Catch up with the top ten posts in “Exploring Sobriety” this year.

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I’ve been writing more than ever this year and want to thank each of you for reading. As the year wraps up, I’ve gathered the ten most popular “Exploring Sobriety” posts of 2020 into the list below.

If you’re a new reader, this list is the perfect starting place. If you’ve been following me for a while, it’s a great way to catch up on any posts you missed or wanted to read again. I hope you all enjoy these and find them interesting or helpful.

10. Why Addicts Do Endless Mental Math

“One of the things that non-addicts rarely realize about alcoholism is how much planning goes into it. This is especially true among so-called ‘high-functioning alcoholics.’ My drinking days required constant calculations, as I tried to balance law school and work with getting drunk every single night.” …

Actor Rob Lowe has a warning about what it takes to quit drinking.

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Rob Lowe has spent over half of his life sober. After an infamously hard-partying youth, he quit drinking in 1990 — when he was just 26 years old — and has stayed alcohol-free ever since.

Lowe has also become an outspoken advocate for his fellow recovering addicts. In addition to working privately to help teenage addicts and their families, he is also incredibly open about his addiction during public interviews.

“You Have to Want to Do It”

Last week, on The Today Show’s Sunday Sitdown, Lowe talked about his sobriety with the host, Willie Geist. …

Quitting alcohol brought newfound calm to my life.

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When I decided to stop drinking, I was worried because alcohol was my main source of relaxation. I thought that without getting drunk each night, I’d have no way to unwind and my anxiety would build.

There was a little truth to this concern. When I first got sober, my anxiety did briefly skyrocket. However, as I adjusted to my new life, and discovered new ways to relax — running, hiking, and writing, for example — my anxiety dipped back down.

Then, to my surprise, my anxiety continued to fall. Although it didn’t disappear completely, it reached a lower level than I had ever experienced during my drinking days. …

It was obvious that I drank too much, but I had a hard time admitting it.

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I used to drink a six-pack or more of beer every single night. That’s a lot of alcohol — far more than the CDC’s recommended limit of 14 drinks per week. You might think that it would have been obvious to me that I had a drinking problem, but I actually spent years denying to myself that anything was wrong.

I expect that most non-addicts would be amazed to learn the amount of mental hoops that alcoholics go through to justify their drinking habits. …

As a recovering alcoholic, I don’t feel any nostalgia for my heavy-drinking past.

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Missing Alcohol

When I quit drinking, I felt like I was giving up my favorite thing in the world. Although I knew that alcohol abuse was damaging my health and interfering with my life, I also thought of drinking as one of my only outlets for fun and relaxation.

During my first year sober, I missed drinking — a lot. I got cravings for alcohol all the time, which would send me into ridiculous daydreams about going back to beer.

I was definitely looking at beer through rose-colored glasses. Even though I had experienced first-hand how alcohol had ruined my social life, I still thought of drinking as a way to meet friends and party. And even though sobriety had helped to lower my anxiety levels, I still had myself convinced that drinking on my couch was a good form of relaxation. …

This well-intended phrase isn’t helping anyone get sober.

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Ever since I quit drinking, I’ve loved reading other people’s sobriety stories. Early on in my sobriety, they provided the motivation, inspiration, and guidance that I needed to keep going. These days, I read them simply to take joy in my fellow recovering alcoholics’ successes.

As much as I love these stories, I do have one pet peeve: the phrase “If I can do it, you can too.”

Although most writers mean for it to be a source of hope, it can easily come off as condescending. …

My alcoholism left me jaded, but I eventually found reasons for optimism.

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My first attempt to get sober came at a very young age. I was 22, just one year out of college, but my drinking habit had already consumed my life.

I lived alone in a small apartment, getting by on freelance work that I did from home. I rarely stepped outside in those days, aside from regular trips to the grocery store to restock on beer and cigarettes.

I made these trips often, because I was tearing through beer more quickly than at any other point in my life. I’d start drinking the moment that I woke up, and wouldn’t stop until it was time for bed. …

High stress levels are a surprisingly great reason to give sobriety a try.

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Dry January is an annual event in which participants give up all alcohol for the month. Dry January is most popular in the United Kingdom, where it originated, but each year it spreads further throughout the world.

A poll by Morning Consult found that 13% of Americans are participating this year (up from 11% last year). This number is particularly impressive because the poll also discovered that 73% had never heard of Dry January. This means that nearly half of Americans who have heard of the event chose to participate.

Why is it so popular? For some participants, it’s about starting the new year off healthy. For others, it’s a chance to explore what sobriety is like as they consider making the leap to quitting alcohol altogether. This year, about half of American participants said it was because they had been drinking too much due to Covid. …

The famous actor has an important message for the new year.

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Life or Death?

Shortly before the new year, world-famous actor Anthony Hopkins posted a short video to Twitter celebrating his 45th year sober. His message included words of hope for fellow alcoholics as well as anyone who has struggled throughout the past year.

Hopkins acknowledged that it had “been a tough year, full of grief and sadness for many many many people,” but hoped that his own story could encourage others to “keep fighting.”

45 years ago, Hopkins had been in a destructive state, “drinking himself to death,” when he experienced a sudden wake up call. …

Heavy drinking was damaging my health and I didn’t even notice.

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Heavy drinking is notoriously unhealthy. It’s well known that alcohol abuse can cause liver damage. It also increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and strokes. In the United States alone, excessive drinking causes 95,000 deaths per year. (Source)

However, alcohol also causes many health problems that aren’t nearly so obvious or life threatening. I used to be a daily, heavy drinker. At the time, I believed that because I had never ended up in the hospital from drinking, alcohol must not have had any impact on my health.

The truth is that although I was lucky enough to escape the most serious health problems associated with excessive drinking, my habit still damaged my health in many subtler ways. I never ended up in the hospital, but I still have to acknowledge that alcohol led me to an unhealthy lifestyle. …


Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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