How Alcoholism Drained My Energy

My years of daily drinking were an endless slog.

Benya Clark
Apr 13 · 5 min read
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I got sober four years ago, leaving behind a nasty, daily drinking habit. In my experience, one of the worst things about being an alcoholic was simply how exhausting it was.

I was tired of spending so much money on booze. I was tired of hiding and lying about my habit. Most of all, though, I was just literally tired.

When I stopped drinking, I finally moved on from years of sheer, utter exhaustion.

Years of Terrible Sleep

My trouble with low energy began with restless nights. During my drinking years, my alcoholism wreaked havoc on my sleep.

As a daily drinker, I was literally dependant on alcohol to fall asleep. I drank alcohol every single night for years, always getting drunk before going to bed. I wasn’t even really falling asleep each night as much as I was passing out.

On the rare occasions that I didn’t drink — which was at most just one or two days a year — I’d be up for hours, if not all night. Even having just a few beers normally wasn’t enough to get me to sleep; I needed a six-pack or more to make sure I could pass out.

Sometimes, I’d realize during the night that I was “behind schedule” on my drinking, risking not finishing my six-pack by bedtime. I’d watch the time pass with a feeling of dread. I felt like I was racing against the clock to make sure that I was drunk enough to go to bed when I needed to.

I went through ridiculous mental calculations, trying to balance drinking enough to fall asleep but not enough to keep me up with running to the bathroom.

Most of the time, though, I had nothing to worry about. I drank so much that I normally reached the point of passing-out-drunkenness without even trying.

Of course, even after falling asleep, my trouble was still far from over. I was still drunk as I was sleeping, which was incredibly disruptive. My drunkenness often kept me from falling into a deep sleep, and it left me feeling tired no matter how long I stayed in bed.

During those years, I also frequently woke up throughout each night. Most often, it was because I needed to use the bathroom. With so much alcohol in my body, I made bathroom trips as often as every hour.

When my habit was at its worst, I even woke up just because my drunkenness had worn off. I’d get up at three in the morning, unable to fall back asleep until I had downed a quick drink to get my drunkenness back.

Because of all these interruptions, waking up each morning was an absolute struggle. Even after what should have been a full night’s sleep, I was still exhausted.

Slogging Through Life

My struggle to wake up each morning was just the start of my tired, daily slog. Every single part of my life felt so much harder during my drinking years.

I started each morning with a cup of coffee and a couple of cigarettes. I needed the caffeine and nicotine just to snap me out of the sheer exhaustion that I felt. Even after this chemical-infusion, it would still take me an hour or so until I was completely awake.

I never drank during the daytime, which was a point that I took a lot of pride in. I used it as proof to myself that I didn’t really have a drinking problem — “I’m not a real alcoholic, because I always wait until I get home to drink.”

However, just because I wasn’t drinking during the day, doesn’t mean I was truly free from alcohol’s influence during those hours.

In fact, when I was at school or work was exactly when I struggled the most. I was able to do well, but only by pouring every last ounce of energy I had into my tasks. Getting through each day felt like running a marathon.

By the time I headed home, I felt ready to collapse. I often had activities that I wanted to do at night, but I’d almost always blow them off. All I could think about was falling into my couch and starting in on another six-pack.

Sometimes, during those years, I’d try to take up a new hobby like writing or running. I could never stick with it for more than a week or two. I just felt like I was totally drained, and couldn’t bother to add another task to my day, even if it was meant to be fun.

All that I really had the energy for was watching TV, mindlessly surfing the internet, or playing video games. I couldn’t even play complex video games, just the really simple ones.

My free time was basically just spent drinking and passively consuming different forms of media.

Sometimes, as I got drunk throughout the night, I’d feel like my energy was returning. However, in retrospect I see this as an illusion. Although I felt more energetic, I never actually did anything with that supposed energy. Instead, I’d just start daydreaming about all the fun things that I could do later.

Getting My Energy Back

Since getting sober, my energy levels have shot through the roof. I’ve taken back my free time, and learned to actually follow through on all the hobbies that I used to struggle with.

Unfortunately, the effect wasn’t immediate. Getting sober is its own type of energy drain. During my first few weeks without alcohol, I had trouble doing much of anything. Later in that first year, I struggled yet again when hit with an unexpected wave of depression.

However, four years into sobriety, those difficult days are long behind me. With drinking out of the picture, I’m able to sleep better, do well at work, and use my free time for more than just sitting in front of the television.

It feels great to have interesting, rewarding hobbies like writing, drawing, and exercise. I’m far more satisfied with how I spent my free time than I ever was as a drunk.

My low energy levels had been such a normal part of my life that I didn’t even realize how much alcohol was contributing to the problem. It was only after getting sober that I saw how much of a difference abstinence could make.

My restored energy is just one of the benefits that sobriety has brought, but it’s certainly one of the most relieving.

Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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Benya Clark

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at

Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

Benya Clark

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at

Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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