I cannot believe it myself. It is over 1000 days since my last drink. Do you drink? Or maybe you eat donuts? Smoke marijuana? Are addicted to the gym? We all use something to change our state. To make us feel better. You may not feel you are addicted. I don’t think I was. I just finally admitted that I was using, rather than enjoying alcohol.
Drinking was my hobby, I looked forward to it. I would argue with anyone who suggested that drinking more nights than I abstained might be a problem. Not that anyone ever did. I had enough self-awareness to recognize when the habit was no longer serving me.
Approaching 1000 days without a drink gave me a realization that there was a time when I thought this would be impossible. My learning can be applied to any substance or habit you are regularly turning to for stress-relief or comfort.
If alcohol IS your drug of choice please check my disclaimer below. I’m not a doctor or medical professional this is my personal experience. Quitting drinking without medical help can be dangerous even fatal.
After initially breaking the habit it was not the ‘not drinking’ that was the problem. I can quite happily drink my La Croix flavored fizzy water, ginger beer, a cup of tea, have a doughnut or ice cream. It’s not the thing going in my mouth that’s the problem. It’s the things swirling around in my head that lead me to want a drink. I have had some anxiety that would probably have been dulled by a glass of wine or three. I have also experienced some overwhelming emotions and sometimes been close to depression. But I have persisted nevertheless and overall not found the transition to being a non drinker too difficult.
This year I travelled back to England and said goodbye to my dying father knowing I would never see him again in this world. That situation and repeating the journey to attend his funeral a few weeks later might have been a good time to have a drink. Or would it? A drink may have taken the edge off the sadness, but it would have still been there the next morning. So I’m glad that I did not use that as an excuse, because that is what it would have been. There have also been happy times such as a special birthday where I thought maybe just this once? Yet it has never seemed worth having one glass when I have successfully broken the habit.
I have had to learn to deal with the emotions that I would normally avoid facing. Drink was a quick solution to my problem and a speedy exit from an unwanted state to a different one. Alcohol like many drugs is an effective temporary quick-fix. If we overuse it indefinitely it can of course make us ill and eventually kill us.
Not anesthetizing myself has led me to question almost everything that I have been taught. I am not afraid to challenge long held beliefs. Giving myself time for thought, meditation and pondering has given me many questions. I enjoy being more awake and open to learning.
I have mentioned in previous posts that quitting drinking has been good for my weight and general health. Yet I have on occasion gone searching for a substitute. I have no problem with being around drink, though if you leave good quality ice cream in my freezer it will not stay there!
Whether your habit is drink, cigarettes or even coffee, only you know if it’s a problem. Though there are not any upsides I can think of to smoking. If on the other hand you get that little voice that tells you that it’s time to quit or cut down, then it is time to listen. Ask yourself have you ever had done any of these?
Constantly worried you drink too much?
Secretly worried that any other of your habits are bad for your health?
Felt the need to be secretive about your use of your drug?
Woke up and not remembered what you did, said or how you got home?
Felt embarrassed about your behavior?
Tried to stop for a period and found it hard?
Tried to stop and couldn’t ?
Found it impossible to just have one?
First check with your doctor or medical professional. They will be delighted that you are having the conversation and care enough about your health to make a change.
Get some help – counseling or therapy. Using substances to make us feel better can be a sign of some unresolved emotional issue.
Consider when and why you ‘use’. Is there a trigger, an environmental component. Are there people you are around that make it harder to resist? It might be time to take a break from some members of your social circle.
Once you have decided to quit or cut down find a technique that is helpful to you. Everyone is different and what helped me may not suit you.
If groups are your thing. Join a support group, there are groups for almost everything. There are also online support groups that are helpful.
In the early stages I allowed myself to eat or drink whatever the heck I wanted and generally still do. The richest caramel ice cream, hot chocolate with whipped cream, a slice of rich cake, all are more satisfying than a drink and helped me forget any craving. I rarely get the urge to overindulge and generally make healthy choices.
Treat yourself when you hit milestones. I can bet that whatever your drug of choice, it is not free. The money you are saving on wine, tobacco, or drugs could buy you something much more satisfying. This year I enjoyed a fabulous vacation without alcohol. Drinking would not have made it any better and walking at altitude with a hangover would have been much less fun.
I used various techniques including Tapping and Visualizing myself as being healthy and whole without needing drink.
Feel free to ask me questions or tell me what you have decided to quit to live a better life.
IMPORTANT For those considering giving up or cutting down alcohol. It is VITAL you seek medical advice from a doctor or licensed medical professional before stopping drinking as withdrawal can be dangerous and even FATAL. My experience of giving up alcohol is my own and may be very different to yours. I am not a medical professional or licensed therapist this post is for informational purposes only and not meant to be considered medical advice or treatment.