Health & Fitness,  Mindfulness

I Tried Mindful Drinking & Here’s What Happened

Once upon a time I’d spend my weekends out partying with friends, taking several shots of alcohol, and staying out until as late as 3 a.m. I’d wake up the following morning drenched in alcohol, often forgetting about the vomit from the night before. Drinking became a form of coping from the soul-crushing job I had taken up to survive. It was a toxic cycle, a way of escape. 


One fateful day I woke up feeling extremely sick and tired. Waking up foggy and ill turned out to be horrendous. I realized that I was tired of spending my weekends hungover. I desperately wanted my days of not feeling disoriented back. In pursuit of this goal, I sought a way out. This was when I discovered a practice called mindfulness meditation. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, I had already began attending meetups where I could network with individuals in the personal development and self-help space. I’d also listen to TEDx talks on the effects of meditation on the mind. This later led me to discovering people in the Houston metropolitan area who meditated daily. When I began to meditate, I noticed that I began developing healthier attitudes and more intentional relationships with everything, including alcohol. 


This is when things really started to change. I became more reflective about my choices and actions, the environment and people I surrounded myself with. While I did not cut out alcohol entirely, I reduced my alcohol intake drastically. I became more mindful of my decisions and where they might lead. 

I share this experience with you, not as an attack on alcohol, but because I know that I am not alone with the struggles I faced. Alcohol addiction is something that many people battle with behind closed doors and even while out in public. There are those who feel like there is no way out when it comes to alcohol consumption. These days, especially in today’s American culture, there is a widening chasm of binge drinking. Having attended a 4-year college institution, I know the effects alcohol can have on a young and developing mind. In 2014, after losing my friend in a motor accident as he returned from a party during the early morning hours, I was informed that alcohol contributed to his early death. 

In bars and restaurants you can find a wide variety of alcoholic drinks on the menus. As a result, alcohol dependency rates are higher than they’ve ever been. It’s difficult not to fall under the pressure of drinking when out with friends. On the flip side however, a growing number of individuals are drinking less, at least some of the time. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the percentage of Americans who said they had used alcohol within the past month declined slightly between 2019 and 2020, as the most recent year with available data shows. 


As an on and off drinker, I like to fill my calendar with mindful events like yoga and meditation workshops. During these events, I learned that everything must be done with moderation. With the aid of mindfulness- a focus on the present moment- research has found it to be effective in helping heavy drinkers cut back. In 2021, 1 in 5 Americans surveyed indicated that they planned to atone for excess holiday drinking through something known as Dry January,  a month-long experiment on sobriety. I believe that when it comes to addiction, sobriety isn’t all black and white. Being around people who are mindful about their drinking habits helps me in cultivating my own mindfulness around drinking and questioning what efforts I am actually putting towards attaining bliss in my life other than shooting Hennessy down my throat or taking several shots of JD. 

I’ve arrived at a place where I have peace. I needed alcohol to stop having such a strong presence in my life. I now limit my drinking to typically once or twice a month. I still enjoy alcohol, specifically when out with good company. But I needed to bring more focus into my life and less allowance for distractions and suppressing of my emotions. Research suggests that about three-quarters of Americans drink at least occasionally. A 2017 international survey of 72,000 respondents found that almost 33% of people wanted to reduce their booze consumption for reasons ranging from physical health to sexual regret and embarrassment. This mindset is starting to gain more steam especially for younger generations as 72% of millennials say they “disapprove” of people ages 18 and older drinking one or two drinks nearly every day according to research from Monitoring the Future.


Other research has shown that millennials who make up 25% of the legal drinking population drink 35% of beer in the U.S, 32% of spirits and 20% of wine. This is an alarming statistic. 


Just as the reasons for wanting to cut back on booze may vary, so too do the methods for doing so. Mindfulness meditation is one popular technique that has proven useful. One way to do this is to take the time to smell, taste and fully experience the drink with the goal of staying present. The goal is so that you can have a healthier relationship to alcohol than to drink more or less. Now when I go out, instead of having four drinks, one or two is more than enough for me. 


Did you enjoy this blogpost? Leave a comment below!

**Erica weaves themes of transformative hope and grace-filled leadership into everything she shares on her blog. She’s an author, a speaker, and a life coach, who offers honest encouragement and road-tested wisdom about topics ranging from leadership and lifestyle, to discovering your God-crafted identity, design, and purpose.

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