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What It's Like To Give Up Drinking In New York City

A Different Kind Of Happy Hour: What It’s Like To Give Up Drinking In New York City


September 20, 2018

Happy hours, boozy brunches, girls’ nights out (or in)…what do they all have in common? Drinking. Whether we like to admit it or not, so much of our social lives revolve around alcohol. Sure, it’s fun. And often it’s harmless fun. But what if it stops being harmless? That’s what happened to Vogue writer Liana Satenstein. “I never was a big drinker until I was,” she writes. Her casual drinking turned into a not-so-casual social life with alcohol at its center.

“I was polishing off a bottle of wine with friends after work; guzzling two to three Miller High Lifes, oftentimes accompanied with a shot of vodka if it was happy hour; and sucking down extra-dirty martinis…”

Liana’s drinking habit was evident in her physical and mental state. She’d gained 10 pounds in three months, her face was bloated, and her cheeks were sagging. She wasn’t able to sleep through the night, and would wake up exhausted. She felt unmotivated, had mood swings, and even her work began to suffer. Liana was barely going to the gym and her evening drinking sessions were leading to late-night trips to the refrigerator. And, not surprisingly, her financial situation was taking a hit too. Liana was spending almost $100 a week on alcohol—for two years straight.

It took a terrible days-long hangover for Liana to realize she needed to make a change. She decided to limit herself to just one drink each month. You read that right. One drink a month. 

“While it was easy physically to keep my drinking habits down, it was difficult socially.”

Liana continued attending social events involving alcohol, but she just refrained from drinking. At first, she found it difficult to answer the inevitable questions. She wasn’t sure how to explain her decision, and resorted to over-explaining and justifying her choice. Eventually, though, as she got more comfortable being the only non-drinker, she started to say “I don’t feel like it.” And left it at that.

Fast forward six months, and Liana is still going strong with her one-drink-a-month lifestyle. Now, when she thinks about having a drink, she asks herself a few questions. “Am I stressed? Am I happy? Am I upset? From there, I make a conscious and very deliberate decision to drink or not to drink,” she writes.

“Suddenly, I’m in control of the one thing that, at one point, felt quite uncontrollable.”

Liana cites CB-approved nutritionist Dana James, who points out that three glasses of wine is equivalent to a slice of cheesecake, calorie-wise. Drinking a few glasses of wine a few nights a week? Well, that’s a lot of cheesecake.

Not only is Liana doing better physically since she started her (almost) alcohol-free life, she’s also feeling a lot better. She recalls a moment from a recent happy hour: “I remembered my sleepless nights, my can’t-shake-it weight gain, and my constantly feeling less-than,” she writes. “And at that moment, flat, boring, New York City tap water had never seemed like a better refreshment…”


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