I grew up with the idea that most adults drank but some had a problem with alcohol. Adults who had a problem with alcohol were called alcoholics. Alcoholics joined AA where they swore to never drink again and were given chips every month as a sort of prize for their success in staying 100% sober.
At least that’s the way I imagined it.
But that’s not the way it turned out for me.
What’s the problem with alcohol?
I took a drink
The drink took a drink
The drink took me
It’s huge. It’s omnipresent. It’s overwhelming. It’s everywhere. Such a large presence in almost anyone’s life. Always around. Always in our faces. Always knowing it’s there. Watching others drink it. Choosing to not drink it. Failing. Succeeding.
What if you’re in the gray area? How does one stop drinking when they’re “not that bad”. When they don’t qualify as an alcoholic? When they don’t “fit” into AA?
How does one stop drinking when it’s everywhere? All the time. Every day. In our thoughts. Our homes. Our stores. Our restaurants. Our entertainment venues. After a kid’s ballgame even. As if alcohol has anything to do with watching a child play sports.
The desire to quit comes. Life gets too hard with alcohol. The body breaks because of alcohol. The mind bends. The brain hurts. We cry. We get angry. We hurt. We are in physical and mental anguish. We can’t stop.
The Problem with alcohol?
Excessive alcohol use was responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the United States each year during 2015–2019, or more than 380 deaths per day.
The alcohol-induced death rate has been steadily increasing in recent decades, but it jumped 26% between 2019 and 2020
Have you ever noticed that people get downright defensive when you suggest that there is a problem with alcohol? The problem is not with alcohol they say the problem is with YOU!
Shame is the underlying and pervasive belief that one is somehow defective or unacceptable. Shame makes you feel unworthy; unlovable; bad. When you feel shame you often hide from others and keep the things you are ashamed of a secret. Sure that you are the worst, and letting the shame send you back to drinking or even just away from the connection and compassion you would receive if you let it out and shared!
For a person abusing alcohol, shame becomes a destructive force rather than a human emotion helping one develop a moral compass.
Recognize your shame over your drinking. Pay attention to the ways you shame yourself over your drinking. Are there others who are shaming you as well? Be careful of this trap. Do not let the shame placed on you by others in your life destroy you. It is a weakness of their own that they feel the need to shame. It’s an expression of their own frustration and pain. Or anger. But it is not helping you. And your own constant shaming of yourself is not helping you.
Forgive yourself and talk about what’s happening. Instead of saying “Why did you drink last night?” in a critical way, try to ask the same question with an openness and a curiosity that helps you explore the situation instead of spiraling into the feeling of shame and loathing that set you up to drink again to escape the pain.
The alcohol is affecting everything in your life and you sit with the shame and hide. Don’t let it win. Fight back. Share, rage, and weep but do not sit mired in the shame that will lead you back to a drink.
It’s one day.
A day to choose.
To not drink.
No matter what. No matter how bad the day. How bad the need. How bad the desire. To ignore wine o’clock. Whether that’s in the morning or in the early evening. To get through the day and night without the rituals.
To wake up a little clearer and do it again. And again. Until it starts to feel good.
To keep going and not let alcohol back In after achieving an alcohol-free stretch. Of a week or a month. Or a year. To do the work.
And it’s work. No mistake about it.
To give up alcohol when you are feeling desperate is somewhat miraculous.
To deny oneself the very substance that seems to take away or delay or cover up all the pain. Cures all the loneliness. Provides all the fun.
What a brave thing we do.
We come here – Boom Rethink the Drink
And bare our souls and get through each day.
We post for ourselves but we reach others.
And we read their stories and know that alone as we each feel in our own misery, there are others. So many others. And we are the fortunate. We have somewhere to turn. To share the pain. The boredom. The emotions. The victories.
There’s no one winner in the quest for sobriety. We are each on our own path. No one is the best. No one wins a trophy. It’s not a competition.
We come back each day. One more day alcohol-free. Or after a slip of a day. Or after a year and a slide into the abyss. And we pick up and do it again.
We choose to not drink.
And we don’t quit quitting. What an amazing and stunningly brave group of people. I count myself lucky to have ever come across this site. And to have met with and fought each day with such amazing and different people.
This living alcohol-free thing is not easy. I’m no poster child for how simple it is to turn off the desire to drink and live a fabulous new life. I’m still working on my sobriety every day. I still have ups and downs. And failures. Some days I feel great; like I’ve got it all figured out. Then without warning something crops up and I’ve gone and had a drink.
I’ve come a long way since I decided to stop drinking so self-destructively. I no longer want alcohol to have a central and often domineering position in my life. And I’ve basically kicked it out. Staying sober takes daily vigilance and I can’t tell you when that ends because I’m not there yet. I have to think it through. Ignore the cravings that pop up. Distract and replace.
The rewards of living almost entirely alcohol-free are huge. I had honestly reached a place where I could not get through more than a day without wine. How did that happen to me?!
I’m so much less tired than I was when I drank routinely. I can make it through the day without wanting to collapse and have a bottle of wine. I feel better without that wine crutch. I still have the same issues, but I’m not adding hungover bloated and exhausted to my health list.
I don’t obsess about wine. It was my best friend; all I needed. Now that lie is exposed and I rely on people to help me through a bad time. I talk about what’s bothering me.
You need to have some compassion for yourself and accept that you are human! Shame makes you feel unworthy; unlovable; bad.
Today I choose to be free. Alcohol-free. Will you join me?
I’m never going back. No matter what. I will fight for this life every day. I will protect my quit. And I want the same for you! It’s worth every bit of effort and physical discomfort. It’s worth yelling right back at the beast and telling him to back off.
Please never give up on giving up the drink. You are worth it. You deserve this better life and you should fight for it.
More from this author : The Reality of Living Sober
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