Living without alcohol (for a while) is fun

15 January 2021


More and more people choose to live an alcohol-free lifestyle or to abstain from alcohol for a while. There are even ‘sober communities’ on Instagram, where people from around the world support each other in their sober journey. ‘Not drinking gives me a sense of freedom that everyone deserves to experience.’

‘Since I quit drinking, my body feels more energetic than it has in years,’ says Jacqueline van Lieshout, coach and author of Ontwijnen and De Geest uit de Fles. ‘I feel the urge to move my body. Just the way a kid wants to move. A child doesn’t want to spend all day sitting in the classroom, but rather running and jumping and playing outside. That is the very best benefit that I experience now that I’ve quit drinking. People who drink, continuously live in a foggy state. But you don’t notice it until you stop and allow the fog to disappear.’

Open the bottle
Until four years ago, Van Lieshout was an ordinary person who enjoyed drinking. Friday afternoon? Pour the wine glass full. Lunch or dinner with friends? Open the bottle. Van Lieshout: ‘I drank between seventeen and twenty glasses per week. That was a lot, but not that much more than other people. We drink alcohol to relax, to numb, but also to connect. We’ve romanticised it, and see it as an essential part of a happy and successful life.’ Alcohol was a loyal companion of Van Lieshout for a long time. ‘That all changed when my husband got a heart attack,’ she says. ‘That caused us to take a very close look at our health. Before that, I already thought about drinking less. But for me, it’s all or nothing. To me, giving up alcohol seemed almost inevitable. I quit cold turkey, and I am still surprised when I think about everything it’s afforded me. I’ve lost more than twenty kilogrammes. I sleep much better and much more peaceful, I am much more active, and I enjoy life so much more.’

It’s more fun without alcohol
Many people believe there is an inextricable link between alcohol and enjoyment. A moment to yourself, no worries, letting all the day’s worries slip away. That explains why we crave a beer after a hectic day at work. On a sunny patio, a cold glass of white wine gets us into the mood almost automatically. When it’s cold and dark outside, the glühwein seems to beckon. Research shows that eight out of ten Dutch people drink regularly. About one and a half glass per day, on average. However, this seems to be changing.

More and more people quit drinking alcohol (for a while)
Having a glass of wine or beer used to be considered the norm for almost everyone, but more and more people are saying no to alcohol temporarily or entirely. They even have a name for this: sobriety. This trend started small with the first Dry January campaign in England in 2013. However, the trend blew over to other countries quickly. People from all around the world accepted the challenge to say no to alcohol for the whole month. In the Netherlands, alone, they estimate that roughly 250,000 (!) people took part in Dry January last year. Following the Dry January example, there is also IkPas, a national campaign that aims to make people more aware of alcohol. Also, the government recently introduced the ‘Dranquilo’ campaign. Alcohol-free months like Sober September and Stoptober are also becoming more and more commonplace. Who knows how many other ‘dry’ initiatives might follow.

Sobriety rocks
By now, it’s hard to imagine Instagram without its ‘sober communities’. Thousands of people worldwide support each other with motivational hashtags such as #soberissexy and #sobrietyrocks. What all these sober people have in common is that they feel life is more fun without alcohol. And that’s not so hard to believe, because giving up drinking – or drinking less – has many benefits: you sleep better, lose weight, are less irritable, skin health improves, you become fitter and save money.

Partying and getting drunk every weekend
Dutch TV host Koos van Plateringen, who used to be a heavy drinker, is just one of the many people who enjoy living an alcohol-free life to the utmost. ‘I think we all look for some sort of handhold in life,’ he says. ‘For me, it was partying and getting drunk every weekend, for years. And it was getting worse. Three years ago, I made a drastic change and stopped. It took some getting used to initially. In the past, I could turn any dull party into a fun occasion, with roughly ten beers. Now, there’s no magic pill to make it enjoyable. You can no longer numb it.’

Living in a 3D movie
People think that life without alcohol would, therefore, be boring. But Van Plateringen, on the other hand, says that his experiences have become more intense without alcohol. ‘It gives me self-confidence and freedom to know that I can enjoy life without any aids. If my life with alcohol were a regular movie, my current life would be a 3D movie. Everything has become much more real. I experience everything the way it is, which means I sometimes get just as enthusiastic as I did in my childhood. ‘Not drinking gives me a sense of freedom that everyone deserves to experience.’

Honest about alcohol
To motivate and inform people about sobriety, Van Plateringen talks openly about what his non-drinking lifestyle affords him in his podcast Eerlijk over alcohol (Honest about alcohol). I don’t want to prohibit anyone from drinking alcohol, but quite often it’s not up to you to decide if and where you drink, but instead, the alcohol defines where you’ll go and who you’ll meet. If you want to drink two glasses of wine or a bottle, then you’re free to do it. However, let this be a conscious choice.’

How do you stick to sobriety?
Are you going alcohol-free for a while? Realize this may come with ups and downs. We give you some tips to persevere:

– Partner up with someone. Your partner, a family member, a friend or connect with sobriety influencers on Instragram. It is a great support system for difficult moments.
– Meet up with friends to go for a walk with a coffee-to-go instead of an evening having drinks at the kitchen table. Or, when it’s allowed again soon, head to the cinema. Any activity is acceptable, as long as you don’t automatically link it to alcohol.
– Make sure you have plenty of alcohol-free alternatives. Nowadays, there are more than enough of them. Make sure to have a reserve, so you don’t run out at difficult times.
– Reward yourself regularly. Enjoy a long, warm bath, with a book, go to the spa when it’s allowed again or buy something that’s been on your wishlist for a long time.
– Take a conscious look at the benefits of non-drinking: do you feel better rested in the morning, do you perform better during sports, or do you get your work done quicker?

How financially fit are you?
Besides a healthy life, you want a healthy pension. By staying aware of the pension market and react to it in a flexible way, we keep your pension in top condition. Do you already have a pension scheme with BeFrank? Then you can see how your pension is doing on your Personal Pension page. Here you will also find the most important updates. Do you not have a pension scheme with BeFrank yet? Ask your employer about the possibilities.