Ever thought of Quitting Drinking? Read this.
Regardless of drinking habits, there are two types of people in this world. Those who believe that life without alcohol is less enjoyable and those who believe that life without booze is more fulfilling.
Which one are you? And why?
We often make lists of reasons why we don’t want to drink, but rarely lists of reasons why we do. So why do you drink?
To escape? To destress? To relax? Because you hate your life? Your job? Your relationship? Because you feel overwhelmed and it takes the edge off? Because it’s fun? Because it’s the “normal” thing to do?
One of the hardest things about quitting drinking is that to many, it feels like they are restricting themselves from the pleasures of life. Somehow, as a society, we largely believe that alcohol is a fundamental part of life, and that going without it, is missing out on life.
Quitting would mean that they aren’t living or thriving, just merely surviving.
For the first 4 years of quitting, that’s exactly how I felt. I felt like I was missing out on life and there was nothing I could do about it. I ticked every box for alcoholism, and all I read about it was depressing as hell. I apparently was going to be in recovery, forever. That it’s genetic, it’s in my DNA and I am sick, forever. That the problem isn’t the alcohol, it’s me. That the cravings will never truly go away no matter how long I’m sober. That every day, I will have to fight with all my willpower, forever. And it felt exactly like that. It was a very sad and lonely place.
I felt like I’m damned if I do drink, and damned if I don’t.
I was constantly thinking about alcohol, constantly craving it. Every time I would walk past a bar, the wine section in the supermarket, watching tv, I was fighting the desire to cave in.
For the first few years of being sober, I truly believed that I was missing out on life. I was miserable. I had never experienced adult life without the drug. At 14, I was drinking already to the point that it landed me into hospital, and kicked out of school. I thought I was living life to the fullest, YOLO.
Most of us don’t know any other kind of adult life expect the boozy one, because being an adult and drinking alcohol apparently go together. If you don’t drink, you are the exception, and you are either boring or something is wrong with you.
I believed that alcohol was absolutely vital to be a part of society. Vital to unwind. Vital to have fun.
After all, why else is everyone drinking it?
Why are all these people who aren’t addicted putting up with the hangovers if it truly wasn’t worth it?
The thing is, even if you think that alcohol is truly fun, do you really think you can not have as much fun sober?
Do you lack the confidence to dance like an idiot in front of your friends sober?
Lack the guts to say what you think, share your feelings and bond with your friends without liquid courage?
What is it that actually makes alcohol fun to you?
If you drink alcohol to relax, do you genuinely believe that numbing your feelings and going through an anxiety-inducing hangover is the best way to relax?
If you drink because you want to escape, wouldn’t it make more sense to tackle the root of the cause of your feelings instead of numbing yourself to the point that you just don’t care anymore?
To me, there are three major aspects that need to be tackled to quit drinking successfully.
The first is your perception of alcohol.
As long as you believe that alcohol does something for you that you have no other way of achieving, that it’s a fundamental pleasure in life, that it’s some kind of miracle problem-solving drug that some are lucky enough to be able to consume in moderation, you will never truly be free.
No matter how many dry years you live through, you will always feel like you are missing out and continue craving it.
But everything that you think alcohol gives you, the silliness, the relaxation, the bonding with friends, the escape from draining daily routines and feelings of loneliness, and the break from life's problems, can literally be achieved in a million different HEALTHY ways, without the hangovers, the blackouts, the anxiety, the damaged livers, empty calories, and most importantly without the risk of an unhealthy habit developing into a full-blown dependency.
Alcohol doesn't make you happier, or more relaxed, or easy going, or confident, or funny, all it does is that it numbs your brain, your emotions and your feelings, and you interpret that as you feeling less sad, less stressed, less shy, less boring.
Now, this might be a new concept to take in, and it goes against what is traditionally perceived when it comes to alcohol.
Once I made this realisation and fully let it sink it, it was truly life-changing. For the first time in my adult life, I felt free.
There is nothing to miss about alcohol because whatever you think you can achieve by drinking, can be achieved in a less destructive way. After all, you don't really miss alcohol itself, you miss the feelings it gives you.
It becomes infinitely easier to quit if you genuinely believe that alcohol isn't as special and as beneficial/pleasurable as you initially thought.
Please take some time to truly think about it.
When I first started considering this shift in mindset, every inch of my brain was screaming at me that it doesn’t make sense.
It can’t possibly be so clear-cut and simple! What did I struggle all those years for? It went completely against what I believed for years.
The second thing to tackle is your mental and emotional health.
Did you know that alcohol-dependent people are 120 times more likely to commit suicide?
Every single person I have met that struggled with alcohol wasn’t happy/balanced to begin with. They were drinking to either “deal” with something or to mask something.
Trauma, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, are directly linked to alcoholism. Even feeling like you don’t fit in, or having no purpose in life can contribute to addiction.
Which makes this step intrinsically different for every person. Because everyone has their own issues to overcome.
We tend to think that there are two very distinct types of drinkers. Those who have a “healthy” relationship with alcohol and those who don’t.
But every single person who turned into an alcohol addict at some point wasn’t. The addiction doesn’t develop instantly, it grows, and it can affect anyone. Addiction isn’t something we are born with, it’s something that is developed.
But you say: "What about genetics! Science!"
Yes, some of us might be more prone to developing an addiction. But not a single person in this world is "addiction proof". Not a single person starts drinking to become dependent on alcohol. Most people who develop unhealthy drinking habits, at some point had somewhat healthy ones.
There are people who go decades without developing any dependency until something happens, like the death of loved one or a divorce, that sends them spiralling into full-blown alcoholism.
"The truth that so few people are ready to admit, is that anyone who drinks is at risk of developing an addiction if they use it to manage their emotions, whether it’s happy or sad feelings. It just takes something to trigger it."
Identifying the emotional issues that resulted in addiction isn’t always easy. More often than not, it’s not just one thing. And it can’t be fixed in a day. It takes a lot of self-reflection, self-acceptance, self-improvement and self-love. It can take a lot of therapy. A lot of support, and ups and downs. It takes opening up wounds again so they can heal properly. It takes facing your fears instead of numbing them with liquid courage. It takes the desire and the courage to heal, to grow.
People often wait until what they perceive is rock bottom to get their life together and try to face their dependency. When they start to realise their drinking might be getting out of hand, they will have a hoard of friends convincing them that their drinking habits are completely normal. They will go on instagram and see that yeah, relaxing with a bottle of wine, or two, that’s normal.
But if you start feeling like alcohol might be causing problems in your life, that’s usually because it is.
It’s a lot easier to deal with alcohol dependency in its earlier stages before things spiral out of control. You don’t need to drag it out until rock bottom.
Addiction only goes two ways, up or in a downward spiral.
If you aren’t happy with your alcohol intake, if you feel guilty/uneasy about how much you are starting to rely on alcohol, if you are starting to feel like it is affecting your life, the best time to deal with it is now.
Because rock bottom isn’t losing your friends, your job, your house, your family, rock bottom is when the "harmless" drink kills you.
Alcohol kills one person every 10 seconds.
Now casual drinkers might find this offensive. Like why am I trying to ruin alcohol for them? Why am I being so negative and whiny? After all, it's not like they personally or anyone they really care about has a problem with it. It's not THEIR problem.
People who quit drinking are usually terrified to offend those who still do. I'm tired and done of tiptoeing around it.
If you are getting offended by facts like "Alcohol kills", ask yourself why you are offended by the truth.
Continue drinking all you want, but please for at least 10 seconds, or 20 seconds, let's stop pretending that alcohol is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to this planet. Because it's not.
3’300’000 People die every year from harmful alcohol consumption. That’s 6% of all people that die every year.
Yes, over 3 MILLION people. Not heroin, not meth, not coke, but alcohol, the most glamorous and celebrated drug in the world, also happens to be is the most destructive drug in the world.
These are all statistics published on the official website of the World Health Organisation. You can go check it out for yourself.
Which brings me to my third point:
Understanding that Excessive Alcohol Consumption is a global crisis, and that we should stop shoving it under the rug.
We tend to perceive alcohol addiction as an individual problem, as in it’s not our problem until it starts ruining our lives or the life of someone we (really) care about.
I really really want to change that mindset. It breaks my heart. It keeps me up at night.
In 2017, the America Medical Association released a study of almost 80’000 participants stating that they estimate that 1 in 8 Americans suffer from some sort of alcohol dependency. This number has practically doubled since the 90ties.
Yet all we see on tv are handsome, fit, secret agents downing shots of whisky before taking down the big bad guy (ironic isn’t it).
Beautiful, confident women chatting and sipping rosé by the pool.
Alcohol is constantly glamorised and celebrated in songs, on tv, in the media. The bottles are beautiful, the cocktails crafted to perfection, bars designed to be sleek and cool.
The message is clear: "Alcohol is cool. Alcohol makes you cool".
I often hear adults wondering why teenagers start drinking.
Does this really need to be explained?
Us, the responsible adults, make it seem like drinking is one of the best parts, if not the best part of being an adult.
In the U.S.A., 1 out of 4 kids who starts drinking before 15 will go on to develop a dependence on alcohol.
We need to take responsibility for the message we are sending out.
We need to speak up more about how dangerous alcohol can really be instead of putting it in pretty glasses and instagramming it.
Seeing the bigger picture, really grasping the negative impact of alcohol on our world was crucial in my recovery. And this is something so few people talk about when recovering, because recovery is always me, me, me.
Once I realised this, I stopped feeling like I was the problem. Yes, I still had problems. But I wasn't THE problem.
I stopped being angry at myself, my mind, my body for having caved into the effects of an addictive substance.
I stopped being jealous and envious of people who could have a couple of drinks and then stop.
I started seeing alcohol for what it was, an addictive mind-altering drug, that most people have a higher tolerance to.
At the end of the day, I’m not here to tell you to stop drinking.
It might seem that way, but I don't hate people who drink, the same way I don't automatically love someone who is sober. I don't even hate alcohol.
But one thing I do despise is how much destruction alcohol is causing in our beautiful, delicate world.
And in a large part, this destruction could be minimised by how our society perceives the drug.
But back to you:
So, should you quit drinking?
That decision can only come from you.
When it’s a plea, a request or even an ultimatum from me, your friends, your family, your significant other, you don’t tackle the root of the problem.
The desire to stop drinking must come from within.
But if you do decide that you want to stop drinking, I will be right behind you cheering you on. I will be your number one fan.
Having gone through all the struggle and pain myself, if sharing my experiences, my mindset can help even one person make a full recovery, I will be the happiest person in the world.
PS: If you like this article, please subscribe to my blog! If you don’t agree with something, I’m more than happy to engage in conversation. After all I want what’s best, for people to stop struggling with addiction. But please be nice. This is the first time I’m writing on this topic, so if something doesn’t add up or make sense to you, please let me know, I will be happy to address it and clarify it. Who knows, maybe I got it all wrong! Thank you for taking the time to read this. xx Kat
Hi, I'm Kat.
This blog is about everything that I think we need to talk about more and understand better. I am currently mainly covering addiction, sobriety and metal health.
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