Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lessons About Quitting Booze.

1. Quitting Booze is really difficult if you've become addicted.  In other words, don't underestimate how addicted you are.    Having said that, quitting booze isn't for everyone.  Therein lies the rub.  If you think you might have a problem, then you probably do.  The best way to check for this is to try to stop for a week and see how easy it is, and how much it impacts who you interact with and how you interact generally.  Another good way to check is to ask whether family members have problems with alcohol. If the answer is yes, then you have to be careful.

2.  Alcoholism is progressive.  If you don't become conscious of it now, your abuse of it will increase--and the consequent high you get off of alcohol will decrease.  And, you'll slowly (or rapidly) do damage to your emotional baseline, i.e. how well you are able to assess information from other people and events, how you process that information, and your views of things generally.

3.  Quitting drinking will change you if you've had problems with drinking so far.  At first it will be really difficult and you'll be horribly irritated.  Seek therapeutic help.  Stay away from other addictive substances.  Try to notice abusive relationships that you might be involved in, especially if you are the abuser, but also notice cycles of unnecessary drama that seem to crop up out of boredom, or worse.  You will have more money.  Eventually, you will be startlingly clearer.  You will probably seek new or different types of relationships with friends/social circles/lovers.  You may realize that you are fundamentally unhappy or unbalanced in other ways that were not as clear as before when you drank.   These are all good things, because they allow you (or me!) to start to process these real issues instead of mask them in cycles of substance abuse.   It is okay to want to be alone, but you should have someone to talk to.

4.  AA is a personal choice.  The most difficult part about not drinking, and about life, I think, is to figure out what your true emotional reactions are, which also means figuring out your assumptions about framing of events, and generally, having some descriptive accuracy.  I quickly realized the world was much larger and more complex than I ever gave it credit for.  Every thought we think is some level of reduction.

5.  Be very careful not to misalign sensitivity with abuse, or to justify your drinking with art/productivity

6.  Start to incorporate non-alcohol related activities into your life.  Hobbies are your friends.  You need not be the best at anything, or even one thing.  Subjective happiness is happiness.  Figuring our what makes you happy, going out to achieve it, shifting what makes you happy, and then trying to achieve that, is the essence of life, so long as we take a little time off and balance our oft-quoted high standards with self-empahthy.

Having said that, I wish you the best.  I like to contemplate my thoughts in words, and put them down in front of me.  It helps me organize myself, and stay sane. Therefore, I'll continue to write occasionally here, but will try to start a new blog, with a new name and everything, to be determined within a day or so.  I've come a long way from blogging about my struggles with alcohol.  Ultimately, the point is not to obsess about drinking OR about not-drinking, without letting one's guard down enough to go out and drink.  Look for a link from me soon about where to read my mutterings.  Best.

Edit: Find a continuation of my ramblings here.


Alfred Hudon said...

As a private investigator for many years, I have seen many cases of addiction and many friends and family members dealing with a loved one's addiction. Good luck.

Debra Stang said...

This is a great list. One other thing I'd like to add--beware of the self-deception involved in saying you need a drink so you can sleep. In fact, alcohol inhibits restorative sleep, so if you pass out drunk, you tend to wake up even more exhausted than before.

Debra Stang
Alliant Professional Networking Specialist