How To Quit Drinking Alcohol
If you think you might have a drinking problem – chances are you do, and the faster you deal with it – the faster you can move on and excel in life.
Sobriety is a rewarding experience. You wake up with a clear mind and a positive attitude. Trivial things that used to piss you off; the tailgating car, the yellow light that turns red, the line at the supermarket, or the project your boss hands you on Friday afternoon no longer do – okay, except the tailgating car - that still pisses me off but not to the point where I slam on my brakes. Those days are over.
Some people wake up in the morning with a bad hangover, and say, “I’m done”, and they never pick up another drink. I’ve said I’m done with booze thousands of times, but once my hangover got a little better I’d decide to have a couple cold beers, and then a couple more, and a couple more….
One of the most important things about getting sober is: if you fail – meaning, you decide to stop drinking and after a few days, months or years of sobriety you decide to drink. Start your sobriety again. Immediately. Learn from your mistake. Don’t waste any time. Get right back on that sobriety horse before it’s too late.
I’ve met so many people like myself, that after a long period of sobriety decided to have a drink to see if they could moderate how much they drank. Most continued to drink for a year or longer. When I asked why they said “I figured why not drink for a few more nights since I already broke my sobriety”, or “The cravings were even worse than before. I had to drink”, or “I didn’t want to go back to a meeting and accept a twenty-four hour chip”
I made the same mistake. After three and a half years of sobriety I felt I proved to myself that I could drink in moderation. I couldn’t. And it took me over a year to stop drinking for good. I had a hard time accepting booze beat me again. It pissed me off that I was unable to control my intake and I wasted a lot of time trying to win a losing battle.
If you fail the first time - start again. If you fail the second time – start again. Have you ever been a smoker? Or know any smokers that quit the first time? And I don’t mean for a year or two, I mean for twenty plus years. Most smokers failed miserably in the beginning, failing time after time, until they finally had had enough and stopped for good. It’s the same with Alcohol. At some point you’ll have had enough and stop for good. So unless you move to a cabin in the middle of the wilderness with no stores, booze or nightlife - be prepared to fail a few times before you succeed. The good news is the longer you stay sober the better your odds are that you’ll stay sober for good.
The alphabetical list below has options for you to get started. I’ve found combining several of them works best for me. Being around like minded people, exercising, spending at least an hour a week in the woods, reading inspiring books; both fiction and non-fiction, limiting how much news I watch or read, meditating, and going to meetings every so often works for me. You have to want to get sober to stay sober. No person or program can do it for you. They can guide and support you, but you need to do the work. Go to your doctor first and ask her/him for advice on how you should go about getting sober.
AA. AA is the least expensive and most popular program for getting sober. It works for hundreds of thousands and doesn’t work for others. You won’t know if AA is right for you unless you try it. Not all meetings are the same. Not even close. So if you don’t like the first meeting you go to, try another meeting. I always suggest going to thirty meetings in thirty days regardless of how you feel about AA. Try to go to as many different meetings as you can. When you see or hear someone you identify with introduce yourself to him/her. After thirty days you’ll know if you want to continue with AA or not.
Acceptance. Accepting you have a problem with alcohol, and that you will never be able to drink in moderation is the only thing some people need in order to stop drinking for good. The biggest challenge for me was accepting I’m an alcoholic, and that booze was stronger than me and always would be. I’m competitive - I don’t like to lose. How could I let booze beat me? I had so many good times drinking in the past. But once those good times left, I was addicted and drinking by myself. Morning cravings started. I was no longer having any fun with alcohol. My cravings for booze had taken over my life. After a colossal waste of time, I accepted that I would never be able to drink again in moderation.
Books. Books have played a big part in my sobriety. Both fiction and non-fiction. Reading about how others have gotten sober is motivating. Here’s a link to what I feel are some of the best books on sobriety.
Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive therapy is talk therapy and is used for many purposes. I know a lot of people that got sober in therapy. If you can afford a therapist, this might be an excellent option. Just make sure the therapist you choose has experience with addiction.
Do It Yourself. The statistics for getting sober on your own are all over the board. According to various news outlets and other web sites, 25% – 80% of people who quit drinking do so without any outside help. But, a lot of those sites are trying to sell you a program for getting sober. So in reality you’d be getting outside help should you choose to pay them money. I’ve met hundreds of people that have quit drinking without outside help. Most of them replaced drinking with education, exercise, work and spiritual growth.
Exercise. Exercise has helped so many people get and stay sober. Join a gym, a jogging club, sign-up for some yoga classes. Exercise clears my head, gets me in shape, and makes staying sober a heck of lot easier.
Faith. Faith has worked for thousands in getting sober. Joining a local church might be a good idea for you.
Letting Go Of The Past. I believe letting go of the past plays a huge part in staying sober. The faster you deal with your past – the faster you can move on. Does it really matter how or why you became addicted to booze? I used to think it did and that once I dealt with my childhood dramas I would be able to drink in moderation. It just doesn’t work that way. Once an alcoholic - always an alcoholic. Accept your past, make amends to those you need to and move on.
Marijuana. Medical Marijuana works for some in getting sober. Not for me. If I have a bong hit, I have ten bong hits.
Meditation. Meditation is one of the most powerful ways I know to ground myself. Check out your local area for a free class on learning the basics, or pick up a book on meditation. An excellent App I use for holding myself accountable is Insight Timer. It’s free and I love it. Here’s a link.
Music. Listening to and learning to play a musical instrument has helped a lot of people get and stay sober. Have you always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Why not start now? Replace your drinking with learning to play in instrument.
Passion. Find things you’re passionate about; hobbies, social activities, exercise, the arts. Volunteer at your local food bank.
Rehab. Rehab is an option for those who can afford it, and for those who are in rough shape. Ask your doctor and insurance company for advice. I never wanted to go to rehab. I met too many people that were in and out of rehabs. But, a good Rehab is worth every penny spent if you leave sober and stay sober.
Smart Recover. Smart Recover promotes self-Management and Recovery Training. If you live in or close to a city you might want to give it a try. Just make sure to call first though. The first two meetings I called today were no longer on the days or times listed. Here is a link to their website.
Social Media. Nothing beats face-to-face communication. But if you’re stuck in the office and can’t call a sober friend check out Reddit’s sobriety feed for a quick sobriety fix. Tommy Rosen’s Recovery 2.0 is a good podcast that you can download and listen to on your lunch break. You can also find him on Facebook or at TommyRosen.com
Sobriety is a lot of fun. Don’t waste anymore time. Start your journey now.