How do I stop drinking in a world that actively encourages it?
The picture makes it look beautiful right? Appealing. Delicious. Necessary. That’s the point. We’ve got to wake up, and we’re getting there. Most people think of AA when they are thinking about sobriety but, I’m here to tell you it’s not the only solution. You can do this without. This is a controversial statement but I’m willing to say it because it can save lives.
It’s not that I don’t support AA, I do. They have saved thousands and thousands of lives. But, I think their approach is a tad outdated, masculine (it was developed by men, for men) and far too ‘be all or end all’. I’ve heard horror stories about people going to AA and being told that if they don’t keep going, they’ll die. It’s just not true. Recovering from addiction can be done without AA because there are so, so many resources out there now. And why? Because addicts are becoming less anonymous, we’re not ashamed anymore and the more we talk, the more people we can save. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have opened up about my own journey and people ask me how I did it in a society where you’re the weird one for not wanting to put something poisonous in your body.
I start with a toolbox. I’ve said it before but you 100% have to have a toolbox. You HAVE to do things differently in order to change the way your brain thinks. Your brain is amazing, it is wired to think that alcohol is a necessary part of life but the incredible thing is that with time you can re-wire it to barely thinking about alcohol at all. But, you have to change your routine, you have to add things to it, you have to talk to people about how you’re feeling, what you find difficult and even when you lapse or relapse. Lapsing or relapsing is also part of the journey, at AA you’d go back to day 1 of sobriety, I’m here to tell you that you don’t go back at all, you LEARN. You dust yourself off and just like falling off a bike you TRY AGAIN.
You will need to fill your tool box up with new things in three areas:
Any addict will tell you the same story. You need to add in physical exercise without a doubt. Whether it is swimming, running, yoga, boxing, running or just dancing in your living room. Schedule it and do it, no matter how you feel at the time. Try doing it on a night where you previously drank. I started out by swimming on Friday nights when everyone else went to the pub. And even if I didn’t stay at the pool for very long, I can tell you that without a doubt it worked. My brain began to crave the smell of chlorine rather than beer and I went religiously every Friday for 3 months.
Meditation, yoga, talking to other addicts, reading books on the subject and listening to podcasts. Basically growing your knowledge base about addiction is the key here. Making sure you read about how your brain can transform and change. When you realise you can re-programme 30 years of believing alcohol is a solution to your problems and necessary to live life, you’ll be mind-blown. Knowledge is key and getting within yourself and knowing what really makes you happy is the way to improve yourself mentally. I can guarantee that no hangover has ever made anyone happy.
This is not about god. I repeat, this is not about god. This about something bigger than you. This is about being able to smell flowers as your sense of smell gets better and better everyday that you’re sober, this is about feeling joy when you wake up really early on a Saturday morning, early enough to hear the birds chirping happily outside. This is about going to the beach and really listening to the waves and being overwhelmed to the point where you realise just how small you are and just how short life is and why would you poison yourself through it all? Stay woke. They’re telling you it’s ok and why? Because it keeps you from changing the world, it keeps you from giving compassion to yourself. It stops you from loving yourself it stops you from being kind to yourself. And what happens when you’re kind to yourself? You start telling other people and then they stop drinking and what happens then? BIG ALCOHOL LOSES MONEY. Y’see what I’m saying here?
Anyway, it can be about god if you want it to, for me it’s about Buddha and it’s about love and that’s what keeps me spiritually awake and away from wine. They can make it as glamourous as they like but I know it won’t make my life better, I know I’m woke because I love the sound of the birds in the morning, the sound of waves on the beach and I know I’m only here for a finite amount of time and I’m damn well going to enjoy it without another hangover ever, ever again.
Ok, I was supposed to only write a small intro but I’ve gone on and on because I’m so passionate about this subject here are all the things I used to get me through my first year. I hope that if you are thinking about stopping drinking you know that it’s possible and also, it’s is WONDERFUL. If more people knew how great life is without it, big alcohol would be quaking.
At Ease xxx
This Naked Mind - Annie Grace
Jason Vale - Kick the drink easily
Dry - Augustus Burrows
The unexpected joy of being sober - Catherine Gray
Girl walks out of a bar - Lisa
Drinking a love story - Caroline Knapp
Ann Dowsett Johnson - Drink: The intimate relationship between women and drinking
Recovery freedom from our addictions - Russell Brand
Wild - Cheryl Strayed
Blackout - Sarah Hepola (Search for her name in podcasts she’s done a few interviews)
Lit - Mary Karr
In My Skin - Kate Holden
Between Breaths - Elizabeth Vargas
In the realm of hungry ghosts - Gabor Mate (More factual but absolutely stunning)
Sane New World - Ruby Wax (Not addiction related but great read for anxiety and depression sufferers)
Hip Sobriety - http://www.hipsobriety.com/ Holly Whitaker (Our hero)
Hip Sobriey School - http://www.thehipsobrietyproject.com/
Hello Sunday Morning - https://my.hellosundaymorning.org/users/sign_in
Laura McKowen Blog - https://www.lauramckowen.com/blog/
Rain in my heart - You Tube
Louis Theroux - drinking to oblivion You Tube
Elizabeth Vargas doco - You Tube
Anything by Russell Brand - His docos are on Netflix
Anything by Gabor Mate - He is an expert on addiction and how it is related to trauma.
Home Podcast - Holly and Laura
Light Hustler - Anna David ex coke addict
The Bubble Hour
Rich Roll - Not all of his casts are on addiction but he’s a powerful story of an whole 360 change in a person
CADs - In New Zealand - Free, you can walk in and talk to a counsellor and they will refer you to a group and they are the kindest people you will ever, ever meet.