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Dry January Reflection Journal: Week 1

I've been Sober-Curious for quite some time now. If you'll remember, back in 2019 KB and I explored substance-free ways to have fun in NYC.

Unfortunately, the sober social options we explored (a 7AM sober rave and a bar that only serves non-alcoholic cocktails) were so unfulfilling that the experience only led to me developing a greater appreciation for booze. 

But now, 3 years of heavy drinking and a pandemic later, I decided I was finally ready to take the plunge into the empty swimming pool that is Dry January. 

This wasn't prompted by any specific incident or series of incidents where I was blacking out and doing shit I regret.  I'll admit that in college and a few years post-college, blacking out was a common occurrence in my life that I even glorified to an extent (hey it's how I ended up in China right?), but I'm happy to say those days are long gone. And despite what our resident beer drinker may say

blacking out is never a good idea and once you can subtract that from the equation your relationship with alcohol will improve immensely. It shouldn't have taken me a trip to the hospital in college and waking up in Chongqing China with a Duck in my hotel room to realize that. 

Anyways, this break from booze was prompted by the realization that I was pretty much never going a day without a drink. Somedays it was just one beer or one glass of wine in the evening to decompress but alcohol was a constant in my life and I was a worried I was starting to become too dependent on it. Well with zero trips or social events planned in January, I figured this was the perfect time to experiment with an alcohol-free month.

Without further adieu, here are some reflections from my first 10 days off the booze:

  • The fact I have zero friends in Italy except for a girlfriend who is also doing Dry January, has made this WAY easier for me to do than I'm sure it is for most people. There's no one in my life out here to offer me a drink or ask if I want to hit up a bar after work. There's never going to be a situation where I'm sitting on the couch sober while my friends are out partying and the FOMO entices me to start drinking again. And even tho all I see is wine and Aperol Spritzs everywhere I look in Italy, it's a lot easier to say no when you don't have a single person to drink with. Kinda feel like I'm cheating.

  • I didn't experience any intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms except for having trouble falling asleep for the first 5 days.

  • In order to fall asleep easier without using alcohol as a crutch, I've started jogging again. My first jog in Venice was a disaster. The entire city is just bridges and narrow alleyways jam packed with tourists. 

    Usually the only people you see running in Venice are pick-pockets so pretty sure I made a shit ton of people very uncomfortable. Thankfully, I found a solution…

Unfortunately my daily jogs made it no easier to fall asleep at night, which made me realize there may be a much bigger issue I need to confront: ADDERALL

  • I've been prescribed Adderall since the 5th grade. People are generally shocked when they found out I went to a good college. Well, I can thank Adderall for that. You can also thank Adderall for the prolific amount of content I've been able to put out over the last 5 years. While I usually don't take it on the weekends or when I'm filming content, I've become pretty much dependent on it for video editing. You think it was easy playing in a Chinese football league at age 30 and then turning around and editing a 9 part documentary about the whole season? Fuck no. But with a little/a ton of help from Adderall, I was able to get it done.

Adderall has been a major player behind the scenes in the completion of most of my video series and while I'm grateful, taking legal meth does have some side effects. Irritability, anxiety, and trouble sleeping just to name a few. Normally, a few drinks at the end of the day helps negate the worst of these symptoms but that's obviously not an option this month. Previously I feel like I'd been caught in a constant cycle of weekdays wired on Adderall and nights and weekends buzzed on booze. Hopefully Dry January helps me break out of it but it's going to take a lot of work. 

  • On a lighter note, vision boards are fucking stupid
  • After 10 days off the booze, I don't feel any smarter, as evident by the fact I put the year 2020 on my vision board instead of 2022
  • In fact, I haven't really been noticing many of the supposed positive side of effects of Dry January yet except for a better complexion

I'm holding out hope I'll experience more of the benefits of being booze free the last 21 days of January.

  •  I'm happy to say I haven't been experiencing any intense cravings for alcohol although I definitely have had more of a sweet tooth since going dry. That's just my body trying to make up for all the sugar it usually received in the form of booze. Hopefully handfuls of sour patch kids are healthier for me than 3 beers and a Fanta or else why am I doing this.

  • I have a wonderful support group that has made this journey a lot easier. Here is some of their sage advice:

    Frank the Tank:
    "Alcohol tastes terrible Soda is where to go. Become a soda man like me and try some of the best sodas I have tried. I even have a soda meal pairing system.
    Sprite with Fried Chicken of Chicken Sandwhiches
    Pepsi with Pizza
    Pepsi with Hamburgers
    Dr. Brown Black Cherry with Pastrami
    Orange Soda with Barbque and Pork Products
    Orange Soda with Dirty Water Push Cart Dogs
    Grape Soda or Mtn Dew with Tacos"

    "Outside of being buzzed at a wedding this past October, I have been completely sober since the end of July 2020 and it's really not that hard. All you have to do is get pregnant and have a baby. You're still up all night & taking care of a buddy who fluctuates randomly between being a hoot to being a total mess depending on their last bottle. Not much different than the bars. You got this!"

    "Club sodas & sparkling waters are great subs in all drinking situations. The carbonation helps a lot. Having a drink in your hand makes you feel more comfortable socially."

    "It’s a lot easier when you aren’t hosting a radio show with Willie Colon, but I will also tell you to stay away from those non-alcoholic drinks that try to taste like alcohol… Used to be just near-beer, but now they have alcohol free wine and some spirits. I tried them all and they all suck… And I find they frustrate you more than satisfy the need for booze."

  • I've decided to devote some of the time I'd normally spend drinking to learning how to make pasta. Be on the lookout for an episode of Gooned Up this month where I make crab rangoon tortellini

And that's all I got for now. If you're joining me on this #DryJanuary journey, stay strong and feel free to reach out if you need any encouragement. I'll check back in next week.