Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Have you ever woken up in a parking garage staircase without any pants on, not knowing what city you're in?
There, I said it. It was one of the most horrifying events I've lived through (there's been a few).
Hopefully that establishes my credibility on the subject of alcohol consumption and health, or lack thereof.
If not, there are about a billion other follow ups I can hit you with.
I used to drink. Hard. It was a problem.
May 12th, 2019 marked 5 years without a drop.
People ask me all of the time how I do it. It felt near impossible when I started.
I skirted around going to AA meetings, talked to friends in recovery, and listened to loved ones tell me I had a problem.
I would drink to cure a hangover. No big deal, it's 7:30am and I just slammed 2 beers before going to host an event. Normal.
Except it's not. And it's not ok.
Finally I started stacking days on top of each other, and just didn't stop.
Were there hurdles? Absolutely.
Was it easy? Not at all.
Is it easy? Nope.
It took the staircase event mentioned above and a few other things involving un-proudly being black-out drunk in front of family to finally take the step and walk into a meeting.
It was 2014. I owned gyms, I had been a competitor in many sports. People knew me.
I was beyond afraid that I'd walk into that meeting and see someone I knew. And I did. We locked eyes, nodded, and the meeting started. That was the first and last meeting I went to, but for me it was enough. I knew I was done.
Do I still get urges? Sure, in times of extreme stress I sometimes revert back to, "I need a drink." I've developed coping mechanisms to deal with it, and move forward. It has become more rare over time. 99 days out of 100 I have no desire to drink. On that 100th day, I focus on what is important and what I could lose if I choose to drink.
I can say with no uncertainty that I've had more alcohol than most. I'm from Milwaukee, and I was known as a hard drinker even for that town. It's part of the culture, it's encouraged and things like day drinking aren't always frowned upon.
I spent over a decade producing, performing, and selling electronic music. It took me to a lot of places I would've never been. Every major US city several times over, many European hubs and a ton of small towns in between. I drank in almost everyone of these cities.
Here's the thing - if you want optimum health, alcohol is not a part of the conversation. No, not even 'paleo tequila'. No, not even clear liquor with seltzer and a lime. No, not organic lite beer. No, not red wine; not because a study by winemakers says it's good for your heart. It's not.
If there's one question I get asked more than any other when people start The Dan Plan Diet, it's "What about alcohol?".
Alcohol isn't good for you.
And you know that.
So, what if you 'need' a drink or you're afraid of the social ramifications of not having a drink?
Your real friends won't care, and you'll likely find that a lot of people you'd never even considered are in the same boat.
Two of my best gym-bros helped me just by being sober for a very long time before I even considered it myself. They were the example. They never did anything other than just being themselves. They both saw me wasted on several occasions and didn't judge. They knew change could only come from me.
So - how much alcohol is ok? What alcohol is 'best'?
I don't know.
It's different for everyone. It's individualized. I understand the need for release and the desire to disconnect after a stressful week. I also understand the long term health effects of continued alcohol use and abuse.
Sorry, I wish there was a 'best' answer to this question. There isn't.
I work with each Dan Planner individually to help decide what works for that person. That's the only way that I've found that works.