Here are a few common-sense things to do that will immediately help you quit drinking. Make sure you memorize – and put into practice – these 10 Steps to Quit Drinking Alcohol, and before you know it you’ll be happier and healthier than you’ve been in a long, long time.
1. Empower Yourself, NOT Your Addiction: Despite what 12-step programs teach, you are NOT powerless before alcohol – alcohol is powerless before you. Do not let anyone tell you that you are powerless before your addiction, because this is learned helplessness, and will only lead you to a lifelong struggle against alcoholism. Recognize the fact that you have the power to decide what does or does not enter your body.
You must avoid AA’s 12-step program that empowers the addiction, while weakening you – because self-empowerment is the foundation for learning how to stop drinking. You must believe in yourself, and what you CAN do to change your life. Do NOT focus on your failings, past or present. Today YOU are in control, not alcohol. Look in the mirror and you will see the person who can change your life for the better!
2. Recognize Your Weaknesses: There are many different kinds of alcohol, and many different circumstances under which we will drink it. Over the years you have probably gravitated toward one or two specific types of alcohol, and tend to drink it most often in one or two specific environments. Learn from your own experiences, and attack the part that is giving you the most trouble.
For instance, if during the week you drink a couple of glasses of wine with your dinner and on the weekends you’re getting drunk with your friends, then you know where the problem lies, don’t you? Why beat yourself up over those few glasses of wine when it’s the weekend binge drinking that’s causing you most of your problems? THAT is where you need to change. THAT is your weakness. How can you change your behavior around your friends so that you do not get drunk on the weekends?
Do you need to meet them in a different environment? Or earlier or later in the evening? Or, maybe it’s the TYPE of alcohol you’re drinking? Perhaps a couple of glasses of wine doesn’t cause you any problems, but you’re getting carried away with beer or hard liquor? Analyze the what, why and where of your drinking, and you’ll have a better understanding of your own weaknesses, and you’ll take a big step to overcoming your addiction.
3. Remember the Bad Times: Sometimes you may feel an urge to drink because you’re remembering a happy time involving alcohol. When you catch yourself thinking like this you need to recognize it as a mirage, and immediately re-focus your thoughts to ponder the negative experiences you’ve had involving alcohol (please read: Remember When Alcohol Made You Sick). What negative experiences got you to the point of saying “enough is enough!” How many times did you get sick? How many times did you hate yourself for getting drunk?
The key is: DON’T hate yourself any longer. Instead, hate the idea of drinking alcohol by remembering how much anguish it has caused in your life. You must be very aware of how your mind can play tricks on you when it only remembers the good times involving alcohol. Pick the two or three WORST times of your life involving booze and refer to them whenever your mind tries to fool you into thinking that alcohol brings good times. It doesn’t, and deep down inside you KNOW it doesn’t.
4. Know Why to Quit: There are dozens and dozens of great reasons to quit drinking alcohol, from your physical health to your financial outlook, from relationships and your love life, to your mental and spiritual life. Make a list and study it twice, and then come up with more reasons. The MORE reasons you come up with the EASIER it will be to get over your alcohol addiction. As has been said many times “knowledge is power”, and the more you study alcohol abuse the more knowledgeable you will become about what it is doing to YOU.
The important thing to realize is that MY reasons to quit may not be YOUR reasons to quit, nor that of anyone else. YOU have to come up with reasons that matter to YOU. I’m sure there are a few very personal and private reasons you may have to quit drinking. Maybe even reasons you’d be embarrassed to tell anyone else about. That’s fine. Just write them down somewhere so that only YOU can see them. Then study them every day. THOSE are the reasons you must get your alcoholism under control.
5. Outer Talk: Be very aware of how you speak aloud about alcohol. Avoid statements like “I am trying to stop drinking”, or “I’m so tempted to drink.” Instead, focus on positive self-empowering statements, such as “I don’t drink alcohol because I want to be healthy” or “I have more money now that I don’t drink” or “I love drinking water.” The power of your own voice in your own ears reaffirms your commitment to change your life for the better.
In fact, our own words have a MUCH more powerful impact on our beliefs and actions than you might suspect. Whether you realize it or not, your own voice in your own ears is more important and influential to you than the voice of anyone else in your life. DO NOT be afraid to tell people that you no longer drink alcohol! By telling others that alcohol is unimportant to you, you are ALSO reinforcing your own resolve, and you will feel even more committed to your health.
6. Inner Talk: Be aware of your “self talk” … those little statements you say to yourself a thousand times a day. Maybe no one else hears what you say to yourself, but YOU do. Make them positive, life-affirming statements that guide you in the best direction for your future. Constantly remind yourself WHY you no longer drink alcohol, and how HEALTHY you are feeling, and how BRIGHT of a future you have now that you are doing something about your alcohol problem.
Think of your self-talk as the “steering wheel” of your mind, for your thoughts will guide you toward whatever actions and beliefs you allow them to. Get in the habit of telling yourself what you WANT to become, and NOT what you once were. Your mistakes are in the past. It’s what you are NOW that matters! Believe in yourself, because YOU are the one who is in control of your life.
7. Have a Dirty Mind: Use your mind to picture disgusting images, or recall bad memories of alcohol. For instance, when you think of a glass of beer, imagine it as really being a glass of urine, with a thousand germs floating around in it. Sounds sick, huh? Exactly. The idea is to be repulsed by drinking, and the more dirty, disgusting images (or words or feelings) of alcohol you can muster up, the more repulsed you will be (please read: How I Stopped Drinking Alcohol).
Perhaps you are someone who is very good at remembering how they FELT at a certain time of their life. If so, how did you feel that time when you were vomiting all night, or had the dry heaves? Pretty bad, I bet. Can you remember that, and feel that pain all over again? If you can then you should USE that pain to help you resist the urge to drink.
Your mind is an amazing powerhouse of imagination. USE IT to conjure up things that disgust you, and ATTACH those thoughts to memories of drinking. Before long the two will be joined at the hip, and you can’t think of alcohol without thinking of something repulsive. By the way, that glass of wine over there? It looks like tainted blood to me, mixed in with saliva!
8. See the Healthy You: Visualize your future, sans alcohol, and how successful, happy, healthy and loved you are. Your future begins at the very second you decide that alcohol will no longer dominate your day-to-day actions. The very second you make the decision to stop drinking is the very second you start to become healthier. The important thing to remember is that your future is still UNDETERMINED, and will be decided based on the actions you take today. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you made in the past, because the past is the past. What matters is what you are going to do TODAY to steer your life in a better direction.
Get in the habit of seeing yourself healthier and happier from this day forward, and keep focusing on that as often as you can. Our minds are so powerful that whenever we strongly and consistently FOCUS on something – to the point where it becomes our predominant desire – we ALSO begin to adopt the conscious and subconscious thoughts, words and actions that help BRING ABOUT that which we are focusing on.
9. Day to Day Actions: Do things differently than you used to when you were battling alcoholism. Don’t drive by that local pub on the way home from work. Don’t keep alcohol at home or at work. Do substitute healthier activities during the hours you would normally be drinking. Most alcoholics will drink alcohol instead of eating food, so make a point to eat 3 or 4 small meals throughout the day.
Insanity has often been described as “doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.” This means that your life simply will NOT change – no matter how much you want it to – as long as you continue to do the same things over and over. As soon as you begin to DO things differently, your life WILL BE different.
10. The Company You Keep: Remember when you were a kid and your mom would lecture you about something, and inevitably she’d say “Well, if your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you?!” Well, mom was right. You may love your friends dearly … but if they revolve their lives around alcohol then it is in your best interest to either see them when they’re NOT drinking, or find new friends who are on the same healthy road as you are.
If you find it difficult to not see your friends when they are drinking, make a point to see them a little later than usual, or after you’ve enjoyed a good, healthy meal. Eventually you’ll find yourself WANTING to be in situations that are healthy for you. When you genuinely strive to be around healthy people and in a positive environment, you’ll find that quitting or cutting back on your alcohol intake simply becomes part of your nature.