6, 2009

The last day will be Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I’ll have a progress log up on the experiments page sometime today or tonight.

Readers:  What is your relationship to alcohol and caffeine?  Do you ever regret drinking alcohol or coffee?  Did you find yourself giving one of them up at some point in your life?

Photos by Bachmont , s2art and e’s .


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{ 52 Comments }

Mel July 6, 2009 at 2:20 am

Thank you for this post. When drugs are as socially pervasive and acceptable as caffeine and alcohol, it’s easy to forget they are really drugs at all.

As a social tool is almost unavoidable in some circles/age groups. When I haven’t been drinking for some reason, it’s surprising to see how uncomfortable it makes other people, and slightly disturbing how much I need to justify not drinking.
“No thanks, I’m on a detox.”
“Oh really? One glass is okay though, right?”
“Ah, no… just a water, thanks.”
“God, how long is this going to go on for? You better be drinking for my birthday next weekend!”
“Er….”*

It gets to a point where you consider drinking not because you actually want to, but because other people want you to! Wasn’t peer pressure meant to finish after high school?!

*actual conversation

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vomle July 6, 2009 at 4:02 am

wow good on you, i have been mulling this over for a while- giving up alcohol. coffee isn’t so much of a problem to me, i dont drink a lot of it. i drink alcohol probably twice a week, sometimes i drink too much and get hungover.
the thought of giving up alcohol is making me a bit nervous, like how would i cope with social situations? how will it be to go out to a gig and not drink?
Ok i’m going to join you on your experiment David, i would like to see how i feel, save money and meet people properly. woooohooooooo!

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ssandra July 6, 2009 at 4:22 am

Hi,

I gave up coffee before.What really helped me get through the difficult moments where coffee is just a habit, was drinking tea instead. Just to have something warm that signifies the start of the day, work etc. It really helps, otherwise you won´t get anything done in the adjustment phase and that was not an option for me.

With the alcohol, I would suggest to think beforehand what you are going to order instead. Cola wouldn´t be a good choice since you are trying to stop addictions, not create new ones (diet coke would be worse).
When they are pressuring to get you to drink a good response would be “why, are you trying to get me drunk for something?” with a smile and maybe a wink. This usually shuts people up and stops them from asking again (especially between guys).

Good luck with your 30 day trial!

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David July 6, 2009 at 6:55 am

Mel — You are totally right, it really does make other people uncomfortable. I think part of the reason is that those other people are unwilling to address their own alcohol habits. I have not told my friends yet but I’m anticipating conversations like that one. I’ve experienced them even when I’ve declared I’m not drinking for one night.

Vomle — Hooray, an ally! Part of it is that I need to be able to cope with certain social situations without alcohol. Part of what’s so scary is that I worry some of the stuff I do isn’t actually very fun without alcohol. Keep me posted on your progress.

Ssandra – That’s a good point, I need to figure out what I’m going to order instead. I don’t really like Cola, and it’s off limits because it has significant caffeine in it. Water (and sometimes Iced tea) will probably be my beverage of choice.

Hot tea I just don’t particularly like, and I don’t want to start a tea habit (not that it’s bad for you.) So I’ll just drink water at work.

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Positively Present July 6, 2009 at 7:56 am

Great post! I give you a lot of credit for giving up both at once (even if only for a limited amount of time). I’m definitely big on caffeine (Red Bulls, energy drinks, etc.) but I’ve had to give up drinking due to the terribly negative effects it has had on my life. This has NOT been easy at all because it is such a big part of the society I’m involved in. Most of my friends drink. All of my family members drink. It’s very hard not to do it and to still be social (hence my loneliness post today, haha), but my life has been SO SO SO much better since I gave it up. Now, caffeine would be a hard one to let go of… but I bet you I’d be better off without it. Can’t wait to see how the next 30 days go for you!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..combat loneliness with e.a.s.e. =-.

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Lisis July 6, 2009 at 8:11 am

Wow, David! I think this is a hugely important experiment for you as it will redefine and clarify the relationship you have with alcohol, your friends, and yourself. There is much to be discovered here, and I hope you will keep an uncensored journal for yourself, in addition to the public log you’ll post here.

As for coffee… I guess I have a different view because I am Costa Rican (where even kids drink coffee). A cup in the morning and one in the afternoon is an absolute cultural phenomenon and has nothing to do with staying awake or trying to be extra productive.

For me, drinking coffee (particularly 100% Arabica Costa Rican coffee) is about connecting with the Earth… consuming the nutrients that came from that incredibly fertile volcanic soil. If you ever see the size of the bugs and plants in Costa Rica, you’ll know what I mean. The “good stuff” (pure coffee and tea) are, in my opinion, the nectar of the gods.

In any case, though… best of luck with your habit tracking!
.-= Lisis´s last blog ..Adventure: Finding Beauty Close to Home =-.

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Jake July 6, 2009 at 8:44 am

Hey David, I’m not sure what you expect to accomplish but denying yourself of both coffee and alcohol at the same time may not be a good idea. If you have no intention of giving them up forever, what’s the point?

Maybe you should be working on a ‘moderation’ experiment. If you deprive yourself of something you really want, it could have the opposite effect. It’s the attachment, not the thing itself that’s a problem for most people.

Cheers!

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Mike July 6, 2009 at 9:08 am

Good luck, man! Enjoy the freedom! When you see people lugging their giant coffee mugs around, imagine that the mug is a big ball and chain, and appreciate that you don’t have one.

As for the beer, take a deep breath and enjoy the clear headed feeling. If you feel the urge getting too great, take two aspirin (if that’s allowed) and have a nap. You will sleep like a baby.

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Nadia - Happy Lotus July 6, 2009 at 9:25 am

Hi David,

Good for you for doing this experiment. I drink coffee every now and then. I used to drink it all the time and I switched to herbal tea. It was an easy switch. When I do drink coffee, I enjoy the flavor and like Lisis, I think it is a cultural thing. I come from a background where coffee is a part of life and so not much thought is given to it.

As for alcohol, when I was a kid, my parents would let me take a sip from their drinks and I absolutely hated the taste. When I came of age, I never got into drinking. I have not had a drink in years and I truly never understood the desire to get wasted. I rather get high on life and that is how I live my life. When I was in college and in law school, it was always hard for the people around me to understand why I never cared for the stuff. Even now at work, so many activities are based in drinking and getting drunk, I just do not take part. Happy Hour is every hour as far as I am concerned and if a shot of something has to make someone happy, then that is kind of sad.

I think many people like alcohol because it helps them to numb their pain. I rather just get over the pain and enjoy life without needing something to make it possible. So, in summary, I think this experiment is totally awesome and I wish you all the best! :)
.-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..How Being Conscious Can Change the World: Conscious Capitalism Update =-.

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Grace Boyle July 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

I wouldn’t say that I’m reliant on coffee and alcohol, but they play a part in my everyday (and social) life.

I think socially that grabbing a drink, or getting coffee is something I often play a part in. Even professionally, my company goes to happy hour frequently and in networking for my job I had a coffee date everyday (sometimes twice a day)! That gets to be a bit much, but what will you meet for, water?

I really firmly believe that balance is important. I enjoy a cup of coffee (just one) each day, but I have a cup about 5 times a week. Sometimes less. I also enjoy getting drinks with my friends at the end of the work week, but usually it doesn’t go beyond a Friday or Saturday night.

You bring up such good points and I’m interested to see how your 30 day plight goes.
.-= Grace Boyle´s last blog ..Women, What Does Your Body Language Say? =-.

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Kai July 6, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I’m uncommon because I rarely drink coffee and never drink alcohol. All my life I could never justify destroying my body for the sake of social situations.

Aside from the addiction itself, the hardest part of being a non-drinker is definitely the peer pressure. When everybody around you defaults to drinking you quickly become the center of attention for rejecting drinks.

I’ve found that the most important thing to do in these situations is to maintain your self-confidence. When you tell people, “I’m not drinking”, they’re certain to respond, “why not?” I find it strange that people default to drinking and I like to have fun with a clear head. I let others know this directly and don’t beat around the bush with explanations. I’ve almost always been received with understanding and I’m totally willing to joke about myself if somebody retorts.

After that, it’s just a matter of jumping in — it’s not very hard to see where drunk people are going with things. Once I show that I can not drink and still have fun, I rarely have problems hanging out with the same people.

Good luck with the experiment!

~ Kai

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Ian | Quantum Learning July 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Great post and great experiment! Can’t wait to hear the results. Caffeine would be a big one for me. I so much enjoy my morning coffee!

I especially like how you put all drugs together and highlight the rather arbitrary distinction made between those sanctioned by the government and those not!
.-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..What to do with naughty kids =-.

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Srinivas Rao July 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Interesting post. I can’t say I have an addiction necessarily. I actually drink coffee almost every day. It is just part of my morning routine, but I kicked the afternoon habit a long time ago and replaced it with fruit.

As for the booze, I think I drink regularly, but mainly in social settings. I don’t drink beer at home that often although from time to time I may have a few glasses of wine. Usually boredom drives this. I’d be curious to see how you feel physically after 30 days.
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..The Power of Your S.M.I.L.E =-.

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Carlos Miceli July 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

David, this is an interesting challenge. Personally, since I don’t drink coffee and I don’t need alcohol at all, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge to me, but I wonder if I could go without videogames or popcorn for that long….

Good luck, more for the sake of the experiment than for the no-drugs attitude. I believe there’s nothing wrong with drinking coffee and alcohol as long as we do it a balanced way.

What I really wanted to tell you is how impressed I am by your posts, not only because of your writing, but because they are very unusual. I can’t think of a similar blog where I could find these.
.-= Carlos Miceli´s last blog ..People Are Stupid =-.

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David July 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Wow, thanks for the in-depth feedback everyone.

Dani — Alcohol has become a fixture in the lives of many people around me, and it’s just become a little too normal for me to indulge in. So I want to see what it’s like to abstain completely.

Lisis — Coffee is much less of a hindrance to me, but I don’t like the neediness I feel for it at work. So I will go without and see what happens. I very much enjoy it on a cultural level, but I need to know what it’s like to be drug-free for a bit.

Jake — I think there is much more to discover from completely shutting them out for a while that to simply set some arbitrary limit on how much I should consume. What I’m doing is moderation, in that it’s a temporary change. This way I can achieve the perspective of someone who doesn’t drink at all, and view these attachments and their effects on my life. If I have a beer or a coffee here and there I would have the perspective I’m looking for. More than anything, I want to know how much my lifestyle has to change to be without drugs.

Mike — Hi Mike. I’m not worried about urges. The great mystery to me is how this will change my social life. Will I still enjoy sitting on a patio while everyone else drinks?

Nadia — My parents never drank heavily, but a beer or wine with dinner was always pretty normal. When I was a teenager, like many other teenagers I found a new sense of excitement and socialization when I started going to parties. Drinking was what everyone did, and I participated, and I really liked it. I treasure many of those memories, but the excitement is certainly gone and I think I’ve taken everything I can get from it.

I have never drunk to numb pain, that’s not what it was about for me. Alcohol never really numbed my pain, contrary to stereotypes I don’t think it does a very good job of that.

Grace — I do enjoy the ritual of going for drinks after work, but I’m interested to see if there is anything to enjoy without the alcohol. If so, then great, I don’t need it. If not, then I shouldn’t be there anyway. We shall see.

Kai — Yeah on the nights I have decided not to drink, I always get that incredulous “Why not??” as if there are no downsides. It is kind of ridiculous that drinking is the default, like you say. I’ll tell them I’m pregnant.

Ian — The stigma against certain drugs is really unhelpful, IMHO. I am not anti-drug, I think it’s an atrocity to imprison people for using a drug. I’m just honest with myself about their positives and negatives in m life, and if it’s not worth it I don’t want to do it.

Srinivas — That’s one thing I really want to find out: how my body will feel. I know both alcohol and caffeine make me needlessly groggy at different times, and I want to know what my ‘base state’ is like.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with either of those things either, I hope nobody is inferring an anti-drug philosophy on my part. I don’t attach any kind of moralizing to drug use, I don’t think that’s helpful to anybody.

Videogames I did give up on voluntarily. They were just taking too much of my time and I got very little return on my investment. I did find some of them very addictive. Popcorn was never a thing with me :)

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Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching July 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for this. One way to see addiction, I think, is that we’re addicted to some behavior or way of thinking when we don’t feel a sense of choice around it. Many of us, when we get in the car, for instance, find ourselves automatically turning on the radio without even noticing, and if we’re somehow able to avoid that we get all jittery in the silence. Just becoming aware of these moments where we lack choice, I think, is often enough to create more options.
.-= Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching´s last blog ..10 Motivational Metal Masterpieces =-.

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Jay Schryer July 6, 2009 at 4:59 pm

What a great experiment! Like Lisis said, I think there’s a lot to learn here, and I can’t wait to follow your updates on this one!
.-= Jay Schryer´s last blog ..The Road’s Still Long =-.

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Tim July 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

David:

I’m very curious to read about how your experiment goes. Frank Zappa once called beer “the buddy beverage” and as crazy as he was, never touched drugs or alcohol. While I enjoy one beer with my dinner, there have been times in my life when I drank much more and I did not enjoy it. I’m pretty laid back and drinking really puts me to sleep. Drinking has never really given me more courage and has never brought out the best in me. Really, I become less and less interesting as I drink more. At 40, I have just realized this within the last couple years.

So that is why caffeine is my drug of choice. I enjoy the alertness that caffeine gives me much more than the sleepy buzzed feeling I get from drinking. What’s weird is that I never really drank coffee until about ten years ago. Now I have acquired the taste and I have probably been abusing it. I’ll usually have a few cups of coffee in the morning and then again in the late afternoon or evening. But I am also aware of some of the effects of caffeine on my brain: the increased anxiety, the inability to relax at times, etc.
I am wondering if all of this caffeine is having a negative effect on my mind.

So, like I said, I’m very curious to read your results. Great choice for an experiment.
.-= Tim´s last blog ..Blog Update =-.

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Mike July 7, 2009 at 10:59 am

Discover the many non-alcoholic beverages out there, and explore the many different reactions of your friends. Are they true friends, or just drinking buddies. :)

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suzen July 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Maybe coffee is a problem for me but I don’t feel it. I also don’t have that much, switching to green tea after one cup of java. Drinking I just don’t anymore. I’ve had to lie (“I’m on meds and can’t have alchol”) or some nonsense of allergies. I get pushed, teased, ridiculed about it – like everyone is damn obsessed with seeing me drink or something. I don’t care anymore. One thing I DID find out, I don’t care to be around people drinking heavily. Yeah sure they act like they are having such fun, but mostly they are foolish and having to cart them home so they don’t kill people driving themselves gets to ya after awhile. I’m doing it for the innocents on the road, not the drunken friends. Not drinking is life changing – it will be interesting to hear your experiences.
.-= suzen´s last blog ..Boredom Cured — Dare You – Scare You! =-.

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Ian July 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Luckily, never been into coffee. Alcohol is another matter. Being at university, I drink a lot, and fairly often (a bare minimum of two days a week). However, I have come off of it and other recreational soft drugs for a month before. It actually wasn’t that hard for me, the hardest is being with friends who want you to have a drink. The biggest benefit will be the loss of excess fat.

My recommendation is take up something that eats up time in the evenings, that you’ll enjoy, and that doesn’t involve any alcohol. I like boxing, so I did that more frequently.

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Adam July 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Good Luck David, I wish you all the best with this experiment. I will be watching your progress!

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David July 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Chris — Yes, I think you are right. I’ve noticed that very compulsion too: to turn on music when I get in my car. And that’s how these drug habits are to me. It’s not that I don’t have a choice, it’s that I make certain choices without any real consideration.

Jay — Updates on the way!

Tim — I never would have guessed Frank Zappa never did drugs. Unfortunately, alcohol (at first) did bring out in me parts of my personality that I did like more than the sober version. For example, I was able to taste extroversion for the first time, which I can now experience without drugs. I still do enjoy getting a little silly on special occasions but for the most part it’s not all that pleasant, at least not when it’s so routine.

Mike — The friends I drink with are true friends and have been for a long time, I don’t suspect I will find we suddenly have nothing in common. I am interested to see the reactions from different people though.

suzen — Yeah I’ve gone without drinking for haphazard periods here and there but never with real intention. Should be interesting. BTW that latest video on your blog is insane!

Ian — Hehe, I have no problem filling my time. I’m overloaded with things to do as it is, so not drinking will hopefully free up some more. Definitely interested in cutting out empty calories too. Ditching the coffee won’t help on that front though; I always drink it black.

Adam — Right on Adam, the progress log is up on the experiments page.

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prayerthegate July 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Nice post. We all have something we could change or let go of, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. I greatly admire your interest in self improvement. It seems we do many things to ourselves that although are legal, might not be healthy. Well done.
.-= prayerthegate´s last blog ..Be A Blessing =-.

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anitalite ;-)_ July 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I enjoyed this post. Being a user of drugs (cigarettes and others I won’t list) I am shunned by most, looked down on and even persecuted. People are so judgemental about people like me – even if I only smoked cigarettes I would be looked at as being a lesser human even by children (who will loudly cough if they get within twenty feet of my cigarette.) I just look at these people and wonder what’s wrong with their lives that they have to focus on mine so much.
.-= anitalite ;-)_´s last blog ..Crying With Mom =-.

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Tina July 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Good luck with your experiment, David! I hope you find the answers you seek within your challenge.

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David July 7, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Prayerthegate — I’ve often thought about just quitting alcohol outright, but I think it makes more sense to take a temporary look, because the jury’s still out on where it fits in my life, I just don’t know exactly what it adds and takes away. Same with caffeine.

Anitalite — Drug users are frequently spoken of like scum, even by otherwise well-adjusted people. It’s a socially-supported form of unfair discrimination. I think it’s appalling and I will one day write an article about it. So often adults teach kids it’s okay to be rude to somebody just because they smoke cigarettes.

Tina — Me too. It’s more of a exploratory exercise than anything, I hope to make some discoveries that are useful to all of you.

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Tim July 7, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Just another quick thought about caffeine…I see more and more parents taking their kids (pre-teen) to Starbucks these days. Yes, they have so many delicious beverages, but is it good for kids to have all the caffeine at a young age? I wonder if there’s a connection between the increase in caffeine consumption among kids and the increase in kids being prescribed anti-depressants. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.
.-= Tim´s last blog ..Blog Update =-.

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Josh Hanagarne July 8, 2009 at 9:02 am

Fantastic, David. I can’t wait to see how this goes for you. Well, I know it will go well, because you’ll stick to it. I’ve seen a lot of addiction in my family, extended family, and friends. It doesn’t sound like you’ve got a long road back from alcohol or coffee. I’ve learned through observing my loved ones that there is nothing sadder or more tragic for me than seeing a human being–with all the incredible potential that implies–reduced to a mere appetite.

People lose their children, spouses, friends, jobs, lives…and I’ve heard friends say, “My wife is leaving me because I can’t give up this pill. It’s just a pill. Shouldn’t that make it easy to quit? Why am I trading a pill for these things that are so precious to me?”

And still, just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

David, sorry I’ve dropped out of sight for a while over here. It’s good to be back. I’m always, always impressed and inspired by your character and thoughtfulness.
.-= Josh Hanagarne´s last blog ..How To Have Tourette’s Part 4 – Insomnia, An Orator To Rival Cicero, And Some Tough Talk =-.

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Tatiana July 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

While it’s a very worthy experiment, and one I have done inadvertently many times, some commenters seems to confuse the substance with the addiction to the substance. It’s not a cup of coffee or a drink or several that are the problem, it’s the attachment to having them daily or in certain circumstances, or what have you.

Giving up coffee to drink tea daily is not the answer, but being able to take it or leave it depending on mood and circumstance is the pinnacle of healthy. I indulge in all manner of drugs when the spirit moves me, but I’m only really addicted to one. If you can enjoy your drug(s) of choice without the need for them or misery when you can’t have them, you’re pretty on your way to mindfulness. I just found your blog btw, and LOVE it. From one Canuck to another, carry on!
.-= Tatiana´s last blog ..La Vita e Bella =-.

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David July 9, 2009 at 6:51 am

Tim — I think adolescence is a bad time to introduce drugs. I didn’t develop any of my drug habits until I was 18. I would have had a much tougher maintaining perspective if i had been getting used to certain buzzes at certain times as a teenager. And overuse of prescription drugs is a whole other level of addiction: it’s an economic dependency that the whole country suffers from. It seems to be far worse in the US than anywhere else.

Josh — Good to hear from you Josh. It is shocking to see how out of balance an addiction can make a person. A&E’s Intervention was a real eye-opener for me. You put it very well: a person reduced to a mere appetite.

Tatiana — Hi Tatiana, welcome to Raptitude. I’ve discovered that in my case, it’s both the substance and the attachment. I’m doing this experiment not just to examine the attachment but also just to give my body a break from these substances. I’m cutting out a lot of empty calories just by abstaining from alcohol alone. Even if there was no compulsion to use these substances, they aren’t exactly doing me a lot of good physically.

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G | TheNewHustle.net July 9, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Wow, what an intruiging blog. Glad I’ve come across it! Look forward to your progress.

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David Ridarelli July 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm

I try to keep my alcohol intake to around 2-3 Guinnesses a week and have a caffeinated beverage before I workout on most days. I usually aim for about three months on it and one month of detox. Those first three days of detox are quite lackadaisical but three days of that for three months of workout boosts seems worth it. As with several things in life alcohol and caffeine are wonderful servants but terrible masters.
.-= David Ridarelli´s last blog ..The Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth Best Workout Beats Of All Time =-.

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Deeper Voice July 19, 2009 at 9:27 am

good luck with that!
.-= Deeper Voice ´s last blog ..How Gas Can Change Your Voice =-.

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Oscar - freestyle mind July 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

Good luck with this. I gave up coffee and alcohol earlier this year and I didn’t look back ever since.
.-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Interview with Glen Allsopp =-.

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David July 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm

G — Thanks G

David — Wise words. I’m eager to reintroduce both beer and coffee into my life as “bit players.”

Deeper Voice — Thank you sir.

Oscar — Hi Oscar. What brought you to giving them up? Did you just cut them out both at the same time?

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Lauren July 23, 2009 at 10:32 am

David:

I think this is an amazing journey and I can’t wait to hear the results. I too have felt recently that moderating my alcohol intake has been increasingly challenging. My social circle sounds similar to yours, in that drinking is highly encouraged and sobriety is practically frowned upon. I’m with you in that I think the detriments of drinking far outweigh the positives. In fact, I wrote an article about it here: http://www.holidayhoney.com/2009/07/young-women-alcohol-abuse-a-match-made-in-hell.html

I wish you the best of luck and am anxious to hear your results!

Lauren
.-= Lauren´s last blog ..The Perfect Gift For Your Fat Bastard (trust me, keep reading) =-.

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David July 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Hi Lauren.

I read your article and totally agree with you. Twentysomethings especially are faced with a culture that almost demands excessive drinking. My main goal with this was to see what it’s like to be in those social situations without drinking, and see if it’s missing something crucial. If alcohol turns out to be an essential part of it, then I really have to reconsider what I do for fun. Time will tell, but I’m getting a pretty good idea.
.-= David´s last blog ..The Results Are in! — Experiment No. 2: David Before and After Kettlebells =-.

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Ward Cinnamon July 26, 2009 at 7:59 pm

This is worthy David. Beer is a huge sticking point in my diet, but for beer I would be a ripped behemoth…instead I got a little gut…lol One goal is further moderation of this calorie source. The kettlebell work is worth it…CONTINUE!
.-= Ward Cinnamon´s last blog ..Todays Workout – Hiking =-.

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David July 27, 2009 at 6:43 am

Hi Ward, good to see you here. I am eager to have a beer when this experiment is done, but I’m not really tempted to have more than one or two.

I thought about doing a period of strict moderation (never more than two drinks any given day) for this experiment, but decided to go with abstinence instead. I’m glad I did, because now I feel like I can moderate it to any level I like. But we’ll see what happens.

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DeviantPart July 31, 2009 at 12:34 pm

oh my god, the most intersting things for me in what you posted is the date when u started ur expirement, it’s exactly the day when i stoped taking drugs, first 7 were though for me, then the next 15 gets easier, but after that i’m fighting myself, the toughts of taking drugs again maybe due to the lot of free time i have lately …
i love everything you said,
best regards

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David July 31, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Thanks a lot, it has helped to know that a lot of people out there are doing the same thing.

Congratulations on doing so well so far. What has helped me get out of my funk the most is filling my time with activities that make my life better, instead of activities that made me feel good. Fill your time, as the saying goes: “The devil finds work for idle hands.”

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Lisafrequency August 11, 2009 at 5:56 am

I used to drink large quantities of alcohol. I took me about one year with the help of several different types of health care professionals.

Over a year after I quit I became pregnant and was so glad that I did not have to worry about how my drinking would affect my baby.

I went over 10 years without drinking a drop. I am able to have a drink now. One is my limit.

The AA people say I must not be an alcoholic if I can drink just one and not go on a binge.

Sometimes I feel like going on a binge these are the moments that I resist because I never want to go back to that place in my head.

I will not give up my coffee….

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David August 11, 2009 at 6:42 am

Congratulations on your triumph. I`ve always been suspicious of the ”disease model.” I think we all suffer from addictions, great or small, and they don`t necessarily take over our lives. This is just the human condition. Always clinging and seeking refuge.

I have been enjoying the occasional coffee since I finished. But one cup a day is the limit, and I don`t have it at work. I used to have a big tall travel mug full of it, and it was just too much, it would burn me out.

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science health August 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Drugs makes you weak day by day. You will loose your body tendency to fight from diseases.
.-= science health´s last blog ..Symptoms, precautions and treatment of H1N1 Swine Flu =-.

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Nate St. Pierre October 11, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Dang it, I can’t believe I missed this article. My relationship to drugs: I have never had a sip of either alcohol or coffee – neither of them are habits I ever want to pick up, so I figured, “why start?” (Although I probably eat enough chocolate to make up for the caffeine, haha…)

You pay for it a little bit in social circles, but once it’s established, it’s not a very big deal. I’m gonna go check out your log now.
.-= Nate St. Pierre´s last blog ..You’re Doing It Right =-.

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Lisafrequency October 12, 2009 at 8:01 am

oh chocolate is my drug of choice! I take it for the anti-oxident support.

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Dofollow social Bookmarking site December 10, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Yeah very informative post
.-= Dofollow social Bookmarking site´s last blog ..Tip for guaranteed SEO for high Google ranking. =-.

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Tobi March 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I drank 12 or more cups of coffee all at once one time just to see what would happen. I gave myself a coffee overdose. It was HORRIBLE. I could feel my heart beating, which was kind of scary. I remember this… hard to describe sensation all over my entire body. The only good that came of it was that my curiosity satisfied, lolz. To young to drink alcohol (almost 19), but I do enjoy the taste of the wine at church.

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The Fuddler December 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm

First, I’ve got to say that you’re one of most plain-spoken, no-jive bloggers I’ve seen since I learned what a blog was.

Secondly, I’ve all but completely kicked one of the most pervasive social drugs that there is. In fact, most people never even think of it as a drug.

It’s called television.

Think of it. More people use it to numb themselves out every day than alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or tranquilizers all put together. This electronic hallucinogen is why American society functions (if that’s the right word) the way it does. Millions of brains get laundered every night during what the industry calls “prime time”.

Yes, I might watch a show with friends or relatives, but otherwise I’ve done without it for years. I don’t miss it. (I can’t even tell you what’s on prime-time TV anymore, which has proven a bit socially awkward).

Finally, there’s this ancient book called “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” by Gerry Mander. I’ve only skimmed it, but it looks like interesting reading.

Now, if only I could do something more about being hooked on this “Internet” thing…:~)

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David December 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Same here. Television is a terrible drug and it was easy to give up. Internet is much more valuable but for that reason its much more easy to rationalize using it a lot.

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