One of the benefits to quitting alcohol that I'd never have expected is that it has improved my overall impulse control. When I consider my old drinking habits, much of it was based on simple impulses.
I came home from work and started making dinner - time to grab a glass of wine. I'm out for dinner at a restaurant, order a glass of wine. I've had a rough day at work - wine time! It's mid-afternoon on a sunny summer afternoon... ok, you get the picture. I didn't put a whole lot of forethought into my drinking other than "I feel like a drink as soon as possible." That could mean when I got home from work, when I made my trip to the LCBO, or as soon as I opened the cupboard to grab a wine glass.
When I decided to cut drinking out completely almost a year ago, one of the biggest challenges was controlling my impulse which I quickly realized had tremendous influence over my wine drinking. I had to teach myself to either ignore the impulse, or experience it with the understanding that it would quickly disappear. The great thing about an impulse is that it's a quick jolt of desire that never sticks around for long.
While the first few months were particularly tough, I was able to eventually strengthen my ability to manage that impulse to drink. I had to think about it, sometimes battle it, and then explore why it was appearing in the first place -- boredom, anger, social anxiety, frustration. What initially seemed to be a thoughtless habit, I soon learned was actually rooted in one emotion or another. By not giving into the impulse - ever - I was able to slow down the thought process that brought me to that point and often could pinpoint what exactly had brought it on in the first place.
Now that I've mastered my impulse to drink (it's virtually gone), it's become clear that I'm able to transfer this skill into other areas of my life. I eat healthier than ever, for one thing. Rather than reach for a chocolate treat or junk food snack without any thought (and eating it in front of the TV with barely a memory of what it tastes like), I can now take a step back. Ask myself do I really need this. And, sure, sometimes I still go ahead and eat the chocolate bar. I allow myself some vices. However, I eat with more intention and awareness than I ever have.
The same can be said of any impulse a person struggles with. Although I'm not saying that quitting drinking will suddenly make all your unsavoury habits disappear with ease, I can attest to the power of managing one strong impulse. It has a ripple effect on your life that's simply good for you.