My 5 Top Reasons for Giving Up Drink

  1. Becoming an antisocial
  2. Developing a taste for heights (Climbing scaffolding)
  3. Sleep walking home from the pub
  4. Hangovers taking longer and more difficult to get over
  5. Watching my life disappear in a drunken haze

There we are – my top 5 reasons why I gave up drinking. Of them all, the taste for climbing was most worrying. I started doing this whilst at college. One night I found myself on a ledge at the back of a nightclub, oblivious to how dangerous it was. It was at least 3 stories up and would have been a certain end to me, had I fallen.

It didn’t stop at ledges, I enjoyed climbing scaffolding as well. Totally oblivious to the danger to not just me, but those around me, especially if id fallen and hit someone. I would always wake in the morning in disbelief that I’d done that. Not sure how I could have done something so stupid, but at the time the drink is in you egging you on. Pushing you…relentlessly.

“Have another it would say in your ear”, “you’ll be ok”. “You don’t need to think about giving up drink”

I never was though, I always was an early casualty and left the bar or club early too drunk to really know what I was doing. The scrapes I got into. Talk about a cat with 9 lives…I must have got to the 8th when I finally decided to stop!

Sleep walking was another worrier. I don’t know how I did it, but I’d regularly fall asleep walking home from the bar late at night. I walked into buildings, literally the walls and quickly woke up. I was getting bruised and scraped and had to explain marks to work colleagues, who must have whispered behind my back. They must have realised, except I never did. It’s only now that I think back and wonder if they did know I had a problem and just couldn’t control my drinking.

Watching my life disappear before me, my 20s went really fast and my 30s were speeding along quickly too. Suddenly I saw myself as an old drunk, lurching from one bar to the next, on my own. With friends married off with families, I knew that I really didn’t want this to happen to me. I wanted to take some control of my life.

In the end I knew deep down that I had to give up drinking. It was no longer funny to look back and think about lucky escapes. There is only so much luck in life and I figured that if I pushed it too much, too often, I’d end up regretting it, and really regretting it at that!

So my top 5 reasons are still good enough to stop me from imagining for a second that having a drink now would be a good thing to do. I know that I have to be sober the rest of my life. I know that it isn’t a vacation I’ve taken, it’s a life choice. But you know what? It gets more and more comfortable the feeling of knowing that with care and attention I am going to be sober the rest of my life and I’m going to have such a better life because of that. :o)

Overcoming my Fears Helped me Quit Drinking

For the best part of 10 years I knew that I was on a self destruct course and that if I didn’t quit drinking soon, I’d end up losing just about everything I valued. I knew more or less at the end of my University days that I was a poor drinker. I.e. someone who didn’t take a lot to get drunk, who had a tendency to make a fool of himself and when drunk act a person that had a different set of morals and beliefs that his sober self had.

Fear was at the heart of my decision to continue drinking. I was terrified of losing friends, my position within my group, girlfriends and most of all I was terrified of looking and feeling un-cool. For all those reasons, I continued to drink, safe in the knowledge that I was part of the gang and had friends I could rely on because I was one of them. I’d tried to stop drinking a couple of times and weathered a barrage of abuse from ‘friends’ who tried to convince me that I could handle drink, that going sober was really the worst thing I could do. I’d tried to give up around University exams in order to clear my head and get good grades. At least I knew then that drinking made me more stressed and anxious. Giving up drinking for those short moments enabled me to see that I could do it.

But those moments never lasted. I’d always go back to the boys and the promise to myself that I’d have just 4 beers and all would be cool and I’d go home in the small hours having borrowed money and drunk double. Going out with friends and drinking gave me great comfort, it felt right. All the movies you ever see have people drinking in them and they are cool,  aren’t they? In the end I was confronted by a situation where I realised that I really did fear giving it up. Fear was the single reason why I hadn’t ever successfully given up before. I was scared to give up, scared I’d be out on my own and scared that I’d lose everything. But it was really fear that was to blame. I confronted it and overcame it.

I went to hundreds of salsa lessons determined that I’d know how to dance so I’d never look uncool on the dance floor. I was determined to succeed. It took a lot of effort and a huge amount of self belief. Many times I stood behind the front door crying to myself, asking why the hell I was subjecting myself to a sober night dancing in a night club learning how to dance. And I have two left feet. What was I thinking?! But I pushed myself to go and those were the nights when I had the most fun. I always said to myself, ‘What was the worst thing that could possibly happen’, and it never did. That is the fear telling you that you need drink, when in fact you don’t.

In the months after giving up I attended weddings, funerals and birthday parties, without drinking a drop and more importantly, without needing to feel that I had to drink. Those early days of surviving sober gave me so much strength. I knew I’d confronted my fears about losing friends (I didn’t, I actually gained friends!), I didn’t become uncool (I can now dance Salsa :o)). The guys at SoberIsSexy (You’re doing great promoting being sober as being sexy). In fact I became a bit of a hero at work because of my dance lessons. I still have two feet, but they are slightly more co-ordinated than they ever used to be.

If you’re still drinking and fear losing more than you would gain giving up drinking, believe me that you’ll be ok. I wish dearly that I gave up drinking years before I actually did. Good luck and if you’re happy to, please share your experience.

I bet This Sounds Familiar to you all in Recovery

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For years this was what kind of happened when I got home from work. Then what usually happened was that I’d move to the sofa and spend the rest of the evening there, getting up during the ad breaks to re-fill my glass of beer or Guinness. By the end of the evening I would have drunk a 4-pack without thinking, some nights a 6-pack. Most nights I’d end up asleep in the armchair like an old man, with the TV still blaring out loud in the background. I never really got much done in the evenings, never really had a chance, I was just too knackered from the drink. Having given up drinking now, I’ve since traded the beer for a cup of tea and a bottle of milk to feed the baby (How do people cope with kids and drink at the same time?). I maybe still fall asleep sometimes like an old man, with the TV on, but that is for an altogether completely different reason – one I much prefer, to raise a family in a home where there isn’t any alcohol or drunken arguments.

Before now I’d have been a useless dad, one who had a lot less love to give my child, now with the drink gone I feel more responsibility and just want to spend every waking hour with my wife watching our daughter grow up. When you drink, you just don’t see any of this. You have to give it up to see it, then believe it. This recovery is really magical. So now when I come home from work I no longer make those trips to the fridge, I don’t miss them at all.

Alcohol will beat you if you cannot get passed your denial

No point betting against alcohol, no matter what you throw at it, alcohol will always win. Alcohol is a super efficient destroyer of lives, no matter whose life is pitted against it, the results are the same.

For some people they can co-exist with alcohol in a normal way and not worry like those of us in recovery. It’s totally impossible for someone in recovery to have a drink and walk away from it. Some try, like Robin Williams did, but even though it was a 20 year gap since he last drunk alcohol, it was enough of a scent for the brain to pick up on the old ways, firing off neurons that hadn’t been fired in 20 years. What a party those neurons must have had, acquaintances reacquainted he was back on the booze. Alcohol 1 – 0 Us in Recovery.

Now some people reading this will think that it is just a few that have real problems with alcohol abuse and think that they are so lucky they aren’t like us recovering alcoholics. Oh, but many people are victims to alcohol. Consider those who say they don’t need alcohol, and they can go days between drinks. Ok, no problem, but I bet my house that the days without alcohol are Monday to Friday afternoon. Ask people if they can survive without alcohol and the majority will say yes. But ask them to spend a weekend off alcohol, but to go out to parties and most of that crowd will break into a sweat. Because the sad fact is that most people are dependent on alcohol. They need it, for Dutch courage, to get the party started, to lift spirits, etc.

So that makes most people, especially young people and kids alcoholics? Certainly there are many more people who cannot survive weekends partying on anything stronger than mineral water. So why the mass denial? Well denial by its very definition is the toughest obstacle to get over. For all of us in recovery we’ve had to overcome denial. Those who are starting out recovering are probably finding out how hard denial is to overcome, (it is worth it!). Overcoming denial is a bit like comparing your journey to that of a climber who just climbed Mt. Everest. That would have taken planning and effort and a mindset hell bent on succeeding, and so does over coming denial.

Like all things, the personal gratification is so well worth the effort put in. So if you are realising you’re at that stage when you’ve got to get over denial, keep at it. Get a picture of Mt. Everest and imagine you are one of the climbers on the way up. Imagine the view at the top, the view is already pretty good. Tell yourself you can do it, because the very nature that you’ve got this far proves to yourself that you’re well on the way to overcoming denial.

Amy Winehouse Defeated by Alcohol & Drug Addiction

Sad today, on hearing the news today that Amy Winehouse had died from her drug & alcohol addiction. It can’t be easy to live with an addiction when you’re a celebrity and living in the public eye. It’s a very private thing to have to wrestle with your demons, I can only imagine how difficult even leaving the house must be for some. It can’t be easy to cope with something like addiction with paparazzi hiding in wait.

Amy was only 27 years old and in the prime of her life. Addiction is a cruel disease that doesn’t matter who you are nor where you came from. I don’t know whether or not she was truly looking to get off drugs and alcohol. But one thing is true, the hooks of addiction have a very strong hold and breaking free of them takes time and great effort. My favourite album, Back to Black.

Break Your Habit and Successfully Give up Drinking Today

The hardest part of giving up drinking is breaking a lifetime’s habit. If, like me, you always went for beers after work on a Friday. Or came home from a hard training session at the gym and before anything else, cracked open a beer. If, like me, you needed drink for most social occasions and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night out with the lads then the habit can look like a mountain to climb and you’ve been given flip flops to climb it in.

But once you’ve decided that you want or have to give up drinking then the habit is the first thing you need to strike against. I started to meet up with the lads a little later than I would normally and have a list of ready excuses why I was going to be late. Getting to the bar late worked in two ways, I’d drink less and I’d avoid the round. If I was in a round then I was going to always end up drinking at the pace of the fastest drinker, which made me an early casualty. Then I decided to drive one night. This worked the best, my excuses were always varied but I’d show that there was a benefit to the group because I could drive out of town or to bars we wouldn’t normally go to. I became the driver.

Facing a lifetime of habits to break takes time. No different to climbing a mountain or planning a project. It can’t all be done in a day, Rome wasn’t built in a day and giving up drinking will take a bit longer than that. I decided that I couldn’t touch another drop of beer once I’d made the decision that I had to give up. The hardest part was then avoiding all drinking from that point on. I drove everywhere, giving me the perfect excuse not to drink at all.

I wanted to drink, but I kept returning to the vision I’d created of imagining my own funeral. Dead from a lifetime’s drink and the worst part of this vision, being the only person to attend my funeral. It was this horrible vision that kept me focused. No different to climbing the mountain where you see the peak you are climbing, and visualising the view at the top when you reach it.

For me I kept visualising what it would be like not to have to worry about going to any social occasions without the need to drink. What would it be like at my own wedding without getting drunk, or saying my groom’s speech whilst completely sober and no interest to get drunk? These were completely unusual feelings, since there hadn’t been many occasions that I hadn’t been drunk at over the years.

Oh but once the habit is broken, is like a day of only sunshine, unbroken cloud and birds tweeting in the sky. It’s like all your Christmases’ coming at once. Just the same as reaching the mountain peak, the view over all the other mountain tops is a view to take your breath away. The effort you put into reach the top of the mountain is no less than finally managing without drink. A day to celebrate for sure.

Abstaining From Drinking Takes Lifelong Effort

As Robin Williams’ story shows, giving up drink and going sober for 20 years is not always a guarantee that a return to the bottle won’t happen. Sadly for Robin Williams, this shows how easy it is to return to old ways. He states that after 20 years he thought that it wouldn’t hurt to have a drink. He quickly realised that the brain only remembers too well the rush that alcohol gives it, and soon he was back on for more.

Many others,not all in such high profile cases have found exactly the same. It is as if that long period of abstinence just never happened. For me I’ve been dry for 5 years. this summer I was at a wedding and the pudding was a champagne fruit jelly. I don’t know how much champagne was in there, but I could feel the glow of alcohol. luckily I was able to stop then and there as the memory is still too recent for me to fall into that trap. But had I been sober 20 years I might have fallen head first into it.

Keeping on your guard is something that all of us who are trying their best to keep off alcohol, have to continue doing long into the future. the human brain is just too clever enough to remember the rush of abandon that is alcohol. We have to watch out for the pitfalls everywhere and ensure that we don’t fall into them.