So long, Sober October!
Everything runs better after you hit the reset button. It’s true for your phone, and for that part of you that wants to just chill and take a damn break from reality.
This was my thinking when I accepted the Sober October challenge and committed to abstaining all month from alcohol, my go-to euphoriant (thanks to early Kannaboom podcast guest Peter Grinspoon, M.D. for tweeting this useful word).
Old habits die hard. Not that I was out to kill the alcohol habit, I just wanted to give it — and my body’s poison-processing systems — a brief respite. So I hit the reset button on alcohol, for an entire month. And by my rules, ‘sober’ means I could still smoke weed.
How did it go? I admit I was tempted a few times — presidential debates, family Zoom calls, late Friday afternoons and weekends, Monday Night Football, anytime on Wednesday and Thursdays, etc. But… I made it through October without drinking a drop of alcohol. Huzzah!
Here’s what happened when I stopped drinking for a month
- *More room in the fridge!*
- According to my Fitbit, over the last 30 days my resting heart rate has decreased, I’ve slept better, and I’ve lost several pounds.
- I’ve confirmed that dry-vaping high-CBD flower is a good way to achieve relaxation, without getting super-stoned.
- Craft beer is expensive. Our grocery bill got a break when I stopped grabbing $12 six packs every week.
- I got some clarity: A lot of times, drinking is about dealing with boredom or uncertainty.
- Moderation can be dangerous too: Kannaboomer K.R. was among those who joined me in Sober October, and his doctor told him his sodium levels went down because he was drinking so much water.
Obviously there are physical and mental health benefits to cutting back on alcohol. And increasingly, people seem to be acting on this knowledge. This was confirmed recently by researchers at the University of Michigan and Texas State University, who surveyed nearly 200,000 college students.
The kids are alright
According to Science Daily:
“The researchers were particularly surprised at the drop in alcohol use and misuse.
‘We’re encouraged by the significant decreases in alcohol use disorder — for both college and noncollege students,’ said lead author Sean Esteban McCabe, director of the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health at the U-M School of Nursing.”
‘The prevalence of alcohol use disorder in both groups in 2018 was roughly half of what it was in 2002. We are excited to learn about these drops in disordered drinking, as alcohol-related consequences are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for young adults.’
It’s great news that more young people are turning away from alcohol. If ShitShow 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we face serious problems, requiring clear-headed thinking by everyone, not just the leaders we elect.
As another Kannaboom podcast guest, therapist Michael Stratton put it, we’ve learned a lot about how the brain works, and about our compulsion to change our state with drugs and alcohol:
“There’s a limit to the solution that a lot of medications have to offer. You know, they thought the antidepressants were kind of a miracle drug when they first came out, some of the benzos, you know, like Valium or Xanax, you know, they were thought of as like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really helpful. It will really take the edge off any anxiety you have.’ And then they found later like, ‘Oh my God, these are really addictive. It’s really hard to get off of.’
On the road to euphoria
We crave regular escapes from reality, but every euphoriant has its downside. Alcohol, cannabis, other drugs, exercise, meditation, Netflix, religion, gaming, gambling, sex — whatever your favorite release, you’re also shackling yourself to a ball and chain. For many of us, this takes more than a lifetime to learn. It’s one of those big metaphysical issues that poets can sometimes help tackle, and here’s William Blake: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom… You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”
Sure, Mr. Blake, but… there’s only so much wisdom to be gained by getting wasted. Especially in times like this, as our minds spin between optimism and dread. One way or another, we need to escape.
Your mileage may vary, but for me, among the popular euphoriants, the cannabis ball and chain is a little lighter. It’s easier to reach a state of euphoria without paying too much on the downside. When you dry vape mood-lifting high-CBD flower, you get anxiety relief, without intoxication. Without the falling-down over yourself rage.
Dry vaping CBD flower helps take the edge off boredom, stress and uncertainty, without much risk to your health, finances and relationships. This is what medical professionals call ‘harm reduction.’ And the world needs more of it.
As for Sober October 2020 — and pretty much all of 2020 — thank you, I’ve had enough.