How to quit drinking
I recently received this question on Quora and it made me realized that giving up alcohol was a hell of a journey for me. Yesterday a friend of mine asked when was the last time I was drunk and honestly I even can’t remember what it is like to be drunk. This is my drinking chronicle that may partially explain why I consider myself fairly competent to talk about this topic.
2016, 2017 — two years that I spent sober without a drop of alcohol.
2015 — The year I drank alcohol less than 5 times.
2014 — The year I drank alcohol less than 10 times.
2012, 2013 — I seriously cut on alcohol and immersed myself in the sport.
2004–2011 — I was an alcoholic for 8 years.
2004 — I had just started college and tried vodka for the first time.
2002 — I had got into high school and started to drink beer at the age of 14.
I started to make my first attempts to quit alcohol at the age when drinking alcohol becomes legal in some countries.
After all these years I realize how much time I have wasted. I have been writing recently about the single life lesson I would tell to my past self. Eight years I spent in the fog of alcohol, and the truth is can’t even remember much about that time. Wasting time is my personal scourge and I have to live with it.
It was 2011 when I came back to Kazakhstan from Canada. I haven’t been home for almost 3 years. 3 days before my arrival I had just bought a new shiny iPod from the Apple store in Montreal. I was so happy so I went nuts on a crazy drinking fiesta on the first day. The last thing I remember was drinking at 3 am somewhere in the park and then…
I remember that I became concious while walking on the street. I wasn’t sleeping on the street, I didn’t wake up, I was doing things all night without me being aware of it. It felt like my soul came back to my body. It was crazy and scary. I never thought this thing can happen to me and can be so real. I knew that people pass out and have blackouts when they overdrink, but being a walking zombie freaked me out. I didn’t know it was possible.
My jeans were ripped. I got robbed. No iPod, no wallet, no money, no documents. And no memories about the night.
That was the tipping point when I have decided that I will no longer tolerate this shit inside me.
I don’t regret. I am way past that.
Here, I will share my knowledge and maybe it will save someone from regrets.
Motivation and Action points.
Start with the purpose
After I quit my bad habits I have started to think differently about smoking, drinking, and addictions in general. People don’t smoke or drink because they are addicted.
They do so because they don’t have a purpose in life.
The first and foremost thing one who decided to quit drinking is to identify the purpose.
Find your WHY!
- Why do you want to quit?
- What is the reason behind all reasons?
- “For the sake of what?” have you decided to quit?
- What will keep you going once the desire to indulge will be the strongest?
Finding the answer to these questions is the most crucial step of all.
Don’t keep your purpose in your head.
Write it by hand on the paper. By writing your intentions on the paper you are manifesting your decisiveness and will.
Post it on the wall so that it is always in front of you.
Remember why you started.
Motivation is temporary. It needs fuel to keep burning. Knowledge is the fuel.
In order to keep going, you need to constantly saturate yourself with the information related to the adverse effects of alcohol consumption.
Learn physiology and anatomy. You need to know what changes are taking place in your body every time you allow the poison to penetrate your body.
Alcohol dissolves lipid layer on the thrombocytes (red blood cells) causing them to stick to each other and create an assembly called thrombus. Thrombus has no trouble traveling in the larger vessels but when they reach small capillaries in the brain they stuck them causing the death of neurons. Dead neurons leave your body with urine.
You are literally pissing your brain off every morning you have a hangover.
I wouldn’t know this if I wouldn’t choose to study this. For me and for those who consider their brain and intellect valuable this is a good argument to quit.
Educating yourself will help you to think critically about the problem and develop the ability to reframe your point of view on drinking.
Alcohol is a drug. It is not considered as one but essentially it is. People get addicted and come back for more but most importantly it is an instrument of mass control.
Alcohol keeps people stupid, weak-willed and ill which is a perfect state for a corporation slave who can be easily influenced and who is not sick enough to stop working but is sick enough to pay for pills and hospitals sponsoring the system. Slaves are obedient and spineless and can be easily manipulated due to the weakened ability of critical thinking.
The question I once I asked myself was: “How long am I going to be a slave?”
If you have a long bad history of drinking alcohol you might not have enough willpower to break the habit at one time.
Go slow. Make some rules first that will limit your alcohol consumption.
Tell yourself — I will not drink heavy alcohol, 40 degrees and higher, anymore, I will drink only beer, or I will drink only expensive wine. These rules will artificially limit the number of available options.
After some time you will get yourself ready to make a serious call — complete abstinence for a certain amount of days.
Alcohol metabolites leave your body within 21 days. For many people, it means that technically they are never sober. For those who have made a decision to quit this means that the first challenge of staying sober should last for 30 days minimum.
Every day of the challenge is a little coin to your willpower piggy bank. Every day of staying sober makes your will stronger.
Keep yourself busy. Find activities that will keep you on the healthy path. For me, it was exercising and it might be the best way to go because it makes you physically and mentally stronger along with massive detoxification while you sweat, but it could be anything. The secret is to find an activity that keeps your mind engaged and busy.
Envision the final result
You will be there. There is no doubt in that. Visualize where you going and all the positive changes you will have in your lifestyle, health, and relationships.
I can tell from my personal experience that the day will come when you will look back on your past self and it will seem like you are looking at a stranger.
You will not recognize yourself. Drinking and the justification of it will make no sense at all.
Monitor all of the positive changes
Keep in mind and notice all of the positive changes that sober life gifts you:
- You decrease the risk of cirrhosis
- You decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Your cognition and your memory improve dramatically
- You sleep better
- Your hormone regulation and consequently emotional state level off
- You tap into the energy potential within you that was never known before
- You feel better and look better once you stop poisoning yourself
Those are just some of the benefits from the list that you will continue in your new life without alcohol.
Cut the toxic relationships
When I was young I had a lot of “friends”. This is how I called people who shared the bottle with me. No, they were not necessarily bad people. But they were dragging me down due to so-called crab mentality. They never believed that I can quit drinking and were very creative in their ways of discouraging me.
Some relationships they are like cancer, you can’t distance yourself from them, you just have to cut them out. Abstinence is like heavy chemo, you will lose all your hair and nerves on the way but if you are strong enough you will resurrect on the other end of the tunnel.
Join the group of people with the same purpose.
I learned the hard way that real friends are not those who drink with you. Real friends are those who elevate you, they create conditions in which you are forced to better yourself.
Surround yourself with people who will reinforce your progress.
I know that in the west there are clubs for anonymous alcoholics. The sense of community can be a very powerful tool that could help you to stay persistent on your way.
For me, it was hard to find a group like that. So I became a founder of one. I started Mixteam — a street workout and calisthenics team in Almaty, the Republic of Kazakhstan. We shared a common purpose of getting stronger and this experience changed the course of my life forever. I became a workout junkie.
Write a public declaration
You can also write a declaration where you will manifest that you will quit drinking. If you fail to hold your word, you are obliged to pay a penalty, for example, to pay $10k to your friend who will monitor your progress and make sure you won’t bail out.
A friend of mine wrote a declaration where his friends should have shot him in the leg from a gun if he hadn’t closed the manifested objective.
Do you think he failed to reach his goal?
Everything is a question of how big is your motivation.
If you have troubles with alcohol or you know someone who is struggling with it, please, share this essay. It could save someone who is lost like I was once. The journey is hard but it is rewarding.
Trust me. Sober life is worth it.
P.S. I recently wrote an essay on how to quit smoking.