Twenty years ago I sneaked into the garage and stole three of my father’s home brew. High alcohol content, low flavor profile. But at the time I didn’t know what that was. I just knew it made me feel good for a few hours.
At fifteen years old, that experience shaped my life in ways I would never have predicted. I would go to parties, meet new people, and have the times of my life. But because I would pass out and sleep for long periods of time, I ignored the negative consequences that came with binge drinking at such a young age.
When I was nineteen, I lost a friend in car accident. He was on the way to see my other buddy and I. His Nissan wrapped around a tree. He was on his way into town to party with us. To drink. I could never confirm, but I think he had been drinking when he came to see us. During an open casket, I remember seeing his blueish-white pale face and touching his hard body. The situation and body didn’t seem real.
My friends and I drank hard at his wake. We were together, grieving with each other. That should have been a wake-up call. But it wasn’t.
Fast forward to December 2019. Almost an entire year of drinking a six-pack of beer each day. I called my dad before Christmas and told him I couldn’t come up north for the holidays. I was a mess. Crying and confessing that, due to my mental state, I just couldn’t be around family. I was an angry young man and a stress to be around. He convinced me to come up north.
It took a mental health dilemma for me to confide in my family, that I was struggling with alcohol abuse. I’m lucky, that I have a father, mother, and sibling to reach out to. Some may not be so lucky. But if you learn how to ask for help, that is a good first step to take towards a better version of your life.
If you are like me and struggling with quitting booze, this is what I did to help stop drinking:
- Hit bottom (not all the way)
- Ask for help
- Stop drinking
Hit Bottom, But Not All the Way
Have you ever heard of the saying, “Hitting rock bottom”?
In this context – it means for a person to reach a point where all aspects of their life – family, occupation, hobbies, dreams, etc. – are all a mess or non-existent, as a result of substance abuse or other negative addictive behaviours.
I don’t want anyone to have to get to the point where they feel they don’t have a support network. Where they feel that the only way out, is self-inflicted harm. No one should go that far into the darkness.
But for whatever human psychological reason, we tend to not want to improve our lives until we absolutely have to. It turns out you need go through some nasty struggle to convince yourself to change. But don’t go ‘all-in’ to those feelings. They can lead to a dark and scary place.
Your range and threshold for suffering is different than mine. But we can both agree that we don’t need to consider hurting ourselves before we decide to make a change. Don’t let it get that far.
To not let it get that far, start by recognizing when your daily functions are inhibited. Are you brining your negative feelings to work? Do you notice your appetite slipping? Is your sleep off? Do you have consistent thoughts about having arguments with family? Have you stopped grooming yourself? These are all questions to ask yourself when reflecting on whether you have a substance abuse problem or not.
Ask For Help
This is hard and simple at the same time. It’s hard because we may not know what’s bothering us, so we lack the language to express ourselves. It’s simple because all it takes is opening your mouth and saying, “I need help” to someone you can trust. Generally speaking, you should have three things in place when asking for help: a question, simple words, and showing respect.
Figure out what’s bothering you, then notice if it is negatively effecting your daily routine. If it is negatively effecting your daily routine, you are now at the next step of reaching out for help. To reach out for help, use simple language such as, “I need help” “I’m hurting” “Something’s wrong” – get the words out first, then you and the person you trust can elaborate and talk.
This can help rearrange and organize your messy thoughts. Also, remember – you are hurting, you are angry, and you are emotional. Don’t let anger dictate how you reach out to other people. Most people want to help you if they have the means to do so, but will not offer or give that help if you are toxic to be around.
Take stock of your daily routines, notice the ones that have been hijacked by alcohol. Instead of going to the liquor store, don’t. Instead of going to that party, don’t. Instead of thinking that booze will somehow make every activity better, don’t.
If you are really struggling, then you’ll notice that the actual drinking is an extension of your messy mind. Clear up your mind, clear up the boozing.
It’s easy to say, “I’ll never drink again!” after a night of hard boozing. But for the five-hundredth time, it can get exhausting. Think of all the hangovers and crummy experiences you’ve had as a result of getting drunk. Not fun, right? Now use those memories by periodically checking-in to remind yourself why you’re quitting.
If you do this enough, the days, weeks, and months go by. And you think about booze less and less. After a year and a half of no booze, you will have a much better understanding about your relationship with alcohol. And whether it’s something you can ever enjoy responsibly again, or if it’s something you are no longer able to consume. That’s a choice I hope one day you’ll experience.
To recap, How I Stopped Drinking a Six-Pack of Beer Every Day and Went One and a Half Years of Sobriety from Booze
- Hit bottom (not all the way)
- Ask for help
- Stop drinking
Let me know if this was helpful to you. And feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or my blog. Good luck out there.
P.S. – Notice that I haven’t once mentioned the word, “alcoholic.” Why? Because in my experience, there are people who have suffered from alcohol abuse way worse that I have. We all struggle in different ways. I didn’t go to AA or seek therapy or go to any support services. Maybe I should have.
I read a book by Ed Latimore called, Drunken Letters to My Sober Self – Ed has a great writing skill of breaking topics down in simple, direct language. The stories he shares in this book and the thought processes that go behind them, are packed with wisdom and practical advice for quitting booze. Drunken Letters to My Sober Self, was a great cornerman to have in my bout against booze. Check it out here (and here is my Amazon review, these are not affiliate links)
*If you feel you need more support, reach out to your local substance-abuse recovery services*