One Week Without Drinking Alcohol – The Setup

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When I first graduated college and went into the music industry, I went out to lunch with a heavy hitter who managed the finances of some of the biggest rock bands out there.  He asked me if I had been in a fraternity in college, and I told him that I had.  He chuckled a bit.  When I asked what was funny, he said “Well, you went from a fraternity straight into the music business.  The party continues.”

I was never much of a drinker in High School, occasionally I’d go off the rails a bit, but generally I kept my calm with it.  Once I went to college, however, I developed college drinking habits.  If you know anything about SEC schools, and Vanderbilt especially, you’re familiar with our unofficial mantra: “Work hard, play hard.”  Well I did, and I have ever since.

I graduated this past May, but being that I stayed in the same town with the same friends and the same hangouts, I’ve kept it up.  During the week, I’ll have a few beers every other night, but once the weekend hits and I get off of a seven hour waiting shift following a six-hour day in the office, I tend to blow off some steam with my friends the way I know how.

I’ll spare you the raw numbers, for fear of abject judgment and out of a general respect for the staying power of the public record, but on a given week I spend a good deal of money and a good bit of time drinking, carousing, and otherwise indulging in the spirituous swill.

As I expressed in my most recent wrap-up of One Week Without meat, however, I’m ready to kick this whole One Week Without project into full gear and challenge some of my more significant demons.

This list of ill effects of alcohol consumption is long, so I’ll spare you what you’ve probably heard in health class and focus instead on the ill effects I feel in my everyday life.

1. Alcohol costs (a lot of) money

I’ve been tracking my spending patterns in the past month in order to learn more about how I can improve my habits, and I found that I spend between $50 and $75 each week on beer, either at the grocery or a bar.  The cost of alcohol adds up in a very sneaky way, as anyone who has ever closed a bar tab at 3am knows.  Well, being that I’m still in debt to my student loan servicers, it would probably be more appropriate to save this money rather than spend it on temporal indulgences.

2. A wild night of drinking ruins the next day (and sometimes the day after that)

A wise barkeeping friend of mine once told me that every year of your twenties adds ten percent to the severity of your hangovers.  When I first started drinking, I could have as much as I could stand, and wake up early the next morning ready to go.  Not anymore.

Now, if I have a late night out on the town I can guarantee that I will feel miserable the next day, and even if I don’t feel particularly terrible, my brain is far from working at capacity.

3. Drinking alcohol keeps me up late

Building on point number two, even if I don’t go overboard with the drinking, it still keeps me out until midnight or one in the morning.  If I wasn’t drinking at all I expect that I would go to bed around eleven or midnight.  I’ve never known the divine joy of waking up in the morning having gone to bed before midnight, but I imagine it as the purest sort of ecstasy available to the common man.

4. Drinking alcohol can bring out the worst in me

At this point in my life, it’s rare that I have enough to make a complete fool out of myself, but I can say for sure that I’m a much better person when I’m not under the influence of anything.


So, with evidence heaping on the side of abstinence, I’ve decided to go one week without alcohol, in hopes that I can learn a more moderate way to indulge, and only when appropriate.  I expect that this to be by far the hardest challenge I’ve undergone yet, being that drinking is such a pervasive part of my social life.  My hope, however, is that the difficulty of the challenge will be proportional with the rewards and lessons I gain at the end.

Furthermore, though it would be easy to do this challenge as a hermit, I intend to still go out with friends, still go to concerts, and seek out the same fun that I usually do, only without being under the influence.  It will be an interesting ride, but I’m committed to it, to you all, and to myself.

may we all get better together.


Start your own One Week With/out challenge!  Begin here.