Two Years Sober Today: The Benefits of Sobriety

Two years ago today I decided to take small break from drinking.  I needed to clear my head.  A week into it, I felt good and decided to keep going.  After a month, I felt even better.  Once I got to two months sober I made a decision that I didn’t want alcohol to play a part in my life again.

I have been sober for two years straight today.   It has been an amazing journey that has forced me to confront many things about myself that I didn’t like.  I’ve learned that everybody drinks for a reason, and the people who drink the most have the most reasons.  If you don’t understand the “why” then you will be doomed to repeat the cycle.

The memories of my previous lifestyle are still very fresh in my mind.  Almost everything around me still reminds me of that time and, in that sense, I will never be able to forget the feeling and realities that prompted me to quit drinking.  The memory of what I went through and who I used to be are still enough of a motivating factor to prevent me from going down that road again.  I don’t think alcohol is inherently bad or that people are bad for drinking.  I have plenty of friends who are able to drink and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, I was not one of them.

Outside of quitting my job to try my hand at being a full-time artist, quitting drinking was probably the best decision I have made in my adult life.  I don’t want anybody to get the impression that it was an easy change; it was not.  But I would encourage those that feel like alcohol is starting to play too much of a role in their lives to give it a try.

I would like to write about some of the biggest differences I have seen in the past two years.

Physical Activity – I have always been into riding my bike and playing basketball, but all of those activities came to an end during the height of my drinking.  Nobody wants to work out when they’re hungover.  I had no idea how the two were tied together when I was drinking, but now that I’m sober I have much more energy for working out and physical activity.  Working out makes you feel really good and actually gives you a reason to not drink so much.

Inquisitiveness & Learning – One of the benefits of drinking is that it allows us to let our guard down and go with the flow.  This is achieved by suppressing the minds natural inquisitiveness and activity.  Over time, I saw that the I more I drank the less I had the patience to learn and process new information.  I went through periods of my life where you couldn’t stop me from picking up a book or learning something new, yet during the time I was drinking heavily I could barely read one or two books a year.  In comparison, I read ten books in a two week period last month alone.  It really is a night and day difference.

Less Patience for Mindless Entertainment – I pretty much stopped watching television about four or five months into my sobriety.  It wasn’t even a deliberate choice.  I noticed that my mind would find everything about it to be boring.  I later realize that this “bored” feeling is because my television doesn’t really challenge your mind, it supplies all the brain activity for you.  There is nothing to interpret, contextualize, or figure out.  There is no problem solving or critical thinking involved in watching television.  As a result, it puts people’s minds to sleep, if that makes sense.  Without alcohol my brain activity increased (i.e. my mind just wanted to be fed information), and besides sports like MMA and movies I can’t really watch television anymore.  My television on comes on when my family visits me or when i’m playing a movie while creating music, but that’s really it.   I can’t watch football, baseball, or basketball anymore.  Nor can I watch sitcoms or anything else.  Trust me, I have tried, it just doesn’t work.  The sheer sound of television and it’s constant flickering and flashing commercials actually freaks me out nowadays.

Time – Time flies when you’re drunk, but when you’re sober you become acutely aware of time.  This means that you become very aware of the instances where you’re wasting it.  Life isn’t something you wish would fly by anymore.  Life slows down and you feel more aware and in control of how you spend your time here on earth.  I used to feel like I had plenty of time to do the things I wanted to do every day, but now i feel like I don’t have enough, and will never have enough.  I don’t want time to fly anymore, i want to enjoy every second of it.  I don’t want to forget any of my experiences.  I had a lot of great times drinking, but it’s a shame that I’ve forgotten so many.  Amazing conversations that I can only remember in spirit, not in specifics.

Less Emotional – I used to think that drinking is what I had to do to prevent myself from slapping people everyday, but now realize that drinking (and the emotional roller-coaster that came along with it), were actually the problem.  I wanted to slap people a lot more when I was drinking heavily than I do now.  Now I get into much less drama.

Productivity – Because I am so much more aware of time, I get a lot more work done.  I still have my periods of inactivity but they last a lot shorter now.  It’s a night and day difference.  My increased productivity has done wonders for my self-esteem.  I feel like I can do anything now as long as I put the time in.  I didn’t have that level of confidence before.

I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface here and could probably list ten more things like this, but I don’t want this to be too long.  Hell, I could probably write a book about the experience and have been considering it.

Overall, my life has changed tremendously since I stopped drinking, and today marks a very important milestone in my life.  I’m still taking it one day at a time and I know that it will take even more discipline to keep going for another two years. I am encouraged by the positive effect it has had on my life thus far, and hope to continue on this path.  For the sake of not making this a ten-page blog I have chosen to keep this shorter, but I hope that this may serve as inspiration to anybody out there that is drinking heavily or an alcoholic but considering sobriety.  It is not an easy decision, but it does get easier, and I believe the experience and benefits are well worth it.

Be encouraged.


BLUEPRINT
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  • Syncert

    Am glad you make posts about this. It’s an important perspective and quite inspiring. Thank you.

  • GHN

    Print you’ve inspired me to try this. I am currently going into my junior year as a pre-med student and on the weekends I would drink to the point I would pass my phone and debt card to a friend to order me food. Thinking back on it, it is/was a little silly, if not kinda pathetic. I am using a massive obstacle course/trail run at the end of the summer as the excuse for my friends who expect me to be playing flip cup this summer. I’ll be sure to look back on this summer and compare how much I accomplished versus last summer and go from there.

    Keep killing it on the music man, I love your stuff. 

  • I just can say congratulations Print.

    I’ll bookmark this post and try to read it on those moments when problems arise and we think about drinking  to “forget everything”.

  • Mike

    “we drink like the answer to the problem’s at the bottle’s bottom….”

      Always an inspiration, drinking started as a reason to relax and became a relax of reason.  It’s just crazy how much it inundates our daily lives and culture. A strange acceptable addiction. Keep on the path, so you when you are in San Diego

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reading

  • Anonymous

    Best of luck in your journey.  You can definitely pull it off

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mike!

  • Anonymous

    that’s whats up! thank you

  • Msmacgyver

    with 22 years of sobriety, i find this very inspiring. It gets better and better, just wait, more will be revealed. You have an amazing journey ahead of you. Thank you

  • Sam

    Congrats, man. Much respect for taking a chance and sticking with it.

  • De

    Thanks for posting. It’s a great source of motivation and connection for someone who is dealing with and at an earlier stage than you now. I would encourage you to share all nuggets because it’s so insightful information about a topic that is not easily discussed with people who don’t understand. Stay strong bruh. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Sam!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks man.  I’m in the process of emptying my head of a lot of the experience right now.  Fleshing out the ideas and seeing if i can fit it into book form or even more blogs.  There’s so much i have to say on the topic, I’ve just got to organize it.

  • Anonymous

    Congrats on 22 years.  That’s awesome.

  • Chris

    Reading your blog a year ago made me really think hard about my adult beverage consumption.  Thanks for posting this again so I can reevaluate!  I told you roughly a year ago @ Soundset 2011 “Congrats on the sobriety” after everyone rocked out to Edan so here’s a Congrats again and hopefully many more to come!

    Chris (far right in pic)

  • Out of the blue I thought about a blog post you had (previous to this one) and in it you mentioned you were coming up on two years sober. Remember this today (out of the blue) I decided to see if you ever wrote about it. You did! Which is great! Great post. I agree about the noticing how much time you have left on earth. Suddenly 5pm is LATE IN THE DAY when before it meant “only two more hours until I hit the bars and have a good time”. I find myself creating, learning or being productive at 11:45pm at night when otherwise I’d have been enjoying another. Cheers man. Looking forward to seeing you here in Tempe, AZ soon.

  • Anonymous

    thanks man. should be playing Tempe, on thanksgiving! details this week.

  • tim

    just read this, after googling “benefits of sobriety”. My 2 years was just a few weeks ago, went cold turkey after 25 years of drinking to deal with social awkwardness, shyness, stress. It was insanely hard for awhile, but everything you write about, about the thought processes snapping back into a more active state, reading…all those things were as if I wrote them myself. But it is still a near daily struggle, as I would love to activate that relaxed, detached side and just be in the moment for a moment. My art suffered as well through the years, time wasted on hangovers or extended binges… though it benefited from time to time from the release from the daily, and the introduction of randomness when you are in a crowd of likewise altered folks. I made some of my best friends while out and about the city in a laughing and liquored-up state. I freed up some inhibitions of a shy, bookish artist into a boisterous clown who was greeted with a “NORM” type reception on entering his watering holes, acceptance and approbation. The inner life was slowly neglected though. I struggle with this, as i don’t demonize drinking or drinkers…just the excesses. And the fact that once alcohol is an option, your thinking is never the same…you can excuse certain behaviors and avoid certain challenges when you shouldn’t. Better to plant your feet firmly and battle against everything the world throws at you, forge ahead wherever your dreams lies, never seeking the refuge of drunkenness for failure over the rational ally you have within yourself to overcome failure or shortcomings. I don’t know you, but have traveled the same roads, with the same experiences and revelations. I might add, that once the physical cravings are quelled, there can be a peace that I have not experienced since childhood, a re-connection with the inner “you” one was before altering one’s consciousness. I thank you for sharing and shoring up my decision, as I sometime need the re-affirmation to keep sailing strong, instead of leaping into some dark and seductive seas that I have already passed over.

  • Great article. I am coming up to 7 months sober and I started experienceing some of the things you mention after a few weeks, (energy and a sense of time being lost), and other things are only starting to happen, such as my inability to watch TV and movies. Honestly I never realised how much crap I used to waste timer on.
    I am also working more effectively, and I no longer lose my temper with my kids (well, not so frequently and not so intensely)
    I would recommend to anyone a break from what John Savage, the British music journalist, calls “a really sh*t drug”.

  • Anonymous

    that’s awesome. stay strong my man!

  • I have 4 1/2 years and agree with everything you see. I however watch the news more but that ties in to your point of creativity.

  • Jaime

    This is amazing. I’m one week in and you’ve just inspired me for a lifetime.

  • when your good, your good

    i will be 2 years in 10 days. everything you have said is bang on. you just gave me the energy and power to go another 2 years, day by day of course. thank you.

  • Matt

    Thank you for your insights. I have felt for the last year or so that drinking was dragging me down more than I realized. Killing my “life-force” if you will. I had a few friends over to BBQ and drink on Memorial Day this year. My sister and her husband live next door, so I watched their dog for the weekend. While getting inebriated with my friends, someone left the door open, and the dog got out without a trace. The party screeched to a halt and we all went looking for this dog. I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I lost that dog, I literally stayed out searching all night. Someone called at 9am saying they had found the dog. I’ve never been so happy to see that dog in my whole life. This experience was a huge breaking part for me with alcohol. I realized, this probably wouldn’t have happened had I not been drinking. I also realized the consequences of drinking. “I don’t even drink that much!” is what I’ve been saying to myself for the last year. Maybe one or two drinks……every night. 7-14 a week! That’s a lot! I could go on and on. Anyways, I haven’t had alcohol for 22 days, this is the longest I’ve gone in my adult life. Its like I got on the drinking train when I went to college and it never stopped rolling. thank you again for writing this post, I searched “Sobriety: advantages of consciousness” and your article came up first. I feel it, and all the things your speaking of are slowly coming into view.

  • Hello printmatic, first congratulations. I hope you are still coming along successfully in your road to recovery. I am a little over three years sober myself and know how challenging it is, and the importance of daily reminders of the benefits of sobriety. I wrote a short article regarding my experience as an alcoholic and thought your readers might find it interesting or beneficial. http://www.eliteenvy.com/the-benefits-of-being-sober-alcohol-how-sobriety-changed-my-life/

    Anyways, keep up the good work, and thank you for your insight! 🙂

    Jacob

  • printmatic

    approved

  • Seraphim2478

    I have sometime in as well 2 years. It is amazing! I notice big changes. I used to be a day and night and one in the morning drinker…
    1] Mind: after 2 years, I am an avid reader, I can focus much better. Still needs work. Short term memory is still bad, but no more mental fog and confusion or anxiety, no depression, excerpt maybe a challenging day every once in awhile. Still no imagination. Critical thinking skills are much improved.
    2] body: I lot more energy. I work hard and have become a leader at work, people look up to me, especially the younger people. More stamina, never sick, really, maybe a week out of a year.
    3] soul: definitely more spiritual, I pray a lot and have a meaningful relationship with my creator. I try to live by spiritual principles and have set up my worldview and strive to be consistent with my beliefs, one of which is to always give people the freedom to be themselves around me, not force or coerce anyone, to not give advice unless asked. There are exceptions in my mission statement, if they violate my deal breakers, such as gossip or slander anyone, then I warn them, that I will not talk to them if they do it again. Thus I don’t talk to many people since most people do this, but the good thing is I know who are the people I can trust!

  • Claude Rochon

    You definitely are the “gone sober person” with the simplest phrasing, the most humble and less jaded modern psychotic “on the ball” personal writing style i have read so far. You come across factually and simple with calm and precision. Thank you so much for having posted this on the net. I am now sober for good. Ah ha ha ha Ah ! I know this because i have been trying for YEARS now, to control the situation without any kind of result and yet…i just went on persisting in my quest for a drinking tempo and regularity that would not hurt my finances so much and leave me enough sober space to enjoy my many talents AND drink just enough and seldom enough to enjoy the sensuality of it without having to pay the price of being constantly reminded that i drank again 3 times this week and I’M NOT GETTING ANYTHING DONE. !!! Does not work. So now and after 1,436 + failed attempts to stay sober long enough ( at least 6 or 7 days ) to make some progress with my writing, photography, music not to mention repairs on my equipment and teeth… I REALIZE I’M IN JAIL. At least that’s were i was until two days ago when i capitulate and decided to STOP altogether. Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” song says it all. I’M DONE…and i know what you’re talking about all along because i could not or WOULD not stop drinking BUT i stopped smoking altogether 16 months ago and stopped smoking pot 4 months ago. So i know how it’s going to be. Just splendid. I’ll feel great and get things done. But i was gambling on my chances of keeping that sensual relationship with alcohol alive. Now i’m not anymore. And something quasi-mystical lead me to your page to confirm my resolve. Needless to say…i’ll be back to read it again. Simple and True. That’s what your testimony is. Now i’m going to listen to Madeleine Peyroux sing that “Between the Bars” song. Next…your Music. Thank you Sir ! God Bless

  • Thank you so much for verbalizing the broad benefits of sobriety. I have been sober for about six months and every day I’m amazed at how much clearer and profound my life is. I didn’t realize how much substances were keeping me down until I finally stopped!