10 unexpected changes that happened after I quit drinking
While some sobriety benefits came right away, new ones continue to emerge even three years later.
I’ve been sober for about three years. And it wasn’t easy, seeing that I used to be a pretty regular social drinker. I’d drink on mom nights out, weekends away, and Netflix nights on the couch with my partner. Often, I got carried away with the fun alcohol gave me and a hangover would follow me around the next day. From there, guilt would take over because I was not giving my kids the best version of myself.
Finally, I hit a breaking point when I grew sick of waking up at 3 a.m. with anxiety that wouldn’t allow me to fall back to sleep. My foggy mind, lethargic energy and overall awful feeling had me fed up. While my drinking wasn’t substance use disorder or alcoholism, there were many reasons I decided to quit drinking—and I’m so glad I did.
At first, people thought that my giving up booze was out of nowhere because, after all, I was the party girl. But what they didn’t know is that I’d been thinking about it for probably two years. And finally, I’d had enough.
Related: Anne Hathaway is quitting alcohol until her son turns 18
While some sobriety benefits came right away, new ones continue to emerge even three years later. It feels like a gift to be given this second chance at life. And apparently, I’m not alone. In Motherly’s State of Motherhood Survey, 23% of moms reported decreased alcohol use in the past year, 8% quit drinking all together and 22% said they don’t drink at all. Some mothers are figuring out that their lives are better without alcohol.
As for me, I feel free. So free that I’m realizing all of the immense benefits in my now-sober life.
My sleep improved dramatically
Better sleep is something that happened almost immediately when I gave up alcohol. I was able to fall asleep quicker and remain asleep (until my bladder woke me up, of course). I no longer take melatonin, CBD, or any other sleep aid to help either. More sleep has allowed me to give my best during the day, and my body has thanked me for it ever since.
My anxiety decreased immensely
Anxiety no longer jolts me awake in the middle of the night or follows me around like a shadow throughout the day. I don’t lay awake pondering every little detail, worrying myself into a tizzy. I’m also calmer throughout the day and, overall, feel much more even-keeled.
I gained clarity
Brain fog has lifted since I gave up alcohol, too. When I was drinking, it felt like my decisions were more of a quick reaction than an actual meditated decision. But now I can think more clearly and make decisions more soundly. More importantly, I feel much more present—with my kids, my partner, my friends, and everyone in my life.
Related: Laura Clery gets real about addiction, why she filmed her birth and raising a son with autism
I learned to trust my own voice
Because I don’t have alcohol clouding my judgment, I’m able to listen to myself. We all have a voice within us, and without booze, I’m able to sit, pause and listen. I even carve out time to walk alone, journal, practice yoga and meditate. And because I trust my voice now, it’s louder than ever.
I grew brave when it came to making decisions
When you become accustomed to listening to yourself, you grow brave. Thus, trusting yourself turns into action. Recently, we uprooted our whole family and moved to northern Michigan where the waves on the shores calm us and the thick forests embrace us, too. We’ve never been happier and I have my clear head to thank for this big decision.
My energy surged
I now wake up each day with energy. Before I stopped drinking, it felt like I was always trying to catch up on everything on my to-do list. But now, I’m better able to play soccer, hike, do art and more with the kids. I’m also almost always able to fit in some form of exercise for myself. I feel more alive than I have since I was in my 20s and I have sobriety to thank for that.
My parenting has become much calmer
I still have guilt about some anger and quick reactions toward my kids. But now that I’m sober, my patience has soared and I’m able to simply talk with them when their behavior is getting to me. Of course, their squabbles and tantrums remain, but how I react is totally different. Raising kids is tough, but it’s much easier to control my short fuse now that I’ve eliminated booze.
Related: Getting sober saved my motherhood (and my life)
Our bank account grew
We used to spend so much money on beer and wine. Weekly, it would be part of our grocery bill and when we went out to dinner, alcohol tacked on a hefty amount at the end of the tab. Now, we have extra money saved. And if we choose to go out to dinner, we can splurge on the steak or dessert without feeling guilty about it.
I have healthier hobbies
I now live a much more active lifestyle than I did when I was drinking. Daily, I’m exercising, practicing yoga, hiking, biking and trying new things. This past year alone I rock climbed, skied, took up stand-up paddle boarding and canyoneered—all for the first time.
My relationships deepened
When you’re sober, you learn which relationships have depth and which don’t. And the ones that do deepen in ways you never dreamed. My husband and I, for example, have time for much more meaningful chats about our past, present and future. And my friendships almost always dive deep now. We don’t just talk and complain about the trivial things in life now. We go straight to the tough stuff—and I’m forever grateful for that.
Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.