Towards the end of the holiday season, Craig Benzine (aka YouTube’s Wheezy Waiter) and his wife Chyna both decided that it was time to take a break from alcohol, and so they challenged themselves to go booze-free for a whole month. While neither considered themselves heavy drinkers per se, they had found that they were drinking small amounts most days.
“I’ll have like a Pavlovian response,” says Chyna. “It’ll be time to cook dinner, and all of a sudden I’ll be like, wine sounds really good now for some reason. I don’t want that to be the thing that I look forward to.”
One week in, and Craig is not feeling as energetic as he had hoped. In fact, if anything, he feels as if he has been sapped of his energy, and is experiencing waves of nausea and mild depression.
A few more days, however, and he is more optimistic:
“This might be for more heavy drinkers, but there’s a thing called the pink cloud,” he says. “Eventually after a few weeks or so you experience the pink cloud, which is euphoria, basically. Everything is amazing. That only lasts a short time. Maybe I’m going to hit the pink cloud soon. But the pink cloud is not necessarily a good thing, because it gives you the false impression that things will be awesome all the time, and then when it goes away it might feel worse.”
Craig meets up with sober musician Matt Fanale, who explains that giving up drinking isn’t a decision you simply make once, but something you have to newly commit to each day. “It’s not always strong withdrawal like in the movies,” he says. “Sometimes it’s just like, I don’t know what to do with myself… You have to teach yourself new habits.”
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“The urges to do so kind of never stop,” he continues. “I’m almost 10 years in, and the urges become more faint. But there’s also a high percentage of people who relapse because they go, oh, I’m good now.”
As the challenge continues, Craig vocalizes how he has begun to feel self-conscious when going into bars, as he is only ordering soda. This heightened self-consciousness hits especially hard during a visit to Brooklyn: “I feel like I’m not partaking in the main cultural activity of the place I’m in.”
However, despite the moments of social awkwardness, the malaise, and the lack of extra energy, neither Craig nor Chyna actually miss the feeling of being tipsy.
“I really just want a glass,” says Chyna. “If I could have a glass of red wine, alcohol-free, that tasted like real red wine in all other aspects, I would 100 percent choose that every time.”
By the end of the challenge, Craig has rethought his relationship with alcohol.
“My goal is to keep it to a drink or two on special occasions, and not two at least every day, which is kind of where it was,” he says. “Because of this month I will definitely have better habits, but I will still drink alcohol occasionally.”
Although neither of them report feeling any different during the month, once they went back to drinking alcohol, they did both feel noticeably worse. “All in all, our habits are better because of it,” Craig says.
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