How To Quit Drinking And Live Your Best Life.
It’s everywhere. In our culture today, alcohol is found in social events, advertising and newspapers… It’s found at bars, restaurants, music events, birthday parties, and after work gatherings. You may think you know how to quit drinking and can do so at any time you wish.
And while is may be well known that abusing alcohol and dependence on it can be hazardous to your health, our culture views drinking alcohol, even in large amounts, as not just common place but just how life is.
But I want to challenge this cultural mindset. Which is why I created the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, which helps others not just put down the alcohol but find out how living life can be at its best when you do.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Yes, James, I’ve thought about quitting before. I know it’s negative effects and can see the positive benefits. But how can I quit with all of the pressure around me?”
Or maybe your thinking, “I know I can quit”, but you keep finding reasons why now is not the right time and to put it off for a more convenient time in the future.
I’m here to tell you there’s never going to be an ideal time. There will always be social pressures, stressful issues, events where you feel you “need” to be able to have a drink at. Life will always be throwing you things that can derail anyone who’s not fully committed to seeing the life you COULD be living if you just put down the booze. I honestly feel when you actually commit to change, life has a way of testing you to make sure you really want the change you’re after.
If it’s gonna be so hard, then why even try? Why not just keep on doing what you’ve always done and drink occasionally, often, or even to excess?
1-What’s your Why?
I never quite considered myself to be a big drinker. I’d occasionally have a beer or two during the week. Most weekends I’d go a bit harder. A handful of occasion I got drunk over the years.
Social drinking was a fun habit. I wasn’t alcohol dependent. But over time, this habit was making me unhappy.
The rock bottom moment came on that March morning in 2010. I awoke with a shocking hangover after a fun night at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
I felt hungover and after an unpleasant morning, I made it a personal bet to test my self-discipline to see if I could go 30-days without drinking. Just to see how I’d feel. I didn’t plan on going longer than that, but little did I know I eventually would.
When it comes to quitting drinking, you’re often met with conflicting thoughts. Your relationship to alcohol is like any relationship. There’s good and bad things. Positives and negatives. If you find the relationship isn’t serving you, you may eventually decide to leave.
And like leaving, say, an intimate partner, you have to decided “WHY” it’s best to leave. Or, you risk getting caught in the vicious cycle of coming back to the relationship asking “can we get back together again?”. In which case you’re likely to bring the same you- the same patterns, habits and behaviors- back into what can be the same toxic relationship.
So it’s up to you to write down WHY, you want to quit drinking and how your relationship to alcohol isn’t serving you. Don’t dwell on the positives, but instead, really dwell on the negative aspects for a moment.
Just have a look at what Mario says about some of the reasons why:
The next step is to get committed to going a certain number of days without drinking. As Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup For The Soul, says “99% is a bitch. 100% is a breeze”. And while that may sound a bit vulgar, he’s right. If you’re only 99% committed and some part of you, even 1% of you, is still holding out you’ll resist, struggle and more likely to cave during your journey.
When you make something non-negotiable, it’s a breeze. Your brain isn’t torn in 2 directions of what to do.
And even when your willpower is low and you’re feeling pressured, you’ll stay strong because you know your WHY for quitting and you’ve made a commitment.
Remember: Commitment is about doing the thing you said you were gonna do LONG after the mood you said it in has left you.
3-Setup for Success
Your environment will play a big role in how you fair when quitting drinking. Here are some tips to help set yourself up for success when quitting alcohol:
-Remove alcohol from your home: The visual queue of alcohol or even empty contains can be a trigger to the cravings for alcohol. Before you begin you should remove all alcohol and empty containers from your home.
-Avoid people, places and things that will add the temptation to drink: If you used to going to the same bar, drinking with the same people, drinking alcohol while doing certain activities, you should if possible avoid these people, places or things during your first few days to avoid being triggered and risk slipping back into your previous behaviors. You certainly can’t avoid these forever, but your first few days and weeks are when you’ll be most vulnerable.
-Stock your home with healthy and detoxifying foods to give you the energy and vitality it needs to keep your willpower high
-Review your WHY each morning during your first 30 days to instill in your mind the reasons for which you wish to quit drinking.
-Exercise regularly. If you’ve been drinking regularly, it’s likely your body is holding onto toxins stored in the body. When you sweat, it will help your body in removing these harmful toxins. Exercise is also helpful in the aid of deep sleep and helping your body recover.
-Get 8 hours of sleep. While I’m not here to argue the amount of hours you must sleep, I do now it’s important that you get deep, restorative sleep while you quit drinking. This will help your body to recover, help increase your energy and clarity and provide you with the time your body needs to rebalance.
4-Cold Turkey or Gradual Decline?
I’m often asked if it’s better to go cold turkey or have a gradual decline in alcohol use. While I’ve seen conflicting research, this brings us back to the point we just went over. In a gradual decline, you mind is not 100% committed. There’s still a part of you that is holding on the behavior. Sure you might bit your nails or keep yourself busy to try and not think about drinking if you’ve had a bad day but you told yourself I’ll only drink on Fridays or I can only have 1 tonight.
I know that the psychology behind the 100% commitment is best supported when you do the cold-turkey approach. I suggest setting a 30-day goal to quit drinking. Then after you’ve had a few weeks under your belt of not having a drink you can assess how you feel. You can check in to see:
- Is my energy level higher or lower?
- Has my sleep improved?
- Does my skin look any different?
- Have I lost any fat?
- When I awake do I feel more clarity?
After 30-Days of 100% commitment, then check in with yourself to see how you feel. You may find you wish to go on longer. Or you may find you’re willing to see if you relationship with alcohol is any different.
5- Symptoms of quitting drinking
You may find after you quit drinking there are withdrawl symptoms or after effects. While this is not something that everyone experiences, you may experience either psychological withdrawal symptoms, physical withdrawal symptoms or both.
Some signs of psychological withdrawal may include:
- Restlessness or Irritability,
- Poor concentration,
- Feeling tired,
- Difficulty sleeping or bad dreams
Some signs of physical withdrawal may include”
- Trembling hands,
- Lack of appetite
While the above symptoms are not always common, if you experience any of these symptoms I urge you to consult with your doctor or primary care provider.
Some of these symptoms may occur not as a result of withdrawl but as a result of your body naturally experience a window of feeling “clean” and will flood the blood stream with toxins it’s been holding onto in order to rid itself of the poisons.
You may want to try detoxify methods in tandem with you first 30 Days of quitting drinking to aid the body in cleansing itself from all the toxins.
If you liked these tips, check out this short clip on 10 tips to quit drinking:
If you’re serious about quitting alcohol, I invite you to check out my 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, which was designed to help people who are looking to quit and see how they feel after 30-days.