Quit Drinking by Making a Commitment

a close up of arms and hands interconnecting used to represent commitment to quit alcohol.
Photo by Viktoria Slowikowska from Pexels

I won’t get too deep on this one, but I will stress its importance. This is the step that comes before anything else because sobriety isn’t something that can be forced on you. There’s a reason that rehab clinics won’t take people against their will, and it’s the same reason that drugs and alcohol make their way into prisons. It’s near impossible to quit drinking if you don’t want to.

What is a commitment to quit drinking?

If you need a definition, I’ll try to do that here: a commitment is an active promise that has consequences if broken. Your job, relationships, and even your driver’s license is a type of commitment. Some of us have made a commitment to our spouse in front of people, and perhaps a higher power. You don’t get married by mistake, it is an active choice.

I once assumed that I would eventually stop drinking so much. I’m not sure where I got this idea, but I think it stems from our culture. Young people drink and have fun, and it’s accepted that they will engage in risky behavior. Once we start our path towards adulthood, we see people putting down the shot glass and picking up a wine glass.

A few years in to my “adult” life, I heard an interview with a comedian. He said that he had been waiting for the time when he’d stop drinking so much. This man was approaching middle-age before realizing that the time wasn’t coming. He realized he needed to do something. Assuming you’ll eventually smarten up is the same as assuming your illness will go away. It might work, but we may be turning a blind eye toward a serious problem that’s getting worse.

If wishes were fishes

Before finally quitting for good, there was this moment where I was drunk on a weeknight. I wasn’t even celebrating anything. I drank a beer after work and that beer turned in to 4. A casual drink after work had turned in to a pity party. Feeling useless I said out loud:

“I wish I could stop drinking”

This was a revelation for two reasons:

  • I had never admitted that I was having problems before, and
  • All my previous wishes had been for things that were much closer to impossibilities (become a bird, $1 million, superpowers).

In a moment of clarity that only a drunk person has, I realized that what I wished for was completely within my grasp. I realized that the only thing less effective than wishing myself sober, would be open another beer.

In that moment I knew that if I truly wanted to make a change in my life, I’d need to stop wishing I could quit booze, and start making a commitment to quit.

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