On 10 January of last year, I decided to do a little experiment. I decided that I wouldn’t drink for a whole year. The logic was simple: I’d just been to Las Vegas, and found that drinking didn’t actually make things any better. Not drinking for a full year should make it obvious whether drinking actually makes me happier in any way, or not.
It’s almost a year later, and I’m ready to call the experiment complete. I’ve gone through all of the major events for a year without drinking, including Reveillon (New Year’s in Brazil). The conclusion is: I’m much happier not drinking, but other people aren’t. The actual act of drinking alcohol has nothing but negative effects, but the social implications are the problem. I rather liked not ever having a hangover (other than lack of sleep) and never having to worry about driving or flying. My overall happiness at events didn’t seem to change much: I either liked being with people or didn’t, the alcohol didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Interestingly, I was right about this in a way too. If I say something like “I don’t feel like it right now” then I don’t have any problems. The moment there’s even a suggest that I don’t drink at all, people get all defensive and look at me funny.
Given that I don’t need to abstain but also don’t see any point in drinking, this suggests a middle path. In social company in which I’d like to, I’ll order a drink, cheers, have a sip, and then drink nothing more. Or nearly nothing. I’ll make sure to also have water on hand, since that’s really my preference.
That said, I’m still keeping my zero-tolerance policy for driving or flying. Doesn’t matter much in Brazil, since I don’t have a car, motorcycle, or airplane, but it just makes the decision easier.