Here’s What I Learned From Going Sober For a Year

By Katerina Cotroneo – July 1, 2022
Katerina Cotroneo

“I’ll never drink again. This time, I mean it,” and I really did! 

At the end of August 2021, I was getting worse hangovers than before. That post-college atmosphere where you cannot drink like you used to hit me, and I thought, “I’m done drinking; let’s see how long this lasts.” 

As a social gal, I was preparing for peer pressure with phrases such as “I’m on antibiotics” and “I have to work early” to get out drinking. However, after a while, I began just saying, “I’m not drinking, thanks!” and nobody even batted an eye. I realized nobody cared and when I stopped, friends around me also actually started to drink less. It began a ripple effect of switching out ranch waters for rain waters, but not in a negative way.

The physical change was slow and then sudden. I didn’t realize anything at first, possibly because I wasn’t on this journey to lose weight, but I woke up one morning and it was as if someone let the air out of me. I hadn’t even realized how swollen (and clearly full of gin) I’d been. I thought I was in shape and boy, was I wrong! I was full of calories, and my body was releasing all the toxicity alcohol does to your inner organs. 

It took about three months for my body to reset. I assumed it would take all my discipline to stay dry for an entire 365, but it’s actually simple when you think about the negatives of alcohol like cancer-causing, early menopause, wrinkly skin, migraine triggering and an essentially swollen body. Waking up feeling great and knowing I’m taking care of my body mentally, physically and emotionally is a great comfort. Not to mention you get better quality of sleep and your wallet says thank you every night, having barely spent a penny. 

Kat with alcohol crossed out.

Photography credit to Katerina Cotroneo

Try this for yourself. I challenge you to see how far you can go without drinking and see if afterward, you decide to go back or give it up for good. If you go back, I suggest a damp lifestyle — maybe only on weekends or special occasions. That way, your body gets a break and you’re not overdoing it. Sometimes, I wonder if alcohol will be like cigarettes later down the line, something future generations will look at us and wonder how we abused it so carelessly, knowing it caused damage. 

This isn’t to say I look down on people who drink consistently. Ignorance is bliss. If I’d never gone on this journey, I would still be loving my Hendrick’s and tonics. Your life is yours; just like with food, everything in moderation is OK. If you look at red wine as you do cake and ice cream, perhaps you’ll treat it more sparingly for your body’s sake. 

You may be thinking, “I need my glass of wine at night; I could never.” I thought the same. But honestly, that glass doesn’t make you feel any better; it just makes it harder to get up in the morning. If you take this journey seriously, you can’t drink but can rather be cheerful about avoiding the awful side effects of alcohol. 

I’ve become creative myself by making healthy alternatives for happy hours that even my drinking cohorts are jealous of. I take freshly-pressed juice — often ginger, lemon and pineapple — and mix it with club soda and coconut La Croix to have a refreshing seltzer mocktail full of vitamins. It’s a win-win! I feel like I’m experiencing a drink, and I’m fueling and hydrating my body instead of harming it. If I’m not in the mood to juice, I’ll grab a hydrating stick containing magnesium, pop it in water, stick it in a cocktail glass and call it a day. 

You’d never know there’s water in my wine glass and no gin in my spritz. The key is to have fun alongside everyone else and not act like it’s a pity. Going out with friends, I have fun laughing alongside the buddies who get drunk and dance up a storm with the buzzed beauties. Who said sobriety is no fun? It’s absolutely what you make it. 

Some people I’ve encouraged to start this “cleanse” even realized they were more dependent on alcohol than they thought, and it was a wake-up call that they may not have discovered until it was too late. Alcoholism is a serious disease; it’s not a choice, and those of us who drink socially (or did) need to remember that our bodies deserve respect. How hard is it to call it quits? Many folks use alcohol to mask their social anxiety and get drunk so they won’t have to be themselves, and that’s quite sad when you think about it. So the next time you reach for a bottle of tequila, cut yourself a break and see how you feel… 


About the Author

Katerina smiling.

Katerina Cotroneo is a professional photographer turned lifestyle writer. Using her marketing background and her talent behind the camera, Katerina tells unique stories through her lens and captures diverse perspectives. 


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