Hey all, Dave here, founder of The Beneficial Beer Co. Before BBCo., I had a love-hate relationship with beer. I loved the social aspect and taste, but like most, not a fan of the adverse side effects (I’m looking at you – hangover). And, other things beer could convince me to do, including gambling, long lunch bills, overseas medivacs, lost sunglasses, wallets – you get the idea.
I wanted to make a more beneficial change, and honestly, that’s an essential first step. I’m not a medical professional, but I am a real person, and this is my honest experience of the changes I made. They have helped me transform my life to be a healthier, more mentally present and still just as social version of old alcohol-beer Dave.
Plus, I still drink beer; it’s just non-alcoholic, but yes, it still tastes bloody good, and I never worry about adverse side effects because there aren’t any.
Beer might not be your poison of choice, maybe it’s wine, vodka or something else entirely, but the below still applies to any alcohol.
Right, let’s get started:
TIP ONE: PUT PEN TO PAPER
Keep a diary of your “wet” (beer) and “dry” days. It might sound like an unnecessary pain in the you-know-what, but it’s essentially a way to hold yourself accountable. It’s also a helpful tool because I know that in my case, it was hard to remember exactly when I had a drink or didn’t because it’s just not info that we are hard-wired to retain. I strongly suggest doing this by hand or making a document and colour-coding it for better visual representation and cognitive recognition. Be diligent and fill it in daily.
TIP TWO: SHOW ME THE MONEY
Decide upon a fixed amount that you put away and save for each day or social occasion you have the option to drink but don’t. Put it into a completely new bank account (easier than you think to set up) or give it to someone you trust to put away somewhere you can’t find, never to be touched. Just wait and let it grow. In my case, I put away $50 each time which was my average daily cost of boozing (when you take into account taxis, takeaways, drinks and so on).
TIP THREE: PHONE A FRIEND
Get a “sober text buddy” for the first 90 days – this is vital to your success. Make it someone who has either been there before or is doing it with you. Need advice? I’m here to help too. Just like tip one, being held accountable is a great motivator.
TIP FOUR: GET RESOURCEFUL
The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace is a 30-day alcohol-free challenge/program to help you interrupt your existing habits, form new, better ones, and help you take control. I like that it’s presented as easy to understand, science-backed information and is a judgement-free action plan for anyone who’s ever wondered what life without alcohol is like (i.e., me when I did it!). Beneficial Beer Co. isn’t affiliated with it in any way, but it was something that helped me, and you can click here to do your own research and learn more about it. To make things even easier, it is available on audible with a 30-day free trial – at the time of writing.
TIP FIVE: FEEL ALIVE (I had to say it)
Start the OYNB (One Year No Beer) 90-day challenge. It is based on the premise that once you change your relationship with alcohol, your whole world can change for the better. Get your health, wealth and relationships back on track; once you kick the subconscious element and tame the cravings, you’ll be home free.
For even more helpful info, I suggest finding a copy of alcohol Explained by William Porter and every word inside Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck. It was so good I read it twice.
TIP SIX: TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW
It might feel a bit foreign to be at a social event where others are drinking and not have a beer or wine in hand. Thankfully, it’s an easy fix, and you just need to find a replacement non-alcoholic drink to have in your hands instead. For me, this was my real introduction and turning point with alcohol-free beer. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was my saviour, and my subconscious now equates Heineken Zero with destressing after work. Now, I don’t need alcoholic beer anymore.
TIP SEVEN: REAP THE REWARDS
With all this extra time (and likely money) on your hands, you can reap the rewards of positive change. Maybe, like me, you want to start a new business or get a side hustle or a new hobby. Why? It’s a more tangible way to showcase what giving up alcohol has enabled you to create. Note: you may make your friends who are still full-strength beer lovers a bit jealous.
TIP EIGHT: GET ACTIVE
If you didn’t already know, when drinking alcohol, endorphins are often released in two specific brain areas*:
- The nucleus accumbens (linked to addictive behaviours)
- The orbitofrontal cortex (involved in decision making)
These endorphins are associated with making us feel good at the moment, and you might feel like you miss this when you give up alcohol. The truth is, research has shown non-alcoholic drinking beer can help stimulate the same response, but there are lots of other things that can too.
Something that helps and has beneficial long-term effects is regular exercise to replace the endorphins and release serotonin (the natural happy drug our body makes). This helps boost your mood, well-being and, as a bonus, can also help you sleep better.
TIP NINE: GET CONNECTED
I highly recommend downloading the I Am Sober app on your phone and celebrating every dry day. It has an almost perfect 5/5 star rating from thousands of users and is designed to help you one day at a time. Along with tracking your sober days, I Am Sober will help motivate you (this is important in breaking a habit!) and connect you to a vast network of people who want the same goal.
Remember, don’t stop trying; if you slip up, go back to day one. It can take some of us longer than others, and that’s okay! For some, it might take decades to kick alcohol to the curb finally and realise how amazing the other side is. Don’t be scared: #sobrietyisthenewblack #InBeertweener
TIP TEN: SELF BELIEF. YOU. CAN. DO. IT.
Finally, find your self-belief, take hold of it and don’t let go. Remember that once you beat the subconscious mind, all you have to worry about is cravings, and there are LOTS of ways to manage that. If anything, that’s the “easier” part. There is a lot of literature around it and reading other people’s experiences, and scientific research is empowering and reinforces how many others have been in your place and worked through similar things.
All in all, don’t forget that every day without drinking is a good day, and the more you do it, the easier it is. Everyone is different – it took me 19 years, and I’m only just over a year sober!
There are plenty of more beneficial substitutes for whatever alcohol does for you, and the other side is worth it!
Cheers (with a non-alcoholic beer, of course) to that!