Crazy Eights: Nearly a Decade Sober and Still Proud to Be Bipolar

I have no thirst for alcohol. Today is my sober anniversary. Eight straight years of zero alcohol and zero drugs. I cannot fathom how I made it to this point. That’s two stints in college. My journey offers hope for anyone recently facing the challenge of staying sober.

I used to drink because I thought it felt good. But alcohol is actually a depressant and now I’ve realized I was depressed for the better part of my 20s. I was undiagnosed bipolar and self-medicating my ailment. I’m 40 now, single, and stable with my mood disorder and also my sobriety.

And I can honestly say, I don’t miss the alcohol. The smell of alcohol bothers me even. The unpleasant aroma is pungent and potent. I think that even if I were to take a sip now I would immediately want to spit it out. Beer and wine are completely unappealing to me now. Imagining drinking liquor is even worse.

But I’m not going to be judgmental. If you drink, that’s fine; it’s just not for me anymore. And I don’t mind if you do it in front of me. I have no temptation whatsoever.

I used to drink at least two six packs of beer or two bottles of wine every night. Instead of getting really drunk, now I get really hydrated. Whether it’s coffee, tea or just plain old filtered H2O, I am content with my libation options. And I rarely drink sweet beverages.

Even imagining the feeling of being drunk is a turnoff to me now. Lying in bed with the room spinning. Slurring speech as fast as the Daytona 500. And the hangovers. Well, to be honest, I got used to the hangovers.

I have no thirst for alcohol. Today is my sober anniversary. Eight straight years of zero alcohol and zero drugs. I cannot fathom how I made it to this point. That’s two stints in college. My journey offers hope for anyone recently facing the challenge of staying sober.

It’s been a monumental year for my recovery. I released the memoir I’ve been working on for seven years — The Bipolar Addict: Drinks, Drugs, Delirium & Why Sober Is the New Cool. It was cathartic to write and now I am promoting it as best I can.

And it’s becoming clear to me more and more as each day passes that drinking is not only overrated, but it’s being eclipsed in some circles by non-alcoholic craft cocktails, a.k.a. mocktails.

Often called “zero proof,” these beverages are frequently fizzy and made with fresh muddled ingredients and non-alcoholic bitters. Non-alcoholic craft cocktails are popping up on restaurant menus everywhere I turn. Whether it’s something simple like a virgin Moscow Mule (fresh lime juice and non-alcoholic ginger beer) or a “No-jito” (a Mojito without the rum), these “cocktails” are in vogue.

Some of the most elaborate ones can be found at tony restaurants, and they are tasty. They feature fresh herbs, spices, and elixirs. The trick is subtle flavors. Soda water is almost always the base. Bartenders enjoy the challenge of mixing an excellent zero proof drink. There are even non-alcoholic bars opening up. New York, my former home, is a hotbed for non-alcoholic craft cocktails. Next time I go there, instead of visiting my old haunts, I’ll hit up the newfangled hip zero proof cocktail bars.

As for tonight, I will raise a glass proudly when I go out to my friendly neighborhood upscale bistro Vincent around the corner from my apartment, my favorite spot. The bartender there always fixes up something special for me. Because even recovering alcoholics deserve to drink something special. And this alcoholic is celebrating eight years sober!

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