Why cant I stop drinking?
It is a question that has pained millions, including me.
These words are typed into a Google search, daily by people feeling broken, confused, and desperate for answers.
I am here to tell you, there is nothing wrong with you.
It's not you, it's alcohol.
I know because I became dependent on alcohol too.
After years of exploration, I came out on the other side.
I had a lot of things going for me, and still I was sucked into alcohol's hole of despair.
At the end of my relationship with alcohol, I no longer recognized myself.
I didn't know how to get out of the cage I had built around me.
I am a highly productive, educated, mentally strong person who lived an almost perfect life.
I have children I adore, a house I love, a devoted spouse, lots of friends, and a wicked sense of humor.
Yet, when I was drinking nothing brought me happiness.
I had no hope and I looked forward to nothing.
Nothing was wrong, and yet nothing was right.
If this perfect life I had created for myself wasn’t it, then what was?
I was a nervous wreck most of the time, trying to cover up my anxieties.
I couldn’t sit still.
I’d panic in the car or anytime I had a minute to myself.
I’d wake up with overwhelming shame and guilt.
I had unnecessary trips to the Emergency Room.
I was certain something was wrong.
I always felt like I was dying.
I was scared for my own health.
I felt like the dreaded diagnosis was right around the corner, but unlike some other diagnosis, mine would be all my fault.
I would be to blame.
Alcohol was going to kill me and I still couldn't quit.
What the hell was wrong with me?
I couldn’t get this picture out of my head: me dying in a hospital bed, apologizing to my precious kids and loving husband, with my last breath..."I'm so sorry!"
I hated myself for this.
I hated myself for my slow suicide.
It wasn't fair to my family, or anyone that loved me.
I am now 3 ½ years sober (thank you very much!)
I am a Certified Professional Recovery Coach.
I am recovered and I help others ditch the drink too.
The reason you are unable to stop drinking comes down to science.
Alcohol is a substance that creates dependence on your brain.
The more you drink, the more you want to drink.
The more you drink, the more you need to drink to feel good.
Who doesn't want to feel good?
In time, nothing brings you joy, except the small lift you get from your first drink.
Obviously, you keep drinking.
Alcohol starts as a solution to take the edge off and feel good.
Maybe it blurs the edges and fuzzes the parts of you life that you don't love.
Overall, your mental health may be plummeting, but this little lift, is enough feel good to keep you going back for more, despite the terrible consequences.
In order to break away from alcohol you have to rewire your brain.
A huge task right?
It’s not easy.
It's ok, and often necessary, to ask for help.
Here's a few tips I use with my clients:
NAME YOUR ALCOHOL BRAIN
The Wine Witch, Beer Bitch, or whatever you want. My clients are pretty clever in naming the part of their mind that is always saying “get a drink”. This voice is relentless. When you can separate the addictive mind from your true self, you can call it out and it has less power over you. Awareness is key and when you start to recognize the drinking mind you can learn strategies to deal with triggers and cravings.
Your habit loop is likely that you alcohol is a treat and a reward for you. When something bad or stressful happens, and the response is drink. When something exciting happens, the celebration is a drink. A drink is something earned after a long day of work or parenting. Alcohol is something to look forward to on the weekend. Alcohol is Me Time, a way to tune out and be alone, which you desperately need. You can replace alcohol with another, healthier reward. When you ditch the drink, you still get something to look forward to. You have earned a treat after a long week of work. However, it can be something that makes you feel good, not bad. When you look back on it, how could self sabotage be the gift to yourself anyway? How could poisoning yourself be the way to celebrate? You do need escape and a break and all those thing you thought alcohol brought you. In what other ways can you treat yourself? If you need ideas, head to my blog Ways to Escape Without Alcohol.
Another brain trick is to get out of automatic patterns and robotic responses. A great way is to avoid triggers in the first place. If you are used to pouring a glass of wine when you get home from work and start dinner, change it up. Go directly to the gym instead. Take a walk before dinner prep. Eat out or order in and skip dinner prep for a bit. Call a friend, join an online meeting. Have dessert first. Listen to a podcast and sip a cup of tea instead. Your brain does what it knows, and when you switch it up, and create new patterns and new routines, you work to rewire your brain. Soon the new routine becomes automatic, and you won’t even miss the alcohol. You'll have to trust me on this, as it may seem impossible right now. The day will come when you no longer desire alcohol at all. I'm proof!
GET SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF
The #1 best support is my 1x1 Coaching Support. Having a witness to your journey and someone to guide you through early sobriety is priceless. I have been where you are. I understand the journey and the obstacles. It is the gift of a lifetime to provide support and guidance to others as they take the brave step toward ditching the drink. In order to stop drinking you need support and connection.
It's not you, it's alcohol.
With support, you can get away from it and find freedom from thinking about drinking.
FREE Sober Secrets Guide, www.ditchedthedrink.com