103 Ways My Life Improved In The Years Without Alcohol

There is no doubt in my mind that quitting drinking was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

photo of author provided by author Courtesy of the Author

I had my last drink on April 13th, 2013.  

Whenever I celebrate these sobriety milestones, I tend to get a lot of congratulations on the fact that I've made it some amount of time without alcohol. Which is, of course, a big, huge, crazy deal. 

In 2016, when I wrote this originally, I had gone 1,095 days without a drop of alcohol passing my lips. Not many people can say that, and I am so proud that I don't drink. It's a feeling that will never get old and is one of the many pros of getting sober.


But if I'm being honest, the sober time I have under my belt is far less interesting than you think. But it's more important than I thought because it was the time when I finally started living.

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As far as I'm concerned, my life can be cut up into two boxes: The life before I learned what it meant to not drink, and the life after.

The former was a slow progression through a tolerable life, with a severe longing for something more, and a clear sense of never having or being enough. The latter was not just the escape from that, and I realized that I could truly have things that I had always assumed were just not for me.


I wrote this list slowly over about a month and, thinking back, the thing that struck me the most about it was that, on some level, I still didn't believe it. It still seemed incredible to me that one little change could add up to so much, and that one step in a different direction could lead me so far away.

But this is how life goes. This is what happens when we abandon the things that are holding us back and do the things we are terrified to do: everything. Everything we dreamed to happen, everything we could ever wish for. All of it. Here.

The path through sobriety is never ever just about giving something up, or just not drinking. It's not a punishment, a consequence, a failure, or an acceptance of a smaller life with a paler set of colors. This path is one thing and one thing only: an acceptance of who we were meant to be. 

There is no doubt in my mind that quitting drinking was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Sobriety is hands down the best thing I have done in my life, and while I could give you at least a thousand reasons why I've narrowed it down to the one hundred (and three!) of the best.


Here are 103 pros of getting sober:

1. When I originally wrote this in 2016, I had gone 1,095 days without waking up with a hangover.

2. I am no longer subject to secret 4 AM recycling runs to get rid of the bottles.

3. I can honestly complete a doctor's intake form.

No, I do not drink, smoke, or do drugs. BOO. YA.

4. I stopped eating grocery bags of food and vomiting it right back up with the aid of a toothbrush.

5. I stopped using a toothbrush to vomit things up.

I'm not bulimic anymore.

6. I kept the same iPhone for the entire life of the contract.

Two years. I bought a fancy gold iPhone in February 2013 and I kept it intact for two years and one month. Previously, I had lost and broken 8 iPhones. 


7. There are no more secrets.

I don't have to worry if someone will find out about my drinking. I don't have to live a double life or feel like a fraud anymore. There is no reason for me to be blackmailed

8. I can remember all my purchases.

There are no more mystery receipts.

9. I've only lost my wallet once. 

I did remember where I left it. And bonus: when the police officers came to the door, I did not worry if they had drug-sniffing dogs with them.

10. I brush my teeth consistently, even though I still forget to floss.

11. I completed 200 hours of Kundalini Yoga Training.

I am a certified teacher.


12. Also, I completed 200 hours of Vinyasa Yoga Training.

I am a certified teacher for this, too.

13. I started meditating every day.

14. I developed in my daily yoga practice.

I was finally able to do a full camel. 

15. I stopped smoking cigarettes.

16. Also, I stopped smoking pot.

I am no longer a woman in her thirties who thinks April 20th is a holiday.

17. I have stopped asking myself things like, when do I finally grow up?

18. I am blackout-free.

I am not missing any more pockets of time and I don't have to pretend to remember things I don't remember. 

19. I'm not drunk texting or drunk Facebooking or drunk dialing anymore. 

20. The cool tile of the bathroom floor is no longer considered a "health cure."

21. I am not committing to things that sound awesome when drunk, but really are not. 

22. There is no more Asian Glow.

Also, I'm no longer seen as the white girl who had Asian Glow.


23. I am no longer worried if the side pain I was having was liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. 

24. I don't have a beer belly, bloated face, bloated body, or swollen red hands anymore.

25. I no longer plan my day around alcohol, drinking, or getting high.

I plan life around life. (And sometimes coffee.)

RELATED: Getting Sober Saved My Marriage — And Finally Got Me Pregnant


26. I'm healthier than ever.

My PMS symptoms have almost halved. My back acne (bacne) is gone. My energy is getting better. And I am working on how gluten/sugar/dairy affect my digestive system. 

27. I stopped using chemical products in my household and on my body.

Because toxins!

28. I am no longer prematurely aging or worried about things that cause premature aging. 

29. I look better.

I look way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way better.


30. I love being 37 years old.

I'm no longer afraid of aging, not having accomplished enough for my age, being married, watching life pass me by, or any of that BS. I'm excited about aging. (Side note: I still want Botox and I still hate wrinkles). 

31. I have found time to learn random things.

Like reading Tarot, performing EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), how to use Garage Band, and how to play the gong. I'm also trying to learn to speak Italian.

32. I have started writing.

And I discovered that I can write, and I started a blog. 

33. I started singing and shocked myself that I can sing.

34. I started taking pictures.


35. I also started dancing.

Even though I cannot dance, I still dance anyway.

36. I have learned to not give a crap.

37. I met Laura and I finally understand the whole soulmate thing.

38. I am now able to have an honest relationship with my mom.

We are closer than ever.

39. I like my sister without having to be drunk.

We are also closer than ever. I moved to LA to be near her.


40. I no longer think about having beers first with my niece and nephew.

But rather, how to explain why Jesus, Martin Luther King, and Susan B. Anthony are important. I became one of those aunties who considers herself a role model instead of a bad influence.

41. I visited Rome four times for extended periods.

42. I began a love affair with Rome.

I know Rome like the back of my hand. I love Rome more than any man I have ever loved and I would marry Rome if I could.

#42. Lovers. 


43. I have never consumed wine in Italy, and I will never consume wine in Italy.

I'm in love with this fact. 

44. I saw Prince in a private show and I remembered all of it.

Bonus: when Prince asked the crowd to not smoke pot, I was the only one to applaud.

45. I quit the job that was killing me.

I did the adult/corporate version of a Half Baked/Scarface exit. 

46. I found purpose in life, followed my heart, and made it my career by starting my own company.

I literally do what I love for a living. I write about sobriety, teach people how to be sober, hold people's hands through crazy life changes, bear witness to humans coming alive, and countless other things that feed my soul and make my life. Bonus, for me, yoga retreats are a tax write-off. 


47. I started a HOME Podcast.

I get to talk to people like Augusten Burroughs, Rob Bell, Ann Dowsett Johnston, Sarah Hepola, and my best friend as part of my work.

48. I no longer am just trying to make it through life, and I no longer feel like there is no point.

I get it. I get why I'm here and I want to be here. No matter how hard it is, the magic doesn't escape me anymore. 

49. I'm no longer afraid to die or to suffer. 

50. I'm no longer afraid to be me.

RELATED: Getting Sober: Why Overcoming Addiction On Your Own Is Totally Possible

51. I am no longer afraid to lose people for being me.

52. I no longer care what "they" think.

I only care what I think. 


53. I discovered sober sex.

I love sober sex.

54. I have better orgasms.

Like, orgasms people write novels about and put Fabio on the cover of.

55. My work attire has entirely changed.

I can and do wear yoga pants to work. Ann Taylor is dead to me. 

56. I have a personal psychic.

I'm finally a girl who starts sentences with "My psychic said..."

57. I understand the whole "self-love" thing.

I no longer vomit in my mouth a little when I hear "self-love," and I no longer want to murder people who talk about "self-love."

58. I discovered that addictions mean I'm strong, not weak, and I discovered my depth of strength.

59. I am brave.

Really, really brave. I can do hard things — the hardest of things — and I look forward to doing them. 


60. I discovered the art of living how other people won't, so I can live how other people can't.

I'm not afraid of couch surfing, not having things, being ungrounded, living with my mom at age 36, not having health insurance, the prospect of homelessness, incurring massive amounts of credit card debt, being the girl who doesn't drink, saying things people don't like, getting hate mail, not fitting in... and I only know all of this because I was forced to do the first subversive thing — stop drinking.

61. I want more tattoos, better tattoos.

Also, just, tattoos. Since quitting drinking I've kinda sorta fallen in love with tattooing myself. This is the latest, Pigeon.

62. I have saved about $50k in total.

I saved $32,850 on drinking and drinking-related expenses ($30 a day, which was conservative in the end). I saved $17,505.08 on cigarettes, pot, and other related expenses like a Black Car service to a drug dealer's house. 


63. I no longer have drug dealers.

64. I got the courage to leave San Francisco.

I moved to LA and I love LA. Leaving SF felt impossible, but not changing felt even more so.

65. I'm looking to purchase property in Rome.

I have no idea how I will do this but I know I will do this. 

66. I earned that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Because if you can stop drinking, you can do anything.

67. I learned to say no. 

68. I learned that I'm an introvert.

I learned that I don't like parties or overwhelming social situations and that this is all okay. 

69. I no longer fear missing out on things.

I love missing out on things! My self-worth is no longer tied to being seen, being invited, or being there. 


70. I learned to be with myself and how to be comfortable in my loneliness.

I discovered that I am my favorite person in the entire world. 

71. I completed a 10-day silent meditation retreat.

I did not talk for 240 hours, and I meditated for 105 hours.

72. I discovered a love for reading.

I had read 350+ books in three years and counting.


73. I found Pema Chodron, Marianne Williamson, Chogyam Trungpa, Stephanie Snyder, Debbie Ford, James Baraz, Rob Bell, Yogi Bhajan, Gandhi, MLK, Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and countless other teachers. 

74. I built a website from scratch with zero training, and I found a profound love for this form of creativity.

Colors + pictures + styling+ typography + words = heaven. 

75. I learned content marketing, social media strategy, photo editing, copywriting, sound editing, content management, SEO, branding, and a few thousand other things.

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76. I became one of those people who has a Mac and works from the Hipster coffee shop that serves Stumptown.

I have always wanted to be one of those people who has a Mac and works from a hipster coffee shop that serves Stumptown.


77. I finally believe in God, and not just because I'm afraid not to. 

78. I bought the first edition Piranesi.

I own legitimate "Could be in a museum!" art. An art dealer named Francesco (who I did not make out with) is holding my first real art purchase. It's the first edition Piranesi and it's of the bridge across from Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. You can actually see the building we are standing in the etching.

79. I started cooking, even though it's just for me, even though it looks ugly.

Also, I keep the fridge stocked for the first time in my entire life. 

80. I have made countless friends from all walks.

I found my tribe and my people — people that get me and get me on a level I've never enjoyed. I have richer and more authentic relationships more than anything else. Bonus, I get to collaborate with friends on various endeavors (like co-authoring an art and mantra book with Tammi, podcasting with Laura, creating nutrition resources for addiction with Mary, and countless other things). 


81. I have made out with three different men named Francesco.

82. I rode on motorcycles throughout Italy with strange men.

None of them were named Francesco.

83. I'm okay with being single.

No, really guys, I am.

84. I bought a car and I keep the car clean.

I paid for the registration ahead of time for the first time in my life. I know we're not supposed to love things or also have SUVs. But I love her. I love her so much.


85. I do laundry regularly.

I change my sheets once per week like the people who read Real Simple do. 

86. I stopped reading Us Magazine.

I am wholly unmoved to know what is happening in celebrity's lives. 

87. I stopped gossiping as a rule.

I practice Astaya, non-stealing, of people's reputations. I am no longer worried if gossip is going to come back to bite me in a**.

88. I stopped calling myself names in my head.

Only sweet, compassionate words are allowed when I'm addressing myself. 

89. I started sexting and I discovered profound love for the Naked Selfie.

I'm surprisingly not worried if sexting will come back to bite me in the butt.


90. I discovered a love for neurobiology.

91. I'm still hilarious and I don't need booze to be hilarious. 

92. I discovered that I'm still socially anxious and awkward, but I'm cool with being socially anxious and awkward. 

93. I found my voice.

94. I found the vagina to speak my voice.

95. I'm no longer ruled by fear.

(I'm not fearless, just not ruled.) I am not afraid even when I'm afraid. There is this overwhelming sense of "bring it on, I can take it." 

96. I'm no longer afraid to get my heart broken.

97. I'm no longer afraid to try because no longer afraid to fail.

98. I'm no longer afraid to ask for what I need.

99. I'm no longer worried if I'm going to die from drinking.

100. I'm no longer worried about whether drinking is making me fat, ugly, or old.

101. I'm no longer worried about drinking, period.

102. I can look at myself in the mirror and like what I see. 

103. I am free.

I am freer and more liberated than I ever believed possible. I believe in infinite possibilities, I believe in magic, I believe in life, I believe we can do anything, and I believe in me.

"There are no rules. No one is in charge. No one is coming to get you." —Zoe Wild


All photos: Author

Bonus, 104: I discovered that it just keeps getting better.

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Hip Sobriety gives a very different perspective on both alcohol and recovery and offers tools and resources. The digital recovery program, Hip Sobriety School, has grown into a modern digital recovery program that has helped thousands recover from alcohol addiction.