How To Stop Drinking

I have some friends for whom excessive alcohol consumption has been a problem in the past. Sometimes still is. They go to groups where they hide their identity while climbing a dozen stairs, and label themselves as “alcoholics”.

I see them differently: I think they're just regular people using alcohol to avoid painful feelings. Up until now, that is. Since I've never had a drinking problem myself, I'm ideally placed to help out. Here's a video I made on how to stop drinking:

Ok, so perhaps you didn't find the video all that helpful. In that case, here's what I learned about breaking any addictive cycle from my life coaching mentor Paul Blackburn:

Note that you've been using alcohol to avoid overwhelmingly painful feelings. Take time to gently process these painful feelings instead of avoiding them, and you won't need the alcohol. Easier said than done, sure. But it's possible using this formula:

When the urge to drink hits, consider how you felt the moment before you got the urge. Pause before you act on the urge and notice what feeling arises now. It's most likely an unpleasant emotion like lonely, anxious, hurt, sad, angry or ashamed.

Find way to express this emotion. Phone a friend and tell them how you feel. Be direct: say “I feel X” right now. Don't pussy-foot around your feelings. If you feel to ashamed to say how you feel, express your shame first to get it out of the way. Write about it. Talk to your partner about it. Play music. Go to a group. See a counsellor.

Feeling and expressing the emotion is the key.

If you just felt numb, it's because the pain is overwhelming and you may have a backlog to work through. If you don't know how you feel, ask yourself “What would I say if I did know?”. Make it up. Be willing to get it wrong. Stop being such a perfectionist, especially when it comes to identifying and expressing your feelings.

Don't over-think the process or try to rationalise why you feel this way; that'll put you in your head and stop you from feeling. Whatever feeling you resist, persists. In fact, it tends to get stronger until you pay attention. Don't try to bully or force yourself to stop drinking either; that's just another form of resistance.

Stop labelling yourself an alcoholic. Labels are not helpful because they constrain our sense of who we are and how we must behave. Our subconscious desire to remain congruent with our self-appointed labels is very strong. For instance, if you say you are an alcoholic obviously you must drink alcohol in order to remain congruent; either that or remain “dry” by perpetual abstinence, always fearful of falling off the horse. Or wagon. Or whatever it is you're on.

On the other hand, if you're just a human being who has been using alcohol up until now to cope with overwhelming and unpleasant feelings, that makes the problem much easier to shift. Learn better ways to cope with your emotions, and over time your problem with alcohol will solve itself.

About Graham

I combine trauma awareness, emotional healing and comedy to heal painful events from your past, so you can live a future life you love.
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