Monday, January 1, 2024

I Quit Drinking (Why & How)

This is my story. I recognize that this is not everyone's story. I am sharing this not as an expert but simply because it might help someone else. Don't come at me. 

I was what many would describe as a "big drinker". I enjoyed it, or at least I thought I did and I encouraged others to drink. I convinced many Christian friends who previously thought that drinking was bad, that it wasn't and they should do it too. I often said that alcohol wasn't inherently bad it was just bad when people over or misused it. I would say "alcohol never did anything bad to anyone but some people do bad when they use alcohol". In fact I said those words the very morning of the day I decided to quit.

I'm not going to go in to great detail about my history with alcohol for a lot of reasons, but here are the broad strokes: I started drinking not because I liked it, or even because I liked how I felt when I did it, but only because I wasn't supposed to. It was a rebellion pure and simple. After that it simply became a habit and that is what it was for many years. I took pride in the fact that I could drink others "under the table". Alcohol became part of who I was. Along the way I made some mistakes certainly. I did some stupid things and I embarrassed myself and people I love. But in spite of it all I hung my hat on the idea that even though I had my bad moments I could always stop whenever I wanted, I just didn't want to. 

Then came COVID. What was previously a crutch became a full blown motorized wheelchair that was carrying me though each day. Drinking became my reward for surviving. It is not an excuse but I was attempting to make it through COVID with one child who has major behavioral stuff and another child who has major medical stuff. I was truly terrified that Zee would get sick and die, or that I would have a nervous breakdown trying to deal with Jojo. Thank God I didn't know how long it would last when it began. 

After COVID I knew that my habit had gotten out of hand. I wasn't drinking during the day, getting the shakes or anything else extreme but I began to realize the level of my dependence and I tried to cut back here and there. I knew drinking so much wasn't healthy and I even went to see my doctor to get blood work to make sure my liver wasn't about to turn to ash or fall out. She assured me that I wasn’t alone in my post COVID struggle, but when the results were fine I took that as permission to keep drinking. I was gaining weight and spending WAY too much money so I switched to vodka tonics to cut down on calories and cash and I limited myself to beer only on the weekends. I told myself that this was progress. 

I heard about a booked called "The Easy Way To Control Alcohol" by Allen Carr (on Tik Tok of all places) and although it sounded too good to be true I was curious because I had never heard of it before. Our family has a great deal of experience with addiction so the idea that a book could be successful for someone but it wasn't on my radar was intriguing. I started listening to the audio book and made it about half way through before I realized it might just work for me. My views on alcohol were shifting, but I wasn't quite ready yet for that type of success, so I stopped listening for a while.

There wasn’t a catastrophic event that led me to stop. Honestly it was simply a misunderstanding as to whether or not I was drunk, but for me that was enough. I had gotten to a place where I was assumed to be drunk rather than sober and I guess that was my wake up call. So I finished the book the next day and poured out all the alcohol I had in the house. I was done. 

There isn’t anything magical about the book. It simply offers a new perspective and it showed me the other side of all my excuses. These are some of my takeaways: 

  • Alcohol is the only drug we have to explain why we DON’T use. That alone says a lot. 
  • I think marketing by the companies who sell alcohol plays a major role.
  • You don’t have to be an alcoholic by definition to have an issue that you need to change.
  • If you do consider yourself to be an alcoholic (I don’t but that’s neither here nor there) maybe you don’t have to struggle anonymously each and every day to stay sober?

I’m not going to lie and say it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. There were days when I felt like I was losing a big part of who I was, but I realized eventually that I could do without that "part of me". Even so, I had a lot of doubt that I would be able to stick with it. Would I still be able to have fun at events with friends? How weird would it be to go out to a restaurant and not order a beer? How would I survive dealing with Jojo every day without my evening reward of alcohol? 

This is the part of the book that I kept coming back to in my mind whenever I felt unsure or needed a reminder: 

“Client: “Could you teach me to have an occasional drink and not get hooked again?” 
Me: “Of course I could. I could even teach you to take the occasional dose of arsenic.” 
Client: “Why on earth would I want you to do that?” 
Me: “Exactly!”

It has been more than three months since I stopped drinking and I can say with confidence that all the things I thought would be worse are better. I have lost about 15 pounds and I feel physically stronger. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep but I sleep fine and I am way less sleepy during the day. Most importantly, I am a much better mom. All of the things I thought would be super hard were only a little hard and even that only lasted a few weeks. It sounds too good to be true, but it just isn’t. 

I don’t know how these words sit with you but I imagine you are either thinking of your own problem or that of someone you care about. If you are thinking "my issues is _____, not alcohol" well he probably has an adaptation of his "Easy Way" book for that too but I can't vouch for any of those. My non expert advice is simply read the book or give it to the person who is on your mind. Maybe it won’t work for you or for them, but maybe it will, and if it does, well that changes everything. 

Blessings and Happy New Year,


(link to the book on Amazon)