I’m excited that you’ve decided to take a look at step one.
You can continue to drink through this step if you like but it will be better to be “sober” when you are doing the analysis.
I need you to start to think about and believe that your future is better without alcohol than with it – and no I am not joking. I will help you with this but you are going to need to be in a place where you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and not abdicate or play victim to alcohol … your crutch.
I do not like the word “alcoholic” and all the associated stereotypes that come with it. You are not an “alcoholic” – but alcohol has a negative impact on you and causes you problems. I will explain more on this later. However, alcohol is your crutch – period. If you think it is not then you would not be visiting this site or you don’t believe you have a problem. If this is the case the remainder of the steps are worthless and you will not achieve freedom.
So for the purposes of my 5 step plan you are not an alcoholic. Indeed you are free from alcohol as soon as you stop drinking for the amount of time it takes alcohol to clear from your body … that is 1 unit per hour. Therefore if you have had 8 cans of premium larger at 2.5 units each you are alcohol free after 20 hours.
Also, you are not going into “recovery.” I am going to ask you to think about being free from alcohol as maximising your potential in all the other areas of your life you can’t at the moment. Being free from alcohol is going to allow you to be happier, more prosperous and truly present again. You are transitioning from being detached from the world to fully in-tune with it and your surroundings.
I am going to ask you to not fear failure. Failure is not an option because you believe that life is better without alcohol than with it.
I could have an alcoholic drink tomorrow and maybe I would just have one drink, maybe ten, maybe I would drink for five nights maybe I would just at the weekend but I do know that I would not be maximising my potential. I need you to develop the same mindset. Your drinking is totally in your control, it’s only other people and yourself that tell you it is not.
I am qualified to say this in so far as I have been a heavy drinker myself for over 5 years drinking on and off daily and finishing in the last year with up to 8 cans of premium lager (>5%abv) daily. My method is working and I have so much confidence in it that I am telling you about it only 3 months in.
During this step you will:
X educate yourself about our culture of alcohol.
X start to explore whether you are ready to go free.
X question yourself about what your reasons are for going free.
X write and / or record your plan to freedom.
X practice working on your positive mental approach to life and alcohol.
There are numerous tests out there that can help you identify whether you have a problem with alcohol or not. You’ve probably filled out one to join your local doctors surgery or gone online and completed one. In my opinion you probably already know yourself if you are being held back by alcohol.
Here is the NHS tool – it really will only help in reconfirming that you have a problem … If you’ve tried to cut down before and failed you probably have a problem … If you’re reading this you probably have a problem … Let’s keep it simple!
Please do not be fooled though because whether you see yourself as in control of your drink or not anyone who drinks alcohol is affected behaviourally and physically by this drug. This might be in the short term or in the longer term. Search for the word alcohol in any search engine and you will see why.
Alcohol Culture – a drug is a drug except when it’s a drink
In western society you are likely to come across alcohol daily in your life. This will be in the media (adverts, news, television), in conversation, at social events.
There’s no removing yourself from it – it’s so ingrained and accepted in society. It’s used to celebrate almost every conceivable event from religious festivals, to birthdays, to parties, to the weekend! It’s even used to commiserate at funerals, when you’ve had a hard day, when you didn’t get “that” job. Every opportunity there is to crack open a bottle we do it. Admittedly this does vary country to country and accordingly with your background and beliefs but there is no denying its there.
On the one hand I am undecided on whether I am anti alcohol and on the other I now see every person who is buying a six pack of beer on a Wednesday night alone as having a problem. I work in an environment where I see a lot of alcohol being purchased and it concerns me no end. There are far too many people on a slow downward spiral as a result of alcohol. I see this with people I work with, so called friends and unfortunately with family.
In order for you to see alcohol in this way I need you to start treating it as such. I want you to start naming and seeing alcohol as a drug. A drug that has no benefits and only negative side effects. You probably know this already from the hangovers, the mistakes you’ve made in your life that you regret, people you’ve hurt.
1/ count the number of times you have a conversation this week or where you see or hear about alcohol in some way. I guarantee you will probably loose count.
2/ find a suitable search engine online and type the word “alcohol” … See what comes up. Follow some of the links and read some of the articles.
Only you can decide whether you are ready to be free from alcohol. There are a number of stages that people go though involving denial, contemplation, wanting to start but not knowing how and lots of others in between. I am not an expert on this but you get the drift!
In order to go free you will need to be absolutely sure of the following and put in significant time thinking about and planning the “how.” It’s really important that you do this before you set the quit date. If you start the journey without putting in the foundation work you are more than likely going to fail.
You’ll need to understand:
1/ Why are you quitting alcohol? What is the route cause for you wanting to quit alcohol?
Hopefully this will not be because your Doctor has said that if you don’t then you will end up in hospital in the next couple of weeks – all though unfortunately some people do find themselves in this position. Ideally you need to be in a place where you realise the benefits of being free from alcohol far outweigh drinking it. I would encourage you to carry out a “brainstorm.” Write down all the immediate reasons that come to mind as to why you want to quit.
So for example: to have more energy, be a better dad, loose weight, feel happier, stop worrying about the impact alcohol is having on my health … no doubt you will be able to list loads.
If you can … and you may need to do this later try and separate the immediate from the longer term.
Trying to comprehend a life completely alcohol free is probably unfathomable at this stage so it’s okay to say to yourself “in the short term I just want to go 2 days and clear my head.” However you are also going to need to have a “life” goal. This will not relate to alcohol directly.
2/ What is your life goal?
What do I mean by a life goal. This is something that means more to you than alcohol ever could. With alcohol in the way you are unable to achieve your life goal. So for example my life goal originally was … (1) To be a better dad for my children and enjoy every minute of my time with them (which I couldn’t do when hungover) … this developed into … (2) to maximise my potential (again which I couldn’t do when hungover).
How you word this is kind of irrelevant as long as it means something to you.
To be continued.