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The Strange Reactions I Get When I tell People I Stopped Drinking For Health Reasons

I started running in the fall of 2014. It didn’t take long to realize just how prevalent alcohol, particularly beer was at group runs, races, etc. It was everywhere. It seemed like fun, I always loved beer & jumped right in. It initially made me feel more connected to the community. & that the drinking went hand in hand with the idea of running to have fun. That’s how I justified it to myself initially.

I didn’t inherit the addiction gene

I’m adopted & have no biological family medical history but I’m lucky that I didn’t inherit the dreaded addiction gene. While I’ve seen so many important people in my life struggle with addiction, I couldn’t relate because I’ve never tried an illegal drug. Although I drank to have fun, I never “needed” to drink. I could stop & start at will & was always cognizant of what a blessing it was to be able to do that.

So, I stopped drinking

As time went on, the allure of including alcohol as part of every running event really started to wane. Although I tried convincing myself that it was normal, I knew deep down that it wasn’t. I saw runners around me struggle mentally, gain weight, face increasing injuries, have slower race times, etc. all because of the drinking. I had always known that mixing alcohol with my mental illnesses: PTSD, anxiety & depression wasn’t a good combination. I got to the point that I wanted to be a better, more serious athlete. Eliminating alcohol from my diet was the easiest, most obvious path to achieving that goal. So, one day in September of 2018 I decided I wasn’t going to drink again. I haven’t since & haven’t missed it for one second. I know I’m blessed to be able to just stop so effortlessly.

I didn’t expect these reactions

I fully expected people to be supportive & understand my motivation. Although there’s been plenty of that, there’s also a steady stream of people who seem disappointed or confused when I explain that I stopped drinking alcohol to improve my physical & mental health. I’ve gotten, “So you’re a recovering alcoholic?” or “When is your soberiety date?” and “I didn’t know you had a drinking problem.” When I explain that I’m neither a recovering alcoholic nor do I consider myself sober, they seem confused & almost disappointed. Many respond with “But I don’t understand. Why would you stop drinking on your own if you didn’t have to?”

A better version of myself

I simply evolved & wanted to be a better, more responsible version of myself. In pretty quick succession after making the change, I found myself as an ambassador for Still I Run & as a brand ambassador for Athletic Brewing Company, who only make non-alcoholic beer. Now I can enjoy all of the benefits of having a cold beer during or after a run- the carbs, sugars, etc. that replenish what I’ve lost without the drawbacks of the alcohol.

I finally found the two places that reflected who I was becoming as a runner and, more importantly, as a person. I found my true running homes. I continue to be extremely passionate about these two entities. And I’m proud to represent them. They’re both in line with where I’m at as a human being in 2021. I’m a better man because of my choices to affiliate with Still I Run & Athletic Brewing Company.

Addition by subtraction

My race times have improved, my physical endurance has improved, my physique has improved but most importantly my mental health has improved. My story is the classic tale of addition by subtraction!


By Dave Scarpello

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