Thinking of giving up alcohol?



A photo exhibit byAria Owens-2.png

Do you find yourself thinking about giving up alcohol? I did, for around five years before I actually did it. I found myself constantly asking questions like, ‘am I drinking too much?’, ‘is alcohol affecting my health?’, ‘could I give up if I wanted to?’. Then more self-critically, ‘why can’t I stick to two glasses’, ‘why am I drinking when I said I wouldn’t tonight’ and on and on and on.

This continuing conversation in my head, plus doing those quizzes that say ‘find out if you are drinking too much....’ was driving me mad. This, and the self-loathing when I really overdid it, led me to consider stopping altogether. Not before I tried moderation, then moderation, then moderation again, of course!

What was really important to me was to see this as a positive move. To break a habit, so the saying goes, you need to put something better in its place. I didn’t relate to the ‘alcoholic label’, but I did feel like alcohol in my life was bringing more problems than benefits. I saw it as ‘leaving alcohol behind’ and moving to a better, positive, healthy (physical and mental) place.

How did I do it? I just woke up, after a particularly heavy afternoon and evening BBQ, where I had again tried to drink at the same rate as those around me, and thought enough is enough. That was the easy bit!

I started to read everything I could about giving up the booze. I came across Annie Grace’s book, How to Control Alcohol and that gave me a whole new perspective. I began to make really great non-alcoholic drinks at the 6pm time I would have had my first alcoholic drink and found that the substitute usually got rid of my conditioned thinking around ‘I need a drink’.

I also joined an on-line community which was so supportive and helpful at times when things were going well and not so well.  I was jubilant at having made 30, then 60 then 90 days and so on, but there were also times when I felt fed up, left out and I questioned whether life with the drink might be better after all?

Has it been easy? absolutely not. The times I find it most difficult are a) when everyone else is drinking (this seems to happen less and less as more people decide for a variety of reasons not to drink) b) when I am completely exhausted and feel like sh*t - alcohol numbs feelings, that’s why we describe it as a ‘pick me up’, c) when I romance alcohol, eg. ‘that lovely glass of rose with lunch in the sun’ .... when did I ever drink just one glass?

The benefits for me are too numerous for me to list here (71 at last count) but I would say the top three are:

1.     Waking up without feeling the groggy effects of the night before

2.     My skin and general health are so much improved

3.     No self recriminations and I eat what I like, having ditched the equivalent of around 15 teaspoons of sugar a night.

I am more than pleased I made this decision. I am not interested in debates about whether people are alcoholics or not, if alcohol is a problem for you, as it became for me, then of course you want to do something about it. End of.