Giving up drinking is tough isn’t it?
One of the reasons you are finding it so difficult is because you are associating pleasure with the act of drinking, and pain with the act of stopping.
To be fair this isn’t your fault as your mind will do this automatically, but fortunately you can take control. If you want to quit drinking then you need to start learning the art of reframing.
Reframing is the term given to the choice you make to take a different view, different vision, different thought or different idea in a situation that presents itself. So in the case of alcohol, instead of thinking it was exciting that you got blind drunk and slept with a stranger, you instead think it was irresponsible and dangerous.
Start attaching painful experiences to drinking, and pleasurable experiences to stopping and make this a new habit. I must warn you. It takes time to create this habit because your old way of thinking has become a foundation of your way of being, but let be an inspiration that if you are dedicated then you will get there in time.
It’s time for you to do some work.
I want you to schedule some time to write 50 painful associations that drinking provides you with. If you can’t get to 50 then don’t worry, just write what you can, and if you have more than 50 then just keep going.
Then schedule some time to read this list every day, or better still make an audio recording of it and play it every day.
Sometimes people need a little push in the right direction so here is my list. Perhaps you can draw inspiration from it.
1. Drinking alcohol made me look old
My parents drink in the same club every week. A few months ago I was sat in the bar with them and was playing dominos with my son. I asked him quietly to look around the bar and to tell me what he saw in the people’s faces.
“They all look old Dad.”
I have seen people very close to my heart age before my very eyes. I have looked into the mirror and seen a reflection I do not like.
Do you want to look older than you already are?
Even if you do not feel like it is affecting you now, take a look as those closest to you. The ones who perhaps drink more than others and ask yourself what do you see?
2. Drinking gave me terrible skin
For years I refused to take my t-shirt off when I was on holidays. I would sit there in the sweltering heat, all because I was ashamed of the spots that coated my skin.
When I moved in with my first wife, for weeks I would make her turn the light off before I took my top off and got into bed.
Do you have any idea how that feels?
To be ashamed of your own body.
The embarrassment and the fear of losing those closest to you because you believe they will not like what they see?
There are many reasons why I had spots, but I can tell you with certainty that as I got older one of my biggest problems was alcohol. Sometimes you have to look past the symptoms and dig deep at the root causes. Drinking alcohol leads to so many terrible habits that all contribute towards spots and acne.
3. Drinking made me bleed when I went to the toilet
When you find blood in your faeces it’s a pretty scary moment. Your thoughts immediately turn to cancer, and it causes immediate stress.
I wouldn’t bleed under normal circumstances, but I would bleed if I had been on a heavy drinking binge. For a long time I used to blame spicy foods and this was the connection that my mind and body made.
Then when I gave up drinking I stopped bleeding. I decided to eat the foods that I used to eat when I used to pass blood and guess what? The blood was gone and I was able to enjoy my penchant for spicy foods without undue worry.
This is how ingrained the alcohol trap is in our daily lives. When I first realised that alcohol was causing me to bleed, I started to change my brands. Looking back now I can see how ridiculous that is. The alcohol is causing me to bleed and here I am trying to find a different form of alcohol that won’t.
It makes me so sad that I used to think this way.
4. Drinking made me binge on fast food immediately after a session
My diet was one of the reasons that my skin was so terrible. It was also the reason that I developed a potbelly, had no energy and felt tired all of the time.
I see so many people trying to change their diet to combat these issues and then drink copious amounts of alcohol on the weekend. It’s the root cause versus symptom debate again.
If you want to quit eating fast food then quit drinking. How many of you end up in some sort of fast food outlet immediately after your night ends? Perhaps it’s the kebab shop; the pizza joint or the local Chinese take away?
Not only does alcohol push you into those types of shops, but it also gives you the capacity to eat more than you would under normal circumstances. Ask your friends to film you eating fast food when you are drunk. You turn into a pig. You will eat curry with your hands, food will drop over your clothes and you will eat enough food for two.
5. Drinking made me binge on fast food after my hangover had passed
I remember being woken one morning by the postman. I was lying on the couch with a bucket of vomit next to me. I walked to the door and dealt with the mail and noticed that I had left my kebab on the window ledge by the front door the night before. I brought it inside the house and ate it cold. It had probably been outside in the elements for at least 12 hours.
I don’t care who you are; you do not shake off a hangover and make yourself a veggie juice and nice refreshing salad. Your body craves carbohydrates, sugar and salt and you just love to give your body what it needs after refusing to stop giving it what it doesn’t need the night before.
How many of you lie on the couch only surfacing to go to the toilet and then once the hangover subsides you order another take away? You tell yourself that you can’t be bothered to make any food because you are ill.
It’s all just habit. Eating fast food the day after a session on the ale is just part of the process and your body will hate you for it.
6. Drinking robbed me of time
Time is the most precious commodity known to man or woman. When we are staring death in the face we will all want more time.
Drinking alcohol robbed me of so many years of my life. The times I have spent lying in bed, barely able to function because I feel so awful after a night on the town.
My routine would switch between sleeping all day, or just lying there watching movies all day. The world had to stand still until I had done one of those two things for a full 24-hours.
7. Drinking made me vomit so hard I would produce blood
Why do you think your body vomits? Do you think it’s just one of those things that happens, or do you think it serves a purpose?
When you vomit, it’s your body’s way of removing poison. Think about that for a moment. You are putting poison into your body, and your body is trying to remove it by forcing you to vomit?
When I used to drink too many shots from the top shelf I would vomit a horrendous concoction of yellow vodka tasting bile. I would heave so frequently that blood would follow the bile. It used to scare me, but it didn’t stop me from drinking.
I can’t believe I treated my body in this way, I truly can’t.
8. Drinking took me away from my son
I have lost count of the number of times that I told my little boy to leave me alone whilst I lay comatose on the couch, but I have not lost that vision of disappointment that was etched all over his face each and every time.
I am now divorced and rarely see him. When we are together our connection is not as strong as I have seen it with some other parents. I believe this is a consequence of the lack of time I spent with him as a child. I blame alcohol for this.
To put alcohol before your own flesh and blood is appalling, but we all do it. Yes you do. You may not think you do, but I can assure you that you do.
9. Drinking took me away from family and friends
The same issues I had with my son in point 8, I also had with my friends and family.
10. Drinking made me a terrible husband
When you drink too much you have no time for thoughts. Autopilot keeps pushing you through weekend after weekend and before you know it a decade has past…whoops there goes another one.
Then one day your wife tells you she is leaving you. She loves you but you make her unhappy. Drinking alcohol was at the heart of that. It drove every decision, behaviour and act that I carried out in my relationships.
When I was drinking I would have always much rather have spent my time sat at the bar with my friends than at home with my family. I had it all backward and didn’t even know it.
I was absent, both physically and emotionally, and it has taken me a long time to forgive myself for this.
11. Drinking made me absent from work
With the exception of two instances of flu, and being stabbed when I was 18-years old, I can categorically state that every single one of my sickness absences from work was due to alcohol.
As a person of authority, and a leader of people, I also know first hand how difficult it is to manage a business when people let you down as I used to let people down.
The loss of revenue on Monday mornings all over the globe must be staggering. The funny thing is, I would always start out knowing that I had to control my intake because I had work the next day. I am laughing as I typed that last sentence because I now understand that you cannot control alcohol.
I never stood a chance. I was always going to miss that Monday morning, and I was always going to leave early on a Friday.
Alcohol was always my priority, not my employer.
12. Drinking would make me get behind the wheel and drive
I have gotten behind the wheel when I have been so drunk I don’t even remember the ride home. The only reason I have never killed anyone, or myself is pure luck.
Why live your life like the spin of a roulette wheel?
I am a decent man, but do you think that matters when you mow down a child after drinking? Do you think it matters to the child’s parents if you have had four pints or nine pints of cider?
I never wanted to get behind a wheel when I was drunk. Unfortunately, you don’t have much say in the matter when you are drunk because you have no control.
13. Drinking would get me into fights
Every single one of my fights since I left school has been due to alcohol. It lowers your inhibitions and makes you feel like Rocky Balboa. I know a bouncer, who was a decent bloke, who killed a kid one Saturday night. One punch and he was dead, and now he is behind bars, with a kid’s family in tatters.
It’s not just you that you have to worry about. Perhaps, you are a genial drunk. One of those who just laughs and has fun. Do you think that’s going to stop you getting your head caved in when the aggressive drunk bumps into you in the kebab shop?
Next Saturday night at around 03.00 − 04.00 in the morning take a drive into your local town centre and walk down the high street. If your city is like mine it will be like war torn Syria.
Why do we have bouncers on nightclub doors? Why do we have more police on a Saturday night that you will see at a football match? It’s because drinking makes ordinary people batter other ordinary people.
14. Drinking would make me run away from restaurants without paying
This used to be an old trick of mine. I would get drunk, eat in fancy restaurants and then run away without paying.
I once did this in my hometown of Cardiff and couldn’t remember what restaurant it was. This meant I had to dodge the whole street when I was with my family in fear of being arrested.
Imagine, the embarrassment had I been caught and arrested. What would it had done to my career? What did this behaviour say to my son?
15. Drinking cost me a fortune
It always makes me smile when I hear people say that they have no money, but continue to drink. Let me tell you something right now. If you are a drinker then you always have money.
Drinking saps your finances in more ways than just the price of a pint of cider. It affects everything in your life from absences through work, lost business opportunities and the cost of eating all of that take away food.
At the time I quit drinking I was £30,000 in debt. You may think, ‘but that wasn’t all drink,’ and you will be right. But you need to reframe the situation. That debt was driven by a lifestyle, and the motor operating that lifestyle was alcohol.
16. Drinking stopped me doing the things I loved.
People used to say I could have made it as a professional footballer when I was younger had I been nurtured correctly.
I was 14 when I first started playing football for the adult’s side. This was also the time I started drinking with the adults in that side. Drinking turned into cigarettes, and drugs, and before you knew it I couldn’t finish half of the match because I had no energy.
I loved football more than anything. Drinking robbed me of my one true joy when I was younger.
What is drinking stopping you from doing?
17. Drinking made me take drugs and smoke
If there was ever a gateway drug then the archetype is alcohol. I mean think about it. This shit was making me bleed from my mouth and my arse and yet I still thought it was perfectly natural. How could smoking and taking drugs be any worse?
I know understand that I used to drink because I was hooked into societies way of being. I was not man enough to walk my own path. Smoking and drugs are on that same path as alcohol and you will pass them at some time or another.
There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have smoked or taken drugs had I not started drinking.
A bad habit always leads to a series of bad habits.
18. Drinking made me lose my memory
I have a friend who is a big Shed Seven fan. When the band reformed and announced tour dates he was the first person to buy a ticket. On the day of the concert he was so excited. It was like watching a little kid on Christmas Day.
He didn’t see the end of the gig because security threw him out for throwing a bottle. Fortunately, for him he didn’t remember anything anyway. Yet this incident turned out to be funny story?
What’s so funny about it?
How many of you have paid good money to watch concerts and then can’t remember the night? I once spent an entire night in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff watching five top bands and can’t remember a guitar string being strummed.
How dangerous is this?
How dangerous is it for the women who wake up in the morning and can’t even remember if they had sex or not? And yet we think this is normal…fun even.
It always makes me laugh when people say they have had such a great time and yet they can’t remember a thing.
19. Drinking made me injure myself
I have a scar on the top of my nose where I threw a punch at someone for throwing a snowball at me in jest. I missed; fell over and head butted the kerb. This is just one of many injuries I sustained through drinking.
Post note: When I posted this article a friend tweeted me and said ‘Number 51” before showing me an arm covered in stitches after a night of drink.
20. Drinking nearly ended my life
I was once stabbed in my left arm and the blow just missed my main artery. I don’t even remember how I managed to get to the hospital and could have easily of died.
I was in Cyprus at the time and news got back to my family that I had been stabbed. Imagine what was going through their minds? How could I do that to them and think it was funny?
That happened on the first night of my holiday and I flew back the next day because I was in so much pain and feared that there would be further attacks.
It all happened because I lost control of my faculties and couldn’t protect myself, or avoid the situation at hand.
21. Drinking makes me speak my mind
I am opinionated at the best of times, but what an arrogant tosser I was when I had been drinking. There have been countless times I had to apologise to someone I loved after a night of drinking.
Speaking your mind is not a bad thing, but you have to do it when you have control and can express your views in an orderly and respectful way. Yet people hide and then jump out when they are drunk.
It’s a recipe for disaster and wears down the love of those closest to you.
22. Drinking made me lazy
Drinking alcohol turned me into an overweight slob. I used to be so energetic and then there was nothing. It wasn’t just the lack of energy. I just didn’t want to get up and move.
I used to roam around the world in a daze, hoping for the day to end quickly so I could get home and open a bottle of wine.
I had absolutely zero drive to do anything back then.
23. Drinking made me procrastinate
Drinking was the biggest form of procrastination in my life. Its reach was long and wide. I became a functioning robot that just moved through life on autopilot. I stopped making decisions, stopped thinking, and stopped dreaming. I was a cast member on The Walking Dead.
Go to work, come home and drink and then watch the television. That was midweek. Then on the weekend it would be go out, drink come home and die.
Alcohol is the biggest procrastinator known to man.
24. Drinking made me ill
When I was drinking I was always more susceptible to minor illnesses and irritations.
I would suffer from diarrhoea, little snivels and headaches. I would be living under tremendous stress, which would affect my skin, as I would break out in terrible spots.
I also used to suffer from hay fever quite heavily, and would you believe it I no longer do.
25. Drinking increases the likelihood of sexual infidelity
There are two ways you can be unfaithful. You can have a one-night stand or you can have an affair.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the vast majority of one-night stands occur when people are drunk. It lowers inhibitions; you lose control and find yourself in situations that can end up in complete and utter disaster…and for what?
I have lost count of the number of people I know that have had relationships ruined after a drunken one-night stand.
26. Drinking made my son think it was a way of life
My son has already told me that he is going to drink when he is older and that’s despite a lot of shit going down in his life that’s connected with alcohol, culminating in the divorce of the two people he loves the most in this world.
This happens because our society has normalised it. I have normalised it. Does anything you have read so far fit into a normal society?
Unfortunately, it does.
How sad is that?
(Read: Why Do We Drink Alcohol? )
27. Drinking gave me a criminal record
One night after having a skinful I decided to have a piss in front of the Chinese restaurant and was arrested. Half way down the road the car stopped at traffic lights and I got out and ran away. When I returned home the policeman was waiting for me when I arrived.
A silly little tale, but one with a point. The law means nothing to you once you have had a skinful of ale. Nothing. I am just grateful that I never got caught doing the other more serious things I did when I was drunk.
28. Drinking made me steal
There is a theme here and it’s inhibitions. People believe drinking is a good thing because it lowers inhibition.
This is a classic situation for reframing.
Losing your inhibitions is not a good thing because you can’t control how that will enact itself on your situation. I have stolen so many things when I have been drunk all because I thought it was a fun thing to do.
29. Drinking made me have sex in public places
I once had sex in a McDonald’s toilet with children eating their Happy Meals just a few yards away from me.
I didn’t care less and I don’t think I would have stopped even if the door had opened.
30. Drinking made me strip naked
Another example of the loss of inhibition I refer to so many times in this article.
Taking your clothes off and running around naked is a classic reference point for a drunken story, and I have done this more than most.
Do you really want your children to see a grown man walking around naked in the town centre?
31. Drinking made me abusive to people
You are walking down the street on your own. It’s nighttime and a gang of people who are drunk are approaching you.
It’s not a nice feeling is it?
I used to be in that gang. I would be abusive to people, bully people, be sexist to women and a general all round pig. I thought it was all just a laugh. Now I realise that it’s this kind of behaviour that makes it unsafe for people to walk the streets at night.
32. Drinking made me break things that were precious to me during arguments
I suffer from an anger problem at the best of times, but couple that to a dose of alcohol and I used to erupt.
I have wasted so much money by breaking my own personal property whilst arguing when intoxicated.
I was once drunk whilst watching England versus Spain in a European Championship penalty shoot out. We won and I kicked a hole in my front door.
Clever that wasn’t it?
33. Drinking would lead to arguments with everyone
When you are under the influence debates can rage into full-scale wars. This is especially true with those that are closest to you. The life of alcohol means you never really get your shit dealt with. Instead, it erupts after one or two drinks.
There are some things you just can’t take back. Once you have said them they create scars. There is not a single person in my life that I love that hasn’t felt my wrath during a drunken outburst, and I know I am not alone in the world, because I have been on the receiving end of the same amount of abuse.
34. Drinking could have easily caused injury to my son
I used to come home on a Sunday night, after a session in the pub, and throw my son around like he was a rag doll. He loved it…but I was out of control and had no sense of how fragile this little kid was.
I also used to carry him on my shoulders when I was wrecked and could have easily broken his bones without even knowing.
35. Drinking meant I wasn’t solving my problems
My drunken arguments consumed my life so much that I lost the plot. I had no idea why I was arguing and this used to make me even angrier.
I would destroy situations so badly when I was drunk that it was difficult to piece them together when I was sober.
I lost all ability to communicate effectively.
36. Drinking killed my first marriage
I spent nearly 20-years with my first wife and blew everything I invested in that relationship through alcohol. Not only did I break my wife’s heart and my own, but also the heart of a 10-year old boy.
I have forgiven myself but it has been hard and still continues to be a daily struggle for me. It wasn’t a solitary explosion. Instead my marriage was like a strong cliff and the alcoholic waves kept on crashing over a long period of time before the cliffs eroded away and collapsed.
We just didn’t know what to do anymore so we just parted. I will always hate alcohol with a vengeance for that.
37. Drinking made my performance at work suffer
If I had not taken early retirement when I worked on the railway I would have been sacked. Drinking had turned me into a lacklustre shadow of my former self. I had no get up and go at all. I no longer cared and just wanted the day’s to be over as quickly as they could be.
One of my biggest tricks was to tell my boss I was working from home and I then I would sleep on the couch with a hangover. I was one of the senior managers in the company, and yet I know I wasn’t the only employee who behaved like this.
38. Drinking shortened my lifespan
I have lost years of my life because of drinking. If luck remains on my side and I live to a ripe old age I will always be aware that I could have lived longer had I not ravaged my body so much when I was younger.
Queen used to sing ‘Who wants to live forever?’
I want to see my children grow old and then their children grow old. People say everyone has to die and they make jest of it. It will be a different story when the reaper is standing by the bed mark my words.
39. Drinking was damaging my vital organs
I get upset when people tell me this doesn’t happen to them because they drink in moderation.
Since when has drinking your whole life been deemed as moderate?
If you have ever visited the doctor’s to be told there is something seriously wrong with you, then you will know how quickly your mind turns to the things you could have done to prevent it.
40. Drinking was turning me into a diabetic
My father is a diabetic and has no idea why?
Well Dad, it’s because you have drunk alcohol all of your life. You see it is full of sugar and causes you to eat foodstuffs that are also full of sugar.
41. Drinking became my hobby
Alcohol stifled my life. It robbed me off both time and money.
I never thought I had the money to do anything with my family and alcohol was at the root of this.
I had no bucket list, no goals and no dreams. My hobby was drinking. I would will my week away just so I could be sat at that bar, or at home necking back the wine.
There was nothing but drink.
42. Drinking made me gain weight
You never really know how much weight you put on until someone tells you when you have lost it. This happens because people don’t tell you that you are fat when you are fat.
This means you have those that love you who will not tell you the truth. People who share your bed and have to have sex with you.
Not only did I not realise how out of shape I had gotten, drinking had affected my life so much that I probably wouldn’t have cared anyway.
43. Drinking made me suffer from insomnia
I used to fear that alarm clock because I hated life.
I hated the fact that I used to have to get up and go and earn money doing something I hated doing. I was so pent up with stress that I couldn’t sleep at all. I would wake up two or three times a night and must have only been getting an average of 3-4 hours sleep on most nights.
Drinking was at the heart of all of that stress, and I would turn to it to alleviate it.
That’s the beauty and evil of the trap.
44. Drinking sapped me of my energy
I didn’t have any energy at all.
I spent the vast majority of my life sat in front of the TV screen with a bottle of wine in my hand. I had no time to talk to my ex wife, no time to play with my son and no time for myself.
I was exhausted and my drinking was the only thing that made me forget about it.
45. Drinking ruined my sex life
Why would anyone want to have sex with someone that they don’t like?
This is what happens when you let alcohol affect your relationships. It creates a divide that becomes so wide sex becomes a chore that becomes part of the routine in the same way as washing your sheets.
46. Drinking wastes so much time
Drinking is the conductor. It waves the baton and you move. It drives you towards so many activities that just eat away at time, and before you know it your life is nearly over.
Drinking does not let you live in the now. Instead, it drives you insane with worries about the things you did in the past and how the hell you are going to manage in the future.
47. Drinking made me unhappy
I have always maintained this one simple truth in my life.
If those closest to me are happy, then I am happy.
My drinking made everyone close to me unhappy; this then caused a chain reaction that resulted in my actions making them even unhappier.
I would get frustrated that I couldn’t make people happy. What more did they want? I was working hard? I was a good father, husband and friend?
They wanted the real me, and by the time it emerged it was too late.
48. Drinking deadened by education
Drinking got me into a rut and I stopped caring about myself. This included my education. I just stopped learning because I was so tired and lethargic.
I was always searching for the easy way through life. I had no energy to knuckle down and work hard, and I didn’t think there was enough time anyway.
My brain just stopped developing and carried on dying.
49. Drinking turned me into a hypocrite
How can you hope to change the world without changing yourself?
We all have one thing in common you and I. We all want to help people. I chose to help people stop drinking, so how could I do that by continuing to drink?
50. Drinking made me complete insane acts.
I once put my friends penis into my mouth for a dare? I once put my friends toothbrush up my bum and then watched him brush his teeth with it? I once threw up in a pint glass and then drank it, and I have peed in my friend’s pint and watched him drink it.
Now it’s your turn. Do any of these points resonate with you? If so which ones? Have I missed something that effects your life? If so please share it with us.
If you want to seek more help and guidance on these issues, and hang with like minded individuals who struggle with the same problems, then why not head over to the Needy Helper Hub
Photo courtesy of crossfirecw cc @ flickr .com