4 Confessions from Spending One Month Sober in NYC

On varying levels, drinking is a weekly part of life for most city dwellers.

From December through February, through an array of holiday engagements, birthday parties, and other fun (but boozy) events, I started to ask myself something.

 When was the last time I had gone, even for just 1 month, completely sober? 

I think I was 16? In college, I took a two-week break but that was about it. I’m 33 years old now, so it had been a while.

I didn’t feel I had a problem, but I thought it would be an interesting experiment to take off from drinking (and all other substances) for the month of March. Maybe I would be so much more energized and healthier? Maybe I would gain a new perspective on my life? 

In the end, what I got was not what I expected.

1. The City Never Sleeps and Neither Do I


Always a night person, I still wanted to go out. I still went out a couple times a week while sober. I’m not a great sleeper and quitting booze did not help me sleep better. 


My nights often did end earlier, but at times I felt as though I slept worse. I would have rather have been out partying.

2. I Didn’t Need to Be Drunk to Enjoy Stuff


“This would be better if I was drunk,” was something I definitely said. 

Doing a sober month might have uncovered that I just couldn’t enjoy some stuff without a buzz. As I embarked on nights out, as well as new types of non-drinking activities, it was an adjustment to get used to spending my party time sober. 

I drink quite a bit and often in my normal life, like many New Yorkers do. This was really the thing that I was most concerned about going into this experiment. Would I like doing things in life less not drinking? There was an adjustment period over the first two weeks, but to my relief, the answer was no.

3. People Suck More


Alcohol is indeed a social lubricant. Not drinking did make me tire of humans quicker, which was why my nights often ended earlier. With some people, I could just tell that it made them uncomfortable that I wasn’t drinking. 

In terms of the people and friends I interacted with, the cream rose to the top. Even some of my “supportive” friends were magically around less, and I found myself spending time with people who I also valued a more diverse lifestyle, and didn’t just want someone to go drinking with.

4. This City Has A Lot To Offer


Part of the reason I took a month off was that I felt like everything I did socially or for fun involved drinking. I was worried that not drinking would make me love New York City less, because there wouldn’t be anything that interested me. This was not the case.


If you are a person that likes a broad range of things, you can really indulge. There are infinite sports, art, music, food, parks, lectures, interest groups, and more that you can enjoy. I found myself looking and quite easily finding stuff to do.

Final Thoughts


Alcohol is awesome. I like drinking and that’s okay. However, there is more to life than going out and getting sh*tfaced, but I already knew that. Being out simply fits with my affinities, and that’s also something worth embracing. 

I knew I wanted to diversify an already diverse life with even more, and this month was a good way to bring that back into focus.

My bank account is certainly a fan of doing a sober month. A month on the wagon didn’t make me feel healthier, nor like my life was better, or that much will change much from this. For me, doing a sober March was like a bit of spring cleaning and an exercise of self-discipline. 

I did get satisfaction out of completing the challenge, and plan to do it again next year. But now, it’s time for a drink.

[Feature Image Courtesy AdelaideNow] 

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