Do you ever feel like you just can’t stop drinking? Maybe you’ve tried to cut down, impose rules on yourself, or to stop completely.
But then you find yourself back again in the same situation — hungover, miserable, self-blaming, and saying you’ll never drink again.
Then the next weekend rolls around and on it goes. Just one won’t hurt, right?!
When we start drinking, alcohol seems to be our friend. It helps us feel confident, overcome social anxiety, relax, and forget about all our problems.
Truly, alcohol does help us temporarily with some of these problems in the same way that anti-depressants can help us feel less depressed. But it comes at a cost.
We forget that we are taking Heavy. Damn. Medication.
The stuff is so strong. It’s an extremely powerful nervous system depressant.
I mean if I showed you this list of symptoms, would you be ready to go, all guns blazing?
Ooh yes, please, give me some of that. It sounds just like having a stroke.
But just a little bit is ok right?
I don’t know. Would you want a little bit of stroke?
Not for me thanks.
As you may have guessed, the first thing I want you to do is change the way you think about alcohol.
It’s not a harmless way of having fun. It’s an extremely strong drug which tears lives apart and kills millions of people every year around the world.
Here are a few tips for what to do if you feel like you can’t stop drinking
I’m afraid you’re not going to like the first one.
I’ve got some bad news for you my friend.
If you’ve been trying to cut back, cut down, or set rules on yourself, first of all well done. Drinking less is better than drinking more.
But the problem is, you are still drinking, and those rules you set will be broken; those limits will be pushed; those boundaries will be extended.
Because the very nature of alcohol is to make you lose your inhibitions and forget about the rules you’ve set.
Do you notice how after a couple of drinks, the rule book goes out the window. Of course it does. By that point, all you can think about is how to maximise your levels of feeling good. How do you do that? By drinking more.
So here it is: While it’s good to cut back, ultimately it’s not enough to drastically change your life. If you want to take back control of your life, it’s time to quit.
I know that is super scary and I hate to be the one to tell you. But the way to freedom lies in total sobriety.
Freedom is going to a party completely sober and having as much fun as everyone else.
Freedom is saying no when someone tries to tempt you and not feeling even the slightest doubt.
Freedom is knowing in your heart that you do not need alcohol in any of life’s situations
You can do this. The first few months are hard, but it gets a lot easier.
Right! Now that’s out of the way, the rest of these tips are designed to help you learn how to go about quitting.
To some people this will sound obvious. But this single piece of advice was the one which finally made something click inside my little brain, and since then, I haven’t picked up a drink. That was nearly two years ago.
So often, we try to quit or cut down, then we say to ourselves, “Ok just one or two drinks.” And when we say those words, that’s it. It’s over! The battle is lost.
We have to come to realise that it’s the first drink, not the last, which will destroy us. If we can just avoid that first drink, then alcohol cannot get its poisonous claws into our skin.
So when you feel like taking that first drink, you have to do something else. Ride the craving. Call a friend, drink a massive mocktail, or do 20 push ups. Whatever you have to do!
But do not let yourself take that first sip.
And you want to know the good news? Every time you do this, you get stronger. You strengthen your will, which means it gets easier every time.
We need support on this journey. It was you that got yourself into this mess, but unfortunately you won’t be able to get yourself out of it alone.
Einstein once said:
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
This is especially true for alcohol. We need support.
There are many different ways of getting support, so here are a few ideas.
You can simply join a support community like a Facebook or Whatsapp group that is intended to help you recover from alcohol. The best Facebook Group I have come across is the Motivation to Quit Alcohol group. It’s really friendly and supportive. The only drawback of groups is that there is no actual direct support, but you could reach out on the group and see if someone can talk with you on a call.
You could also team up with a sober friend or one who wants to get sober and be accountability buddies. This can help you take responsibility and stay sober. While this is helpful, the problem is that you are still not getting the direct support from someone who knows how it works.
Truly, the best way to get sober is to be around other people who have been sober and know how to do it. You can do this by going to an AA meeting or by teaming up with a sobriety coach who can help support you in your recovery.
This one kind of goes without saying, but obviously get rid of all alcohol from your house. Pour those bottles away if you have to, but just make it disappear. If it’s there and you’re having a bad day, chances are it’s gonna get drunk.
It’s also wise to avoid places which may be tempting for the first few months like parties, bars, restaurants. and anywhere else you’re likely to pick up a drink.
If you have a buddy you aways drink with, might be best to keep your distance for a while, until you feel strong enough to go out and say no. Which takes us swiftly on to the next point.
Whether you like it or not, people are going to question you. They’re going to try to get you to drink and they may guilt trip you or even shame you for not drinking.
So you’re going to have to be prepared.
Once people have accepted it, they’ll back off, so how do you help people accept it?
Well you have to go out and not drink (when you’re ready). You have to tell them why you’re not drinking when they ask, and this can be as brief or as detailed as you like. Personally I would go for brevity. Otherwise it will turn into a counselling session.
I say something like, “I’ve had enough thanks” or “I quit drinking.” If it makes it easier, just say you’re having a month off for now. Lots of people take time off drinking these days, so people are getting used to it.
You may think that once you get sober, all your problems will go away and life will be an easy ride. There may be a period of feeling great and on top of the world. This is known as the “pink cloud,” and it’s misleading because it comes crashing down.
Eventually you’re going to realise the reason you drink is because life is actually quite hard. It is not pretty. You have challenges to deal with and you’ve been trying to hide from those challenges for a long time. But now you’re sober, they’re going to come up.
The hardest thing for me was the emotions that came up: the anger, the sadness, the emotional pain. But these things come up because we’re finally ready to confront them. If we want to heal ourselves, then we need to allow our emotions to be there without drowning them in alcohol.
I found that labelling my emotions helps: “I am angry,” “I am really anxious right now.”
There is no judgment. Notice the emotion, label it, and watch it. Allow it to exist without needing to do something about it. Just let it be.
You may find in the first few months that other addictions come along to replace drinking so you may find yourself drinking more coffee, eating more, or watching more television. That’s ok as long as it’s not too excessive.You have to find the right balance between healing yourself and allowing yourself some comfort and self-care.
Meditation is important in sobriety and it’s even included in the AA 12 steps. That is because to be sober, we have to be honest with ourselves about where we are emotionally. We have to look ourselves in the face and feel our truth.
Meditation is the best way to do that.
It confronts us with our reality. Yes our minds will be distracted at the start and we should not have high expectations about totally clearing our minds. Simply sit in silence for ten minutes and focus on the breath. If the mind wanders, bring it back to the breath.
If we practice mindfulness in daily life, it helps us to keep calm and regulate our emotions. It prevents the mind from taking over and running the show. We know where that has led us before.
Learn more about how to meditate here and mindfulness practices here.
If you find that you can’t stop drinking, it’s probably because you’re living life most of the time on autopilot. It is important to take the time to think about the reasons why you might drink and about some of the unconscious skeletons that hide in the closet.
You’ll want to think about the things you’re afraid of — these fears are often rooted in childhood. It helps to reflect on the reasons you may be resentful, and we could also take time to think about some of the things we are ashamed of. Shame for me was the real reason why I drank but I didn’t know this until after I got sober.
Grab this Get Sober Cheat Sheet to get more tips on studying yourself and a complete workbook to fill out.
I think you have no idea how liberating it is to be free from something like alcohol. If it has become a problem in your life, it begins to feel that you are stuck in this inescapable cycle.
When you get sober, and no longer depend on a powerful drug for your fun, relaxation, or confidence, you really feel so much more self-respect and confidence.
You can begin to tune into who you really are, find out what you truly want in life, and connect with your purpose.
This is a journey of healing, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. More and more people are joining the sober movement today, so that they can live their life to the fullest.
You can download the Get Sober Cheat Sheet here which gives you loads more tips on how to get sober and will especially help you with number 8 above — self study.