Are their moments in your life, such as the groggy morning glance at the bathroom mirror, when you think to yourself, “am I an alcoholic?”
It is silly of course. We are not alcoholics. We have jobs, and are high achievers. We don’t have to drink, we just like it. Not just that, but we deserve a few beers after working so hard.
Perhaps it does not matter what the label is. Alcoholic, alcohol dependent, dipsomaniac, social drinker, tortured entrepreneur. What matters is how happy we are, and what the consequences may be. Sadly our drinking habits may be hiding a well of sadness and insecurity.
It can take a great deal of self awareness to acknowledge we have a problem, and a mix of strength, luck, and serendipity, to actually do something about it.
Sober months and the epiphany moments
Some people will try to go alcohol free during “dry January” to in some way atone for the over indulgence during the festive period. Others might try “stoptober”. This is seen as a challenge, and an accomplishment if successful.
We know alcohol is a poison. We know it is a depressive. We know it impacts our health. And yet it is often the last thing we will address when it comes to our mental health or lack of success. epiphany moment
There are so many reasons to cut out alcohol all together, and they will be quite personal. For me it has been my three year old daughters mother (my ex wife) being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.
The idea of my daughter losing one of her parents makes me feel nauseous. Both she and my ex also need me to bring my A game, my sober game. My high energy, clear minded, good mental health, ready at a moments notice, supportive self, that can be relied upon while our lives threaten to fall apart.
As an added bonus it also frees up a nice bundle of cash, and more importantly, time.
I tried and failed several times. Moderation did not cut it, and neither did sobriety, until now. I am over 100 days in, and other than the occasional skirmish, I am pretty much out of the war.
So what did I do to help it stick this time? I would like to romanticise it and say that the time was right, or life events put my priorities in order, but really it was implementing a few practical steps that I had not tried before.
Join a community of like minded people.
I happened to stumble across an article in which Justin Kan (who sold the gaming platform Twitch to Amazon for a Billion dollars) spoke about giving up alcohol and also set up a Telegram group to support others. I joined the group. It has daily comments and motivational tips from people who are 48 hours in to sobriety, to those that are over three years in.
Track your progress and hack time
Time is going to move at different speeds. Perhaps the evenings will take an eternity to get through now, because without alcohol you will have a lot of time to fill. You can get an app to help follow your quest, or even do it via paper and pen. I use Quit That because it re frames time to a number that can motivate me. Two months might not seem like that much of an achievement, but 60 days? 1443 hours? 86,582 minutes?
You may not realise it, but you crafted an environment to help you drink. This is great news because you can now adapt this to help your sobriety. This might be difficult if you live with others, and you will need to have a conversation in which you solicit their support, but it can be done. So give all your wine glasses, beer mugs, shot glasses, and any other drinking paraphernalia, to charity. Create a home where nothing suggests alcohol.
Watch your media diet
Sadly it is a trope of the “masculine” male to drink alcohol in all forms of media. Film Noirs and Westerns are built on a foundation of Whiskey, and it cannot help but look empowering. It is a key ingredient to strength, freedom, and individuality. Even Humphrey Bogart slouched in a chair in Casablanca, drooling in to his drink as he laments about all the Gin joints in all the world, is still cool.
Modern day films and TV are no different, and it now impacts women just as much too. Beer and wine are used to suggest shortcuts to happiness and adventure. While you cut back on drinking it will be wise to view movies, TV and music, with suspicion.
Realise you have been manipulated
Take a step back and look at how influenced you have been by marketing. Alcohol is linked to celebrations and commiserations, to weddings and funerals. The more overt St Patrick’s Day and Guinness association, to the slightly more subtle Pimms, Strawberries, and Tennis. Some people will even leave whiskey, port, or perhaps sherry, out for Santa Claus. You have been “programmed” to drink alcohol.
The moderation movement is impacting the alcohol industry and they will be creative in their adaptation to this new challenge. The aim is to keep you as a consumer. Be vigilant. You can do this.
If you are unhappy in life, or feel like you are not where you want to be, then alcohol needs to be one of the first influences that should be addressed. It will not be easy. You probably will have to deal with peer pressure, and have withdrawal symptoms, but as the chemical factory in your brain starts to regulate things without the influx of alcohol, you will start to see and feel dramatic improvements.
If you could make a change to your life that contributes to you being better looking, healthier, more productive, better quality sleep, and have more money, why wouldn’t you make it?