Navigating Sobriety in 2024

A little more about my life since quitting alcohol in January.

Mark Chinapen
6 min readMar 28, 2024
Source: Unsplash.

On January 2nd of this year, I pledged myself to quit drinking alcohol. I explained my reasonings over a month ago while summarizing how Dry January went for me, but to recap: I spent the last few months overindulging. After a frightening realization. New Year’s Eve, I finally chose to go sober and give up the bottle. That first month was tough, I felt like an exposed nerve. However, I was able to set goals for myself and I can say I achieved them.

After completing that first dry month, I had set a precedent for myself to follow through as 2024 continues. I imagined tackling February and March would be more or less the same as January, and while that is correct for the most part, some things occurred that tested my willpower and urge to break my sobriety. Consider this a general follow-up on my life right now, nearly 3 months into my alcohol-free 2024.

The Good

Firstly let's get the good news out of the way: starting with my physical health. In my January post, I talked about wanting to improve my physique and that by quitting drinking, I can focus more on my fitness goals. Safe to say that’s still going great so far. In the last few months, I’ve noticed that I can see the progress and work I’ve put into the gym a lot better compared to when I was drinking.

I’m not a big person by any means, quite frankly I’m still very skinny despite the muscle I’ve put on, but I can say (in my eyes) that I look much healthier and in shape now than I did 4-5 months ago. I’ve also started to see less bloating in my stomach area, and maybe the very early stages of abs forming (or at least, a leaner core but either one is good news!).

Mentally, I’m in a much better place. dealing with anxiety and seasonal depression fared much easier now that I don’t rely on alcohol to cope. I found I was getting better at dealing with these uncomfortable feelings instead of using alcohol to suppress them. With that, it was easier for me to move on from them, rather than be tied down by them.

This also ties into how I’ve been using my free time throughout the weeks, or the times I’d dedicate to a glass of wine, whiskey, etc. I’ve adopted a whole evening routine for myself as soon as I finish up my day-to-day activities. For brevity, I’m not going to break down everything I do, but I will highlight one aspect which is reading a book. Something as simple as reading has honestly been a game-changer for me. Using 40 mins to an hour to engross myself in a novel is not something I’ve done since high school, but man did I miss it! I’m currently reading Dune as I’ve been obsessed with the most recent film, and I can guarantee I wouldn't be as invested in this book right now if I was still drinking.

Overall, I can say I’m achieving a greater sense of focus in my life during these last few months. Whether it be my fitness goals, tackling my mental health or using my free time more wisely. I didn’t even go over how my productivity has improved in the workplace, and just throughout the day in general. I’m starting to see the greater benefits of going sober now, and I imagine it’s just going to improve as time goes by.

The Bad

Despite all that good news, not everything is perfect. Admittedly, I did end up finding a “replacement” for alcohol, and one that haven’t dabbled in for a couple of years: Cannabis.

Yes, the old Devil’s lettuce, Mary Jane, or whatever term your boomer aunt has for it, I’ve started to smoke marijuana again. In years prior, I was a frequent toker but in 2022 I stopped smoking, and the only reason I quit was because weed was getting in the way of my drinking! This was not something that happened on a whim though, as I did some thinking about it beforehand.

In the last month and a half since I’ve reintroduced cannabis back into the equation, I found that I wasn’t as reliant on it compared to alcohol. I even noticed that my tolerance wasn’t as high, meaning I wasn’t likely to keep on smoking until I was completely blitzed versus the copious amount of alcohol I’d drink to stay drunk. At least with weed, I find I can gauge my usage much (and I mean MUCH) better compared to alcohol. However, I’m making sure to not become too reliant on it. For example, not vape every single night before bed, or only allow myself 1–2 puffs from my pen.

I hate to admit it but I must say the sense of euphoria and just an overall feeling of total zen Cannabis gives is great, but as I learned from my days of drinking is too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. So I think by moderating my usage the way I described above will certainly help, and taking in how I have been using my free time now will ensure I don’t make this my new addiction.

The Ugly

Now for the not-so-good parts I’ve been experiencing, or at least have started to notice. Let’s start with my social circle first, I’ve started seeing my friends less and less since quitting alcohol. We usually hang out with each other a few times a month, but so far this year we’ve only seen each other maybe twice. The times we get together, we’re all drinking, but since I told them about my plans to go sober I’ve noticed they don’t ask to see me anymore.

It could be just me in my head making assumptions, but I can’t help but think that they might feel uncomfortable around me, opting to be with other sets of friends to go out with and making plans amongst themselves without inviting me. I don’t want to sound selfish because I can’t tell them what to do obviously, but there’s a thought running through my head that tells me they might abandon me because I’m “no fun” anymore. They haven’t told me that explicitly, but my anxiety-ridden mind can’t help but think that.

The second thing that I’ve been dealing with recently is feelings of intense disassociation. Several times throughout the week, I’ll suddenly get hit with a sense of nothingness. Everything around me just stops and this dreaded feeling of emptiness kicks in. Skimming online and going through some Reddit posts showed that it's almost expected to feel like this during the early stages of sobriety.

It kind of makes sense, for so long I’ve turned to alcohol for happiness and to escape from the mundaneness of reality, depression, etc. Now that I’ve removed it from the equation, I feel like nothing. Despite a lot of the positives I talked about previously that have helped keep my mind busy, these feelings of an empty void still linger. The best I can do is just roll with it and hope that it will pass.

As I reach the 3-month mark of my alcohol-free journey, I can say the last few months have had their fair share of highs and lows. I expect this to be the norm going forward and over time there’ll be more good things that will happen. I didn’t expect this to be easy, but nothing important in this life is. Do the hard work now, and reap the benefits later.



Mark Chinapen

I like to pretend I’m a critic. Writer and editor for Modern Music Analysis