It's My 2-Year Soberversary: What I Gained by Living Sober

Even though living sober means eliminating alcohol, it's more about what you gain than what you give up.

Published July 26, 2023
woman in nature

Last week, I celebrated my second soberversary, and as with any big milestone, it urged me to do a little reflecting. I asked myself how much my life has changed over the last two years and what living sober has taught me. The answer is a lot. And in some pretty unexpected ways.

10 Things I've Gained Through Sober Living

When I first thought about going alcohol-free, I had the same belief that a lot of people do: that by eliminating something from my life, I was inevitably going to miss out on things. But I quickly learned that the opposite is actually true. Instead, I've gained so much.

1. Genuine Fun

Fun is the main thing I truly thought I was going to miss out on by giving up booze. I mean, what fun events don't involve alcohol? But the kind of fun I have is totally different. It's authentic. Genuine. Like the fun you had as a kid when you'd jump around to your favorite song or laugh so hard your stomach hurt.

2. Improved Coping Skills

I discovered fairly early into my sobriety that I'd been using alcohol as a coping mechanism. So instead of reaching for a drink, I'd reach for my journal and dissect the "Why" behind my craving. Most of the time, it was to numb my anxiety. With this knowledge (and the help of a mental health professional), I was able to replace that with healthy coping strategies like nature, movement, and breathwork.

3. Better-Tasting Food

delicious plate of food

No, this isn't a "You'll have more of an appreciation for food" kind of thing. Studies show that drinking alcohol can impair the taste buds, so when you stop, food actually tastes better. Seriously.

4. Mo' Money

We can all agree that alcohol is expensive. Not so much if you drink it at home, but if you order a glass of wine while out for dinner, then get a few cocktails at the lounge next door, it definitely adds up. Not to mention all the Ubers and tipsy online shopping sprees that followed. I've been able to pocket that money, but a lot of it goes to non-alcoholic beer and mocktail fixings.

5. Clear-Headedness

Goodbye hangovers, hello mental clarity. The headaches and brain fog that come with hangovers are excruciating, but it was really the hangxiety that got me. Hangxiety is the surge of anxiety you feel the morning after drinking when your brain is trying to balance out your neurochemicals, and it is a bear. Now I wake up hydrated, clear, and without my head pounding.

6. Time

person watercolor painting

There have always been 24 hours in a day, but you gain more time when you stop drinking because you have all those late nights and early mornings back. 8 p.m. yoga class on Friday night? Let's do it! There's a 7 a.m. Farmer's Market on Sunday morning? I'm there.

Quick Tip

A lot of people suggest picking up a new hobby in early sobriety to fill the time. Mine was watercolor painting, but you can choose whatever calls out to you.

7. A Happy Gut

Alcohol can trigger acid reflux and disrupt the natural bacterial flora of your intestines, so it makes sense that I noticed a profound improvement in my tummy when I stopped drinking. Could that have had anything to do with all the kombucha I was guzzling in place of my usual Prosecco? It's definitely possible, but I'm going to give a little credit to being booze-free.

8. Lighter Periods

Aunt Flo isn't nearly as unpleasant as she used to be, and I am here for it. That's because alcohol has an impact on hormones, namely, estrogen. Cutting out booze can improve your PMS symptoms and even alter your flow. It's not this way for everyone, but I definitely count myself lucky.

9. Friendships

friends having coffee

I have met so many incredible people over the last two years. Even though sobriety may have been the common thread or topic that sparked our friendship, we have so many other mutual interests. If you're new to living sober, find a community of alcohol-free folks, either in person or online. There are dozens of sober communities beyond the traditional AA, like The Luckiest Club or Wildly Sober, or check out local Meetup groups.

10. Presence

Because I'm sober, I feel like I'm able to finally be present. Instead of feeling like I'm in a tipsy or hungover fog through celebrations or events, I soak it all in. And there have been a lot of important moments over the last two years. I never would have dreamed I'd toast with a glass of water on my wedding day, but that's exactly what happened, and it was perfect.

Celebrating Soberversaries Can Help Break the Stigma

More and more people are turning to alcohol-free lifestyles, but that doesn't mean there still isn't a stigma around sobriety. That's why I feel called to talk openly about my soberversary. It's a big day and worth celebrating. Not to mention, the rewards I have and continue to reap from living sober are endless. Do I think I'll ever drink again? Probably not. Do I feel like I'm missing out? Heck no.

It's My 2-Year Soberversary: What I Gained by Living Sober