I’ve been pondering the question of how to get from here to there when you stop drinking. Here of course being addicted to alcohol and there, being free from alcohol. This is a very different thing to ‘not drinking’. Not drinking is very hard work! It assumes that drinking is desirable but for some reason we aren’t very good at doing it and therefore for our health, sanity and relationships must not imbibe! Whatever it takes!!!
Inevitably our ‘not drinking’ skills are put to the test one time too many times and we find a reason (excuse) to drink and we are back to the bottom of the hole. Not only that but we have just reinforced every illusion we have about our drinking and our inability to ‘control’ it.
Ultimately getting to ‘there’, which is the place at which you finally understand on every level of your being that in fact alcohol has nothing to offer you, is not desirable in any way and so, in fact, you no longer wish to drink, indeed no one could even pay you to drink, is the goal.
Not wanting to drink makes ‘not drinking’ not only effortless but removes all that bullshit around parties, weddings or any event that you can think of being ‘less than’ or a challenge because you will not be partaking in the demon drink! I’m just living my life! It never even occurs to me that other people will be drinking and I won’t….it’s not even a thing! But of course, this is a point you have to reach….you have to ‘get there’!
The difficulty always is I got ‘there’ one way and that is the only way I know…..there may be endless ways! There may only be one way, which is to find out the hard way for yourself, but I suspect that if that were indeed true that reading books like Allen Carr The Easy Way to Stop Drinking wouldn’t have helped me, which it did!, so it’s worth a try…
So I’m going to try and capture what I believe to be the fundamentals of getting FREE!
1. Understanding that drinking is always a choice.
Once you’ve had a drink all choice is removed! But picking up that first drink is always a choice that you make. You may rail against this statement, but if you can instead find it empowering then that would be good!
2. That stopping drinking by yourself is entirely possible but bloody difficult so why would you?
Get a support network! That can be BOOM friends, loved ones, a counselor….preferably all of these!
3. Educate yourself about the true nature of addiction.
This is a tricky one as there are those that believe addiction is a ‘disease’ and that as alcoholics we have no control over ourselves, which I don’t. Instead, there are those who believe that some of us have brains that are more susceptible to stimulants whether they be alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and so on and the only way to be free of these addictions is to stop having the substance and allow the brain to recover. Understanding that the reason I can’t put down the drink after one, is because I have a sensitive brain rather than because I am a crap human being was very comforting to me!
4. Embrace the truth around cravings.
Cravings tend to be the thing that scupper us all in the end and keep us stuck. Physical cravings are actually very mild and are thought driven. They start with a thought and can be shut down with a thought. I speak from experience here having craved drink on a daily basis. When I stopped drinking this time I only experienced two cravings, both of which I stopped dead with my thoughts. Even if I’m wrong and cravings are all powerful things, they do pass! So you can prevail! If it means every time you have a craving you clean your oven or jog ten miles then so be it! This time too shall pass….
Making such a huge change to your way of coping with life is going to take determination, planning and in the first instance every fibre of your being! And allowing for that. Making not drinking your only goal, your only rule and frankly the number one important thing in your life above all and anything else! Later on it will become as natural as breathing but it takes time…
6. Being aware of your thoughts.
We live in a society where we are brainwashed to believe that alcohol is desirable and makes us witty, sexy and funny and frankly without it no night in or out is complete! This is utter bollocks. Once you’ve been sober for a while and spend some time with drunk people you realize that the only way to enjoy drunk people is to be drunk because mostly it turns them into arseholes! There is a whole world to be enjoyed and it does not need drink! Anyway even once you break free from alcohol you have to realize that the same brainwashing is all around you. You must have the right perceptions of alcohol and a robust way of thinking and keep it up to date so that you do not inadvertently fall for the same old bullshit you did last time round!
7. Grab onto every single tool that you possibly can to aid you in your quest.
I listened to sober vlogs, The Bubble Hour podcasts, audio books, you name it! In those early days being bombarded with positive messages is imperative! Educate yourself about anxiety, what it is and how to build resilience within yourself. Find new ways to relax, Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation, 4-7-8 breathing, singing, dancing, playing music whatever! Doing things that require all your attention…so you are not caught up in your thoughts….
8. Accept that you won’t ever be able to drink.
This is probably the part that keeps us stuck for the longest….fighting the truth that we must never drink again because if we do we will always be stuck here and will never be able to get there.
I was sober for four years and thought I would be able to drink moderately after such a long break. I was wrong and so lost another 6 years of my life to the chaos of drinking.
This time around I am free partly because having been through that I know that I cannot ever drink again and so I didn’t waste any mental energy wishing I could! I’m not entirely sure how you get to here without having a period of sobriety, losing it and then accepting and embracing a life without alcohol. I can only hope that the period of sobriety that you lose is short and that you catch yourself on quick! Because 6 years is too much time to lose!!!
Once you’ve done that of course then you get through what I call ‘ the itchy scratchy bit’ where changing your habits takes up every brain cell you possess and every fiber of your being! and you realize that there is a whole new world out there that is nothing to do with drinking and its bloomin’ marvellous! Far more fun that sitting around drinking talking bollocks! Your brain is awake and your body too and so you are capable of embracing new hobbies and ventures and really living life to the full!
9. Learn to say no instead of trying to avoid.
I didn’t avoid anything. In those early days, I went to parties, nights out etc. I did however always plan ahead. knew exactly what I was going to drink, what I would say and how I would leave if I wasn’t coping. I think that in a world filled with alcohol the discipline of not drinking needs to happen within yourself. Just avoiding it is not the answer….you can only build your ‘No’ muscle by using it. That said I don’t keep Sauvignon Blanc in the house to this day so it is a balance…I don’t think I would drink it, I just don’t kick the arse out of my resolve either 🙂
10. This to me is the most important fundamental of all.
Understand that if you still have thoughts about alcohol being desirable, if not drinking is an effort, then you still have work to do on your perceptions and thoughts around alcohol. Alcohol is a poison, a beautifully wrapped poison and it kills people. It has nothing to offer you. If it did you wouldn’t be wanting and needing to stop drinking. If you think anything else then you are still victim to some old brainwashing. Books like Allen Carr The Easy Way to Stop Drinking are great for helping you to reprogram your mind. This battle my friends is an entirely mental one. You will succeed or fail not because of your body but because of your mind.
You are in control of you.
You can choose to give up and give in, or you can choose to do whatever it takes not to drink. To educate yourself about why you think you drink, why you actually drink and therefore why you no longer need to drink anymore.
If I expanded on my thoughts above I would have a book! So I’ve tried to keep this concise. If you have any questions please ask in the comment stream and I will do my best to let you know what my answer was.
At the end of the day just because you have had a problem with alcohol does not mean you are now fated to spend a life wanting to drink but being unable to. You can’t ever drink again so it is the ‘wanting to’ that you have to address. At the end of the day if drinking was really any fun none of us would be here! We would all be off drinking somewhere having a fabulous time altogether! The promise of alcohol is an illusion. Everything you seek in alcohol is already within you…..drinking suppresses it!!!
You CAN be free. Your mindset is the key 🙂
Only once you have been free for a long time can you know that you are happier, funnier and sexier than you thought. When we drink we only feel these things when we are drinking. When you remove drink from your life and allow your body and mind some time to heal can the real you start to emerge….this takes time and you’ll just have to trust me! Give yourself time!
We have abused ourselves for years and yet we expect stopping drinking for 5 minutes is going to have us feeling great! Well you might feel great! But you might feel like shit, your body may ache all over and you may have a low mood and feel like you’ll never laugh again, but you will. It takes weeks, months and years to recover…..not days! But once you are out the other side you can enjoy life more than you have in years. I think of my drinking years as my ‘half life’….
I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
My life is not perfect! It’s not the nature of life to be perfect. But I cope with the lows far better with a clear and calm mind and I enjoy the highs so much higher because they are real and not some false state created by a chemical!
Books I would recommend are Allen Carr The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, Eckhert Tolle A New Earth (he covers addiction in this book….), You Can Heal Your Life Louise Hay, Wayne W Dyer Change your thoughts.
If you do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. If what you are doing isn’t working try something else! For me having only one rule, No Drinking!, was key. Before I always started a diet and exercise regime the very same day…..those things come later!! So for months I ate anything and everything, didn’t exercise and just concentrated on not drinking. I am now 2.5 stones lighter and am much fitter! That came later…
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