Quitting alcohol is tough for a number of reasons. Physically, emotionally and even culturally there can be pressures to pick up a drink. A user I follow on Twitter mentioned that alcohol helps them fall asleep. I was the same way, and found that getting to sleep those first few nights was very hard and staying asleep was even harder.
There were a few nights where I thought If I could only get a good buzz going, then Id be able to sleep soundly but I didn’t give in. There was something inside me that knew I wanted to be free of alcohol, and the only way to do it was to fight it out ONE DAY AT A TIME. Before I had even set foot in an AA meeting, I knew that things happened slowly, and I could only celebrate 1 week, 1 month or 1 year of sobriety if I could make it 1 day.
A few tips for keeping yourself on track:
Set a short term goal: I mentioned starting with 1 month in a previous post, and I think its an interesting experiment especially if the idea of quitting forever scares the crap out of you. One month is long enough to feel the effects of detox, but not so long that it might trigger a fear of failure. I always wanted to stop, but in the early days I was positive that quitting forever was impossible. Only after I had a few weeks dry under my belt, could I see a future for myself without booze.
Get Money Involved: Take a few minutes and do some rough math. Figure out how much you spent on an average week getting drunk. For every week you don’t have a drop, put that money into a savings account. Even $20 per week ends up being over $1000 in that account. Think about how great it would be to have an extra thousand dollars. Use that initial greed to drive you to stop, and before you know it the money will just be another amazing thing in your life.
Lean on me (or someone else): Tell someone else you’re quitting, and ask them to hold you to it. I know if you’re a raging alcoholic, you might’ve alienated your friends and that’s why you’ve quit in the first place. I’m hoping that isn’t the case, but quitting with a friend, or loved one can help out a lot. This keeps you accountable to someone else, and gives you a partner to do sober activities with! If you really have no friends, connect via Email or Twitter and Ill be your sober buddy.
Make it competitive: Bet one of your friends $100 you can go without drinking longer than them. Tell your mom you’ll pay her $100 if you drink. Start a counter that counts up your days of sobriety and enjoy watching the number get bigger and bigger.
Dig deep: None of these other tips will be very effective until you can dig deep and make a promise to yourself that you’ll quit drinking. Ill admit that using willpower for me was relatively easy, but at the same time I didn’t have much at stake to keep me on my path. It might have been easier at the beginning if a doctor or loved one had given me an ultimatum. I didn’t get that ultimatum, which was one of the reasons I quit for a few months at a time before I decided to quit for good.
Those are my tips, but I want to stress that without a commitment to yourself, an understanding of how much better your life can be without alcohol, and the willingness to change your life, quitting is almost impossible. In AA they talk about being white knuckle or dry drunk. You’re essentially the exact same person you were as an alcoholic and you’re always one step away from relapse. These people aren’t drinking currently, but their behaviour and mindset are still that of a drunk!
Remember: your brain is what got you in to this mess in the first place! You’re going to have to work it out in your head, before you’ll have any true success! It will be hard at first, but if you can believe in yourself, take steps to change your life and really WANT to quit then I think its more than possible to quit for good.
Thanks for reading this post. Check out the first post. My advice and anecdotes are to be taken as entertainment and for inspirational purposes (definition: I am NOT a doctor or addictions professional). If you think you have a serious drinking problem please visit a doctor. If you’re worried about telling a family doctor, you can always try a walk-in clinic or try this resource for help with substance abuse in Canada.